The friendly Turks and Caicos islanders, known as the 'belongers', rely almost solely on tourism for their livelihood and therefore welcome visitors to this Caribbean British Crown Colony with open arms.
The 'TCI', as the archipelago is known colloquially, is situated at the end of the Bahamas chain, 575 miles (925km) southeast of Miami, Florida. The Turks, with their dry, scrubby landscape, are divided from the more lush Caicos Islands by the Christopher Columbus Passage.
The pristine white beaches, vast coral reefs and crystal clear warm waters that surround this set of eight inhabited islands and numerous deserted cays draw honeymooners, divers and vacationers in droves. Everyone leaves smiling and de-stressed, and most return again and again to enjoy the tranquillity of this tropical island paradise.
The most popular islands for holidaymakers are Grand Turk (site of the quaint capital, Cockburn Town) and Providenciales ('Provo' for short), both well equipped with modern hotel, condominium and spa complexes offering every tourist amenity. The other islands offer more rustic accommodations suited to romantics who want to get away from it all. Clocks, televisions and radios are hard to find on the laid-back cays, and nightlife consists of stargazing.
If you have ever dreamed of escaping from the rat-race and becoming a castaway, this is the place to lose yourself in.
The US dollar (USD) is the official currency, which is divided
into 100 cents. Local banks and most hotels, restaurants and taxi
services accept travellers cheques. Most credit cards are accepted
and banks offer ATMs as well as cash advances on credit cards.
|US$ 1 =||US$ 1.00||Â£ 0.65||C$ 1.02||A$ 0.97||R 8.46||EUR 0.79||NZ$ 1.26|
Note: These currency exchange rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.
There is no risk of disease on the islands and no vaccinations are required for entry. Medical facilities are limited. Serious cases are usually evacuated to Miami or Nassau. There is a small hospital on Grand Turk and some private general practitioners on Providenciales. Adequate insurance to cover air ambulance charges is highly recommended.
All visitors must hold a return or onward ticket, all documents required for their next destination and sufficient funds. As part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all travellers travelling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States. If departing from the USA a valid passport will be required by immigration authorities. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.
Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism
Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, Grand Turk: +1 649 946 2321 or www.turksandcaicostourism.com
Foreign Embassies in Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands Embassies
Jo-Jo, a friendly bottle-nosed dolphin, greets visitors in the unbelievably clear and warm turquoise waters off beautiful Grace Bay on this paradise island, where miles of sugary white dunes and pristine beaches are protected by a healthy coral barrier reef. It is hardly surprising that this tropical wonderland has become the most developed of the Turks and Caicos Islands, alluring to thousands of diving enthusiasts and holidaymakers intent on getting away from it all.
Although well equipped with tourist facilities like an international airport, superb hotels, a casino, golf club and small shopping malls, Providenciales remains largely unspoilt. The beaches stretch for miles and on some of the little offshore cays it is still possible to imagine you are Robinson Crusoe. Unlike the famous literary castaway, however, visitors to Providenciales (known usually as 'Provo') have purely pleasurable pursuits to occupy themselves with. Most find it difficult to tear themselves away from the beach, but when they do there are hundreds of activities on offer, from scuba diving to kayaking, parasailing to windsurfing, fishing and sailing.
Not everything is water-based, however. It is great to hop on a bike and go exploring to see the sights. Among the attractions on the island is 'The Hole', billed as 'a beautiful bottomless pit', near Long Bay Beach. One can also wander up the hillside above Sapodilla Bay to read the graffiti on the scattered rocks left by shipwrecked sailors in days of yore. At the Island's Sea Center visitors can see how Conch is grown, before settling down to sample this delicious mollusc along with some fiery rum punch. Just offshore, more interesting creatures await on Little Water Cay, a haven for rare Rock Iguanas that can be viewed from raised boardwalks.
Charming Cockburn Town, capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands, is the centrepiece of the little bean-shaped island of Grand Turk. The laid-back capital, with donkeys and horses casually wandering the streets, sports a collection of quaint inns, boutiques and colourful colonial houses. This 400-year-old town boasts a fascinating cultural history museum recording the discovery and development of the islands. Also in the museum are mementoes associated with astronaut John Glenn, first American to orbit the earth, who spent time on Grand Turk after his space capsule splashed down offshore. Cockburn is also a busy financial centre, acting as a tax haven for offshore investors.
Whether visiting for business or pleasure few of those who stay on Grand Turk can resist the call of the crystal clear surrounding sea. The island's quiet beaches give on to magnificent coral reefs offering some of the world's best wall diving opportunities, particularly on the western shore. Other activities that can be enjoyed on Grand Turk are birdwatching, beachcombing, horseback riding, whale watching, hiking or taking excursions to surrounding islands or cays.
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