An Adventurer’s Guide to Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos has a way of topping destination bucket lists. There’s good reason. With white-sand beaches, crystalline waters, and friendly locals, it’s no secret why the low-lying Atlantic archipelago is a magnet for travelers from across the globe. In addition to being easy on the eyes, Turks and Caicos also has adventure options aplenty for ocean enthusiasts and landlubbers alike. We recently spent a week on the islands (British Overseas Territory) to guide your next venture and to maximize your time abroad.
Sitting roughly halfway between the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, there are two ways to get to the islands of Turks and Caicos: via plane or cruise ship. Cruise ships deposit passengers at Grand Turk while international flights arrive at Providenciales International Airport on Provo Island. If you’re looking to visit one of the other islands, you’ll need to board a domestic flight or a passenger ferry. Most of the developed islands have airports or airstrips, so they’re simple enough to access. If you wish to travel via sea, passenger ferries travel between Providenciales and North Caicos, Providenciales and South Caicos, and Grand Turk and Salt Cay. Options for ground transportation include taxis and rental cars.
Where to Stay
While there are plenty of lodging options, Amanyara Resort checks all the boxes. Located on the secluded shores of an 18,000-acre nature reserve on Providenciales, Amanyara is home to white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and an assortment of stunning tropical pavilions and villas. In addition to paddleboards, kayaks, Hobie Cats, Seabobs, and tennis courts, Amanyara hosts a unique “legends program.”
Through the legends program, Amanyara houses professional and world-renowned athletes to host clinics and lessons in their respective sports. Past legends include 5x Grand Slam tennis champ Maria Sharapova, celebrity trainer Erin Oprea, world champion standup paddler Candice Appleby and five-time NBA All-Star Kevin Love. With romantic private island getaways, an expansive wellness center, and five-star dining, Amanyara has everything you could want in a luxury beach resort.
If Amanyara isn’t the right comfort (or budget) fit, there’s a wide array of other hotels, resorts, and Airbnb’s available on the island.
Where to Eat
No vacation is complete without a thorough sampling of the local cuisine. Influenced by the cultures and traditions of the Taino people and contributions from Africa, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, food in Turks and Caicos is as equally diverse as it is delicious. Popular local fares include Johnnycakes, conch fritters, crab and rice, lionfish, lobster, jerk chicken/fish, conch ceviche, and an assortment of local seafood. Must-try restaurants on Provo include Coco Bistro, Da Conch Shack, Las Brisas, Danny Buoys, and the Infiniti Bar.
What to Do
There’s so much to do in Turks and Caicos, it’s hard to squeeze into one trip. Must-do activities include snorkeling/scuba diving, outer island visits, standup paddling/kayaking, fishing, and hiking.
With approximately 340 miles of barrier reef surrounding the archipelago, Turks and Caicos is home to one of the best barrier reefs in the world, making it an amazing place to snorkel and/or scuba dive. If you brought your own equipment, there are a number of prime snorkeling sites directly off the beach in Provo like Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef. For the best experience, book a trip with a tour company to one of the outer reefs as they typically offer calmer waters and more vibrant reefs.
When it comes to diving, Turks and Caicos is world-class. There are many sites worth visiting but The Wall is one of the most popular. The Wall marks the transition between shallow water and reef and sits atop the subterranean plateaus, offering stunning dives.
Outer Island Visits
While Providenciales has a lot to offer by way of adventure, the other islands are definitely worth a visit. The easiest ones to get to are North and Middle Caicos, as a ferry runs daily from Provo. From there, the best way to make the most out of your day is to sign up for a tour. We chose Belmont Car Rental and Tour, which included stops at popular beaches, a delicious lunch at Mudjin Bar and Grill, a tour of Wades Green Plantation, and a visit to the famous Conch Bar Caves.
For those looking to get off the beaten path, popular islands to visit include South Caicos, Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and Little Water Cay. Do a little research and plan a day to go explore all that the archipelago has to offer.
Turks and Caicos is an idyllic location for kayaking and standup paddling—conditions are typically calm year-round. Popular areas include Grace Bay for open-water paddling, Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve for exploring the mangrove wetlands, the scenic rocky islands of Chalk Sound National Park, and Frenchmans Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve to spot juvenile sharks and brown pelicans. There are plenty of rentals available on the island to tour on your own, otherwise, Big Blue Collective offers an incredible and educational eco-tour.
Turks and Caicos is paradise for fishing, and the waters surrounding Providenciales are ideal for traditional rod and reel fishing, deep-sea sport fishing, and bonefishing. Each year, the island hosts several fishing tournaments and the flats surrounding Providenciales and the Caicos Islands are home to world-class bone fishing. Head out on your own or sign up for one of the many tours on offer—just remember, fishing licenses are required for anyone over age 15.
Although the island is home to an impressive stretch of coastline, hiking options are limited albeit beautiful. The only official hiking trail is Bird Rock Trail, which meanders through dry brushlands and finishes at a limestone bluff overlooking Bird Rock. Another option is exploring the coast at Northwest Point Marine National Park, where you’ll have the chance to spot flamingos, heron, fossilized conchs and coral in the limestone bedding. Another spot worth visiting is Frenchman’s Creek, which offers views of wetlands, small sea caves, and karst sinkholes.