Turks and Caicos Islands History
The first known residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands were the Taíno Indians. However, the Tainos quickly disappeared upon Columbus’ arrival to the Turks and Caicos islands. Many island residents claim that Turks and Caicos was the first island arrived at in the “New World”; a statue making this claim is located on the island of Grand Turk. Upon Columbus's arrival, the Taino Indians were either taken into slavery by the Europeans or succumbed to the diseases that the Europeans brought with them.
Over the next few hundred years, rights to the islands bounced between France, Spain and England; finally ending up with the British. During this time, development of the islands slowed, as they were not on any sailing routes, did not have any gold and had poor weather for sugar production on the island. The population of the Turks and Caicos islands was practically zero until 1678 when sailors from Bermuda arrived and began extracting salt and logging trees. Salt traders then began significant work on the Turks and Caicos islands and created the salinas (salt-drying pans) that are still in use in much of the Caribbean.
The Bermudans prospered, drawing the attention of the governments of both Spain and the Bahamas. In 1766, the Bahamian government took over jurisdiction of the Turks and Caicos islands. As the islands begin to be home to a number of wealthy salt merchants, the Turks and Caicos began to be a base for pirates who often robbed the salt merchant’s homes. The actions of the pirates prompted the French to attack the island but they were quickly defeated by the existing British Navy.
The Turks and Caicos Island’s political situation continued to be rather fluid. In 1799, they became a formal part of the Bahamas, but just 50 years later residents filed a petition to become self governing and overseen by the Governor of Jamaica. Soon thereafter, the islands were annexed to Jamaica and retained a close relationship with the country until 1973 when they became a separate Crown Colony of Great Britain.
The islands' history over the last five decades has been largely uneventful; the most significant event being astronaut John Glenn’s landing in nearby waters in 1962. During this time, the island has become a destination for wealthy Americans such as the son of Teddy Roosevelt and members of the Dupont family. The island’s fate as a popular vacation destination was sealed in 1984 with the opening of Club Med; which began in earnest the boom in popularity of the Turks and Caicos islands among Caribbean travelers.
Turks and Caicos Airports
There are airports located on each island in the Turks and Caicos chain, but the Providenciales International Airport is the most significant Turks and Caicos airport and the only one that receives international traffic. Providenciales is a very modern and safe Turks and Caicos airport. Nonstop flights to the airport are available from Atlanta, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Charlotte, and New York LaGuardia on airlines such as Delta and American Airlines. Flights to other islands in the Turks and Caicos are available on Turks and Caicos Airways and SkyKing from the Turks and Caicos Airport in Providenciales.
Turks and Caicos airport
Providenciales International Airport (PLS)
Turks and Caicos Airlines
Turks and Caicos Airways
Documents for Arrival at Turks and Caicos Airport
All foreign citizens need a valid passport as well as a return ticket.
Approximate Flight Times to Turks and Caicos Airport
Flight time from Atlanta is approximately 2 hours.
Flight time from Miami is approximately 1 hour
Flight time from New York is approximately 4 hours.
Boat and Ferry Travel
Travelers catch rides on boats leaving the marina at Leeward-Going Through
There is a thrice weekly ferry from Salt Cay to Grand Turk
Turks and Caicos Airport Transfers
Many visitors choose to rent a car in Turks and Caicos, but it is not a necessity.
Depenedable Cab Service is available throughout the islands.
Turks and Caicos Airport Departure Tax
Turks and Caicos charges $35.00 departure tax on all persons under the age of 2 leaving the country.
Turks and Caicos News and Communications
Guests seeking Turks and Caicos news while on vacation will wish to stay in touch with the latest developments concerning Turks and Caicos local events as well as international affairs, this is not a hard time while on-island. The largest publication for Turks and Caicos news is the major newspaper of the island; The 'Turks and Caicos Free Press'. The Turks and Caicos newspaper focuses primarily on local news and is a great way to learn more about the island and its thriving culture. The major magazine of the islands is the 'Times of the Islands', a quarterly Turks and Caicos news publication that features articles on the history, culture, and news of the islands. Internet access is also readily available on the islands and the best way to read international newspapers; as the importing of other newspapers to the island is expensive and thus rare.
Turks and Caicos Area Code
649, Country Code is same as United States
Turks and Caicos Villas Communications
The villas are all equipped with telephones and guests will be advised of the particular phone number of the property prior to departure. Please do note that none of the properties have an open international line. International calls can be made with ATT and MCI cards. Phone cards can be purchased on the island and cell phone rental is also available. U.S. cell phones that feature international roaming do work on the island.
Outets in the Turks and Caicos are compatible with North American appliances
Many villas come equipped with fax machines
Many villas come equipped with high speed internet connections and internet connections are available throughout the island.
Turks and Caicos Car Rental & Transportation
Turks and Caicos Transportation
Turks and Caicos car rentals are highly recommended but not a necessity as they are on some other Caribbean islands. Getting a Turks and Caicos car rental simply gives you the freedom to go where you want when you want without having to rely on the public transportation of the island, which can be very inconsistent at times. There are several Turks and Caicos car rental companies located on the island, the majority of which are very close to Providenciales International airport. United States corporate entities make up much of the Turks and Caicos car rental agencies, Budget, Hertz, Avis, and National all have offices on the island. The price of car rental ranges between 40 and 80 dollars per day. This price does not include the 15 dollar rental car tax or the price of rental car insurance. When renting a car, a valid drivers license from your place of residence is sufficient for identification.
Should you wish to use public transportation for your Turks and Caicos transportation, there is metered cab service available throughout the islands. It is advisable to check with the cab driver before departing to see how much the trip will cost.
Driving is on the left in Turks and Caicos.
Turks and Caicos Shopping
While Turks and Caicos is not known for its luxury boutique shopping like other Caribbean islands, there are several Turks and Caicos shopping areas on the island of Providenciales where those hoping to browse boutiques, admire local crafts, or purchase souvenirs will find plenty to choose from. The three main Turks and Caicos shopping areas on Providenciales are known as 'Ports of Call', 'Central Square' and 'Market Place'; most travelers find that these are the three best spots for Turks and Caicos shopping. One added bonus of shopping in Turks and Caicos is that the shopping is duty free, which is sure to delight all types of shoppers.
Turks and Caicos ATM’s
ATM’s are available at all banks in Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos Banks
There are many banks in Turks and Caicos. All banks can cash traveler’s checks as well as offer cash advances on credit cards.
Banking hours are from 8:30 to 2:30 Monday-Thursday and 8:30 to 4:30 on Friday
Budgeting in Turks and Caicos
In addition to the weekly rental rate for a villa in Turks and Caicos, additional costs include but are not limited to:
Groceries and Beverages
Tip for the Maid
Tip for the chef or cook if hired
Most stores are open from 8:30-5 with some retail shops staying open until 8:00pm.
Most shops are closed on Sundays
The official currency of Turks and Caicos is the U.S. Dollar.
The major grocery store in Turks and Caicos is IGA, which carries both typical American products as well as Turks and Caicos specialties.
For wine lovers, Discount Liquors has an excellent selection of wines as well as Caribbean rums and other liquors.
Turks and Caicos Restaurants
The number of restaurants in Turks and Caicos may not be impressive but the food at the restaurants certainly is. Offering a wide variety of foods types from American to Italian to Asian; each dish is also always infused with Caribbean flavor in the form of local spices and seasonings. One of the most popular local dishes is conch and you will find it in almost every Turks and Caicos restaurant prepared in a variety of ways. Grouper and lobster are also served in many Turks and Caicos restaurants and are usually freshly caught by local fishermen. The majority of restaurants are on the island of Providenciales, but good restaurants can be found on every island. In terms of price, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from for travelers looking to enjoy fine dining as well as those hoping to find a good meal on the cheap. A tax of 10 percent is applied to all restaurant bills.
Villas Caribe Turks and Caicos Restaurant Selections
One of the finest restaurants in the island, Grace’s Cottage located on Provenciales is a great spot for a couple looking to enjoy a world class meal in an excellent setting. Entrée prices in the 30 dollar range and reservations are essential at this excellent restaurant.
Excellent Italian cuisine served in a romantic setting. Reservation are accepted but are not a must.
Bugaloo’s Conch Shack-Provenciales
A long time local lunch favorite featuring Conch prepared in a variety of delicious ways. Open only for lunch and credit cards are not accepted.
Guanahani Restaurant and Bar-Grand Turk
New restaurant located on a secluded stretch of beach. Menu changes nightly and features a wide variety of seafood dishes. Also open for lunch
Believed by many to be the best restaurant in Turks and Caicos, this classy establishment is favorite of visitors and travelers alike who love the Asian infused seafood menu. Reservations are a must.
Pat’s Place-Salt Cay
Pat is a local chef who delights in preparing conch, grouper, and other local favorites for whoever walks in the door. Be sure to let Pat know you are coming, as she has been known to close up shop when there are no reservations that night.
The perfect spot for the traveler missing hometown food. This always busy restaurant features excellent burgers, grinders, and pizza, as well as always popular daily specials.
Turks and Caicos Golf
Sure to excite any golf enthusiast, Turks and Caicos is home to one of the finest golf courses in all the Caribbean. Located on Providenciales, Provo Golf and Country Club is an 18 hole championship course sure to be enjoyed by golfers of all skill levels. The course features four different sets of tees for golfers to choose from and also has a full practice area for those looking to further hone their game. Because it is the only course on the island, making tee times in advance is recommended so golfers can be sure to have a chance to play this excellent course. The course also has a full bar and restaurant for players who want to enjoy a cold beer or fine meal after spending the day on the links.
Turks and Caicos Water Sports
The white sand beaches of Turks and Caicos are some of the most beautiful in all the world. There are gorgeous beaches on every island and any traveler will be delighted to spend their days sunning and relaxing on this pristine white sand. Grace Bay Beach has recently been voted the best in the world by one travel group, and upon arriving on this 12 mile stretch of sand one will certainly be able to see why. However, if one is looking for a more secluded area, Sapodilla Beach offers the same white sand and aquamarine water without the crowds that populate Grace Bay Beach during busy seasons. Whichever beach you choose to spend your day on, there is no way you will be disappointed in Turks and Caicos beaches.
Not only are the beaches on Turks and Caicos fabulous, but the scuba diving and snorkeling off the island is among the best in the world. Jacque Cousteau himself called the diving off the coast of the island of Provenciales some of the best in the world and made many trips to the islands to enjoy Turks and Caicos diving. Some of the best known areas for snorkeling on the island are the Grace Bay area and Smith’s Reef, but almost everywhere on the island offers spots where divers and snorkelers can swim with vibrantly colored fish and alongside gorgeous coral reefs. Because of the excellent snorkeling and diving that Turks and Caicos has to offer, there are a great dumber of diving outfitters and shops where one can receive instruction, purchase gear, or arrange for private dives with experienced guides. With world renowned beaches and diving, Turks and Caicos is the perfect spot for any beach and water lover.
Turks and Caicos Nightlife
Turks and Caicos is very informal. Casual sport-clothes in cotton and other light fabrics are fine by day as are jeans and T-shirts, etc. At night, women usually dress up in light cotton dresses. Ties and jackets are never required for men.
Turks and Caicos is not populated by an abundance of clubs and bars like some Caribbean islands, but for those who are not worn out from a long day of sunbathing on the beach and enjoying the excellent scuba diving of the island, Turks and Caicos nightlife has plenty to offer. Perhaps most notable is the Port Royale Casino at the Allegro resort on the island of Provenciales. Port Royal is the island’s only full casino and features blackjack, roulette, slot machines, as well as many other games.
For those whose tastes run more towards dancing then gambling, it is easy to find live music being played by local bands on the island almost every night. Some of the best places to enjoy this type of Turks and Caicos nightlife the Club Med Turkoise, where non-guests can purchase a night pass, the Le Beach Hotel, which has live music on Thursdays and Sundays, and the Lone Star Bar in the Ports of Call shopping area, which has live music every Friday night. For those looking for low key evenings, Turks and Caicos is home to several quaint bars where one can unwind after a long day with while sipping a delicious tropical drink. Turks and Caicos nightlife truly has a little something for everybody.
Turks and Caicos Weddings
For those looking for a dream location for their destination wedding, they need look no farther than Turks and Caicos weddings. With a wide range of wedding locations and styles to choose from, the islands have been the site of countless beautiful and romantic weddings. No matter what type of Turks and Caicos wedding you envision, it can be made possible on the island. From large lavish Turks weddings on the grounds of a gorgeous villa, to weddings witnessed by only a handful of people aboard a boat in the crystal waters off of the islands, Turks and Caicos weddings can make any wedding dream come true.
In order to get married on Turks and Caicos, island officials require a the bride and groom to be to fulfill a 24 hour residency obligation before filing with the wedding registrar for the appropriate documents. It typically takes 2-3 days for these documents to be processed. In order to obtain a marriage license, both the bride and groom must present a valid passport and birth certificate along with a $50.00 licensing fee. Once these steps are taken, the bride and groom are free to hold the Turks and Caicos wedding of their dreams.
Turks and Caicos Sights & Activities
The wide range of activities available on Turks and Caicos make the islands ideal to visit for those who hope to enjoy a great many of outings and excursions. The Turks and Caicos islands are most famous for its snorkeling and scuba diving, and rightfully so. Jacque Cousteau called the island one of his favorite spots in the world, and anyone who enjoys the excellent diving of off Grace Bay Beach or at Smith’s Reef will soon see why. For those who prefer to have a majority of their fun above water rather than below it, Turks and Caicos has much to offer other than diving.
Fishing: The waters off the coast of Turks and Caicos are home to some of the best fishing in the world. The island plays host to two major fishing tournaments a year and amateur fishermen of all skill levels will have a great time fishing the waters of Turks and Caicos. Marlins upwards of 300 pounds are regularly caught off the coast; while sailfish and grouper are just a few of the fish that you may reel in while enjoying Turks and Caicos fishing.
Golf: Turks and Caicos is home to the Provo Country Club, an excellent 18 hole course that is sure to be enjoyed by golfers of all skill levels. The course is the only one on the island and quite popular, so making tee times in advance is highly recommended.
Horseback Riding: Horse enthusiasts as well as first time riders will love the guided horse rides along Turks and Caicos beautiful beaches. For those looking for a romantic outing, sunset horse rides along the beach are also available.
Carnivals, Festivals, Special Events
January: Junkanoo Junk Up, an island wide New Years Day celebration
February: Enjoy celebrating the music of reggae at Bob Marley’s Birthday Jam
June: Enjoy a four day festival of food, music, dancing and more at the Conch Carnival on Grand Turk
July: Enjoy the Provo Summer Festival, a week long cultural event that leads up to the Miss Turks and Caicos Beauty Pageant
Tourist Board Contact Information
Turks and Caicos Tourism Office
11645 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 302, Miami FL 33181