Caribbean Travelweb


Guide To Turks & Caicos





Diving, Snorkeling, Private and Luxury Charters



Description


The beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles (or 75 minutes) southeast of Miami. Covering 193 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Turks and Caicos Islands has the third largest coral reef system and the best tropical beaches in the world, making it a premier beach, diving and snorkelling destination and an ideal location for romance, family vacations, ecotourism and adventure seekers.

There are eight inhabited islands: Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Parrot Cay and Pine Cay. East Caicos and West Caicos along with several other fascinating cays are uninhabited.

The Tourism industry gives Turks and Caicos its main revenue. In addition to this the
country is also a major offshore financial center. There is a small traditional fishing industry that continues throughout the Turks and Caicos islands on South Caicos in particular. The island of Providenciales is the main tourist island, where you will find International style hotel accommodations, most of them being located on the beach. Most restaurants offer native dishes such as fresh fish and peas and rice are served along with international cuisine with tropical twists. More casual, rustic and intimate accommodations can be found on the other islands and smaller cays.

The Columbus Passage, 22 mile-wide channel, separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands. This 8,000 foot deep passage serves as major transit lines for migrating *Humpback Whales, Spotted Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Turtles and Dolphins.

Getting There

The Turks and Caicos is only 75 minutes from Miami, less than 3 hours from Charlotte, North Carolina, 3 hours from New York and 3 and a half hours from Boston and can easily be reached with direct flights from the US, the UK, Canada, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti. Most visitors fly into Providenciales upon entry to the islands and then can easily take a commuter flight to the other islands.

There are a number of regular direct flights to the island of Providenciales from the US, Canada and Europe:

American Airlines has two daily flights from Miami, and one a day from Dallas on Saturdays.

Delta offers Thursday, Friday and Saturday service from Atlanta, as well as Saturday only flights from Boston and New York.

Air Canada has direct flights from Toronto everyday, except Tuesday and Thursday; and from Montreal on Sundays.

JetBlue has daily flights from New York and Saturday service from Boston.

United Airlines offers service from Newark, NY everyday except Tuesdays. .

Westjet has service from Toronto on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and a flight from Montreal on Fridays.

British Airways provides service to London via Nassau on Sundays.

Regularly scheduled flights from Provo to Grand Turk are offer by interCaribbean Airways and on Caicos Express Airways. Flying time is approximately 30 minutes.

Provo Airport is 1 mile (1.6km) west of Providenciales town and has plenty of taxis. The airport on Grand Turk is 2 miles (3.2km) south of Cockburn Town. A taxi may be there to meet incoming flights; if not, you can call one from the airport. On South Caicos, Cockburn Town Airport is 1.5 miles (2.4km) north of town. The sole taxi driver on the island will no doubt head for the airport when he sees your plane land.

Entry Requirements

U.S. and Canadian citizens must have a passport (good for at least six months), plus a return or ongoing ticket, to enter the country. Citizens of the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries of the Caribbean, the Republic of Ireland, and E.U. countries must also have a current passport.

Visa Requirements

Helpful Visitor Information

Getting Around

There are no public buses on any of the islands, so taxis are the best all-around transport option. Taxis are readily available in the Turks and Caicos. All fares are priced according to the distance traveled. It is always best to verify the cost to a particular destination before the taxi takes off. You can also hire taxis as guides for a day of sightseeing. Most hotels offer complimentary airport transfers (check with the hotel first).

Cars and motorcycles can be rented on Provo and Grand Turk; elsewhere, car rental options are virtually nil. A government tax of $10 is levied on each car rental, and $5 on scooter rentals. Driving is on the left. Bicycles can be rented at many hotels and concessions but are limited to unwieldy one-speeders. They're fine for tooling around but a hard slog on longer trips. A valid driver’s license from your place of residence is required when renting a vehicle.

Getting between the islands is easiest by plane. All the islands except West and East Caicos are served by air from Grand Turk and Provo. Sky King, InterIsland Airways and Turks & Caicos Airways fly between the islands on a quasi-scheduled basis. A sole ferry, the Caicos Express, operates sporadically between Provo and Sandy Point on North Caicos. It stops en route by request at Pine Cay, Parrot Cay and Middle Caicos. Sand Dollar Tours has a private boat service between Salt Cay and Grand Turk.

Clothing
Shorts are worn in town as well as on the beach, but bathing suits should be restricted to beach and pool areas. During the day, it is advisable to wear sun hats and sunscreen. In the evenings, light sweaters and jackets can occasionally be worn, and those wishing to visit some of the island's more elegant eating establishments may want to bring along more formal attire. Nudity is illegal throughout the islands but some hotels do allow it.

Electricity
Electricity follows the U.S. standard: 120/240 Volts/60 Cycles.

Water
The water is safe to drink, but it tastes different.

Phone Service
The Islands enjoy direct worldwide telephone access. Available telecommunications devices include fax machine, telexes, cellular phones, and Internet connections. Public phones operate by phone cards.

Country code is 649. Network is through Cable and Wireless. Pay phones, calling cards, facsimile, Internet, cell phones for rent at various locations.

If you have cell service in the USA please bring your phone with you because if you have International Roaming service with a cellular carrier that has a roaming agreement in the Caribbean then your phone will be able to make a receive calls while in the Turks and Caicos. If you do not have roaming then you will be able to make calls using the credit card platform.

Time Zone
Turks and Caicos is on EST and Daylight Savings Time is observed from April to October.

Weather
Bring your sunscreen. The Turks and Caicos average 350 days of sunshine per year. The tropical climate and cool island breezes are comfortable year round. Temperatures range from 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Water temperatures rarely dip below 74 degrees. It’s like taking a bath.

There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.

Hurricane season can vary but usually runs from June to October.

Tipping
15 percent gratuity is standard for wait staff, drivers and housekeeping personnel.

Medical Assistance

There is a hospital on Grand Turk, and an emergency care facility on Provo.

Activities and Attractions

Scuba Diving
Excellent visibility, pristine reefs, abundant tropical flora and fauna, fish and other marine life, quality diving services and easy conditions make the Turks and Caicos Islands a world class dive destination. World famous walls are lushly landscaped in rich marine decor and play host to a tremendous variety of sea creatures. Shipwrecks, old and new further enhance these islands as an outstanding diving destination.

Turks and Caicos has assured that for generations to come, divers will be able to enjoy this underwater wonderland. A series of marine parks and nature reserves have been set aside to protect these beautiful and fragile areas. A system of moorings is in place which protect the reef from anchoring damage at popular dive sites.

*From late December through April, the entire Atlantic herd of 2,500 Humpback Whales pass through the shores on their annual migration to the Mouchoir Bank, just 20 - 30 miles southeast. During this period divers can listen to an underwater concert of the whale's' songs.

Golf

Grand Turk
The beautifully located course Waterloo is a must for golfers in Grand Turk. The course is situated adjacent to Governors House constructed in 1815 and right by one of Grand Turk’s finest beaches, Governors beach.

Providenciales
At the Provo Golf Club, you can enjoy one of the best places to play in the Caribbean. The eighteen hole championship course designed by Karl Litten opened in 1992. The course features Fairways bar and grill, tennis, a pro shop, driving range, professional instruction and a four tee position system that offers a formidable test to all golfers. The course watered by state of the art irrigation system combines lush greens and fairways, rugged limestone outcroppings and freshwater lakes.

Biking
Most of the islands are quite flat and offer a nice relaxing ride to enjoy the views. There are several off road areas with a rough terrain for the mountain bikers.

Fishing
Many say that Turks and Caicos fishing is the finest in the Caribbean and this is demonstrated by the ever increasing numbers of angling professionals who fish in the annual Bill Fish tournament in Providenciales and the Heineken Game Fishing Tournament in Grand Turk in July. The Atlantic Blue Marlin is plentiful all year and ranges in weight from 100 to 400 pound or more. It is the big game trophy fish each year when it seems new records are continually being set. What makes the fishing here extra special is that on the private charters you can ask your captain to arrange for your catch to be prepared at any one of the country’s fine restaurants.

Tennis
Tennis is a popular sport for visitors and residents. Many hotels and resorts have very nice courts, some with lighting for early evening play in cooler temperatures.

Windsurfing

The clear and calm waters offer excellent opportunities for windsurfers to perfect their technique. Equipment and instruction is available for all levels.

Sailing
Sail charters are available as well as regular sail trips. People can sail away for a whole day, explore an uninhabited island, have a picnic, go on a sunset or dinner cruise or even a Sunday brunch. There is a large variety of boats available from monohull, catamaran and trihull vessels.

Bird Watching

The salt ponds and inland marshes serve as excellent feeding grounds for resident and migratory birds. Search for Great Blue Herons, Flamingos, Osprey and Pelicans alongside Egrets, Terns, Frigates, Boobies and other water birds. As part of the National Parks system more than twelve small cays have been set aside and protected for breeding grounds.

170 species of bird can be found in the Turks and Caicos Islands from Pelicans and Flamingos to Osprey and Cuban Crows. The variety is staggering and the photographs that have been taken here have been published across the world. On North Caicos in particular the tidal flats on the South side of the island attracts scores of birds including wild Pink Flamingos that regularly inhabit the aptly named Flamingo Pond.

Horseback Riding

Guided horseback riding, trail riding, pony rides and even sunset riding can be enjoyed in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Riding lessons can also be arranged and all ages are welcome.

Shopping
In Providenciales there are three main shopping centers: Ports of Call; Market Place; Central Square which all include a place to buy souvenirs as well as clothing, beach and sportswear. Resorts also offer boutiques for those in need of a little ‘retail therapy’ during their stay.

For arts and crafts there are a number of places to visit in Providenciales and in the family islands. You will notice smaller art and craft outlets as you travel around the Islands. Innovative work can be found by artists who use the natural environment to create designer mirrors, lamps and other household as well as fashion items. Craft work, especially the beautiful handmade straw hats, bags and baskets can be purchased on all the islands. These items are highly regarded in the region and are extremely high quality.

Dining
There are about 70 restaurants throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands offering local cuisine, seafood, conch, lobster and other specialties and Caribbean dishes as well as a selection or restaurants offering more Mediterranean, Italian, British and American dishes.

Other Activities/Attractions

Little Water Cay, Providenciales
The only place in the world to see the endangered rock iguana in its natural habitat.

Caicos Conch Farm & Inland Sea Centre
This smelly place near the northeastern tip of Provo claims to be 'the world's only conch farm'. It strives to protect the Caribbean queen conch (Strombus gigas) from extinction and also raises the mollusks commercially for export and local use. The farm was the brainchild of Chuck Hesse, an environmentalist who after years of research can now produce a consumable mollusk in 28 months, from egg to adult conch. Chuck reckons he has 2 million conchs in the ponds and an additional 1 million offshore in 'pastures' fenced to keep predators at bay. Annual production is over 750,000 conchs a year, with 10,000 harvested weekly. They're worth US$1 apiece! You can learn how conchs are grown from egg to adults on a tour.

Northwest Point Beach, Providenciales
White sand beach with clear, calm waters, best known for its excellent diving opportunities and the tiki-huts that line the coast for a South Pacific atmosphere.

Princess Alexandra National Park, Providenciales
Thirteen miles of undeveloped, protected beach, part of an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the islands.

Water Cay, Providenciales
Wildlife is the star attraction on this island, featuring hundreds of attention-loving iguanas and the famously friendly dolphin, JoJo.

Island Sea Centre, Providenciales
Center with exhibits on marine wildlife, including an interesting and unusual conch breeding area.

Conch Bar Caves National Park
This park protects 24km (15mi) of underground caverns -- one of the largest cave systems in the Caribbean region. Some have lagoons and stalactites and stalagmites, often dramatically plaited in curtains. Most have colonies of bats. They were used as sacred sanctuaries by the Lucayan Indians, who left petroglyphs on the walls. There are at least 38 pre-Columbian Lucayan sites on the island, many of which have been excavated by archaeologists. The most notable is the Armstrong Pond Village Historical Site.

Middle Caicos
The largest of the Caicos islands is also some of the least developed, with barely a handful of vehicles and no convenience stores or nightclubs. But the fishermen and farmers in the tiny hamlets of Conch Bar, Bambarra and Lorimers give visitors a warm welcome.

The southern half of the island is composed of vast intertidal swamplands. Off-shore, Vine Point & Ocean Hole Nature Reserve protects a frigate-bird breeding colony, plus a massive marine blue hole favoured as a hangout by turtles and sharks. The paved road from the airfield to Lorimers is good for bicycling, with plenty of beachside stops along the way.

The island boasts miles of beaches, large freshwater lakes and lavish pine forests accessed by trails along the north coast as part of the Middle Caicos Reserve & Trail System.

North Caicos
Little-visited North Caicos is of prime interest to ecotourists. It gets more rainfall than other islands and hence has lusher (though unspectacular) vegetation. It has traditionally been the bread basket of the island chain. Farms evolved in colonial times and fine sloops were built to transport the crops to the other fruits and vegetables still thrive beside sugar apples and sea grapes.

There are four tiny settlements, notably Kew, near the island's centre, and Bottle Creek, on a breezy coastal bluff 2 miles south of the airport. The Kew area has several historic ruins, including the Wades Green Plantation, granted to a British Loyalist by King George III. North Caicos hosts the Festarama Festival each July.

 

 
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