Turks and Caicos Islands


Just twenty years ago, the Turks and Caicos Islands were one of the quietest and least-known destinations in the Caribbean. Today, on the back of classy development on Providenciales, and great beaches and diving on all of theIslands, they have become one of the most fashionable places to visit in the area. The country has two groups of islands – eight inhabited and around forty uninhabited.

Similar to the southern Bahamas Islands, to which they are geographically linked, these flat, coral Islands have kilometres of sandy beaches and are a water playground. From the main tourist centre of Providenciales to the quiet and tranquil Islands of North and Middle Caicos to the historic Capital Island of Grand Turk; each one offers a different experience and a unique character but all offer the same Turks and Caicos Islands all year round great climate, beaches and underwater activities.
The only true way to experience the Turks and Caicos Islands is to experience each island in the entire chain. This is probably why most of the visitors come back to the Turks and Caicos on a regular basis.


Some historians now believe that Christopher Columbus made his original landfall in the New World on Grand Turk and not on San Salvador. If this went unreported for rather a long time, it may be because the obvious attractions of the Turks and Caicos Islands have drawn remarkably little attention until recently.

Once the Arawak Indians who lived here in Columbus's time had been rounded up and shipped away, the islands were left uninhabited until pirates used them as a stopping-off point and Bermudans arrived to rake up salt to sell to North America and Europe as a preservative. Refining sea salt remained the main industry until the late 1960s. Since then, tourism and offshore finance have gradually taken over as the main sources of revenue. Today, the islands' status as an offshore financial centre and a desirable holiday destination is growing steadily.

The 17th century saw the arrival of settlers from Bermuda, who established themselves on Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos. They used slaves to rake salt for British colonies in America, and were later joined by British Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. The economy of the island revolved around the rich cotton and sisal plantations, their harvests sold in London and New York. Due to competition and the thin soil, however, the cotton plantations slowly deteriorated, most of them finally perishing in a hurricane in 1813. Solar salt became the main economy of the islands. 
In 1766, after being controlled by the Spanish, French and British, Turks and Caicos became part of the Bahamas colony, but attempts to integrate failed and were abandoned in 1848. The Turks and Caicos were annexed to Jamaica in 1874. After Jamaica's independence in 1962, the Turks and Caicos Islands were loosely associated with the Bahamas. They became internally self-governing in 1976. The Turks and Caicos Islands prides itself on having been stable for 250 years.


The name Turks is derived after the indigenous Turk's Head "fez" cactus, and the name Caicos is a Lucayan term "caya hico," meaning string of islands.

The earliest inhabitants of the Turks & Caicos were Amerindians, whose sites and relics have been found dotted across the Islands. The Amerindian period is well documented at the National Museum in Cockburn Town and also features what is thought to be the oldest shipwreck in the Americas, a caravel that sank on Molasses Reef in 1513.

The islands of the Turks and Caicos are almost as diverse as its people. The people on the islands are known for their friendliness and are also very religious.


To See

The Turks and Caicos Islands are famous for the 1,000 square miles of reef that surrounds them. Most of the islands are only about 10 to 25 minutes by air fromProvidenciales – Provo for short, and most can be reached by boat too. There are also regular ferries from North to Middle Caicos. Provo is the most well known of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is the centre of the tourism industry with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, attractions and facilities. The Provo Golf Course is one of the best in the region. Provo is also home to the unique Caicos Conch Farm, established in 1984 to grow conch commercially from eggs to adult, a process which takes four years. It has up to one-and-a-half-million conch at a time. Conch meat has long been a favourite in the Caribbean. 

Grand Turk and Salt Cay offer history with great Bermudian architecture and a rustic charm as well as some of the best Diving and probably the most "relaxing" time you will ever have. The capital is a favourite haunt of anglers and scuba divers, and home to the National Museum. Only 300 yards from the Grand Turk shoreline, the ocean plunges to a depth of 7,000 feet in the Columbus Passage, the 22-mile stretch of water which separates the Turks from the Caicos Islands. Wall-diving at this drop-off is a must.

Middle Caicos and North Caicos represent the best of the environment, with lush green woodlands, cottage pond and flamingo pond in North Caicos and a vast range of plant life and bird life. The biggest cave network in the Caribbean is on Middle Caicos. Conch Bar Caves, with their impressive white stalactites and stalagmites and underground salt lakes, are still barely explored. Nearby, the remains of a settlement of Arawak and Lucayan Indians have begun to interest archaeologists, as well as visitors. 

South Caicos is the centre for fishing, the historic Cockburn harbour and the natural phenomenon of the boiling hole. This small yet friendly Island offers many secluded beaches.

Parrot Cay and Pine Cay are privately owned islands and are home to the most exclusive Resorts; Parrot Cay Resort and Como Shambhala Retreat and the Meridian Club.

Usefull Information

Airports: The Turks and Caicos Islands have 3 International Airports, Grand Turk, Providenciales (Luddington Airport) and South Caicos. All other islands have domestic airports except for East and West Caicos, which are uninhabited.

Area: 430 km2 (193 square miles).

Business: Banks are open from 8.30am to 2.30pm, Monday to Thursday, and from 8.30am to 5pm on Fridays. The main banks are Barclays and Bank of Nova Scotia.

Capital: Cockburn Town, on Grand Turk.

Climate: The average temperature ranges between 29-32 degrees Celsius. A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.

Clothing: Shorts are worn in town as well as the beach during the day; it is advisable to also wear sunhats and sunscreen. In the evenings, light sweaters and jackets may be occasionally needed in the winter. Public nudity is illegal throughout the Islands.

Currency: US Dollar - US$.

Customs: Duty free goods that may be brought in to the Islands include: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 litres of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use. There are no restrictions for travellers on the import of cameras, film, or sports equipment. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.

Economy: The traditional economic activity, salt production, ceased in 1964. Natural resources are limited, even water has to be strictly conserved. There is almost no agriculture, practically all consumer goods and foodstuffs are imported. However the economy has improved due to the tourism industry and financial services.

Electricity: 110 volts, 60 cycles.

Entry & Departure requirements: Please refer to the official Turk & Caicos tourism website (link below) or ask us.

Health: There is a small hospital on Grand Turk, and a number of private general practitioners on Providenciales as well as an emergency care facility. All of the other islands have community clinics.

Holidays: New Year’s Day (01JAN), Commonwealth Day (MAR) Good Friday, and Easter Monday (MAR-APR), heroes Day (MAY), Queen’s Official Birthday (JUN), Emancipation Day (AUG), Youth Day (SEP), Columbus Day (OCT), Human Rights’ Day (OCT), Christmas (25-26DEC).

Language: English.

Political status: Overseas territory of the UK.

Population: 21,152.

Religion: Mostly Baptist, Anglican, and Methodist.

Security: It is no longer as safe as it used to be before discovered as a tourist and offshore banking destinations, but it is still safer than most Caribbean Islands. Do not walk around alone at night or on deserted beach. Personal security is much better onGrand Turk.

Shopping: Shops open 9am-5pm every day except Sunday. Most shopkeepers take a long lunch. Payment cards accepted in tourist areas.

Taxes & Service charges, tips: There is no income tax, company tax. Tipping is normally paid to waiters, taxi drivers, maids and porters at 15%.

Telecommunications: the international dialling code for the Turks & Caicos is +1 649 followed by seven digits. On the island, use the seven digits alone.

Time: Standard Time Zone: GMT – 5 hrs. Turk & Caicos operate Daylight-Saving Time.Transportation: Travelling between the Islands is relatively easy, especially if starting from Provo. Local airlines offer frequent connections. Each of the Islands has also a taxi service. Cars, Motorcycles, Scooters, and Bicycles can be rented for transportation as well. It is best to try it in Providenciales or Grand Turk and driving is done on the left side of the road.

MORE INFORMATION:http://www.turksandcaicostourism.com/


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