Turks & Caicos

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The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees Celsius) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90's (35 degrees Celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees Celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees Celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees Celsius). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level.

There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.

Hurricane season can vary but usually runs from June to October.

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Shorts are worn in town as well as the beach during the day, it is advisable to also wear sunhats and sunscreen. In the evenings, light sweaters and jackets may be occasionally needed in the winter. Dinner is not formal most restaurants accept dress shorts while others require pants and collard shirt for gentlemen and dress slacks or dresses for the ladies.

Nudity is illegal throughout the islands but some hotels do allow it.

The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques, which can be cashed at local banks. Most credit cards are accepted and banks offer ATM's as well as cash advances on credit cards.

Tipping is normally paid to waiters, taxi drivers, maids and porters at 15%.

Duty free goods that may be brought in to the Islands include: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 liters of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use.

There are no restrictions for travelers on the import of cameras, film or sports equipment except spear guns.

To bring in firearms of any type (including spear guns and Hawaiian slings), you must have written approval from the Commissioner of Police. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.

Electricity follows the U.S. standard: 120/240 Volts/60 Cycles.

Visitors from U.S.A. and Canada may enter without a passport, if they have an original birth certificate (or, a notarized copy) and a photo id (e.g.. Driver's License). Visitors from other countries do require passports, but no visas are necessary except from countries of the former Eastern Bloc. They are advised to contact the nearest British Consulate Office.

  • All visitors must hold a round trip ticket.
  • Visitors are allowed to stay for 30 days; this is renewable one time only.
  • DEPARTURE TAX: $23 is levied on all persons over the age of 2.
  • For luggage restriction, individual airlines should be consulted.

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Turks and Caicos are located 575 miles southeast of Miami Florida. We are 30 miles south of the Bahamas and 90 miles north of the Dominican Republic. The main islands consist of two groups separated by the Columbus Island Passage: The Turks Group, which includes Grand Turk and Salt Cay, and the Caicos Group, which includes West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, and South Caicos.

The total land area of the main islands is 193 square miles.

There is a hospital on Grand Turk, and an emergency care facility on Provo.

The Islands enjoy direct worldwide telephone access. Available telecommunications devices include fax machine, telexes, cellular phones, and Internet connections. Public phones operate by phone cards.

Country code is 649. Network is through Cable and Wireless. Pay phones, calling cards, facsimile, Internet, cell phones for rent at various locations.

If you have cell service in the USA please bring your phone with you because if you have International Roaming service with a cellular carrier that has a roaming agreement in the Caribbean then your phone will be able to make a receive calls whilst in the Turks and Caicos. If you do not have roaming then you will be able to make calls using the credit card platform.

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Turks and Caicos is on EST and Daylight Savings Time is observed from April to October.

The islands are arrayed around the edges of two large limestone plateaus, the Turks Bank, with deep offshore waters that serve as major transit points for Humpback Whales, spotted Eagle rays, Manta Rays and Turtles. Anglers who are fishing for Tuna, Wahoo and Blue Marlin use these same rich waters. Bordering the edges of the islands are lines of coral reef and some of the most impressive walls of coral in the Caribbean.

In the last decade on Turks and Caicos, divers have begun to discover some of the finest coral reefs and walls in the world. From the legendary walls of Grand Turk, West Caicos and Provo's Northwest Point to the historic wrecks south of Salt Cay, a dozen world-class walls have become Mecca for the serious diver.

From late December through April, the entire Atlantic
herd of 2,500 Humpback Whales pass through the shores on their annual migration to the Mouchoir Bank, just 20 - 30 miles southeast. During this period divers can listen to an underwater concert of the wale's' songs. During the summer, divers encounter Manta Rays cruising the face of the walls. Encounters with Dolphin are not uncommon.

The salt ponds and inland marshes serve as excellent feeding grounds for resident and migratory birds. Search for Great Blue Herons, Flamingos, osprey and Pelicans alongside Egrets, Terns, Frigates, Boobies and other water birds. As part of the National Parks system more than twelve small cays have been set aside and protected for breeding grounds.

On some of the less disturbed and smaller islands such as Little Water Cay or Great Sand Cay, it is the Turks island Iguana that dominates the land.
The Iguana is endangered and delicate but it thrives on these deserted islands, away from the influence of man. These islands are also protected by the National Parks system.

The National Parks were designed to protect the scenic environment and habitats, to preserve and conserve them for future generations as well as make them available for public recreation.

In 1992 the government set aside 33 specific protected areas, a list that include nature reserves, sanctuaries and historical sites totaling more than 325 square miles. 210 square miles of this total amount are sensitive and ecologically essential wetlands ratified under the international Ramsar Bureau. Other protected areas include marine replenishment areas as well as breeding grounds for turtles, seabirds and other creatures. A marine mooring buoy system is just one of the many projects currently underway.

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Grand Turk is the capital of Turks and Caicos, Cockburn town is the capitol city. This island is also the financial center of the islands. It has the second largest population of around 3,720 people. Grand Turk is one of the main historical points of Turks and Caicos. You will find many Burmudian and Colonial style buildings and ruins, along with The Turks and Caicos National Museum.

Grand Turk's main attraction is diving; with many dive operators and schools it can cater from novice snorkels to experienced divers. The major income for the island
is dive orientated tourism. There is an outstanding protected coral reef, which drops to 8,000 feet and is close enough to shore for beach dives. There are 6 major accommodations as well as casual restaurants which feature local entertainment.

Cockburn Town is the administrative capital and the historic and cultural center of the islands. It is strongly reputed to be the landfall island of Columbus during his discovery of the New World in 1492. The town itself is well suited for a walking tour. Duke and Font Streets are lined with historic 18th and 19th century
landmarks that reflect the Bermudan style architecture of the salt era. Two of these buildings are now popular inns, another is the governor's residence, as well as other government offices, the public library, churches, private residences and fraternities.

At the Turks and Caicos National Museum you will find a central exhibit that tells the story of the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest European shipwreck discovered in the Western Hemisphere (dated around 1505). It also discloses the rich cultural and natural diversity of the islands. Other historic sites include the Lighthouse, Fire Hill and the Hawks Nest Anchorage.

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North Caicos is the lushest of all the islands because of the abundant rainfall. The population of around 1,400, mostly farmers live in the settlements of Bottle Creek Village, Whitby, Kew and Sandy Point. Bottle Creek Village borders a lagoon on the northeast of the island, and is protected from the ocean by a long ribbon of sand.

Like Middle and East Caicos, swampland and tidal flats dominate the southern part of the island. North Caicos boasts the largest flock of Pink Flamingo in the islands.

There are Loyalist plantation ruins, the grandest of which is Wades green. Lucayan artifacts were found in the caves near Sandy Point. Cottage Pond at Sandy Point is a large pool of tropical vegetation. There are flocks of Flamingo at Flamingo Pond and Mud Hole Pond.

You will find ospreys and their nesting sites on the adjacent Three Mary Cays, and a wide variety of other birds on the islands extensive nature reserves and sanctuaries. Iguanas on the nearby East Bays Cays are an outstanding example of the natural diversity of this green island. You can also visit the crab farm where King Crab is grown from the egg to an adult.

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East Caicos is an uninhabited island but is large in size being 18 square miles. Swamps and mangroves inundate a majority of the island, you can find the highest point of the islands here. There is a splendid 17 mile beach on the north
coast of the island, this is usually only used by Sea Turtles to lay their eggs because of the large mosquito population.

Near Jacksonville on the north west of the island there are a series of caves that used to be used for mining bat guano, and petroglyphs shows early evidence of settlers on the island.

Once home to a large sisal plantation and cattle industry, East Caicos is now deserted. The ruins of the abandoned town of Jacksonville, railroad tracks and cave artwork are testaments of former life.

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Being the largest of the islands Middle Caicos is 48 square miles of natural beauty. There are 3 settlements on the island, Conch Bar, Bambarra and Lorimers with a population of about 275. The coastline around Middle Caicos is more dramatic than that of the other islands; to the north there are Limestone cliffs with long sandy beaches. The south is dominated by swampland and tidal flats which almost covers half the island.

Rain is plentiful on Middle Caicos, which is why the island is so green and ideal for agriculture. Middle Caicos is home to the largest caves in all Turks and Caicos at Conch Bar. There are 2 small but comfortable accommodations available.

Mudjin Harbour, a half-moon lagoon with in the ocean and a picturesque beach that juts out from the land to link up with an offshore Cay is a most dramatic feature. The huge limestone caves feature stalactites, stalagmites, bats, owls and salt lakes that link up with the sea, are considered to be one of the most extensive cave systems in the region. There are also the remains of huge Lucayan Indian settlements. One site excavated near Armstrong Pond in 1978 contains a Lucayan ball court, unknown elsewhere in the Lucayan islands. Artifacts recovered from the caves suggest that they were used either as shelter or sacred places.
Middle Caicos also contains ruins of Loyalist plantations such as the Holloa Plantation with ruins of chimneys and homes, and a well shaped like a horse with steps running down the walls. There is also a trail that links Middle caicos with North Caicos. During low tide you can actually walk between the two islands. The Frigate Bird colony resides on south side of the island and you will also find Flamingos, Egrets, Sand Pipers. A large blue hole just offshore in shallow water features an abundant variety of marine life. The island's Northwest Point is a combination of beautiful inlets, marshes, mangroves and in land ponds, which serve as a haven for bird life.

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Providenciales, or more commonly known as "Provo", covers an area of 38 miles and is the most developed island in Turks and Caicos. Surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches we have ranked "Best Beach" by Conde' Nast magazine. Found on the west side of the islands Provo offers all modern conveniences, including superb hotels, a casino and a Golf Club, and full service grocery store. Although Provo is the most mature of the islands, it is still a destination for those who want to escape their busy schedules and relax. There is a population of over 6,000, and Provo has the largest non-native population made up of Haitians, Dominicans, French, Canadians, Germans and Americans. The growing population is mainly due to the completion of the airport in 1984, which is capable of dealing with large planes.

To the north of the island, near Sapodilla Bay, you will find the most beautiful beaches, as well as a
long coral reef, which is rich in aquatic life. Towards the south of the island you will find Chalk Sound, a large lake with striking turquoise water and an array of small cays. The island's commercial port, South Dock, is found east of Sapodilla Bay and has the capability to deal with containerized goods.

The two main and oldest settlements on the island are Bight and Blue Hills, and are built around fresh water supplies. Both locations give a real feeling of Caribbean villages. If you wish to do some shopping, Provo can offer a good range of boutiques at Turtle Cove. Down Town you will find the likes of retail shops, business offices and banks.
Provo has attracted many hotel and resort developers, you will find most accommodations and recreational facilities here.

What to do in Provo…
Grace Bay which features the famous 12 mile Grace Bay beach is the location for most of
the tourism infrastructure, the Princess Alexandra Marine Park, and the playground of " Jo Jo " the famous bottlenose dolphin. Visitors to the Islands Sea Center discover how to grow Conch from tiny veligers to four-year-old adults. This is where most of the water sport activities take place from diving to deep sea fishing and everything in between. The island is also home to the Bamboo Gallery, the art center of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Ports of Call the main shopping area. Stones engraved by shipwrecked sailors (or waiting ship wreckers) can be found on the hilltop overlooking the Marina Inn near Chalk Sound and Sapodilla Bay. If you like old ruins that are not to difficult to get to, visit 2 sites of plantation houses built by Loyalists, Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill. "The Hole" at Long Bay is a deep and wide Limestone chimney with a mysterious depth of salt water at the bottom.

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It has the air of a frozen moment, a place where time stands still. Salt Cay a mere 2.5 square mile island was the center of the Bermudan salt industry, the mainstay of the Turks and Caicos economy from the late 1600's until the early 1960's. When the salt industry stopped, the tools fell where they were being used. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Salt Cay is a time capsule from the days "when Salt was king." The island is largely
divided into squares controlled by windmills and Salinas with only 60 residents - this is the ultimate get away from it all.

Twelve cars wander her roads, soft beaches border much of her shoreline, and herons feed in the Salinas and others in the marshland to the south. The distinctively Bermudan style homes, all with dusty but neatly swept yards, set a tone, and possess an undeniable style. The White House, owned by descendants of Bermudan salt rakers, is a 
landmark and contains the original antique furniture.

Salt Cay also hosts relics of the whaling industry that once existed. The whaling station at Taylor's Hill has long been lying in ruins, visitors to this land in the winter stare in amazement at the gigantic Humpback Whales that pass in February and March. The residents are very friendly and are always ready with a bit of conversation. This is old Turks and Caicos, a direct line to a simpler and slower time.

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South Caicos is an 8.5 square mile island and is the fishing capital of the islands, and boasts the best natural harbour and several fishing plants, processing most of the nation's
seafood harvest of lobster, conch and fish for export and local consumption.

Other features of the island include the 18th century Commissioner's House, old salt works, and the Boiling Hole, which fed the saltpans that once made South Caicos the islands' largest producer of salt.

Scuba divers delight in the variety of coral and marine life such as loggerhead turtles, spotted rays, octopus and barracudas.

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Said to have the most beautiful diving spots in Turks and Caicos, West Caicos is a 9 square mile island that is uninhabited. West Caicos is a favorite for picnics and Dive Operators with sandy coves and beautiful waters. There are
no accommodations on West Caicos but the island is visited frequently.

The ruins of Yankee Town, crested by an osprey's nest, its sisal press, railroad and steam engine are evidence of the small civilization that once existed on West Caicos.
Lake Catherine is natures reserve that is home to a variety of bird life.

A number of other islands and cays remain in their natural state, without human influence, and serve as protected natural habitats for sea birds, Iguanas, Turtles and other wildlife.

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The Turks and Caicos Islands are surrounded by one of the most extensive coral reef systems worldwide (65 miles across and 200 miles long).

A 22 mile-wide channel, the Columbus Passage, separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands. This 8,000 foot deep passage serves as major transit lines for migrating Humpback Whales, Spotted Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Turtles and Dolphins.

Excellent visibility (up to 200 feet), pristine reefs, abundant tropical flora and fauna, fish and other marine life, quality diving services and easy conditions make the Turks and Caicos Islands a world class and award-winning diving destination. There is exceptional wall diving starting in shallow turquoise water and dropping off into the deep blue
giving a real thrill. The reef is relatively close to the beach which makes for accessible beach dives. Shipwrecks, old and new further increase the multiplicity of the islands as an outstanding diving destination.

Under the National Parks Ordinance, vast areas have been set aside as marine park and fisheries reserves, replenishment, and mooring buoys have been established at all dive sites and mooring areas to avoid any possible damage from anchors. As part of the general preservation and protection drive, divers visiting Turks and Caicos are encouraged to observe, respect an enjoy the pristine natural beauty of the marine environment and to leave the reef as healthy as they found it.

Dive Tips:
Summer waters (82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface) are certainly warm enough for swimsuits, protection in the form of a light wet suit (such as Lycra, Darlexx or Polartec) is welcomed by most divers. In the winter, water temperatures of 74 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit would suggest the use of a 2 to 3mm (1/8 to 3/16 inch) wetsuit. Computers are an advantage owing to the multi-level nature of diving in the Turks and Caicos.

Diving equipment is available for rent, P.A.D.I. certification recognized. Diving instruction is available to visitors who want to learn to Scuba Dive. Most properties offer both diver and non diver packages. Inquire with your travel agent or with the property directly.

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Grand Turk represents a wealth of tremendous experiences for the diver. Less than a quarter of a mile off shore and starting in just 25 to 45 feet of water a coral wall
runs the full length of the island, with profiles ranging from steeply sloping terrain to interesting coral undercuts and perfectly vertical drop-offs.

The sponge growth and fish population are spectacular and distinctively different from the other Turks and Caicos sites. You can expect Manta Rays in the summer, Turtles year-round and Whales in the winter. This is a primary corridor for migrating Humpback Whales from December through April.

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The remarkable walls of the Northwest Point Marine Park, starting at just 50 - 60 feet of water features vertical structures laden with elaborate, thick clusters of multi-colored sponges. Watch for schooling fish, Turtles, Spotted Eagle Rays and much more.

To the north of
the island is a well-developed spur and grove system, with thick fingers of coral sloping from 30 feet to a minimum of 60 feet. This drops abruptly to a sand shelf at 100 feet and is well decorated with soft corals, Black corals and
thick growths of gorgonians. Many dive sites and packages as well as certification are available. Each year brings Manta Rays, Humpback Whales, Dolphins and Whale Sharks. You may be lucky to spot JoJo our local dolphin who loves to play with the divers.

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Blessed with a wall running the length of its western shore, sites include deep sponge draped ledges as well as shallow coral gardens. Turtles, rays, Dolphins and Groupers are all encountered
here. During Whale season (December through April), this is prime territory for Whale watching.

To the south of Salt Cay lie the remains the HMS Endymion, a British warship that went down in the late 1700s. She now lies in less than 30 feet of water, an ancient, unsalvaged wreck site. More than a dozen cannons and several large anchors mark her.

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Diving across the north end of North Caicos, as in the other islands, takes the form of spur and groove formations that drop from in a mini-wall from 30 - 70 feet.

This is the
same barrier reef that stretches across the entire northern boundary of the Caicos Islands, and the diving is similar to that found on the north shore of Providenciales.

This area sees far fewer divers, with a subsequent increase in marine life. Expect an excellent fish population with the occasional larger visitor.

Divers based at North Caicos frequently visit the fine sites at the nearby Pine Cay and the other Caicos Islands.

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Known as the big fish capital of the Turks and Caicos, with large Pelagics seen here in great numbers. A vertical wall wraps around
the southern edge of South Caicos, and then extends the length of Long Cay. The wall here drops to an amazing 8,000 feet which makes for abundant sea life and magnificent colors in the coral.

This is reputed to be the finest diving in the Turks and Caicos.

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This a focal point for Provo based dive operators and live-aboard dive vessels. A wall running 2 miles along the western shore offers some of the finest diving in
the islands, featuring some of the most mature sponge formations anywhere.

Expect the Turks and Caicos trademark of clusters of Purple Tube Sponges and strands of Antler Sponges wrapped in cloaks of brilliant Rope Sponges, along with visits by Sharks, Eagle Rays, Turtles and bigger fish. The wall structure varies from dramatically sloping to breathtakingly vertical.

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