TURKS & CAICOS
ISLAND FUN FACTS
Capital: Cockburn Town
Population: 38,717 as of 2020
Side of Street Drive-On: As it is in most of the neighboring states, even here you drive on the left.
Currency: United States Dollar
The Junkanoo Jump Up Festival:
It is a true Caribbean classic, celebrated across several islands in the region, but each with its own twist. In Turks and Caicos, the festival has been celebrated since the 16th century, when the enslaved Africans got the day to be with their families. Locals take to the streets until sunrise, dancing in bedazzled costumes and playing their various instruments. Described as a parade of energy, it pays homage to African music and dance.
Turks and Caicos was first inhabited by the Taino people, who also settled in most of the Caribbean. Though still debated, the islands are said to have been discovered by Juan Ponce de Léon in 1512, a Spanish conquistador. The Spanish then captured the inhabitants and enslaved them on Hispaniola, wiping out this native people.
During the 18th century, the island was popular among pirates, serving as a hideout for them for decades.
During the 1778 – 1783: several European countries fought for control over the area during the Anglo-French War, but by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, the state was deemed a British colony.
During the American War of Independence, many loyalist fled to the area with their African slaves. They developed a cotton fields though they collapsed due to the rise of the salt industry. More slaves were transported from Africa to the Caribbean to carry the work.
In 1799, Turks and Caicos became a part of the Bahamas.
In the 19th century: slavery was abolished by Britain in its colonies and slave trade came to an end in Turks and Caicos.
In 1848, governance change once again came over the islands as they were made a separate colony under a council president and in 1873-4 the islands were made a part of Jamaica.
In the 20th century: late into the century, the salt industry collapsed, but in the 1950s the US built bases on the islands, bringing much needed economical relief. As Jamaica was gaining its independence, the islands were then declared British overseas territory under self-rule.
Mid 1980s, tourism made its way to the clear water and white sand beaches. The Providenciales International Airport was built, along with resorts like Third Turtle Inn, the Club Med Turkoise resort and feet were welcome on the famous Grace Bay Beach.
THINGS TO DO
Turks and Caicos may be a laid back island but there are several things that take place when the sun goes down. Bars and small night-club are the best ways the locals get out on the town and there are of course occasional beach BBQ, bonfires and sunset cruises.
1. Glow worm cruise: if you are new to this British territory, then you may be thinking you really don’t want to spend your with worms. But trust us, this experience will leave you lit up.
The marine glow-worms lift from the ocean flow to light up the water with a green glow. The colour comes from the fluorescent photo-protein in the female released with its egg mass.
The visittci.com has the specifics: the event occurs a few days after a full moon and at 55 minutes after sunset. These worms create a visual phenomenon that will be imbedded in you for as long as memory allows. You will not always need to take a cruise to enjoy the Providenciales experience, because there are places from which the activity is visible off the coast.
2. Beach BBQ Buffets and Bonfires: marinated meat on the Barbie, cool drink with two ice cubes in hand and music in the air while your feet lay in the sand. This is what you will find offered by a range of resorts throughout the year to mark holidays and special occasions like a full moon.
It also provides an opportunity to get acquainted with the local sounds from the bands that play right into the night.
3. Casinos: If you are feeling lucky, the Casablanca Casino is open from 4pm to 4am on weekdays, Saturday included and from 7pm to 4am on Sundays.
The casino is a non-smoking place with slot machines, Blackjack and Roulette tables, and of course Poker.
Places to Stay
Wymara Resort & Villas:
Feel like a 7000-square foot infinity pool, a private villa with a full ocean view and a wooden terrace? Wymara will not disappoint. And if you find yourself struggling with the munchies, the two restaurants on the resort have a fusion of Asian and local ingredients to see you through.
Seven Stars Resort & Spa:
Yet another beautiful resort located on the Grace Bay Beach. The seven story building arched around a pool. Big rooms, marble tubs, soaking tubs and friendly staff who will hardly forget your name. The resort also has room for the kids with a kids ‘camp that provides several activities to keep the fun going. Here you will also find the island’s only heated saltwater pool.
There are three main ways to land in the twin islands, by plane, cruise or yacht.
By plane: the Providenciales International Airport receives all international flights into the country, while moving around the islands is provided by either Caicos Express Airways or interCaribbean which will take only 30 minutes to land you in Grand Turk.
By Yacht: once you get to the country, you must make your way to the port-of-entry, for Grand Turk it is the Government Freighter Dock. Getting a week entry should easily be provided by the harbourmaster but if you intent on a longer stay, then you can just apply for a Cruising Permit. Be sure to have accurate charts and a GPS to help you navigate the waters.
By Cruise: the cruise line will most probably handle all your immigration and customs matters, leaving you only to worry about what you are packing. You may not see everything on your own personal itinerary though as time constraints may shorten what is on the list.