The Best Things to Do in Turks and Caicos
These gorgeous islands are surrounded by the turquoise waters--and pink flamingos--of your Instagram dreams. From scuba diving on Grand Turk to horseback riding on the white sand of Long Bay Beach, you’ll spend plenty of time enjoying life in and near the water. But you’ll also find a fascinating National Museum, shopping in and around the capital of Cockburn Town, the craftsmen of Conch Bar and, speaking of conch, a deep dive into farming that favorite local delicacy.
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.
Front Street Cockburn, Cockburn Town TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
The only museum on the Turks and Caicos Islands sits on the historic Front Street of Cockburn Town, on Grand Turk. Occupying Guinep House, one of the area’s oldest standing buildings, the museum displays artifacts from the Molasses Reef shipwreck, a sunken caravel found off West Caicos. The ship, which dates from the early 1500s, makes this is the oldest European wreck to be excavated in the Americas. Salvaged items on display include cannons, pieces of the ship’s hull, and a variety of tools. There are also exhibits on local slavery and the indigenous Taino people who originally lived on the islands.
Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos, Turks & Caicos Islands
In the late 1700s, Cheshire Hall Plantation was one of the handful of cotton plantations operating on the Turks and Caicos Islands. During its heyday, the estate spanned thousands of acres, with hundreds of enslaved people working in the fields. Poor growing conditions led to its decline. Today, you can explore the scattered ruins, including remnants of the Great House, which was built from cut limestone. The $10 admission fee includes entrance to the site and a 30-minute guided tour. Cheshire Hall, conveniently located near downtown, offers the best-preserved colonial-era ruins on Providenciales, though Wade’s Green Plantation on North Caicos is the best preserved site of all the islands.
Providenciales, Leeward Settlement TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
Get an up-close look at one of the Turks and Caicos Islands’ most popular local delicacies with a visit to the Caicos Conch Farm, on the east end of Providenciales. Queen conch are large marine snails prized for both their beautiful pink shells and their delicate meat, which is used in a variety of local dishes from fritters to a ceviche-like salad. The farm raises the shellfish sustainably in ocean pens, and visitors can see the creatures at various stages of their life cycle. There’s also a hands-on experience with a pair of resident conch, and the gift shop sells conch pearls, as well as jewelry and other items made from conch shells.
188 Chalk Sound Dr, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks & Caicos Islands
In the southwest of Providenciales, this national park encompasses the tranquil Chalk Sound lagoon, a large expanse of shallow water connected to the ocean by a small channel. Check out the fringe of jagged limestone, called ironshore, along the shorelines of the lagoon and its small islets. You can rent a car and explore scenic Chalk Sound Drive, or you can stop at Las Brisas Restaurant to rent kayaks for a paddling adventure. See if you can spot stingrays and small sharks finning through the water, or the local rock iguanas foraging on the islands.
Conch Bar TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
Watch local artisans weave handmade baskets, hats, and bags from local grasses and palm fronds using traditional methods at the Middle Caicos Co-op. This nonprofit center helps support the local community on Middle Caicos and keeps Caribbean crafting traditions alive. Visitors stopping by the studio, located in Conch Bar, will often find a handful of the co-op’s 60 artists on site, happy to demonstrate their process and answer questions as they work on their pieces. Along with woven items, you’ll also find model sailboats, jewelry, and other handicrafts.
Unnamed Road, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
Take a hike into the cool confines of an underground cave system on Middle Caicos Island. Conch Bar Caves is the largest nonsubmerged system in the region, featuring a type of cave that is created by the karst process in which rain water slowly erodes subterranean channels through limestone. Exploring the interior will reveal chambers with tidal pools, rock formations, and four species of bats. Some instances of graffiti within the caves are over a century old, left by guano miners during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Visitors must hire a local guide to enter the caves.
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.
Grace Bay Rd, Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
If you’re looking for an evening out playing the odds at cards or other games on the Turks and Caicos Islands, Casablanca Casino is the only spot that offers live gaming, with six games —including baccarat, blackjack, and roulette—at a dozen tables. You can also try your luck at any of the 85 slot machines, or simply enjoy a cocktail from the bar. The casino is located near Grace Bay, with free shuttles running to and from many of the resorts.
The Hole is a geologic formation that offers a dramatic look at the same karst process that created Conch Bar Caves and other limestone sinkholes and caverns found throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands. As its name implies, the Hole is area’s largest limestone sinkhole, about 60 feet deep and 50 feet across. A pool of water at the bottom connects to Juba Sound’s nearby ponds through an underground tunnel. You can rent a car and drive to the Hole on the east side of Juba Sound; however, use caution when walking near the edge, as limestone can crumble.
Gibbs Cay, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
Swim with large southern stingrays in the warm blue water around Gibbs Cay. This secluded seven-acre island is a short boat ride from Grand Turk and a popular day trip for many visitors. The stingrays are quite friendly after years of regular feeding and interactions with humans. Your boat guide will provide fish scraps to feed the rays as you snorkel in the shallow water. Day trips may also include time on the island and stops to snorkel and dive for conch.
Little Water Cay, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
A visit to Little Water Cay offers the best chance of spotting the endangered Turks and Caicos rock iguanas that were once prolific throughout the islands. Local conservation efforts at this small islet have helped revive their population. Two boardwalks allow visitors to take an easy stroll and look for the lizards. You can visit Little Water Cay as part of an organized boat trip, or simply rent a kayak and paddle there from the Leeward Marina area on Providenciales. There is a visitor center on the island where you can pay the admission fee.
TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
If you find yourself on Middle Caicos, don’t miss one of the most dramatic shorelines on the islands, along Mudjin Harbor. The three-mile-long stretch has tall limestone cliffs that drop directly into the water, interspersed by sandy coves. The ocean here is often too rough for swimming or snorkeling, but there are excellent walking trails, including the historic Crossing Place Trail that provides great views of the coastline. Mudjin Harbor also has two large sea caves that you can explore from the beach.
Pond St, Cockburn Town TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
Columbus Landfall National Park encompasses both the land and water on the entire west side of Grand Turk, a total of 1,280 acres of protected areas, including around 25 excellent scuba diving sites. Most of these dive sites sit along a submarine wall that drops more than 7,000 feet deep. Places such as Coral Canyon and Black Forest have stunning gardens of hard and soft corals clinging to the edge of the wall, and divers can spot everything from colorful angelfish to sleek reef sharks there. (As you may have guessed by its name, this is also believed by some to be where Christopher Columbus first landed in the New World.)
Flamingo Pond, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
West Indian flamingos are a common site in the wetlands throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands. One of the best spots to see large flocks of these iconic pink birds is the Flamingo Pond Overlook on North Caicos. The pond itself is surrounded by dense mangroves, so it’s bit of a burden to reach the water’s edge. Bring binoculars or a long camera lens if you hope to get a close look at the birds. The overlook is easy to find, situated along the side of Whitby Highway, the main road along the north side of North Caicos.