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Planning a trip to Turks and Caicos promises that you will have a vacation that is relaxing, peaceful, free of crowds, and complete with picture perfect scenery. Renting a villa on one of the islands that makes up Turks and Caicos gives you an ideal headquarters for exploring the area both on land and water. On this page and under the associated tabs, we've got all the information you need for planning and reserving your Turks and Caicos vacation.
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Mention a vacation to Turks and Caicos to friends and you might be asked, "Is that in Turkey?" While names can be deceiving, this lesser known tropical gem is nowhere near the Mediterranean. In fact, the only Turkish Delights that you might find will probably come in a round glass with a little umbrella.
Turks and Caicos is comprised of eight islands and some 40 cays found at the tail end of the Bahamian Island chain, approximately 575 miles southeast of Miami. This British Dependent Territory lures a variety of tourists - from sun worshipers and beachcombers to divers and eco-adventurers.
The islands' flour-fine, white sand beaches, rated as top eight in the world, host prime opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving. From February to April whale-watching adventures are also a big draw to this unique destination.
Tourists staying on the busiest of the islands, Providenciales (more commonly called Provo), will find accommodations to suit every taste and budget. Larger resorts (three all-inclusive), smaller hotels, condominiums, guesthouses and villas are plentiful. Provo also boasts the world's only Conch Farm, the 18-hole Provo Golf and Country Club and Iguana Island.
Grand Turk, the political capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands, teems with historical and ecological finds. A walk through town reveals the distinct presence of Bermudan colonial architecture, while divers will find some of the world's best wall diving on coral cliffs dropping from 30 feet to over 7,000 feet. Historical, more intimate hotels are primary options for overnight guests.
Other islands worth a mention (and a visit) are Salt Cay, once the hub of a flourishing salt industry, today is a rural, tranquil escape, where not much has changed over the last 100 years. Middle Caicos is home to the Conch Bar Caves, which once served as Lucayan Indian Shelters, not to mention picturesque Mudjin Harbour. South Caicos offers exciting encounters for birdwatchers while North Caicos keeps travelers more grounded, featuring well-preserved ruins of Wades Green, a Loyalist era plantation.
The first known inhabitants of the islands were Taíno Indians, who left evidence of their occupation in the form of utensils and a ball court. After the arrival of Europeans, the Taínos were either been forced into slavery or fell victim to European-borne diseases by the mid-16th century.
Over the next few centuries, ownership of the islands bounced between the French, Spanish and British, ending finally with Great Britain.
Development was slow, as the island was not on a main sailing route, possessed no gold or decent anchorage's and lacked sufficient rain to grow sugar. Turks and Caicos remained virtually uninhabited until 1678, when a group of Bermudans settled and began extracting salt and logging trees.
Salt traders cleared the land and created the salinas (salt-drying pans) that still exist on many islands. The majority of the salt went aboard boats to supply the cod-fishing industries of New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
Following the American War of Independence, the Bermudans on the islands were joined by a group of colonial loyalists, who established cotton plantations. The plantation era was short-lived, and by 1820, the cotton crop had failed, and the majority of planters had moved on.
Turks and Caicos became a formal part of the Bahamas in 1799, but in 1848, following a petition by the Turks & Caicos residents, it became self-governing under the guidance of the Governor of Jamaica.
In 1872 the islands were annexed to Jamaica and stayed tied to Jamaica until 1962, when they were again linked to the Bahamas. In 1973, the they became a separate Crown Colony of Great Britain.
Step off the boat, just a short ride from Provo, and West Indian rock iguanas will run out to meet you. These friendly creatures, found only in Turks and Caicos and parts of the Bahamas, were at risk of extinction. Now they are protected on this uninhabited cay thanks to an award-winning effort of public and private organizations. This sanctuary and its short boardwalk trail are a hit among visitors of all ages. Little Water Cay is a prime example of TCI's successful balance, encouraging tourism while protecting the area's natural wonders. Boat trips to this cay are often combined with snorkeling and shelling on or around nearby shores.
At the north shore of Provo, this shallow reef is a snorkeler's paradise with lobsters, spider crabs and tons of colorful fish hiding in the overhangs and crevices. Vendors on the beach will rent you snorkel and diving equipment and there's a well-marked snorkel trail with tiles that describe the underwater wildlife along the way. Go in the morning when the winds are down, then have lunch at the nearby Tiki Hut. There is parking available at Smith's reef once you cross the bridge and turn left from Turtle Cove. It's a good idea to check in at the Smith's Reef office to find out what the tides are doing.
Take a picnic to Taylor Bay Beach and you may well be the only one there. This beautiful crescent shaped cove is home to calm, clear, blue water, powder white sand and not a lot of visitors. The shallow depth makes this beach an inviting playground for children and families. There's no shade though, so don't forget your sunscreen.
The islands' best natural attraction, Chalk Sound National park is a short 2 mile drive southwest of downtown. This vibrant turquoise lagoon beams brilliantly against the rocky cliffs. Inside you'll find Sapodilla and Taylor Bay, two shallow coves. Rent a kayak for the day, bring lunch and stop off at one of the little islands.
Experience all Provo has to offer with Caicos Dream Tours' Snorkel and Conch Cruise. It's a WhereToStay.com favorite! The boat captains are friendly and talk as if they've lived there their whole life...they probably have. You'll be taken by powerboat to Grace Bay Beach, then off to the reefs for some snorkeling, followed by conch diving. The fresh conch will later be served up for lunch on the world famous Half Moon Bay beach, the final stop. Here you can learn how to shell the conch, stroll the gorgeous beach, swim in the crystal blue water or just sit back, relax and enjoy a rum punch. It a fun-filled day you'll never forget. Caicos Dream Tours also has fishing charters and paddle boat rentals.
Getting to Turks and Caicos and getting around. Our transportation tips will help make your trip smoother. More good sand advice.
Passport is required for all visitors. A return or on-going ticket is also required by all.
Atlanta on Delta - Boston on American - Charlotte on US Air - Dallas on American - Kingston on Sky King - London on British Airways - Miami on American - Nassau on Sky King - Newark on Continental - New York on American - Philadelphia on US Air
On the left - a valid foreign or international driver's license is required and a US$10 tax is charged. Scooter rental tax is US$5.
The "Gecko Bus" travels up and down Grace Bay
Vacationers don't just stay in Turks and Caicos villas - they come to paradise to get married and celebrate their honeymoons! Establish residency and then apply for a marriage license.
Documents Required: Form of identification (passport, birth certificate, or photo ID) and divorce or death certificates, if applicable.
Wait Time: 24 hours to establish residency.
Before making their way to Turks and Caicos villas, vacationers like to know a little bit of helpful information to make them feel more at home during their stay. Take a look at our travel tips to make your time in villas in Turks and Caicos even more relaxing.
|Capital:||Cockburn Town, Grand Turk|
|Size:||193 square miles total|
|Time:||08:04 am zone:-5 (GMT/UTC -5)|
|Telephone:||Local area code is 649|
P.O. Box 128, Pond StreetGrand TurkTurks and Caicos Islands649 946 2321