Turks and Caicos If You Like

The Best Beaches in the World

Most people come to Turks and Caicos for the beautiful beaches—miles of white coral sand and crystal-clear waters that surround each of the islands that make up this archipelago.

Visitors and residents alike all have their favorite stretch of sand. Most people come to Turks and Caicos to enjoy Providenciales’s Grace Bay. It is the best of all worlds: miles of uninterrupted brilliant blue against a backdrop of white-tipped waves, with its powder-fine sand that stays cool to the touch even in the heat of the day. If you wish to break away from the buzz of Grace Bay, there are many other exquisite beaches right on Provo. Taylor Bay and Sapodilla Beach are wonderful small crescents with shallow waters that are perfect for small children. Long Bay is dotted with private villas, perfect for quiet beach walks and collecting naturally tossed conch shells. Half Moon Bay on Little Water Cay and Fort George Cay’s shoreline are a photographer’s delight, even though they now attract many visitors. Pine Cay and Big Water Cay may have the best stretches of uninterrupted sand. Mudjin Harbour on Middle Caicos is the most dramatic, winged on one side by towering cliffs and isolated coves. And then there are those who claim that the most beautiful beach of all is North Beach on Salt Cay.

The Best Fishing

For those on the Turks and Caicos to simply relax, taking a dip in the turquoise waters can’t be beat. But for others who like a bit of adventure, one of the best ways to experience these islands is to take a fishing excursion. Try deep-sea, bone-, or bottom-fishing, with a bonus of seeing areas that are otherwise unreachable without a boat.

The beauty of bonefishing is that you don’t have to go out in the deep waters, so it is something the whole family may enjoy. If you’re a fly fisher, you can try your luck by walking into Flamingo or Turtle lakes on the south side of Provo or hire a skiff to take you into the waters between Provo and Middle Caicos. South Caicos also has excellent bonefishing.

Deep-sea fishing takes you outside the reef into the deep waters that surround these islands. It is not quite as hard-core as one might imagine; there are well-stocked refrigerators providing cold drinks throughout the day, rotating cushioned chairs for the “big fight,” and a fish finder to aid in the hunt. The ship’s mate baits multiple lines with or without your help, and the lines are lowered from the tower.

Reef fishing is another alternative. The experience involves a quiet afternoon of contemplation. You are after grouper, snapper, triggerfish, or sturgeon while anchoring in a channel or out near the reef. It is a casting sport, with the fish taking the line to wait out your patience under a coral head.

Excellent Diving

With the third-largest barrier reef in the world, dramatic walls that ultimately drop to 6,000 feet, and consistently sunny days on top of crystal-clear, calm waters, the Turks and Caicos are a diver's dream destination. The visibility is unfailingly some of the best in the world, averaging 100 to 200 feet on most days. There is a wide variety of marine life with an unending number of dive sites to explore, placing it on the map as one of the top dive destinations in the world.

Each island offers something unique in the way of diving. In Providenciales there are dive sites just over the reef in Grace Bay for those who want to keep it “close to home,” but all dive operators also venture farther afield: Provo’s calm Northwest Point and nearby West Caicos with its superb wall, and pristine and protected French Cay, on the edge of the Caicos Banks. Grand Turk has dramatic walls close to shore. Reefs off Salt Cay have not seen many divers, so you will have them virtually all to yourself. Salt Cay is also the jumping-off point for divers to explore the wreck of the Endymion, a sailing vessel that met its demise in 1790. Although South Caicos also offers unspoiled reef to explore with exceptional visibility, note that there are no longer any dive companies operating locally. Big Blue Unlimited out of Provo, however, offers charter services. Expect to see sharks, dolphins, rays, turtles, and eels, as well as myriad other marine life.

Great Snorkeling

Many visitors return year after year because of the exceptional opportunities to snorkel in the Turks and Caicos. The waters are protected by the barrier reef just offshore and are therefore calm, providing relatively relaxing spots in which to snorkel in patch coral close to shore. Within Grace Bay on Providenciales, the Bight Reef is a favorite for many, as Grace Bay guests may access it easily in front of Coral Gardens Resort. Farther along is Smith’s Reef at the entrance to Turtle Cove. Although the snorkeling is excellent, the waters here are a little rougher, and there’s no buoyed area, so you’ll need to be careful of boat traffic. On the other side of the entrance you'll find Babalua Reef, a drive away from Grace Bay. This reef is farther offshore, but for a good swimmer, the experience is a little less busy.

Alternatively, you may wish to take a half- or full-day snorkeling excursion to one of the many uninhabited cays and secluded coves, or out to the main reef itself. There are many companies to choose from, all of which provide a great customized experience. You may want to dive for conch, snorkel for sand dollars, or stop to find submerged cannons left from yesteryear. Most visitors wish to stop at Little Water Cay (otherwise known as Iguana Island) to see the rock iguanas, and everyone wants to make at least a brief stop on one of the cays to experience a quiet, secluded beach.

If you want a more private experience, have a boat drop you off on one of the many secluded beaches for the day, leaving you with a cooler full of food and drink, along with beach chairs, umbrellas, and snorkel gear. There you can snorkel directly from the beach, and you'll often be alone.

A New Island Every Day

With eight inhabited islands, you can visit a different island every day of your weeklong stay in the Turks and Caicos. From Provo’s Walkin Marina at Heaving Down Rock, you can take one of several daily ferries over to North Caicos, rent a car, and explore plantation ruins, Cottage Pond, and resident flamingos, then drive over the causeway to Middle Caicos to visit limestone caves or hike the Crossing Place Trail. You will also want to enjoy the beauty of Mudjin Harbour or another secluded beach. There is also a much longer ferry that goes over to South Caicos twice a week. Alternatively, there are daily flights to South Caicos via InterCaribbean Airways and Caicos Express Airways.

One of the best day trips is to Grand Turk, with its laid-back charm. Both local airlines offer early-morning 30-minute flights that return the same day. Stroll down Front Street to see its original clapboard buildings dating back to the 1600s and stop at the beautiful Anglican Church. The Turks and Caicos National Museum has exhibits that include those on John Glenn’s first touchdown off of Grand Turk, the Molasses Reef wreck, local bush medicine, and the early inhabitants of the islands. There's also a lighthouse at the tip of the island and the original prison to visit. You can also swim with the stingrays through an excursion to Gibbs Cay. Stop at the Sand Bar on the way back to the airport for a drink on the deck overlooking the water. Give yourself two days on the island and you can even hop over to Salt Cay, referred to as “the island that time forgot.”

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