Turks and Caicos Travel Guide
Situated at the southern end of the Bahamian island archipelago, the Turks and Caicos have remained a British crown colony even after the Bahamas became its own independent country in the 1960’s.
Its small footprint makes it less desirable to mass tourism operators, which is why you probably have not heard of this island chain before.
Don’t let the lack of attention by these players fool you though: some of the most beautiful sights in the entire region can be had here.
While prices are relatively high here (the rich and famous have wisely made this place one of their hideouts in the Caribbean), those willing to pay a little bit more for a week on one of the more beautiful island chains in the world will be richly rewarded for the money that they save up for this trip.
Currency: U.S. Dollars
What To Do
If you want to learn about the past history of this tiny island chain, spending an hour at the Turks and Caicos National Museum should be on your list of things to do before hitting the beach.
Situated in a stone house that is one of the oldest structures in the Turks and Caicos, this museum tells the story of not only its settlement by Europeans, but that of the Lucayan people as well.
This story is a tragic one, as it involved the enslavement of an entire population by the Spanish not long after the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the late fifteenth century.
After spending a few hours getting educated about the past of this tiny archipelago, don’t suppress your inner beach bum any longer, as there are many beaches to discover in the Turks and Caicos. The most popular of the lot are the bleach white sands of Grace Bay.
For kilometers on end, this flawless paradise will invite you to roll out your towel and soak up the abundant Caribbean sun. When it becomes too hot for you, the inviting aquamarine water will cool you off absent the chill that more temperate waters possess.
Looking for much of the same scenery that Grace Bay has without as many people? Leeward Beach has many of the same awe-inspiring sites, but with far fewer resorts, there are fewer people milling about, so those looking for a little seclusion will do well to locate themselves here.
There’s a lot of great snorkeling and diving to be had around the Turks and Caicos, but those looking for easy access to these sites from right off the beach will want to pay a visit to Coral Gardens Reef.
With many natural formations, and with a concerted effort to rebuild coral that has bleached over the past few years, those looking for a great experience in the world beneath the waves will find it in the waters opposite of the Coral Gardens Resort on Grace Bay.
While fishing is one of the greatest human traditions in the world, habitual over harvesting has left most seafood stocks in bad shape compared to just a generation ago.
Conch has long been a staple food that has been harvested from the sea, but even its numbers have dwindled considerably over the past couple of decades.
However, the development of aquaculture has begun to shift the focus away from hunting and gathering food from the sea, and towards growing it. This is what the Caicos Conch Farm is attempting to accomplish, as you will see how they have perfected their technique for raising these sea mollusks over the past 30 years.
In addition to growing conch, they also raise various types of tropical groundfish such as Snapper and Grouper, make it a great place for those with young families to learn about marine life in the Caribbean.
Whether it is pulled off the boats that day, or purchased from the Caicos conch farm, the deep fried treats that you will be able to sample at the Thursday Fish Fry will give you an inside look at not only the cuisine of Turks and Caicos, but also at its local culture.
From straight up fried fish to lobster mac and cheese, the food is great, but the local music is even better, as you will be privy to some of the best local musicians that can be found on the island.
What to Eat
While most food that is eaten on the Turks and Caicos bears remarkable similarity to what is found on the Bahamas, there are a few dishes that are consumed specifically here.
One of these is Boil Fish and Grits, which is a common dish that is eaten at breakfast time. Marinated with lime, and boiled together with potatoes, garlic, onions, chili peppers and a variety of seasonings, it is a hearty concoction that will give you all the energy that you’ll need to read that page turner on your oceanside sun lounger.
At lunch time, continue the Turks and Caicos theme day going by having some Conch Salad. Prepared in much the same way that Latin Americans prepare ceviche, the conch meat is “cooked” in citrus juices, and put together with chopped tomato, onion, and peppers, it is a meal with a zing that will rank among your favorite meals that will have on your holiday here.
At dinner, be sure to try some seafood fresh off the boat with some peas and grits. Whether it is lobster, snapper, or crab, you’ll be sure to have a culinary experience that will connect you in a meaningful way to this beautiful island in the Caribbean.