Turks and Caicos may be world-renowned for its white-sand beaches and luxury resorts, but there is far more to do in these Caribbean islands than sunbathe. In fact, the islands are teeming with opportunities for outdoor exploration and adventure—though, luxury- and wellness-seeking travelers will be more than satisfied as well. Whether you’re interested in scuba diving with sharks, swimming with stingrays, or visiting an island swarming with endangered iguanas, this list has you covered. From exploring the most beautiful beach in the world to snorkeling the third-largest barrier reef on the planet, read on for your ultimate guide to the best sights and attractions in Turks and Caicos.
Stand-up Paddleboarding in South Caicos
South Caicos is famous for being one of the more remote and luxurious of all the islands in Turks and Caicos, and there's no better way to explore the beautiful turquoise waters than by stand-up paddleboarding off the coast. Head to Sailrock Resort to enjoy a stand-up paddleboarding adventure before retiring for an afternoon of sunbathing, cocktailing, and enjoying the view at the Cove Restaurant & Beach Bar. And don't be surprised to see a wild donkey strolling among the lush vegetation of the property; they're well-known throughout the island of South Caicos, and given the island's remoteness, they're almost more plentiful than people.
Enjoy Live Music & Rum at Da Conch Shack
A trip to Turks and Caicos isn’t complete without a visit to Da Conch Shack, located on Blue Hills Road in Providenciales. And while this beloved seaside establishment brings the island vibes seven days a week, there’s no better time to visit than Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday when the restaurant hosts live music and beachside DJs. Order a rum cocktail and some fritters, claim a picnic table on the beach, and prepare to stay awhile—all night, perhaps.
Sunbathe Along the Famous White Sand Beaches of Grace Bay
Grace Bay is not only one of the most beautiful beaches in Turks & Caicos (an island nation famous for its pristine coastline), but it’s one of the most stunning beaches in the entire world. The gorgeous white sand beach stretches for 3 miles along Providenciales' northeast coast (luxury hotels and restaurants abound inland from the sea). And its beauty derives from the island’s limestone foundation—each particle of sand is made of seashells and hard corals. (Trust us, you’ll appreciate this scientific explanation for the beach’s otherworldly beauty after an afternoon spent sunbathing along its turquoise coast).
Jet Ski to Taylor Bay Beach
There’s no shortage of aquatic activities to pursue while vacationing in Providenciales. The most populated island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago, Providenciales is also the most frequently visited by international travelers and is most catered toward visitors. We suggest hopping on a guided Jet Ski tour to explore the sheltered idylls of Taylor Bay Beach. Adventurers can also explore destinations farther along the south coast from Sapodilla Bay to West Harbour Bluff. Once aboard your water scooter, the world is your oyster. (Or, shall we say, conch).
Attend the Thursday Night Fish Fry
The Fish Fry is popular in islands throughout the West Indies, and in Turks and Caicos, the event is held every Thursday afternoon in Providenciales’ Bight Park. The Turks and Caicos Fish Fry draw crowds of hundreds every week. First-time visitors should expect live music (the Rake 'n' Scrape sounds of the Fish Fry band are beloved by locals and visitors alike), amazing seafood, and tropical vibes to last way after the sun goes down.
Swim With Stingrays in Gibbs Cay
The uninhabited, 7-acre island of Gibbs Cay, located one nautical mile off the east coast of Grand Turk, is known as Stingray City. The stingrays thrive in the lush environment and aren't afraid of greeting their human visitors. Whether you opt for swimming or snorkeling—or merely sunbathing and observing from the coastline (rocky bluffs surround the picturesque beach)—Gibbs Cay is a day trip not to be missed. Tours pick up visitors from nearby Cockburn Town (which, in itself, is a worthy destination to visit for the history and architecture alone).
Embark on a Sunset Sail
When in the Caribbean, you’d be remiss not to set out to sea. There’s no better place to enjoy the turquoise brilliance of the Caicos Channel than from the bow of a boat, and late afternoon is the perfect time to observe the fiery brilliance of a setting sun in the tropics. And don’t forget to order a rum punch while on board. (Rum enhances the experience, and the cocktail's coloring matches the orange hues of the sunset in the Caribbean sky—making for a truly iconic combination).
Snorkel the World's Third-Largest Barrier Reef
When in Turks and Caicos, it’s imperative to not only sail upon the water but also snorkel beneath the surface as well. Turks and Caicos is home to the third-largest barrier reef globally—coming just after Australia and Belize. The barrier reef stretches for about 340 miles and is home to highlights such as the Conch Bar Caves, the Middle Caicos Ocean Hole, and East Caicos (one of the largest uninhabited islands in the tropical Atlantic ocean).
Observe the Reptilian Inhabitants of Iguana Island
From Stingray City to Iguana Island, the Turks and Caicos archipelago have many cays famous for their natural wildlife. (Let’s also not forget the donkeys on South Caicos). Located just off the Providenciales coast, Little Water Cay—also known as Iguana Island—is a nature reserve populated by a swarm of Rock Iguanas. The island is now the best place to observe the indigenous (and endangered) Turks and Caicos species, which were once spotted all over the archipelago. This is a can’t-miss day trip for nature-lovers and eco-minded travelers alike—as well as visitors that enjoy beautiful islands and tropical boat rides.
Walk the Crossing Place Trail in Middle Caicos
Middle Caicos, renowned for its wondrous, secluded beaches, dramatic bluffs, and limestone caves, is one of the most breathtaking islands in the Turks and Caicos archipelago. It is also the largest island in the island chain and is accessible via a 25-minute ferry ride from Providenciales. But with so much scenery to observe, it can be overwhelming for travelers to navigate what to do on a single day trip. Luckily, we have the perfect solution: a long walk along the Crossing Place Trail. The trail gives travelers the perfect opportunity to behold the majestic scenery of Mudjin Harbour, the iconic Dragon Cay (small limestone ironshore island), and the Conch Bar Caves.
Go Whale Watching at Salt Cay
If you're visiting Turks and Caicos in the wintertime, you must go whale watching at Salt Cay. If you visit from January through April, lucky passengers aboard the Salt Cay Whale Watching Tours can observe the humpback whales making their migration south to mate and give birth in the spring. The Turks Island Passage's depth—the 7,000-foot channel separating the Turks from the Caicos Islands—causes the whales to swim past the Salt Cay shoreline on their journey. It's even possible to spot the whales from the land if you're lucky.
Embark on an ATV Tour of Grand Turk Island
Explore the gorgeous colonial architecture of Cockburn Town and beautiful white sand beaches along the perimeters of Grand Turk with an ATV Tour through the island's small streets. However, cautious drivers needn't fret as this adventure is less suited for off-roading and more for navigating the winding island streets and traversing the cliffs and bluffs that overlook the gorgeous Caribbean coastline. There's no better way to maximize your time spent on the island; by sightseeing on wheels, you're ensuring you'll see all (or most) of the island sights.
Scuba Dive With Sharks at French Cay
Considering Turks and Caicos is such a haven for snorkeling, it should come as no surprise that the archipelago is, of course, famed for its scuba diving as well. Although there's no shortage of walls and reefs for underwater travelers to explore underwater in Turks and Caicos, we recommend heading to French Cay for the opportunity to scuba dive with sharks. Reef sharks are the most common species to be found swimming in these Caribbean waters, but adventurous divers can expect hammerhead, nurse, bull, lemon, and tiger sharks to float by as well potentially.
Go Horseback Riding on the Beach in Providenciales
Head out for a horseback ride on the beach along Grace Bay in Providenciales for an entirely new perspective on one of the world's most beautiful beaches. Providenciales Horseback Riding is an event you simply have to experience on your next Caribbean vacation. Trot through turquoise waters, and have a moment of blissful relaxation as you leave your worries behind while riding along the Caribbean Sea.
Descend Into the Conch Bar Caves
Last but certainly not least, we recommend spending some time underground in Middle Caicos by visiting the Conch Bar Caves. Now a national park in Turks and Caicos, the cave is named after the nearby village of Conch Bar. The largest dry cave system in the Lucayan Archipelago (which consists of Bahamas and Turks and Caicos), visitors access the cave entrance via a stone path, which leads you down to the stalactites, stalagmites, and fluctuating tidepools within the light-reflecting walls of the cave.