Originally named Guana by the Lucayans, East Caicos has an area of 18 sq miles which makes it one of the largest islands. It also boasts the highest point in the Turks and Caicos, Flamingo Hill at 156 ft. A ridge runs along the north coast, but the rest of the island is swamp, creeks, mangrove and mudflats. Jacksonville, in the northwest, used to be the centre of a 50,000 acre sisal plantation and there was also a cattle farm at the beginning of the 20th century.
The island is now uninhabited except for mosquitoes and wild donkeys. There is an abandoned railway left over from the plantation days and feral donkeys have worn paths through the scrub and sisal. Caves near Jacksonville, which were once mined for bat guano, contain petroglyphs carved on the walls and there is evidence of several Lucayan settlements. Splendid beaches include a 17-mile beach on the north coast. Off the north coast, opposite Jacksonville, is Guana Cay,home to the Caicos iguana. Yet another scheme to develop East Caicos is being proposed and hotly debated, a US$350mn cruise port and resort town, with a bridge to South Caicos. Conservationists are protesting against the potential damage to the Ramsar site and wildlife on the island, watch this space!