Turks and Caicos is a British overseas territory, made up of forty islands, of which only eight are inhabited. It is an archipelago of islands and cays with 230 miles of white sandy beaches. Grand Turk is the capital of Turks and Caicos, and has roughly 4,500 residents. The 2006 cruise ship port opened in Cockburn Town at Governor’s Beach,which is the seat of the country’s government. There you will find the National Museum and many colonial buildings. In the past, the French and Spanish have owned Turks and Caicos.
Claiming the third largest barrier reef in the world, Grand Turk is one of the top ten scuba diving destinations in the world. The island is small, only six miles long and one mile wide. Its sugary white beaches and seven distinct blue shades of water make it one of my favorite Caribbean destinations, and one of sheer beauty. Best described, Turks and Caicos is a sensory overload for your eyes, the colorful plants and clear waters will have you snapping photographs continuously. Limestone buildings built in Bermudian style architecture with pastel colors, “pop” in front of the sparkling coastline waters and sand.
Grand Turk is 575 miles south of Miami and is an excellent spot for diving, snorkeling, fishing, and sailing. Be on the watch for the donkeys, cattle, and wild horses wandering in the streets and on the beaches. Grand Turk’s Margaritaville is one of the best and most fun, featuring an enormous thatched roof restaurant, a huge swimming pool with swim up bar, and 52 flavors of margaritas. I did not even know that many existed! Other popular activities are glass bottom kayaking, horseback riding, dune buggy riding adventures, whale watching, and birdwatching. As beautiful as it all is, tourism only came into play for Grand Turk in 1984. The word “turk” translates to “pirates” and there are many interesting tales of pirate folklore.
Grand Turk Cruise Ship Excursion
Since we were traveling with my elderly parents, who needed an easy excursion, we picked the Grand Quay Salt Mine Company and Lighthouse tour. In 1678, Bermudians started extracting salt. Traders cleared the land and developed salinas (salt drying pans) that still exist in Breezy Brae today. This is a very photogenic excursion and the salt mine has a nice gift shop. The Grand Turk Lighthouse is over 150 years old, built in 1852, and offers free admission. Our tour also drove us to Gibbs Cay Beach, where you can often glimpse nurse sharks, stingrays, and barracudas.
Tip: Turks and Caicos is famous for woven grass baskets and rum punch. Another great souvenir is the reasonably priced natural sea salts.
Fact: Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Monserrat, and the British Virgin Islands are all still dependent areas of the United Kingdom. They still mostly drive on the left side of the road.
Tip: There is a pricey hop on/hop off bus tour around Grand Turk, but you can only purchase a ticket through the cruise lines.
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