Turks & Caicos Islands
Lying off the southeastern tip of the Bahamas, the stunning Turks and Caicos Islands encompass one of the world's largest coral reef systems, earning the islands a reputation as a premier dive destination. Exquisite white sand beaches fringe this necklace of about 30 islands where water sports, nature trails, iguana reserves, underground caves, and dazzling seascapes are the main draws. Fishing is also excellent. Anglers hook bonefish, reef fish, and big game species in the islands' crystal clear waters. And from January through April, visitors can also spot humpback whales on their annual migration route around these unspoiled islands.
1 Grace Bay, Providenciales
Stretching for more than 8 km, Grace Bay is one of the
world's most ravishing beaches. Powdery sand meets crystal-clear water in
striking shades of blue along this exquisite slice of coast, and coral reefs
shimmer just offshore. Lined with posh hotels, Grace Bay Beach is the focal
point for tourism on the island of Providenciales, and the location of the
Princess Alexandra Marine Park.
2 Chalk Sound National Park, Providenciales
An eye-popping shade of turquoise, Chalk Sound is a beautiful
lagoon with limestone deposits separated from the ocean by a thin stretch of
sand. Sprinkled throughout the luminescent waters are tiny green-topped rock
islands, which are home to many iguanas.
3 Caicos Conch Farm and Island Sea Center,
On the northeast tip of Provo, the Caicos Conch Farm and
Island Sea Center is the only commercial conch farm in the world. Caribbean
Queen conchs are a popular food source for locals throughout the Caribbean
islands, and the farm's guided tours offer a look at how these pink-shelled
marine gastropods are raised.
4 Sapodilla Bay, Providenciales
Sapodilla Bay, on the ocean side of Chalk
Sound, is a peaceful strip of secluded beach offering good protection for
yachts. The shallow, calm water also makes this a great spot to swim with small
children. On the hilltop overlooking the bay, shipwrecked sailors engraved
messages on the stones that some people claim are codes to hidden treasure.
5 Pine Cay
More than 14 km of nature trails and immaculate beaches with
excellent snorkeling are some of the tourist attractions on Pine Cay, which is
also home to the posh Meridian Club. A beach on the southwest corner rates as
one of the most beautiful in the world, and ruins of a Lucayan settlement can
be found with the help of a guide. Once a hideout for pirates, this beautiful
island has no phones, televisions, or automobiles in an effort to preserve the
6 Conch Bar Caves National Park
Conch Bar Caves National Park protects 24 km of underground
caverns and is one of the largest cave systems in the Caribbean region. Some of
the caves have lagoons as well as stalactites and stalagmites, and most have
colonies of bats. Lucayan Indians used these caves for sacred ceremonies and
left petroglyphs on the walls.
7 Crossing Place Trail, Middle Caicos
A National Trust Heritage site, Crossing Place Trail is a
coastal path established in the 18th century by plantation settlers and slaves.
Today the path's 8 km of hiking and biking trails follow the old path from the
village of Lorimers to the place where islanders crossed the sandbars to trade
with the inhabitants of North Caicos long ago.
8 Mudjin Harbour, Middle Caicos
A 5 km slice of coastline along the north of Middle Caicos,
Mudjin Harbour is one of the most photographed sites on the Turks and Caicos
Islands. Breathtaking limestone cliffs overhang the half-moon lagoon and its
arc of white sand beach.
9 Grand Turk Lighthouse
Protecting the northern tip of the
island, Grand Turk Lighthouse is an important landmark with an interesting
history. The lighthouse dates to the mid 19th century and was transported piece
by piece to the island from Britain.
10 Turks and Caicos National Museum
Housed in one of the oldest stone buildings on the islands,
the Turks and Caicos National Museum chronicles the country's life and offers
the world's only gallery dedicated to the indigenous Lucayans. Visitors can
also view remnants of the Molasses Reef wreck, the oldest in the Western
11 Gibbs Cay
A short boat trip from the eastern coast of Grand Turk,
uninhabited Gibbs Cay offers excellent opportunities for snorkeling coral reefs
and feeding stingrays in the shallow waters surrounding the beach. Many cruise
ship visitors pop over for the day and enjoy a picnic lunch. Gibbs Cay is also
home to a large population of seabirds.
12 Turks and Caicos Diving
The Turks and Caicos Islands are surrounded by one of the
most extensive coral reef systems in the world. Excellent visibility, unspoiled
reefs, abundant marine life, and quality dive services make the Turks and
Caicos Islands an award winning dive destination.
13 Salt Cay
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Salt Cay is a time
capsule from the days "when Salt was king". This historic island was
once the world's largest producer of salt, the mainstay of the Turks and Caicos
economy from the late 1600s until the early 1960s.
14 Cheshire Hall, Providenciales
Preserved by the National Trust, Cheshire Hall is one of the
main historic attractions on the island of Providenciales. The 200 year-old
ruins of this cotton plantation offer spectacular views over "Provo".
Knowledgeable guides lead tours around the site giving visitors a glimpse of
the challenges faced by the plantation owners, Thomas Stubbs and his brother
Wade, as they battled soil depletion, drought, and hurricanes. A few cotton
plants still survive among the ruins.