Turks and Caicos

Destination Location

Turks and Caicos
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Overview

The Turks & Caicos Islands offer a variety of great resorts where relaxation is the primary focus, but this emerging vacation spot can also be your activity central if you want it to be. There are plenty of options when it comes to ways to explore and enjoy the islands.

Some of the most popular activities involve getting out on the water. Imagine yourself on a sunset catamaran cruise, or snorkelling around a pristine coral reef. Opt for dry land and you can take advantage of great golfing, nature walks, tax-free shopping and dining. Don't miss the seafood and conch on many local menus.

The beauty of Turks & Caicos is you can design your vacation to suit your needs. Do nothing, do a little or do it all. The islands welcome all types of visitors, and hospitality rules here.

The locals love their slice of paradise, and they are anxious for you to love it just as much. Turks islanders are quick to share their favourite secret beaches and dining spots. And given all that Turks & Caicos has to offer, you undoubtedly will find your own favourite spots, too.

The beaches here rank among the Caribbean's very best. They're clean and surround each island like a white ribbon. These beaches are the kind you dream of when you think of a sun holiday. Here, you can easily relax in a beach chair and listen to the ebb and flow of the waves.

When you meet fellow travellers who have been to Turks & Caicos, don't be surprised to hear they did very little on their holiday. This is a destination that lends itself to relaxation. The pace of the islands is leisurely, and being hurried or harried doesn't fit the spirit of the place.

Slow down and savour the natural beauty of this tropical destination. Stretch out on the beach for an afternoon nap. Watch the sun set one beautiful shade at a time and take in the feeling of silky sand between your toes. You'll feel right at home with the swaying palm trees and cooling sea breezes.

Turks and Caicos is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • snorkeling and diving
  • shopping and dining

Destination basics

Turks & Caicos is blessed when it comes to weather. The islands are relatively arid and drier than other Caribbean destinations. The average annual temperature is in the high-20s, with July, August and September being the hottest months.

Rainfall is limited, and most islands get less than 76 centimetres annually. Between late September and December, Turks & Caicos gets the most rain. When it does rain here, the showers are usually brief. Then the sun shines through, leaving behind the occasional rainbow in its wake.

Pack your sun essentials like sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. Bring along a lightweight jacket or sweater for early mornings, late nights and for places where the air conditioning may be a bit too cool.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Turks and Caicos

Like many Caribbean islands, the culture of Turks & Caicos is linked closely to its history. It is thought that Christopher Columbus stumbled upon the area when he set foot onto Grand Turk in 1492. There, he found two tribes – the Taino and the Lucayan.

The islands changed hands through the usual European players in the Caribbean. It passed from the French to the Spanish. Then, the British stepped in around 1710 to claim Turks & Caicos on behalf of Bermuda. At one point around 1799, the islands were regarded as part of the Bahamas. In the early 1980s, Turks & Caicos won its independence but it remains part of the British Commonwealth.

The mixture of countries that once reigned over Turks & Caicos has left a lasting impression on the local culture. You'll notice this in the diversity of ethnic dining options and even the language. Take the main island for commerce, Providenciales; its French name recalls the 17th century when France ruled the islands.

Fort George Cay is a nod to the British roots of Turks & Caicos. It was strategically built to defend the islands from the French who were busy throughout the Caribbean fighting to gain control of other islands. Plus there were pirates in the area, ready to plunder the ships loaded with goods ready to export. The British were successful in defending the islands, and that's why English (and not French) is the dominant language.

The official currency of the Turks and Caicos is the U.S. dollar. Most hotels, restaurants and stores also accept major credit cards.

On Providenciales, you can find ATMs in banks (including Scotiabank), as well as in large supermarkets, the Ports of Call shopping center, and Ocean Club Plaza. You will also find Scotiabank branches on Grand Turk.

While restaurants can be found in almost every neighborhood on the island, most of Providenciales top-rated restaurants and bars are found in Grace Bay and Turtle Cove. It is in these neighborhoods that you can dine on ultra-fresh seafood, five-star Italian, or upscale farm-to-table Caribbean dishes.   

Grace Bay

Visitors to Grace Bay will find the island’s best dining and drinking options, many of which are housed together in three main areas: Regent Village, Ports of Call, and Saltmills Plaza. For five-star dining on the beach, head to Bay Bistro, where you have the option to enjoy award-winning cuisine while sitting with your toes in the sand. Other options include dining on succulent seafood at award-laden Coco Bistro, or rub shoulders with locals at Fresh Catch. After dinner, head to one of the area’s hopping bars and sample some perfectly prepared cocktails. Popular spots include Infiniti Bar, Sand Bar, and Opus Wine Bar.


Turtle Cove

Turtle Cove’s drinking and dining scene is a bit more low-key than Grace Bay’s, which is one of the many draws of the area for those who enjoy a bit of privacy. The area offers a variety of restaurants to choose from, many of which feature options to purchase the catch of the day, which is brought into the marina by local fishermen each morning. Locals and visitors alike can’t seem to get enough of Sharkbites Bar & Grill, which features a sunny deck that overlooks the marina. The spot changes from a casual eatery into a hopping bar with live music each night. Head to Greenbean if you want to grab picnic supplies to be enjoyed on the beach. Wine lovers should be sure to check out Magnolia Wine Bar & Restaurant, which also happens to be the perfect spot from which to take in the sunset.


Rest of the Island

While most of the larger restaurants are located in Grace Bay or Turtle Cove, there are a few hidden gems scattered across the rest of the island. Fire and Ice, located in the Blue Haven Resort & Marina in Leeward boasts a stellar menu served across from a beautiful stretch of mangroves. Across the island, in Chalk Sound, Las Brisas wows guests with its terrace deck overlooking the sound and its authentic Spanish cuisine.

Spanning 95 square kilometers (37 square miles), the island of Providenciales, colloquially known as Provo, draws thousands of visitors to its pristine beaches and luxury resorts. While quite a few small communities exist on the island, the neighborhoods of Grace Bay and Turtle Cove are the main hot spots for chic accommodations, fine dining, and marinas. 

Grace Bay

Best known for its iconic beach, high-end resorts and five-star dining options, Grace Bay draws in thousands of visitors each year. The area is Providenciales most famous neighborhood and is situated on the northwestern side of the island. The area is perhaps best known for Grace Bay Beach, a stunning strip of sand lined with exotic flora and flanked by the aquamarine waters of the Atlantic. Dining and shopping options are plentiful, as are bars slinging fruity tropical drinks. The whole area is walkable, though cars and bikes are also available for hire.


Turtle Cove

Fans of snorkeling flock to Turtle Cove for its many reef-access points. However, there is something for everyone in this northern region of Providenciales. Turtle Cove was the first area of the island to be developed for tourism. Today, many of the area’s villas are rented to visitors who come to enjoy Babalua Beach, take a cruise on one of the boats harboured at the Turtle Cove Marina, and relax in paradise.


Rest of the Island

Aside from Grace Bay and Turtle Cove, Providenciales features several smaller towns and fishing villages that are not often frequented by tourists. However, the southeast area of the island does feature some stunning villas for rent that are sure to be as luxurious as they are remote. Towns of note that feature rental villas and marinas include Leeward, Chalk Sound, Silly Creek, and Wheeland.

There is something for everyone on the ethereal isle of Providenciales. From aquatic reefs bursting with life, to historical ruins waiting to be explored, you are sure to be entertained in between walks along the island's stellar beaches. 

Sports

For a truly high-quality golfing experience, look no further than Provo Golf Course. Located in Grace Bay, this 18-hole course consistently wins awards and has been ranked among the ten best - and most challenging - golf courses in the Caribbean. Each stretch of green is lined with native tropical plants that give the course an exotic and luxurious feel that is sure to enthrall. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the flamingoes that call the course’s inland lakes home.


Outdoor Activities

Thanks to its numerous pristine beaches, Providenciales offers a lot in the way out of outdoor activities. From snorkeling and scuba diving in warm turquoise waters, to hiking Blue Mountain, the tallest point in the Turks and Caicos, there are plenty of outdoor adventures to keep nature-lovers busy.


Of course, most visitors to Providenciales are here to relax. That’s where the pristine beaches come in. While there are many beaches located along the coasts of the island, Grace Bay Beach always seems to be the most popular. This is the sort of beach that people back at home can only dream about while staring at their desktop background. White, powdery sand shifts softly underfoot while warm, azure waves gently roll in across the beach. Other highly rated beaches include Leeward Beach and Bight Beach. Those with a sense of adventure can also explore Sapodilla Bay and Five Cayes Beach.


For a unique outdoor adventure, head to Chalk Sound National Park. This national park features some of the most exquisite turquoise waters imaginable. Visitors can rent kayaks and paddle out to the hundreds of small, rocky islands that emerge from the stunning azure waters that make up this beautiful park. Be sure to watch out for Turks and Caicos iguanas, who love to hang out on the rocky outcroppings. Sting rays and friendly lemon sharks have also been known to glide by kayakers as they make their way through the shallow waters.


Museums/Historic Sites

Cheshire Hall is perhaps the most famous historical site on Providenciales. The hall, which once belonged to Thomas Stubb, served as a cotton plantation for many years during the 1700s. Today, the ruins provide a somewhat eerie backdrop to a day of exploration. The site has not been resorted, which means that it is important to stick to the stone-lined paths that wind their way through the property. A small gift shop is located on site that sells locally-made products.


Lovers of the weird and wonderful should be sure to designate some time to exploring the Caicos Conch Farm, the only one of its kind in the world. Founded by Chuck Hesse, a marine biologist and US naval officer, the farm raises Queen Conch, a variety of conch that is considered a delicacy in the Turks and Caicos. Sadly, Hurricane Ike damaged a large portion of the property, and while tours are still given to visitors wishing to learn more about conches, the future of the farm is uncertain.


Nightlife

Providenciales is by no means a hotspot for nightlife. People come here to relax, sip drinks, and gaze out at the ocean. There currently no nightclubs on the island, though there are quite a few bars that host live music and other events. Danny Buoy’s in Grace Bay hosts events like karaoke nights, while Sharkbites in Turtle Cove often features live music after the dinner rush has wound down.

Providenciales

Country: Turks and Caicos

City By the Numbers  

Population: 23,800

Elevation: 7 meters / 23 feet

Average Annual Precipitation: 112 - 127 centimeters / 44 - 50 inches

Average January Temperature: 25°C / 77°F

Average July Temperature: 30°C / 86°F

Quick Facts

Electricity: 110 and 120 volts, AC

Time Zone: GMT-4

Country Dialing Code: 1 649

Area Code: none

Currency: The US Dollar


Did You Know?

George Washington, the leader of the American Revolution and the first president of the United States, loved salt from Providenciales and the rest of the Turks and Caicos islands. During the American Revolution, salt was in short supply, but sloops hailing out of Bermuda snuck the famous man’s beloved salt into the country so that he could enjoy it on his food in between battles.


Orientation


Providenciales is a northwestern island in the Turks and Caicos chain. The only island in the chain that is located more west than Providenciales is West Caicos.

Turks & Caicos is relatively small at just 948 sq. km, about the same size as Edmonton, AB. But, as vacationers know, good things do come in small packages, especially when it comes to ideal holiday spots.

The islands have more than 380 km of coastline, and that means plenty of fantastic beaches. You won't find mountains here other than just a few notable hills that top off at 48 metres (Flamingo Hill). Elsewhere, the terrain is low, flat limestone, with areas full of marshes and mangrove swamps.

Vegetation isn't abundant on the island, but you can find beachside vegetation like sea oats, Caicos plum shrubs and sea purslane (sometimes called sea pickle) with its tiny pink flowers. The country's national plant is the Turk's head cactus. It has a cylindrical-shaped cap that turns red with budding flowers, and it appears on the national seal and flag.

Interestingly, when the seal was sent to the United Kingdom for approval, a British artist thought the flower portion should be painted white. So, for a brief time, the national symbol of the Turks & Caicos appeared to be an igloo.

The islands' shimmering white-sand beaches come courtesy of small bits of reef, algae and shells ground up into tiny particles over time by the wind and the waves. The sand is fine and soft, almost powdery. It's heavenly to walk on, and it gleams in the sunshine.

Locally known as Provo, Providenciales did not become the famous vacation destination it is today until the second half of the 20th-Century. It is believed that a small group of Lucayans, also known as the Taino people, came to the island hundreds and hundreds of years ago, though there is very little evidence of their culture on the island. For the most part, however, Provo was relatively uninhabited until the salt trade began to boom in the 1600 and 1700s. During that time, a small community began to form on the island, mostly existing off the land and sea.


The 1700s saw the rise of the cotton trade, which brought with it several plantations that cropped up on Provo. The most famous, and best preserved, on these plantations is Cheshire Hall, which can still be visited today, though it mostly stands in ruins. Eventually, a blight spread through the cotton crop, effectively ending the cotton industry on the island.


Several other industries emerged after the fall of cotton, including a sea sponge harvesting outfit operated by a man named George Silly, but it wasn’t until 1967 that Provo found its niche: tourism. A man named Fritz Ludington, who operated Provident Limited, took one look at Provo’s white sand beaches and immediately knew he wanted to build a hotel. By 1970, the Third Turtle Inn, an airstrip, and a marina were all operational and tourists began to arrive.


Today, an endless variety of hotels and resorts have appeared along Provo’s stunning beaches. More than 200,000 visitors come to revel in the island’s beauty each year, while another 30,000 people call the island ‘home’ year-round.

Rentals and Taxis

Visitors to Providenciales have many options when it comes to transportation. Rent a car, scooter or bike, or catch a cab. Just be careful if you're not familiar with driving on the left-hand side of the road.

If you're looking to take a tour of the island, you're probably best to rent a car. If you do decide to take a cab, it is always best to ask the driver for a quote before you begin. Taxis here are metered and cost US$2 per person per mile! Be forewarned – fares can add up quickly.

On the other hand, renting a car costs around US$60 a day and most rental companies offer unlimited mileage. All you need is your driver's license and liability insurance, which you can purchase at the rental dealership.

If you're staying on Grand Turk and other areas outside Providenciales, you won't need to rent a car. But keep in mind that taxis often aren't metered in these areas, so it is best to confirm the price beforehand.

To travel to Turks & Caicos, you will need a valid passport and proof of return flight (so be sure to keep proof of your return WestJet trip in your carry-on luggage). As with most international destinations, you will be provided with an immigration/customs form to fill out on the plane before you land.

Travel requirements

Once you've arrived at Providenciales International Airport, you'll go through local immigration and pick up your luggage from the baggage claim area. If you have pre-booked hotel transfer services with WestJet Vacations, look for the Olympia Destination Management Company representative. Just identify yourself as a WestJet Vacations guest and you'll soon be headed to your destination in style.

Turks & Caicos uses the North American standard plug, however some properties have only two-pronged receptacles in the room rather than three-pronged receptacles.

Turks & Caicos is actually a group of 40 islands and cays. Some of these islands are uninhabited and completely unspoiled, while others have small communities. The total population is only roughly 30,000.

The tagline used to promote the islands is "beauty by nature." With its wealth of marine and aquatic life, from sea turtles to game fish, Turks & Caicos really delivers on providing visitors with authentic eco-adventures.

Each island in Turks & Caicos has its own personality and attractions. The Leeward Cays is a chain of islands that caters to the rich and famous with private villas. The small Little Water Cay is a protected area and home to the famous Turks & Caicos rock iguana.

North Caicos is dubbed "the garden island" because it receives more rainfall than other spots in the country. The area is lush with native fruit trees, flocks of pink flamingos and the remnants of plantations from long ago.

It's no wonder locals regularly island-hop for business and pleasure. Visitors follow suit once they learn more about each island and what it they offer. Part of the charm of Turks & Caicos is it's like having multiple vacation spots in a single visit.

With destination weddings becoming one of the hottest trends in travel, it's not surprising so many couples have chosen Turks & Caicos for their nuptials or vow renewals. Wedding planners are easy to come by here and can be found through your hotel.

You soon learn to appreciate the simplicity of life here. Quality is favoured over quantity. For example, there are not as many golf courses as other tropical destinations, but the courses in Turks & Caicos are world class. The same is true of the islands' restaurants, spas and hotels.

In Turks & Caicos, you are lulled into a peaceful calm state by the surroundings. To appreciate the island way of life, savour each moment, each sunset and each wave that breaks onto the beach. It's easy to disconnect from the world and really get into a holiday state of mind.

You'll feel like you've had a longer vacation than you really have because Turks & Caicos delivers so well on its promise to make you feel like you belong here. When you leave, the one thing on your mind is: “How soon can I come back?”

To travel to Turks & Caicos, you will need a valid passport and proof of return flight (so be sure to keep proof of your return WestJet trip in your carry-on luggage).

The official currency of the Turks and Caicos is the U.S. dollar.

Visitors to Providenciales have many options when it comes to transportation.

Departing from:

^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

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