Explore beyond your resort with these outdoor adventures.
The Turks and Caicos Islands have some of the most stunning beaches in the world, incredible poolscapes, and about 365 days of sunshine. So you’d be forgiven for spending your entire vacation lounging and soaking up the rays in the comfort of your resort. However, this tropical paradise offers a whole lot more to do outdoors—both on land and on sea (and under it as well).
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
Whether you want to explore the calm and so-clear-you-can-see-the-bottom ocean next to your resort or villa, or you want to get close to nature and enter the mangroves for the best in marine and birdlife, the best way to do it (and get in some exercise as well) is via paddleboard or kayak. Many resorts include the use of boards and kayaks for their guests. If not, you can rent equipment or take a guided tour of the best spots.
You’ll see all kinds of birds throughout the Turks and Caicos. Even the busiest island, Providenciales, is still undeveloped enough that it is a haven for migratory and nesting birds. But for incredible birding opportunities without having to go too far off the beaten path, spend a day or two in Grand Turk. The Salinas (salt flats) there are home to osprey, herons, brown pelicans, and yes, flamingos. You’ll get so close, you won’t even need your binoculars to get a good look. The Turks and Caicos National Museum on Front Street has developed both walking and driving bird tours. They are self-guided, and you can purchase the maps from the museum.
Home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world, the Turks and Caicos has some phenomenal scuba diving. All of the islands offer unique sites and experiences. Ship and plane wrecks abound, and in Grand Turk, a wall that plunges down more than 7,000 feet is just a few hundred feet offshore. Arguably, the best diving takes place in South Caicos, where in the winter months, there’s a good chance you’ll see migrating humpback whales while you’re underwater. Most visitors explore the wrecks and reefs surrounding Providenciales, where Caicos Adventures leads dives that explore the top sites off the island’s southern coast.
Play with a Potcake
The line outside the door in the Salt Mills Plaza isn’t people waiting for a table at a hot new eatery. They’re visitors waiting for an opportunity to take a potcake—a formerly stray local puppy—for a walk along the beach. Run on donations and volunteerism, Potcake Place takes in puppies and dogs, gets them healthy, socializes them, and tries to find them adoptive homes. Starting at 10 am Monday through Saturday, you can take a puppy on a socialization walk for up to two hours. During the busy season, the line forms early, and it’s first-come, first-served. If you fall in love with one, the team at Potcake Place will also guide you through the adoption process.
Adrenaline junkies will love the opportunity to fly across the crystal clear water of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Long Bay Beach along the southern coast of Provo is usually the best spot. Three miles of beach, calm water, few natural or manmade obstacles, and steady wind most of the year make it one of the top kiteboarding spots in the Caribbean. Qualified instructors will show you the ropes, or you can rent all the gear needed for a day of kiteboarding on your own.
One of the most exhilarating experiences to be had in the Turks and Caicos is heading out on a small boat to get up close with migrating humpback whales. Every winter from January through mid-April, pods of whales make their way quite close to shore along Grand Turk, South Caicos, and particularly Salt Cay. Chances are strong that with an experienced guide you will see some, and if the conditions are right, you may even get to hop in the water with them.
A bicycle is a great way to get around if you’re staying in or near the Grace Bay area or even out in Leeward. Some hotels and villas have bikes that guests can use, but you may want something more your style—like a kid’s bike for the little one or a tandem bike built for two. Consider joining a bicycle tour of Provo or a road bike adventure in lush North Caicos and Middle Caicos.
Turks and Caicos is a great spot for deep-sea fishing, bottom fishing, bonefishing, and reef fishing. At some small island restaurants, you can even bring in your catch and the chef will clean and cook it up for your dinner. There’s not much to do in South Caicos, but if you enjoy bonefishing, this is the place to be. Head out in a small airboat and wade through the shallow water to the perfect spot. Or head in on a stand-up paddleboard equipped with a cooler that keeps your drinks and snacks fresh and doubles as your seat.
Saddle up and ride a horse through bushy trails to the stunning Long Bay Beach on the southern side of Provo. You’ll ride your horse into the shallow water, giving you both a welcome break from the Turks and Caicos sunshine. If you time your booking for low tide, you’ll get to trot (novice riders) or canter (experienced riders) along the beach. There’s nothing quite as thrilling as racing along a sandy beach on horseback. Morning and afternoon rides are available throughout the year, but reserve a spot early–this activity books up quickly.
The country’s only golf course happens to be one of the top-ranked courses in the entire Caribbean. The challenging course at Provo Golf Club features water on six holes on the front nine and five lake holes on the back nine. Lined by native bushes and trees, the course attracts an abundance of birdlife. Designed by renowned course architect Karl Litten, this course is busy with members and nonmembers. You can book a tee time up to 120 days in advance, and in the high season, it’s a good idea to book as soon as possible.