Are you thinking about taking a vacation to the Turks & Caicos Islands?
Well you’re in the right place.
My name’s Sharon Weil Hornstein and I spend most of the year at the Turks & Caicos.
I am the owner/photographer of Sand Dollar Images LLC an art photography business focused on sharing the incredible beauty of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).
In this article, I’ll give you insights and recommendations for your Turks & Caicos vacation.
First, a little background on the Turks & Caicos Islands.
About Turks & Caicos
The Turks & Caicos Islands made up of more than 40 small islands and cays, are located approximately 575 miles southeast of Florida, at the southernmost part of the Bahama Island chain.
While we are a British Overseas Territory and part of the British West Indies, our currency is the US Dollar.
TCI is home to some of the most incredible natural beauty in the world. Many of our Cays and Islands are protected by the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world. The reef and our extensive mangrove system are populated by turtles, sharks, rays and an extraordinary variety of fish and other sea life. We are even visited by several species of whales during their annual migration period over the winter.
I first visited TCI in March 2012 with my husband and two young sons. We knew very quickly that Turks would be our forever home. After years of travel to many amazing places around the world, these islands have stolen our hearts. We never run out of new adventures!
I have learned to kiteboard, scuba dive, snorkel, stand up paddleboard. I’ve also jumped from cliffs, climbed onto shipwrecks, tracked down flamingos, hiked, biked, played golf and wandered some of the most incredible beaches in the world while in Turks.
You can do the same!
Getting to the Turks
Our International Airport is located on Providenciales (PLS). It is serviced by many large airlines including Jet Blue, Air Canada, British Airways, American, Delta, and Southwest.
Travel from PLS to our other islands can be arranged via local airlines Caicos Express and InterCaribbean. The cruise terminal is located on Grand Turk, which is about a 30-minute flight from Providenciales.
You will need a passport upon arrival and travelers from some countries will also require a visa.
Where to Stay
If you have a large group or prefer a resort experience, I would suggest Seven Stars Grace Bay. We stayed here for many years before Turnstone House was completed. I can’t say enough about the outstanding staff, gorgeous rooms, grounds and amenities, and location. Right on Grace Bay Beach and a quick walk to stores and restaurants.
The hotel is stunning, and Long Bay Beach is its own kind of special. Dotted with kitesurfers on windy days and waist-deep, warm water on the Caicos Banks, Long Bay is perfect for SUP’s, Kayaks and lounging on the beach.
We do recommend that guests rent a car to allow them to explore the Providenciales and get around easily. Our preferred provider is Grace Bay Car Rentals.
If you prefer not to drive, taxi services are available and many excursion companies offer pick up/drop off services. There is no public transportation service in TCI and while there are jitney cars on the island, I would not recommend this as a way for tourists to travel.
My Top Five Activities
1. Big Blue Collective Excursions
Learn more about Big Blue Collective
They offer snorkel and dive trips on our reef, kayak and SUP exploration of the mangroves, 1/2 and full-day boat charters and kiteboarding lessons.
If you want to try something new, this is the team to do it with.
2. Shopping at Ately
Located in the plaza by Caicos Cafe, if you are looking for a super special gift for yourself (you deserve it!) or someone at home, you will find stunning handcrafted silver jewelry made by Atelys. If you don’t see exactly what you want in-store, she will work with you to create something custom. She carries a selection of items from other local artists as well (including @sanddollarimages).
3. Snorkel at Smith’s Reef
Smith’s Reef is located by Turtle Cove Marina on Grace Bay Beach.
Cross over the bridge, go left and follow the road all the way to the end. There is a parking area and a large board on the beach describing various coral head locations.
Beautiful water and lots of sea life can be found here!
4. The Fish Fry
Thursday night is party night on Provo! The Fish Fry is a place where both tourists and locals gather to enjoy food from a wide variety of local restaurants, live music and have the opportunity to shop the work of local businesses and crafts all in one place. Arrive early as it can get quite crowded.
5. Long Bay Beach
Situated on the south side of the island, Long Bay is on the Caicos Banks. The shallow water and typically onshore wind, making this a superb spot for kiteboarding.
Walk the beach, come watch the kiters at play or give it a try yourself with Big Blue.
My Favorite Restaurants
There are so many great restaurants to choose from. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Dinner at Coco Bistro or Cocovan. These two restaurants, one high end and the other more casual are right down the road from Turnstone House and next door to each other. The atmosphere and food can’t be beaten!
No reservation needed for Cocovan but call ahead for Coco Bistro (way ahead during high season!).
We also highly recommend Lupo in Regent Village, Caicos Cafe, happy hour at Grace Bay Club on Friday evening and da Conch Shack in Blue Hills for dinner on the sand.
Shay Cafe at Le Vele Plaza is excellent for breakfast and lunch as well as Lemon to Go, just around the corner and Just Tacos right on the beach at Grace Bay Club.
A few other things to keep in mind
Reef Safe Sunscreen
We ask that you please use sunscreen that is specifically reef safe and keep plastics and other trash off of the beaches in order to protect our precious resources. Carry in, carry out.
We drive on the left
Please use caution when driving if this is new to you. Roundabouts can be especially challenging, so stay alert!
Payments & Cell Service
Many businesses accept Master Card and Visa as well. Cell service is generally very good but check with your provider before you come regarding extra charges. We offer free wifi at Turnstone House for our guests.
Turks & Caicos is a very safe destination, but like anywhere in the world, it makes sense to take the usual precautions and be aware of your surroundings, especially late at night or when you are somewhere remote. If you have the opportunity to lock up your valuables (we offer safes in each room at Turnstone House) please do so that you may relax and enjoy your visit.
Turks & Caicos is an incredibly special place to visit. We hope that you will choose Turnstone House as your home base to come to explore everything our islands have to offer.
And if you decide to move here like we did, we’ve got a great real estate agent for you!