Turks & Caicos

One visit to this British overseas territory and you’ll likely realize why it’s so popular. World-class resorts, upscale dining, and beaches to faint over – what’s not to love? Plus, it’s only about a 90-minute flight from Miami. Yes, please! Superlatives like legendary powder soft beaches, gin clear turquoise water, and genuinely friendly locals are not fictional, either.

Turks and Caicos is comprised of 40 islands (only 8 are inhabited). The Caicos Islands include Providenciales, West Caicos, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, and South Caicos. Grand Turk and Salt Cay make up the Turk Islands.

Although tourism is the country’s number one lure, it doesn’t feel overdeveloped. High-end tourism dovetails nicely with preservation efforts. Luxury accommodations and tourist attractions are plentiful, yet there are about 27 national parks and protected areas on which to soak in the islands’ nature. Whether you opt to hang out on the most active island of Providenciales (Provo) or venture to the less populated or empty islands, you’ll find plenty to match your vacation needs.

Provo is home to Grace Bay Beach, which sits prominently on just about every “best beach” list ever created. This 12-mile ribbon of sand is protected by an offshore reef, which makes for excellent snorkeling. Though this popular area is dotted with varied restaurants and resorts, it still maintains its natural, pristine beauty.

If you prefer a more secluded spot, head to the nearby deserted Little Water Cay. You’ll be rewarded with privacy, excellent snorkeling, and a peek at the endangered rock iguana. It’s actually the only place in the world to see them in their natural habitat.

The only commercial conch farm in the world is also located on Provo. Here you’ll see the entire process of raising the Caribbean Queen Conch from veliger to adult. Tours are informative and fun.

While on Provo, don’t miss the Island Fish Fry on Thursday nights at Bight Park. Teeming with lively music, entertainers, cultural acts, and local food vendors, it’s a feast for the senses.

The capital island of Grand Turk is a bit quieter than Provo. However, there’s a little more island bustle with the development of the 14-acre cruise center. You don’t have to be a ship passenger to enjoy Margaritaville, duty-free shopping, and one of the largest pools in the Caribbean. In addition, there’s no charge to enter or use the pool and beach chairs.

For panoramic views of the island and beyond, scale the Grand Turk Lighthouse. Built in 1852, it’s protected by the National Trust. If your visit falls between February and March, it’s a great whale watching spot. North Atlantic Humpback whales migrate through from January to April. Dive tours and boat tours are other great ways to see these incredible creatures.

Governors Beach and Pillory Beach are both popular. However, if you want to avoid crowds, opt for Pillory. Governors Beach is close to the cruise center and fills up quickly when a ship is in port.

Another island worth your time is Middle Caicos. Here you’ll find the biggest network of limestone caves in the Caribbean, as well as the stunning Mudjin Harbor Beach.

For premier diving and snorkeling (and the feeling you’ve stepped back in time), head to Salt Cay. Foot traffic, bikes, or golf carts get you around. Accommodations and restaurants are sparse, and that’s its appeal.

No matter which island on which you base yourself, accommodations run the gamut. Choose from all-inclusive resorts, five-star hotels, and villas. Vacation like a celebrity with a stay on one of the private resort islands – Parrot Cay and Pine Cay.

If you aren’t beholden to a strict travel budget and appreciate natural attractions as much as newer tourism lures, Turks and Caicos is a perfect choice. We recommend it for its barefoot luxury and unspoiled beauty. Turks and Caicos is ideal for any traveler – families, singles, or couples. Lower prices and fewer crowds make April and May good times to visit, too.