Turks and Caicos is rapidly emerging as one of the premier destinations in the Caribbean for its world-class beaches, leisured pace, and relatively small crowds. Located just north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos is actually composed of 40 islands and cays, although only eight of them are inhabited. There's about 30,000 full time residents of the Islands welcoming in more than 200,000 tourists annually. Another detail to distinguish is that the Turks and Caicos Islands are technically not part of the Caribbean Sea, but rather the Atlantic Ocean, although the island nation is pooled in under the umbrella of the Caribbean. It certainly shares the dreamy climate you'd expect with an average of 350 days of sunshine. A constant trade wind blowing in from the open ocean helps maintain the climate at perfect levels of comfort. This all adds to the blissful feeling that flows freely in Turks and Caicos, but it's only the beginning.
Most of the people are amazingly friendly, everyone speaks English, and the US dollar is the official currency - although it is officially a British Crown Colony and as such they drive on the left side of the road. The natives are mostly descendents of the Africans brought across the ocean to work the cotton plantations and salt pans on the islands (historic sites of which can be explored), and there's also a large community of expats from around the world who discovered their own slice of heaven in Turks and Caicos.
Despite one or two highly publicized robberies in the past year, the Turks and Caicos Islands boasts one of the lowest crime rates and highest crime-solved rates in the entire Caribbean. Just take the proper precautions as you should anywhere and you'll be fine. The overwhelming majority of all interactions here are of the utmost positivity and generosity. It's good vibes everywhere, so relax and have some fun. After all, that's why you're here. And Turks and Caicos really excels at bliss and rejuvenation.
Now for a little background on the eleven regions of the Turks and Caicos Islands:
Commonly known as Provo, this 38-square-mile island is the most neweloped and popular area in Turk and Caicos. Most international flights will land here and give you access to the phenomenal white sands of the 12-mile-long Grace Bay Beach that Condé Nast has called the World's Best Beach, time and time again. Located on the western end of the island chain, Provo is where you'll find the majority of luxury hotels, villas and condos lining the waters edge of Grace Bay Beach on the north shore, along with the majority of tourism services. Provo also provides most every modern convenience you could want, from shopping centres to grocery stores to restaurants to spas to the championship golf course. The south shore of Provo is Chalk Sound, a huge lake of calm turquoise waters off the beaten path where your thoughts will soar. There's so much to do on Provo - or you can just lay back and soak up the good life.
Originally known as Pirate Cay after legendary female pirate Anne Bonny used is a hideout in the 1720's, this 1,000 acre private island is now home to the the ultra luxurious Parrot Cay Resort and Spa. What some say is the world's most exclusive resort, Parrot Cay is absolutely premium for serenity and solitude, offering yoga retreats and healthy living packages that will undoubtedly do wonders for your mind, body and spirit.
The lushest region in the entire country thanks to the relative abundance of rain, North Caicos is more of a wilderness park than its compatriots. While it hosts a small population of 1,400 people (living in small settlements and villages near the white sand beaches or the lagoon) it is home to the largest population of pink flamingos in the islands. Day-trippers adventure over from Provo on a sort of 'getaway within a getaway' to explore the nature reserves and sanctuaries, the plantation ruins, and the cays filled with an abundance of iguanas and general vibrancy.
The largest of the islands with the most dramatic coastline, yet with only 275 inhabitants, Middle Caicos is all beautiful nature. From limestone cliffs and long beaches to swampland and tidal flats to the most extensive cave system in the region, this island is radiant and ideal for farming. There are many ancient Lucayan Indian remains and artifacts along with plantation ruins, making for interesting exploring on day trips.
This deserted island is home to both the highest point on the islands and many swamps and mangroves, along with a spectacular 17-mile beach frequented by sea turtles. Ruins remain amid the natural splendor here as well, testament to a once thriving former life.
This 9-square-mile island, just six miles southwest of Provo, is where you'll find the most beautiful diving in Turks and Caicos. Many dive operators from Grace Bay Beach steer their tours here to scuba the vibrant reefs teeming with sea life. Currently uninhabited, Ritz Carlton is neweloping what they call the most exclusive community in the world at Molasses Reef, while taking lengths to preserve the unique ecology.
AKA, The Big South, this is the fishing capital of the islands, boasting the greatest natural harbour in Turks and Caicos and sevearl fishing plants that process most of the seafood harvest of fish, conch, and lobster. It's also where the annual Big South Regatta is held each May - and Turks and Caicos loves their sailing races. The sleepy town of Cockburn Harbour is a sight to see, as is the iguana preserve on Long Cay. It's also another prime diving spot and the best place in the Islands to watch the annual humpback whale migration.
Grand Turk Grand Turk is home to the capital of Turks and Caicos, Cockburn Town, and is a major cruise ship stop - with a massive luxury center that covers 14 acres of recreation centers and and beachfront as well as the world's largest Margaritaville (Jimmy Buffett approved). It's the second largest population at 3,700 people and is the cultural and historic center of the islands. It's also yet another excellent diving location, highlighted by an 8,000-ft reef drop.
Step back in time on this charming little island that was once the center of the booming Bermudian salt industry. Here people literally raked the natural salt flats and the remains still linger, along with a cute little community of some very friendly locals (of which there are 80!) Visit a bed-and-breakfast here in paradise and enjoy the peace and tranquility of a gorgeous natural world. From breathtaking views to coral reef and wreck diving to just cozying up in a hammock with a good book, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an authentic experience you won't soon forget.