Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

Savour a slice of paradise and recalibrate to the slow pace of island living in the exclusive archipelago synonymous with luxury tourism  

Writer: Phoebe Harper  |  Project Manager: Krisha Canlas
 
 
Located to the southeast of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is a paradisiacal archipelago comprising over 40 islands and cays – only nine of which are inhabited. These low-lying coral islands are said to host the bluest waters in the Caribbean and float serenely above the third-largest barrier reef in the world.
 
Boasting the undeniable magnetism of pristine swathes of icing sugar sand, fringed with gently swaying palm trees and temperate azure waters that are the gateway to a thriving marine realm, it comes as no surprise that beaches and a heavy dose of ‘Vitamin Sea’ are the main draws for those visiting TCI, compared to its flashier and more developed Caribbean island neighbours. Nevertheless, the endless flurry of celebrities that choose TCI as their chosen getaway testify to the island chain’s status as a haven for luxury tourism. 
 
Throughout TCI, you will be spoilt for choice with all-inclusive luxury resorts and tasteful villas designed for serenity and seclusion a stone’s throw from the ocean. It is this emphasis on luxury that naturally lends a certain exclusivity to TCI, meaning that any visitor is unlikely to encounter masses of tourists. Meanwhile, far-flung islets such as Ambergris Cay and Pine Cay, are private island getaways home to hidden resorts.
 
As you may have guessed from the name, TCI is composed of two island groups. The larger cluster of the Caicos Islands chain to the west comprises Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, South Caicos, and West Caicos, whilst the smaller Turks Islands of Salt Cay and Grand Turk lie to the east. Although Providenciales represents the modern-day hub of tourism in TCI, the historic centre of Cockburn Town on Grand Turk is the cultural and historic capital, where you will find colonial-style mansions, and a National Museum boasting spoils from centuries-old shipwrecks that have fallen prey to the surrounding reefs. 
 
In terms of wildlife, TCI is a haven for migrating humpback whales and is reputed as one of the world’s best destinations for whale watching. Turtles and dolphins are other staples of marine life here. If joining a boat tour, you may be blessed with an appearance from the local celebrity and national treasure – Jojo, the wild bottlenose dolphin known for his naturally playful interactions with passers-by. 
 
Wildlife enthusiasts will marvel at TCI’s expansive selection of national parks, nature reserves and sanctuaries, all of which are protected areas. Alongside a whole host of other natural delights, spot endemic rock iguanas on Little Water Cay, otherwise known as Iguana Island, or observe a vibrant flamboyance of flamingos on the salt salinas of South Caicos. 
 
Elsewhere, wild donkeys abound, many of whom are descendants from the animals that were originally used in the heyday of salt production across the islands, supposedly brought here by Bermudians to pull carts across the salt flats. It is not uncommon to see them wandering the streets freely, especially in Grand Turk.
 
Whilst the flora and fauna of the islands are the real calling card, TCI is a land ripe with culture and history for those interested in peeling back the layers of this fascinating destination. Its cultural legacy extends far beyond colonialism, to when these shores were inhabited by the Taino and Lucayan Indians before Christopher Columbus set foot on Grand Turk in the late fifteenth century during his discovery voyage of the “New World”. 
 
These shores are ripe with romantic tales of piracy and smuggling, transporting you back to bygone centuries when these islands and cays were the playground of pirates lying in wait to target Spanish treasure galleons. Some claim that the word ‘Turk’ behind the islands’ name hearkens back to this time, as a term that translated as pirate during the days of the Ottoman Empire. However, the popular local interpretation is that TCI refers to the indigenous Turk’s Head ‘Fez’ cactus, and the name ‘Caicos’ – from the Lucayan term ‘caya hico’, meaning chain of islands
TCI’s cultural legacy is tangible in the local cuisine, with a fondness for shellfish, conch in particular, being passed down through the centuries. Indeed, TCI hosts the world’s only commercial conch farm. Other seafood delights can be enjoyed on a weekly Thursday-night traditional fish fry, where you can taste the Jamaican influence with generous sprinklings of Cajun and jerk seasoning. TCI’s culinary delights are best washed down with a locally brewed rum such as Spicy Gosling, or a glass of the local favourite Turks Head Beer. 
 
Each island in TCI is a destination of its own, with a different feel and unique offering depending on your preferences. With almost 40 separate islands to explore, TCI will keep you coming back for more.

Industry Insights: Turks and Caicos Tourist Board 

As the promotional body tasked with maintaining the TCI’s status as an attractive tourist destination, we get some exclusive insight into the islands, where to visit, and why, with Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, Caesar Campbell. 
 
Outlook Travel (OT): Firstly, could you talk us through the origins of the tourist board and its initial mission?  
Caesar Campbell, Chairman (CC): In 1969, after a Legislative Assembly decision, Hon. Norman Saunders and John Wainwright went on a research tour exploring The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Barbados, and Martinique before deciding whether or not TCI should pursue tourism. Based on their findings, Hon. Saunders and Wainwright recommended that TCI should indeed pursue tourism as an industry. After approximately a year of further research, which included discussions with leading tourism experts, Hon. Saunders ultimately decided that TCI should specifically pursue a high-end tourism model, which would require fewer tourist arrivals and thus have a lower ecological footprint. Following his recommendation, the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board was founded with Hon. Norman Saunders as its Executive Chairman, and other members including Hubert James, Clifford Stanley Jones, Darthney James, and Cecelia DaCosta (now Cecelia Lightbourne). The initial mission of the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board was to promote tourism in TCI, to identify developers who were willing to invest in this undeveloped industry, as well as set policies, which moulded the luxury tourism that TCI is globally known for today.  
 
OT: As the newly appointed Chairman of the Board, what is your vision for tourism in TCI? Are there any major changes you would like to drive?
CC: My vision is for us to be even more intentional with tourism. TCI has been blessed with many natural assets that play a significant role in attracting visitors every year. And while we, as a country, have done an excellent job in developing our tourism product, I am confident that by making more data-driven decisions we will be able to achieve even greater results. Our transition from a Tourist Board into a Destination Management Organisation (DMO) and a Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) will involve prioritising data collection. 
 
We will ensure that this data is used to improve the full customer journey – from researching TCI to travelling here to departing and booking the next trip back to our ‘Beautiful by Nature’ islands. This data will also be utilised to further diversify and strengthen our tourism offerings, as we drive tourists to vacation in our sister islands.  
OT: After recently opening your borders with no proof of vaccination or PCR requirements, are you confident of the tourism sector’s recovery in the wake of COVID-19?   
CC: While travellers are no longer required to provide a negative COVID-19 test or proof of travel insurance to gain entry to the country, we’re still requiring visitors over the age of 18 to show proof of full vaccination for the health and safety of our locals and visitors. Currently, more than 85 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated — making TCI one of the most inoculated countries in the world. Knowing how proactive the government has been with its vaccination programme, visitors have felt comfortable travelling to TCI and our arrival numbers have made a full recovery. We’re confident that tourism will only continue to grow, thanks to the hard work of our local communities who continue to make TCI one of the world’s most desirable travel destinations.  
 
OT: Have you noticed any new tourism trends emerge from this time?   
CC: As working from home remains more popular, we’ve seen more people extending their travels for a longer period of time so they can live and work remotely from paradise. Our luxury villas are a perfect option for longer stays with multigenerational families or groups, and many are even purchasing second homes to spend more time here. Another trend we’ve seen is that booking windows have shortened – with travel sometimes more up in the air, visitors aren’t booking quite as far in advance as they were pre-pandemic. As TCI is just a quick flight from the US and the East Coast in particular, it makes for an ideal last-minute getaway, which we’ve been seeing more of.  
OT: How does TCI appeal to travellers in search of luxury?   
CC: Home to the iconic “World’s Best Beach”, TCI offers breathtaking hues from inviting waters, legendary diving and snorkelling, culinary delights, and warm, authentic hospitality. TCI consists of 40 islands and cays, nine of which are inhabited, so travellers in search of luxury can continue to return to enjoy stays not only on Providenciales, but on our boutique sister islands, which offer added seclusion and a sense of discovery. We’re also renowned for our world-class hotels, villas, spas, and restaurants, situated along stretches of uncrowded beaches and vibrant coral reefs. On land or below the water, guests can relax in the unique serenity, hospitality, and beauty of this extraordinary destination.
 
OT: Similarly, what do the islands have to offer in terms of sustainable travel experiences? Is eco-friendly travel an important pillar of tourism for TCI?
CC: Prioritising the planet and our wildlife has been a longstanding focus of the destination for decades, with sustainability measures from our government, local businesses, hotels and resorts, and the participation of visitors, to ensure the islands’ pristine natural environments are preserved for generations to come. Ecotourism is a huge effort of ours and allows visitors to enjoy remarkable excursions without the environmental impacts. For example, Big Blue Collective, a popular tour operator on Providenciales is the first company to decrease its overall footprint with quieter and less polluting four stroke motors; excursions via power catamarans; the elimination of single-use plastics such as bottles, cups, and plates from their tours; and a requirement for reef-safe sunscreen on all trips.
 
The TCI government has also taken steps to instil eco-friendly laws that all establishments must adhere to, including banning the use of plastic straws, Styrofoam products, plastic bags, cars over 10 years old, and more. On top of this, many resorts have enacted their own eco-initiatives, such as waste management, energy-saving methods, using electric vehicles, and more. 
 
Lastly, the preservation of our wildlife is another priority. Through its enactment of a Protected Areas system, the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) ensures the protection and promotion of biodiversity throughout the islands. In fact, the destination has one of the most extensive Protected Area (PA) systems in the Caribbean, with 35 PAs including national parks, nature reserves, sanctuaries, and areas of historic interest.
OT: Looking ahead, what are the tourism board’s key priorities for the coming year?  
CC: Our biggest priority for the coming year is successfully transitioning the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board to a DMO and creating a TRA. The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board has done an incredible job moulding a successful tourism product, and through the DMO and TRA we seek to amplify those efforts. These entities will facilitate more alignment and collaboration between all tourism-relevant stakeholders – including the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College – whilst also providing intensive training. This, combined with more regulation, will ensure that the world-class experiences that TCI is known for will be standardised and strengthened even further across every entity that is immersed in our tourism economy. New businesses will quickly be brought up to speed while older businesses will be modernised. Through the DMO and TRA, we will also be placing greater emphasis on the generation and utilisation of data catalysing the implementation of more strategic data-driven decision-making that continuously polishes our tourism product.  
 
OT: Finally, in your opinion, why should someone visit TCI?  
CC: TCI is a high-end destination that truly has something for everyone seeking luxury travel. Though brand awareness, TCI has made significant strides over recent decades – particularly over the last 10 years – and tourist arrivals are steadily increasing. Our commitment to luxury tourism prevents our islands being overburdened with an unmanageable number of visitors. As a result, each and every guest can enjoy the intricacies of TCI.
 
Our tourism hub, Providenciales, is globally known for being home to Grace Bay Beach. With its powdery soft sand, mesmerising turquoise waters, and non-existent crowds, it is no surprise that it is known as the “World’s Best Beach”. Tourists can enjoy stretches of this award-winning beach to themselves, while only being steps away from world-class resorts and restaurants.
 
But TCI is so much more than just Providenciales. Our boutique sister islands each shine in their own right and cater to a multitude of unique experiences.
 
While in Grand Turk, history buffs can learn at the Turks and Caicos National Museum before visiting the salt ponds, the Grand Turk Lighthouse, and the ruins of the U.S. NAVY NAVFAC 104 BASE., South Caicos, commonly known as “The Big South”, attracts those seeking an adrenaline rush from reeling in an energetic bonefish or being carried by the Atlantic Ocean winds while kiteboarding. 
 
For the eco-tourist, the twin islands of Middle Caicos and North Caicos provide the Conch Bar Caves and Mudjin Harbour to explore, lush farmland brimming with mouth-watering tropical fruit to enjoy, and amazing birdwatching with flamboyances of flamingos at Flamingo Pond Overlook. While Salt Cay is small, the memories that it provides are certainly not, as visitors head over to “the island that time forgot” to witness one of the world’s largest animals migrating – humpback whales. And for those seeking an ultra-secluded and uber-premium experience, we offer private islands, such as Parrot Cay, Ambergris Cay, and Pine Cay. TCI truly has something for everyone.

IN FOCUS: Providenciales

 
Colloquially known as Provo, Providenciales is the centre of tourist activity in TCI. At 38 square miles, it is the third largest landmass in the island chain. The majority of travellers will arrive at Providenciales International Airport, and transfer straight to one of a myriad luxury resorts, hotels and villas found throughout the island. 
 
Arguably Provo’s biggest attraction is the stretch of sand that has repeatedly been nominated as the World’s Best Beach by a wide range of tourism and travel publications – Grace Bay Beach. Such is the area’s draw, celebrities such as Beyoncé and the Kardashian tribe are often seen strolling along its white-sand shores. However, it is beyond these beaches where you are most likely to see the real local celebrity of Jojo the bottlenose dolphin. Some of the island’s other most popular beach spots include Long Bay, Sapodilla Bay, Blue Hills Beach and Taylor Bay, with some fantastic reef snorkelling opportunities such as Smith’s Reef. 
 
As the most populous area in TCI, those looking for a lively nightlife scene should look no further, since downtown Provo is known for some of the best bars and restaurants in the archipelago – not to mention the regular Thursday night Fish Fry. Aside from this, here you can also explore cultural delights such as local arts and crafts at the Bamboo Gallery. 
 
Since the opening of TCI’s first resort hotel here in 1990, Providenciales has continued to develop as a centre for all the modern conveniences that a traveller might need.

Landmark attractions 

Chalk Sound National Park 
This secluded natural lagoon is a startling shade of turquoise, dotted with small islands where endemic Turks and Caicos Rock Iguanas cling to the rock. Elsewhere, the park hosts an underwater cave and an abandoned plane wreck. A short drive from Grace Bay, this is the ideal location to rent a kayak or hop on a stand-up paddleboard. 
Mudjin Harbour
The highlight of Middle Caicos, Mudjin is known for its dramatic limestone cliffs, white-sand beach and Dragon Cay – a small limestone inshore island. Next to the beach, you will find the extensive dry cave system of the Conch Bar Caves. Keen hikers might try the historical Crossing Place trail, which will lead you to Mudjin on a path traversing hills, cliffs and beaches. 
The Grand Turk Lighthouse 
This historic iron monument, originally cast in England in 1852, oversees TCI’s infamous northeast reef. This spot was notorious for causing shipwrecks and threatened the islands’ salt industry as ships feared to draw near. Visit for jaw-dropping panoramic views, particularly during whale watching season and a touch of historical insight.  

A glance at the sister islands of TCI

With over 40 different islands and cays, TCI offers a wealth of different locations to stay and explore. Here’s a whistlestop guide to some of the main islands and the unique experiences that each has to offer. 
 
Dive into Culture on Grand Turk... 
The capital island of TCI, Grand Turk is known for its rustic charm and cultural appeal. This tropical isle boasts several enigmatic remnants of TCI’s history; from the towering lighthouse built in 1852 to the site of the supposed first landfall here by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Discover the Turks and Caicos National Museum in the historic setting of Guinep House, and admire scenic Bermudian style architecture from the island’s salt raking era as you stroll along streets shaded by bougainvillea in Cockburn Town.
 
Cultural appetites satisfied, Grand Turk is also a mecca for divers, with an underwater drop of 7,000 feet making for one of the best wall dive sites in the world. With excellent water clarity and a thriving barrier reef, the underwater wall sites off the shores of Grand Turk support a kaleidoscopic array of fish, sea creatures and coral. The most popular diving areas are found off the west coast of Grand Turk in the Columbus Landfall National Park.
 
Explore a riot of colour on North Caicos...
“The Emerald Isle”, North Caicos is an island defined by colour, as a lush and verdant paradise that receives an abundance of rainfall throughout the year. Here, you can observe the largest flock of Pink Flamingo in the islands, with flamboyances regularly spotted at either Flamingo Pond or Mud Hole Pond. The island hosts extensive sanctuaries and nature reserves, particularly for the varied birdlife that flock to these shores, whilst iguanas can be spotted on the nearby East Bays Cay.
 
Once TCI’s agricultural home, visit the historic ruins of long-abandoned plantations, the most popular of which is Wade’s Green Plantation which has almost become overtaken by vegetation. This agricultural legacy survives today, with several local farms harvesting the callaloo, plantain and sweet potato that are sold throughout TCI. 
 
North Caicos is nicknamed “the breadbasket of the Turks and Caicos”, thanks to the thriving local craft tradition of straw work. Most of North Caicos’ inhabitants are concentrated round the settlements of Bottle Creek Village, Whitby, Kew and Sandy Point. The island is linked with Middle Caicos through a causeway, making it easy to travel between the two.
 
Venture off the beaten track on Middle Caicos...
The largest island in the TCI chain, Middle Caicos is the second half of the twin islands of Middle and North Caicos. A haven for natural wonders, Middle Caicos hosts an extensive labyrinthine cave system, comprising Conch Bar Cave and the Indian Cave. Spanning for miles, these are the largest underground network of limestone caves in the Caribbean. 
 
The three major settlements include Conch Bar, Lorimers, and Bambarra, the latter of which is known for the breathtaking scenery of Bambarra Beach. The word ‘Bambarra’ refers to the Bamberra people, originating from the banks of the Niger River in West Africa. 

A reminder of the island’s past, this area was settled in 1842 by the survivors of the ‘Gambia’ shipwreck, emerging from the wreckage of a Spanish slave ship bound for Cuba. 

The multicultural origins of Middle Caicos are evident in other place names, such as Mudjin Harbour – a variation of the area’s original name of ‘Bermudian Harbour’. This section of coastline offers dramatic panoramic views, with limestone cliffs and swelling seas. 
 
A playground for adventure, Middle Caicos offers hiking, biking, and sea fishing in hobie tandem kayaks.
 
Set sail for the Big South with South Caicos...
This quiet island is known for its modest small-scale fishing industry, with conch, lobster and fish being sourced and shipped from South Caicos to international markets. Visitors can arrange to spend a day on the water fishing for their own supper or purchasing some fresh delicacies from local fishing plants for a tantalising ‘sea to table’ dining experience. Clear tidal flats make for ideal bone-fishing conditions, in pursuit of the elusive ‘grey ghost’. Venture out with a local fisherman for some expert guidance. A marine wonderland, snorkelling, fishing and scuba diving along awe-inspiring wall sites at Amos’ Wall, Eagle Nest or the Arch, are the main attractions here.
 
Just a ferry ride or short flight from Providenciales, South Caicos hosts a mixture of luxury resorts and accommodations. This is an island geared for immersion in nature, and a quiet, low-key getaway. Soak up the secluded shores of Long Beach, Easy Bay and Bell Sound to name just a few, or lace up your walking shoes to explore the Highlands of South Caicos, traversing rolling dunes and limestone cliffs. The island locals, known as Harbonians, are famously friendly, and you won’t regret paying a visit to this hidden gem. 
 
Slow the pace on the eco oasis of Salt Cay...
Many say that Salt Cay is the island that time forgot. Although its slow-paced charm may have you thinking otherwise, this was once the bustling centre of TCI’s salt industry, as you can see by the now abandoned salinas. Elsewhere, the ruins of an old whaling station on Taylor’s Hill, not far from the beaches of Long Bay, offer a panoramic lookout point with unbeaten views. 
 
At just 2.5 square miles, it is easy to explore Salt Cay, whose population stands at less than 80 people. This is compensated for by a very healthy number of resident donkeys! Either bicycles or golf carts are the primary modes of local transportation. 
 
Thanks to its position on Turks Island Passage, Salt Cay is well regarded as one of the best spots for whale watching in TCI, as giant humpbacks dwarf the island’s, tiny size during migrating season in January through to April. This is the time to visit, as many local catamarans and yacht operators offer trips for an unforgettable close encounter.

A Foodie Snapshot of TCI

The food in TCI is testament to the various cultural influences found throughout the archipelago. A gastronomical voyage here will expose you to flavours from Europe, South America, South Asia and West Africa, alongside other island territories such as Bermuda, Jamaica, and of course the original inhabitants of the native Taíno people.  
 
 Aside from the Thursday Fish Fry, Provo has developed a reputation for tourist-friendly culinary options, so for those seeking a truly authentic island eating experience, venture to the quieter islands of Salt Cay, North and Middle Caicos, or South Caicos – the fishing capital of TCI. 
 
Unsurprisingly, seafood is the staple of island cuisine, with conch being the signature ingredient. Akin to a giant sea snail, fried conch fritters are a popular way of serving this local delicacy, or it may be served raw in citrus juices. You would be remiss not to try cracked conch – which is widely acknowledged as TCI’s national dish. Visit Provo’s Da Conch Shack to experience the taste at a national institution.  
 
Fish and lobster are other favourites, particularly snapper and grouper so fresh it was likely caught that very day. If ordering fish, bear in mind that means the whole fish! For the more adventurous, embark on a fishing trip to source your own dinner in a ‘sea to table’ experience. 
 
In terms of locally grown ingredients, the weather conditions here don’t naturally lend themselves to a productive agricultural sector, however sweet potato, okra, peppers and plantains are all harvested in certain areas. Old-style dishes might also include peas and rice, grits, or hominy, which has long been used in TCI as an alternative to rice made from drought resistant maize. Another is ‘johnny cake’, derived from the term ‘journey cake’, as a pan baked cornbread that was typically given to fishermen embarking on long trips, since it would preserve so well. 
 
With such a varied range of dishes on offer, island cuisine is sure to delight. 

A Diver’s Guide to Turks and Caicos Islands

Julie Anderson, Global Brand Director of world-leading scuba diving training organisation PADI, shares her tips and tricks for exploring the underwater world of Turks and Caicos
 
The diving in Turks and Caicos is some of the best in the western hemisphere - and it is what these islands are known for. It’s an absolute diver’s paradise and the third-largest barrier reef in the world. 
 
Every dive is spectacular with stunning coral formations, many of them on steep walls. Fish life is plentiful and healthy as well. Whether you are into searching for amazing macro creatures or gliding with spotted eagle rays - the dives in TCI will not disappoint.
 
The underwater conditions - low current, stunning beautiful crystal-clear water with exceptional visibility, combined with great weather and water temperatures that are consistently higher than 75 degrees - make it a perfect place for learning to dive or logging some time underwater. With the walls, wrecks, diverse marine life, and even swim thru’s, it’s perfect for advanced divers. It’s also a fantastic place to go with non-divers who are interested in trying scuba diving for the first time and even getting certified themselves.
 
What divers can expect to see
TCI is situated on an expansive underwater plateau that rises 7,000 feet from the ocean floor, with most of the islands being located directly on the north edge of this plateau. That means incredible wall structures, healthy coral, and a lot of incredible marine life in all shapes and sizes. The reefs are plentiful and, given the wall structure, you’ll see robust and dense coral species at deeper depths that you may have never seen before. The massive orange elephant ear sponges surrounded by contrasting, bright purple gorgonian coral with a Caribbean reef shark gliding above in crystal clear blue water is a vision I’ll forever have in my mind as my happy place!
 
You’ll also have the chance to encounter larger migratory species, such as humpback whales, sharks, turtles, rays, and dolphins. You never know what might swim by - especially during January through March, as many pelagic species use the channels between the islands as watery “highways”. Navigating through coral heads or swimming around wrecks in stunning visibility allows you to take it all in - including chance encounters with megafauna!
 
Grand Turk, as well as the neighbouring island of Salt Cay, are two of the best destinations in the world for swimming with humpback whales. From January to April, mothers come to these shallow waters to calve. For snorkellers, it’s a humbling and awe-inspiring chance to swim eye-to-eye with these charismatic megafaunas. If you’ve never swam with a whale before - it is a life-changing experience. 
 
Marvel at colourful fish in all shapes and sizes, the incredible schools of horse-eyed jacks, the man-made (wreck) structures, and the constant Hawksbill turtle sightings. Of course, you will also have the chance to meet Jojo - the resident, wild dolphin - and national treasure - who often welcomes divers to the islands. 
 
Some of the best dives I have had here were during sunset. It is when the reefs begin changing and you see both the nighttime and daytime creatures roaming about in such hectic numbers that you don’t know where to look! Then, after a dive of a lifetime, you surface to a gorgeous sunset on the water, where words really do not do these colours justice.
The islands you should visit:
The islands are teeming with epic dive sites and there is a lot of diversity between each one in terms of development, feel, and, of course, underwater topography. All are equally beautiful with gorgeous white sand beaches and crystal turquoise water. If you are looking for a more remote, “castaway” style of island life, some of the smaller islands definitely fit the bill. 

I loved my liveaboard trips, moving from island to island to discover new dive sites and be in the water literally all day - and into the evening. It’s a fantastic way to explore everything from walls to wrecks. 

However, I’ve also stayed in “Provo” and with so many dive sites to choose from close to shore, I loved the posh Grace Bay and the diversity of the dives as well. 

PADI has 13 Dive Centres in TCI on four different islands - and nearly half of those are five star - all of which are fantastic choices for every dive adventure. There are also two liveaboard choices as well.

My travel tips for Turks and Caicos:
Be prepared to do a lot of diving! Make sure your gear is comfortable - and you have everything you need to be cosy underwater and topside. The weather is great - so don’t forget a lot of sun protection - including rash guards for the boat trips. I personally hate putting wet dive suits on, so I brought a few light suits and swapped between them. 

And while you are headed to and from the dive sites, make sure you are prepared to hop in with snorkel gear in case you see a pod of dolphins or some other magical sight. I always had my fins, mask, snorkel, and an extra weight belt at the ready.
 
TCI is fantastic for families - and even for non-divers. I spent many family vacations there throughout my childhood and into adulthood. We loved spending time underwater together - and it was a great place for both my young brother and my mother (who was afraid of the water at one point) to get PADI certified as well. They both became hooked on diving for life thanks to the encouraging PADI pros and gorgeous underwater environments.

If you are looking for an epic vacation and love diving, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s stunning and a fantastic place to seek adventure under the surface.
 
If you haven’t yet discovered the underwater world but you’re thinking about becoming a diver, as summer approaches it’s the perfect time to dive in and learn to scuba. The weather is generally better, the waters are warmer and the seas are calmer. These conditions are ideal to get scuba certified.

The first step is to book your PADI Open Water Diver Course with a verified PADI Dive Centre. In doing so, you can be assured you’re receiving top training from qualified dive professionals. They will guide you as you begin this exciting journey underwater.

Outlook recommends

 
DO:
For island hopping boat tours from Providenciales... 
Caicos Dream Tours promises to deliver what its name suggests – unforgettable, dream-worthy experiences through island-hopping boat tours, or personalised snorkelling, fishing and water sports adventures around Provo. Whether a group snorkelling trip, or an intimate honeymoon celebration with a private charter for two, Caicos Dream Tours has the fleet and experienced staff to create your ideal tour. Included on board is all the necessary snorkelling gear, and a host of complementary beverages to keep you refreshed whilst exploring.
 
Whatever your trip, captains, tour desk staff and welcoming, knowledgeable guides are dedicated to enhancing your experience in TCI. 
 
For exhilarating sports fishing excursions... 
Based out of Provo’s Turtle Cove Marina, Catchin' Caicos specialises in private, luxury fishing trips and exclusive boating excursions. Whether a novice or expert, the Catchin’ Caicos team are on hand to ensure you get the most out of your fishing experience. With a bespoke offering, your trip can be entirely customised based on your preferences – whether its deep sea or bottom fishing, or perhaps even just a sunset cruise. Boasting over 40 years’ experience of fishing in TCI, guests can benefit from the unparalleled expertise of island resident Captain Roy, otherwise known as ‘The Fish Whisperer’. 
 
For Seasing the Day...
Poseidon Charters Ltd is a premier yacht charter company catering to private all-inclusive days on the water. A fantastic way to explore the islands with your desired party, choose from half day, full day, or sunset dinner cruises. As one of the largest charter providers in TCI, Poseidon’s offering is expansive, with high quality vessels that are regularly renewed and updated. There’s nothing quite like soaking up the scenery of TCI from aboard a 51-foot Searay. Let the experienced and hospitable crew guide you with the best places to snorkel, paddleboard, cliff jump, or where to see abandoned shipwrecks. 
For aquatic adventures...
Talbot's Adventures leverages its unparalleled local knowledge to deliver fishing charters, boating excursions and tours throughout the islands. Whether cruising through cays, enjoying a beach barbeque or an afternoon spent angling, you will find the crew’s knowledge and passion infectious, all of whom are TCI residents. 
 
For a fun-filled bike adventure...
 
For reliable ferry services and charters...
 
SLEEP
For luxury island vacations...
 
Kokomo Botanical Resort offers Caribbean cottages within a family-friendly resort setting, managed by Alive and Well Resorts. Each guest room comprises an individual cottage, providing an intimate, homely feel, within the grounds of a tropical garden oasis. The beautifully manicured five-acre site boasts 38 private cottages with a garden spa pavilion and a freshwater oasis pool with a saltwater hot plunge. An idyllic setting to relax and unwind, discover winding nature trails that will lead you through the resort’s amenities. Conveniently situated in Provo, enjoy exclusive access to the resort’s private beach club located to the west of the world’s best beach – Grace Bay. 
 
Another Alive and Well highlight on TCI is the One on Marlin Resort. This exclusive adults-only retreat provides a zen-like sanctuary that is ideally suited for honeymooners or couples in search of a romantic break. A haven, located in Provo’s suitably named ‘Sacred Valley’, the hotel offers understated amenities in line with its environmentally friendly philosophy. In 2020, the resort was awarded the Travellers’ Choice Winner from Tripadvisor. The suites are located mid-island, just minutes away from white-sand beaches and surrounded by the native flora of the Caribbean. Savour the chance to relax, unwind, and rekindle your connection to nature. 
 
For beachfront tranquillity...
The Tuscany resort on Grace Bay is synonymous with luxury, intimacy and privacy. Here you will find 30 sumptuous suites, all with privately screened porches, located on a quieter stretch of what has regularly been voted as the world’s best beach. Life really is beautiful at The Tuscany. 
 
For a slice of island bliss...
The Venetian on Grace Bay offers oceanfront suites with panoramic views of the bay, far away from the crowds. Although the beach may be at your fingertips, when staying at The Venetian you are also just a short walk from great restaurants and shopping in town. 
For a modern aesthetic and culinary excellence…
Wymara Resort and Villas is a Caribbean sanctuary on the pristine sands of Grace Bay. Aside from its paradisiacal setting against a backdrop of white sands and azure waters, this resort prides itself on its tasteful, minimalist interiors that stand out from the typical colonial style. Wymara also presents an unforgettable gastronomical experience, born from the genius of award-winning Chef Andrew Mirosch who combines local TCI ingredients with international influences. Choose from a selection of oceanfront suites and studios, or seek out luxurious seclusion in one of the private villas. 
 
For a private stay in Provo...
The Silver Palm Beach House is a spacious oceanfront villa located in the exclusive Silly Creek Estates. Stroll down a short stone path and find yourself on Grace Bay beach with incredible snorkelling at your disposal, or retreat to your own private pool. 
 
For a wealth of choices...
If you’re looking for luxury and serenity in Providenciales, The Sands and The Palms offer the quintessentially Caribbean resort experience along the scenic 12-mile-long stretch of Grace Bay. Meanwhile, to Provo’s southeast, The The Shore Club promises a hedonistic experience centred on relaxation and rejuvenation.
 
For airport convenience...
The Lodgings Hotel SureStay Collection by Best Western provides a clean and comfortable stay just under a mile away from the International Airport in downtown Providenciales. 
 
For a hedonistic getaway on the North Shore…
South Fleetwood Villas on Grace Bay Beach offers a range of rental properties ideal for any kind of vacation.
 
For a private island getaway...
 
For indulgent villa vacations...
TRANSPORT
For car rentals you can rely on...
Rent A Buggy is one of the oldest car rental companies in TCI, originating in 1983 with a fleet of dune buggies. Whether you’re after a cute Jeep or a trusty SUV, head to Leeward Highway, Providenciales for a great service. 
 
For an unforgettable two-wheeled adventure...
Caicos Cyclery in Grace Bay is the one-stop solution in TCI for bike rentals, repairs, sales, and even cycling tours. Travel around the islands the local way with a range of bikes and experiences that cater to cyclists of all levels and ages. 
 
For quality car hire straight from the airport...
Sixt Rent a Car Providenciales provides a quality, affordable car hire service, ready to collect from Providenciales International Airport. Whether travelling for a business trip in a spacious saloon, or a leisure visit that calls for a 4x4, Sixt has the vehicle for you.
 
For an expert passenger airline...
 
For VIP Airport Services...
REAL ESTATE
 
For those looking for a longer stay... 
Turks & Caicos Sotheby's International Realty is a leading luxury real estate brokerage firm in TCI that prides itself on a sparkling track record of satisfied customers. Its portfolio of real estate properties encompasses condominium development, homes, villas, land, commercial opportunities and luxury villa rentals. The Sotheby’s name connotes an esteemed heritage of marketing the world’s most treasured possessions since 1744, and its prowess within TCI’s real estate market is no different. With a diverse team of agents offering unparalleled location expertise, let the Sotheby’s team fulfil your property investment goals in TCI. 
 
For assisting buyers and sellers of luxury...
Coldwell Banker Real Estate has facilitated purveyors of luxury in residential, development and beachfront property in TCI since 1989, as one of the founding members of the Turks and Caicos Real Estate Association. Visit them in Grace Bay to leverage decades of expertise.

Getting there and around

Despite its remote location, TCI is well-known for how easily connected it is with the US, requiring just a short flight from Miami or New York and many other major cities. There is also the weekly Sunday British Airways flight from London Heathrow Airport (LHR), which is TCI’s only trans-Atlantic service. Aside from this, TCI is easily reached by air from Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Antigua.  
 
Although all international flights will land at Providenciales International Airport (PLS), there are two additional international airports in TCI - Grand Turk International Airport (GDT) and South Caicos International Airport (XSC). 
 
For travel between the islands, many are linked by local airlines and ferry services. The majority can be reached with a 10-to-30-minute flight from Provo. The TCI Ferry Service offers a reliable, regular route between Provo, North Caicos and South Caicos. Otherwise, a host of boat charter operators offer a fantastic way to explore TCI with daily excursions. The mile-long causeway between the twin islands of Middle Caicos and North Caicos means that these two are easily accessible with ground transportation. 
 
On land, taxis and car rentals are available in places, as are privately-run bus services, but bicycle is the most common means of travel.