A Primer on Turks and Caicos

If you always wondered why it was called “Turks” and “Caicos” plural, it is because it is a chain of 40 island sitting to the East of Cuba amid some of the most beautiful oceans, beaches and islands in this hemisphere; only six of the islands are inhabited. The islands sit on a shelf or plateau that is about 40-45 feet deep – forming a 600+ square mile bank that runs out to its surrounding edge where you will find the third largest reef as the shelf drops off to an abyss 7,000 feet deep. This is a must see sight for any diver!

Why Go? If you are seeking peace and relaxation, not nightlife teeming with bars and wild parties, this is a great choice. You will find it a little more sophisticated, grown up even. Imagine your favorite uncle wearing jeans and loafers as he sat on the deck just before the sunset weaving stories filled with adventure of his youth — this is the feel of Turks and Caicos, warm, familiar, safe, with an edge of wonder. A place that is comfortable to be, like coming home. You will not find any of the peddlers or hawkers that Jamaica is known for. Grace Bay is also one of the cleanest beaches you will find anywhere; the people of the Turks and Caicos have realized that the value of the beauty that surrounds them and determined it must be protected. They are doing an excellent job of learning to become a steward, not simply treating it as a commodity to be exploited. Even the official island slogan, Turks and Caicos, Beautiful by Nature, acknowledges the importance of the natural beauty of the islands. While you should always use good judgment when traveling, just as would at home, the Turks and Caicos boast a very low crime rate.

The island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, also known as Provo, is more hilly, green, developed, commercialized and populated (aka where the tourists go) than any of the other islands in the chain, but the islands as a whole are drier and flatter than many other Caribbean Islands, and technically located in the Atlantic Ocean and not the Caribbean sea, but that does not take away from the island paradise feel that are the Turks and Caicos. Provo offers excellent diving, and one of the best beaches in the world (Grace Bay), here you will find a variety of accommodations specializing in luxury hotels, resorts and condominiums as well as magnificent villas adorned with private plunge pools, upscale kitchens and white picket fences that are perfect for your group or traveling with extended family.

This is a destination to snorkel – Midwest Travel Solutions highly recommends that you invest in your own snorkel equipment that you can take with you again and again. Just 50 ft from shore lie fabulous live coral formations and where there is coral, you will always find plenty of vibrant tropical fish.

To see truly deserted beaches, hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the Northwest Point Marine National Park and Nature Reserve. We recommend staying for the sunset, but take along plenty of insect repellent or you’ll be too miserable to enjoy it. The beach at Northwest Point is excellent, so go early and take a dip before sunset.

Another do-not-miss attraction is the marine preserve at Chalk Sound (near Five Cays Settlement), a lagoon surrounded by limestone deposits. The mangroves and estuaries there are best explored in a rented sea kayak.

More Amazing Stuff To-Do

Visit Little Water Cay, an uninhabited islet off the northeast tip of Provo, has a nature trail where you can see rock iguanas, a species found only in the Turks and Caicos.

From February through April this is one of the best regions to experience the magnificence of whale watching as the the Caribbean humpback whales migrate through the Turks Head passage, just past Salt Cay toward the Silver Banks of the Dominican Republic for birthing and then returning back to Salt Cay.

In addition to enjoying watersports, visitors to Provo can tour the world’s only conch farm (Caicos Conch Farm), which, despite the sedentary nature of the “crop,” is really quite interesting: You’ll learn, for instance, that about one conch in 10,000 grows a pearl. Stop at the island’s historic Cheshire Hall plantation for a glimpse into Provo’s past.
You might catch a game of local soccer (known as football in this British colony) down at the football pitch behind the IGA supermarket or see a cricket match at the ballpark in downtown Provo. Children, especially, will enjoy the rock wall, mini-golf and go-karts at Fun World, on Leeward Highway.

If you’re lucky, you can swim the reef with JoJo, a rogue dolphin (he doesn’t swim with a pod) who enjoys human company. JoJo was declared a national treasure by the Ministry of Natural Resources in 1989, and he can still be encountered swimming in and around Grace Bay. You can’t touch or feed him, though, for your own good as well as his—he has been known to bite those who try to pet him. The best place to spot JoJo is in the Princess Alexandra Marine Park.

You will find the prices on the island higher than many other Caribbean destinations but the value in the uniqueness that makes the Turks and Caicos paradise found. Expect this stunning chain of islands where the residents are gracious, welcoming and simply wonderful people to get to know to deliver an incredible vacation experience. The island has some exceptional all-inclusive options, let Midwest Travel Solutions help you choose the best resort for you!

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