Best Outdoor Experiences in Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos has numerous outdoor experiences to enjoy, beyond simply spending a week lazing on the beach. From DIY snorkeling to food tours, and from taking a homeless “potcake” dog for a walk to riding a pony through the surf at sunset, Providenciales, the main tourist island in Turks and Caicos, is filled with opportunities for outdoor fun. Here are our favorite adventures on the island.

Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
The centerpiece of Turks and Caicos is Grace Bay, on the island of Providenciales (known locally as Provo), where the miles-long sugar-sand shore routinely tops “best beach” lists for the Caribbean and the world. The inland area along this stretch of northern shoreline is where you’ll find most of Provo’s hotels, shopping, and restaurants. Grace Bay is part of the Princess Alexandra National Park. It has calm waters and a sandy seafloor with no rocks or corals to step on, making Grace Bay the perfect place for swimming, splashing along the shoreline, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
If spending the day lounging on idyllic white sands and swimming in cerulean seas aren’t enough without some snuggle time with adorable puppies, plan a visit to Potcake Place, in Grace Bay. This volunteer-run nonprofit is dedicated to rescuing and finding adoptive homes for local dogs, most of which are a regional breed called “potcakes.” The center has around 50 dogs in foster care at any given time and places about 500 per year. Visitors can stop by the shelter, located in Salt Mills Plaza, to help socialize the dogs by taking them out for a day on the beach. A kit with food, leash, and other items is provided.
Airport Road
Book a horseback-riding tour along Provo’s white-sand beaches with Provo Ponies, which is owned by the affable Camille Slattery and located on the southeast end of the island. They offer two guided rides Monday through Friday (one in the morning, the other in the afternoon), while Saturdays are reserved for lessons on their properties, and horses get the day off on Sundays. Book well in advance during the busy season (December to May), as this is a highlight of many people’s holidays. Note this place can be hard to reach, so if you don’t have a car rental, choose their transport option from Grace Bay Beach for an extra $10 per person. Also expect to spend about three hours on the horse.
Cockburn Town TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
Always wondering where the next puddle jumper might take us, my family and I decided to venture a few islands over from our home base on Providenciales and head for Grand Turk one sunny day last January. Cockburn Town, the island territory’s capitol, is where most official Turks and Caicos business takes place. We had heard there were also some nice beaches on Grand Turk. As soon as our Air T&C flight landed, we spied a mammoth cruise ship docked nearby, regurgitating passengers onto the shore. Wondering if we had made a poor decision to visit the island, we quickly hopped into a taxi and sped away from the touristy scene. My pulse slowed down a bit as we put some distance between ourselves and the crowds, and my family received an abbreviated history of the island complements of our driver, Rita. Turns out, Grand Turk’s main claim to fame is that John Glenn’s Friendship 7 Mercury spacecraft landed just off shore in 1962. There’s even a statue at the airport commemorating the event. Our island tour took us down a straight, flat, 2-mile road and ended at a quaint little beach shack called The Sand Bar. It’s owned by a couple of Australian sisters, and the atmosphere is lovely. We found time to laze the afternoon away on a pristine (and deserted) nearby beach, and marveled at the fact that the Premiere of Turks and Caicos had been on our flight that morning. All-in-all, we found our little corner of Grand Turk to be quiet, pleasant, and simple, just like island life should be.
Airport Road
Book a sunset charter on Atebeyra, a boat that comes with a rum-running history (she ran booze during prohibition) for a unique evening excursion. The boat can also be chartered for day trips to the outer islands where you can spend the day lazing on deck and snorkeling in the gin clear sea.
Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
It is just a 350 foot wade into swim from Grace Bay Beach to the Bight Reef, which is the island’s most accessible and popular snorkeling spot. Although it isn’t the best snorkeling on the island - the visibility is poor on choppy water days - it is the easiest to attempt for novices or children as the trail is clearly marked the entire way with ropes so you can’t wander out of bounds and get lost. Plus the closeness to the beach makes it easy to come back should you get tired. Once on the trail expect to see a slew of relatively tame tropical fish (they are used to humans swimming around them) as well as larger fish like the barracuda and if you are lucky turtles, stingrays and even lobsters. There’s also coral, including some cool brain coral, but unfortunately the reef’s condition has declined over the last few decades thanks to irresponsible boat operators and also snorkelers who reach down to touch the living seascape and inadvertently doing irreparable damage. When snorkeling it is important to not touch anything, To access Bight Reef look for the signs for Coral Gardens Resort on Grace Bay Beach. The reef is directly in front and well sign posted.
Grace Bay Road, Providenciales TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
The only golf course in Turks and Caicos, the Provo Golf and Country Club opened in 1992. When it constructed, the builders called the site “Alcatraz” because creating a golf course on bare rock was as difficult as doing hard time. Today the course is a symbol of island ingenuity and popular with locals and visitors for its green grassy fairways and stunning sea views. The par-72 course was deigned by Florida’s Karl Litton and sites on 12 acres of inland lakes and marshes that are now home to a flamingo flock (flamingos are native to these islands), a decent heron population and plenty of other tropical birds and small animals, all of which can regularly be seen while playing. The course is easy on the eyes with hibiscus and oleander and more than 4,500 palm trees provide shade, as well as acting as wind breaks and hazards. Favorite holes include 12, 13, and 14, which are particularly scenic to play. After a day playing golf, grab a meal at Fairways, which does such good food that it attracts even non-golfers to the club for a bite.
Airport Road
Get on Board Water Sports offers a number of day trips to Grand Turk, where the water is a clear, deep blue and the visibility is some of the best in the world. Surrounded by protected reefs, the less developed island, offers healthy reefs and plenty of fish to see through a snorkel mask. The company offers a number of tour options, which offer a variety of combinations that take you snorkeling on the Grand Turk Wall, where you can see turtles and nurse sharks as well as the usual tropical fish and coral and also stop at Gibbs Cay, where you can interact with sting-rays. Trips also usually include a stop to dive for conch before reaching Gibbs Cay. Guests are welcome to try it along with the guides, and once the cay is reached a demonstration in cleaning and preparing a fresh conch salad is given before tasting the local specialty. Private boat charters are also offered.
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