Our last stop on the Ruby Princess Western Caribbean itinerary, was the lovely Grand Turk Island, of the Turks & Caicos islands. My friend, Angie, and I decided to do a quick tour of the island, since it was her first time here. Our other two friends did a snorkeling tour with the cruise line. I had not been to Grand Turk Island since 2009 and nothing, I repeat nothing, had changed
The History of the Grand Turk Island
Ponce De Leon discovered Grand Turk in 1512 but a settlement was not formed until 1766. It is comprised of 40 islands and cays in the Turks & Caicos chain. Grand Turk, which is the administrative capital, has a population of around 4500. They use the US Dollar as their currency.
Our Simple & Efficient Tour of Grand Turk Island
Angie and I picked up a tour from the taxi station outside the port and for $20, our driver hauled us as well as four others from our boat, and 4 other divers who were just getting a ride to the local dive shop. The divers were very annoying and talking over our guide. He simply let them have it, telling them to please be quiet and pay attention because he was trying to conduct a tour for the rest of us. I appreciated that. Our vehicle could have used a good cleaning.
The driver took us around the island, which is only seven miles by one mile, starting with Cockburn Town and its quaint 18 and 19th century Bermudian architecture. He pointed out they had so much rain over the weekend, that three days of cruises had to be diverted or were not able to get off the boat due to the flooding. On Thursday, our day at port, the water was still standing beside the roads, but the roads were at least passable. Grand Turk is filled with salt ponds, which make for some very beautiful, reflective pictures. On the downside, nothing really grows in Grand Turk, and perhaps the amount of salt in the soil and water contributes to the fact that there are not really any pretty flowers either.
Visiting the Grand Turk Lighthouse
Our only true stop was at the iconic lighthouse, where we were free to visit or take pictures of the beach. The lighthouse offers visitors to buy concessions and souvenirs. The historic Grand Turk lighthouse was brought over from United Kingdom some one hundred fifty years ago. We left there and traveled back to our ship, stopping to see Astronaut John Glenn’s replica Friendship 7 spacecraft. The thing I really enjoyed about Grand Turk is that the island is filled with wild animals. We saw plenty of semi-wild horses, cows, and donkeys that roamed the streets. They are cared for and fed by the government. At one house, we saw a horse and two donkeys in their parking pad. At another house, a huge bull was roaming outside of their front door.
Grand Turk Island Cruise Port
The cruise port has hundreds of lounge chairs along the beachfront, as well as a pristine cruise port itself, with upscale shopping and the best Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville I have ever been to. Margaritaville has several swimming pools, a FlowRider, and poolside service if you choose to dine outside. They also have a DJ and contests going on all day, mostly involving consuming mega amounts of alcohol. It is a fun place to visit and this time, we swam in the pool and enjoyed pork tacos and shrimp for lunch. I drank an amazing pina colada at Margaritaville, but they were $12 each. The prices are very expensive, with the chicken nachos being $22 and the ultimate sampler appetizer platter, $30. The cruise port also features good shopping and very clean, orderly shops with Effy, Swarovski, and Piranha Joe’s being some of them.
The Best Sunsets in the Caribbean
We moved out to the lounge chairs to the left of the dock to enjoy the sunset on Governor’s Beach. Turns out we selected the primo spot because people were flocking here to take pictures in front of the beautiful sunset. The views of the cruise ships were also a big attraction.
The delicate, white sand beach is framed by the turquoise beauty of the ocean. By the time the sun sank over the horizon, the mosquitos were out in full force. This ran all of us back to the ship more than an hour before we actually had to be onboard.
My other friends returned from their snorkeling trip and said it was one of the best ever. I am so glad a good day was had by all. It is just really a shame someone does not invest in the island and spruce it up a bit. Grand Turk is a manageable size and its people are extremely friendly.
FYI: The cruise ships have added a dune buggy tour excursion, but it appeared there were only nine of them. Do not hesitate to sign up very early if you are interested. It looked like a lot of fun. The price was a hefty $219 for the buggy that holds two passengers. There were also beach excursions for $29, snorkeling tours for $69, and certified scuba diving for $129. Grand Turk has incredible coral reefs, stingrays to play with, and gorgeous tropical fish, so both snorkeling and scuba should be great.
Tip: Some great souvenir choices are sea salts, conch shells, and natural sea sponges.
FYI: All Turks & Caicos islands are surrounded on every side by the Atlantic Ocean.