8 unique things to do on the Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are an amazingly beautiful place. The beaches and the waters there are some of the most beautiful in the world. It has amazing snorkeling and scuba diving, and you can stay in equally beautiful villas there with Turks and Caicos home rentals. This is truly an unforgettable place. It seems hard to imagine that the tourism didn’t start until around 1970. A more romantic name for these islands would be calling them the pirate islands. The word Turks was used synonymously with pirates at that time and Caicos means an island chain. So the names basically translate to the pirate islands. Pirates have some pretty good taste in islands we think. Some people say the Turks part of the name comes from the Turk head cactus that’s on the island, but according to the island itself, that is untrue. When you hear of pirates and the Bahamas in history, this is one of those locations. These days the islands are a luxury vacation retreat. English is the official language and they accept the US dollar as currency. There are miles and miles of beautiful beaches, and it has one of the best barrier reefs in the Atlantic Ocean. Most people know all about the beaches and the waters at the Turks and Caicos Islands, but there is a lot of other amazing things to do there as well. So we have collected a few of the more unique things you can see and do on the islands, so when you are taking a break from the beach and the water, go check them out.
This is an amazing place just off the main road in Middle Caicos. It’s a large limestone cave with many openings in it, casting in light and giving it a very distinctive look. It looks and feels like it is right bout of a movie. There is much native fauna around, and crabs are often found on the main floor. Research of the cave found that it was inhabited in pre-Columbus times, though not much more is known than that. Archeologists have dug many things up there, including an extinct tortoise, as well as bones and pottery. Mostly though, the cave is just amazing to stand there and just take the look and feel all in.
A tentative UNESCO world heritage site, Salt Cay was once the largest producer of salt in the world. Salt was the main economy for Turks and Caicos and was exported up until the early 1960s. Salt Cay itself is secluded and quiet, and a good place to just relax on the beach. There is a mansion on the island, called the white house, which was built in 1835. It’s quite interesting to see and filled with antiques.
Conch Bar Caves is a national park. It is one of the largest cave systems in the Caribbean with over 10 miles of caverns. Some of the caves also look like they are straight out of a painting, with their own lagoons, stalactites and stalagmites. These caves were often used for Lucayan Indian ceremonies and you can still see petroglyphs on the walls in places. You can just feel the history standing there in those caves.
Turks and Caicos Museum
We have always had a soft spot for museums, and though many might find them boring, we love them. You get a real feeling of history, and where the area you are in came from. You can step back in time and imagine life then. The Turks and Caicos National Museum is a good one to see. It has pieces from one of the oldest shipwrecks in this hemisphere. There is also a section telling about the Lucayan Indians, the ones that did the petroglyphs in the caves. Another exhibit to get your wonder started is a collection of bottles with messages in them, the proverbial “message in a bottle”. They have been collecting them for many years and they really are fascinating.
Though the hall is mostly in ruins now, the area is a popular tourist attraction. You can walk around the area and various signs will give you the history of this British owned plantation. It’s quite near to downtown Provo, so easy to find. The house on the hill gives the most amazing view and you can just imagine what it was like to sit there and look out upon the islands when it was in its glory. You can also get a tour guide to get the full history and story of Cheshire Hall. There is a lot of history in Turks and Caicos, and it’s fascinating once you start learning it.
Little Water Cay
Also known as Iguana Island, this island houses over 2000 of the little and not so little rock iguanas. Little water Cay is one of the last places you can see these creatures, as they are endangered and this refuge is home to the remaining rock iguanas. The national trust in Turks and Caicos has set up a couple of walkways so that you can see the reptiles without disturbing anything. There are many companies that will take you out there on a tour, or you can get there the adventurer’s way and kayak in.
Caicos Conch Farm
A fun place to visit is the Caicos Conch Farm and Island Sea Center. This is the only commercial conch farm in the world. Conches can be a delicacy around the Caribbean, and the shells are prized treasures. You can learn all you ever wanted to know about conches, and buy a conch shell if you are so inclined. They even have a couple of “on staff” conches that you can meet, called Sally and Jeffry. The tour guides make learning about the conch fun.
Another bit of fun to see is Sapodilla Bay. Aside from being a beautiful beach and a great place to swim as the water is shallow and calm, Sapodilla Bay may hold some secrets. Keeping in mind that Turks and Caicos was a pirate island, on top of the hills overlooking the bay are messages engraved in stones. The locals will tell you these are codes and directions to buried treasure. Who knows, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones to figure them out.
We always get that pirate feel for the many places we go on the various islands. Though there are many luxury villas and modern shops and restaurants, we always have the feeling that just below the surface is a pirate treasure waiting to be found, and even if the pirate treasure is the beaches and the crystal clear waters, we win either way. Go visit the islands, you won’t be disappointed.