East of Miami, south of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands are growing in popularity with tourists who, for the most part, come to explore the underwater spectacle in some of the region's best dive sites. The beaches are wide, white and handsome, great for daydreaming, with plenty of space to claim as your own.
The Turks and Caicos Islands comprise about 40 low-lying islands and cays covering 193 square miles, surrounded by one of the longest coral reefs in the world. They are separated by the Columbus Passage, a 22-mile channel over 7,000 ft deep which connects the Atlantic and the Caribbean, contributing to the area’s profusion of marine life.
The main islands of the Turks group, Grand Turk and Salt Cay, shelter 20% of the colony’s 7,901 ‘belongers’, as the islanders call themselves, but only 15% of the total resident population of 19,000, which includes many Haitians, Dominicans and ex-pat North Americans.
The rest of the population is scattered among the larger Caicos group to the west: South Caicos, Middle (or Grand) Caicos, North Caicos, and Providenciales, the most populous, known locally as ‘Provo’; Pine Cay and Parrot Cay are privately owned resort islands; East and West Caicos, inhabited from 1797 to the mid-19th century, are now the private domain of wild animals. East Caicos is home to swarms of mosquitoes and wild cattle, while West Caicos harbours land crabs, nesting pairs of ospreys and flamingos.
Providenciales (Provo) is the busiest of the islands, eight of which are inhabited. It has pleasant small hotels and large luxury beachfront resorts, a casino and an 18-hole golf course designed by Karl Litten. There's an interesting Conch Farm and a Dolphin Project. But, basically, it's all about watersports.
Generally, the windward sides of the islands are made up of limestone cliffs and sand dunes, while the leeward sides have more lush vegetation. The south islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos are very dry, having had their trees felled by salt rakers long ago to discourage rain. The other islands have slightly more rain but very little soil and most of the vegetation is scrub and cactus. The islands lie 575 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, directly east of Inagua at the south tip of the Bahamas and north of Hispaniola.
Though once a British Crown Colony, the character is casual. Investors are lured by its island life -- and an off-shore banking trade. Construction is well underway.
North, Middle and East Caicos can be reached by plane or boat. Spend an afternoon bonefishing, shelling or feeding friendly iguanas. Time passes quickly. Eco-types love it!
Grand Turk, farthest from Provo, is the seat of the government. You may still pass a donkey cart on main street in the capital, Cockburn Town, where the architecture shows Bermudian influence.
The National Museum is known for the Molasses Reef wreck displays -- artifacts collected during the ten-year long excavation of the oldest authenticated European shipwreck in the New World.
In the country, there are caves once used as dwellings by the Lucayan indians, the earliest inhabitants, and sites reminiscent of the once-thriving salt industry. (Salt Cay, the other Turk, was once the world's largest producer of salt.)
Most of the smaller cays are uninhabited. The people of the Turks and Caicos are welcoming and friendly. The development of tourism on Provo has changed attitudes there, however, and friendliness is not universal.
TCI: "Beautiful by Nature"
the Turks and Caicos Islands; its not just our island's motto, it is our life style. Come join us, we have what you're looking for on the beautiful Island of Providenciales - sun, surf, soft white sand beaches, warm tropical breezes. It makes for the perfect vacation experience.