For over a hundred years, salt production was the main economy in Turks & Caicos. Now, the island attracts visitors to explore its 40 islands and cays, eight of which are uninhabited. Turks & Caicos is a warm 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, and the destination is known for Grace Bay, voted the No. 1 beach in the world more than once. The nature is also ripe for exploration, from viewing endangered iguanas, to coming face to face with harmless sharks while diving the diverse reefs, to horseback riding along a stretch of beach. Here are 10 land and marine adventures to experience in Turks & Caicos.
Little Water Cay or “Iguana Island” is accessible by kayak or boat and is sprinkled with saline wetland ponds. The main attraction is the Turks and Caicos Rock Iguanas (Cyclura carinata); because of their endangered species status, there are hundreds of them on the island due to extensive conservation efforts. You can find them hiding behind bushes, sunbathing on the sand, or eating low lying shrubbery or eggs left by other animals. There is also a chance to encounter heron and marine birds, as well as spot Juvenile lemon sharks feeding on small fish.
FUNtastic Tours leads ATV riders around the island of Grand Turk. Starting near the cruise port, you'll cruise by Hawkes Nest Salina, where sea salt was produced and harvested in the past. Some of the other sites and stops include the colorful colonial-era buildings in Cockburn Town; the birdwatching area of North Creek; the 1852 Grand Turk Lighthouse; and the clifftop north coast area.
For avid swimmers and snorkelers, booking a charter through GetMyBoat will yield highly-rated options for half- and full-day tours. We recommend the family-owned Caicos Catalyst charter; during the trip, Captain Mat takes guests to snorkel some of the popular reefs of Grace Bay, including Fort George Reef, the third largest reef in the Caribbean.
In addition to the coral reefs, Turks & Caicos has two shipwrecks: a large Russian freighter known as "La Famille Express," located off the shallows of the Caicos banks, and a small wreck near Pine Cay that makes for diverse snorkeling.
Potcake is the name given to a dog breed found on Turks & Caicos, which came about because the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the animals. There is a shelter on Provo, called Potcake Place, where strays are rescued from around the islands. Tourists can take a puppy out for a couple of hours in the morning and walk it around the island or on the beach. If a fur baby snatches your heart, they can be permanently adopted with a donation to the shelter.
With Dive Provo, seasoned and new scuba divers will be linked with PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors)-trained guides to lead the way at different dive sites throughout the Turks & Caicos islands. One of the dive sites, Eel Garden (located at Northwest Point) is ripe with Caribbean reef sharks that seemingly follow you at a distance, and you'll have a chance at seeing arrowhead and spiny crabs, lobster, and spotted Head shield slugs. A few minutes away, the Coral Stairway dive site is home to reef sharks, tons of barracuda, grouper, and porcupinefish.
Jammin, Levi, and Squeek are some of the horses awaiting eager riders at the Provo Ponies ranch. You'll take a relaxing hour-long ride in the shallow waters off Caicos Banks in Long Bay Beach—the lapping waves of which are sure to cool both rider and horse down from the strong rays of the sun. As you steer the gentle animal into the water, your guide will snap pictures of you to commemorate the moment. More experienced riders can branch out and fast trot on the beach.
On Middle Caicos, the Conch Bar Caves is the largest dry cave system in the Bahamas island chain. A stone path leads down to the Karst limestone cave structure, which bears impressive stalactites and stalagmites as well as pools that fluctuate with the tides throughout the day. Light shines through the ceiling, creating whimsical rays inside the cave.
Snorkeling with impressive wild stingrays is possible in Gibbs Cay, located off the east coast of Grand Turk. Stingrays are naturally attracted to this small and uninhabited island covered in sea oats, and they aren't afraid to swim up to meet visitors. After the encounter, you can sunbathe on the beach or take pictures in front of the rocky bluffs.
On Salt Cay, donkeys and cattle roam free. The small island, known for its salt production, contributed to the main source of economic growth for almost 250 years. Though the industry declined in the early 1930s because of the small output of salt, the wild donkeys that you see now are the descendants of the worker animals that pulled the carts.