Turks & Caicos: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a fantastic week!! We are back from our beach vacation in Turks & Caicos, and have been slooowly easing back into reality. I sure am missing those long beach walks, calm turquoise waters and pina coladas!! I received a TON of questions when we were in Turks & Caicos and I shared some highlights on Instagram and Facebook. Many of you have Turks & Caicos on your bucket list, or are considering it for your next vacation so I thought creating a Turks & Caicos travel guide would be helpful in planning out your own trip! There’s no question that Turks & Caicos is expensive – from lodging to the food so I’ve also included a few money-saving travel tips in there that we’ve learned throughout our visits to the islands. This was our fifth trip back to Turks & Caicos and despite traveling to eight other Caribbean islands it holds steady as our favorite travel destination. I think you’ll soon understand why!

Leeward Beach in Turks & Caicos
Leeward Beach in Turks & Caicos

About Turks & Caicos

Located in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos (TCI) is a British Overseas Territory made up of about forty different islands and cays. 

It is known for its stunning beaches with white powdery sand and clear turquoise waters. Oprah, Donna Karen, Christie Brinkley, Keith Richards, Bruce Willis and the late Prince all have or had homes in Turks & Caicos, and it’s a favorite vacation spot for Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Michael Douglas, Lionel Messi, Ryan Seacrest, Katie Couric, Olivia Munn, Justin Bieber, Shaquille O’Neal, Cara Delevingne, and the Kardashians. So you never know if you’ll have a celebrity run-in while on the island!

Providenciales (known as “Provo”) is the most densely populated and developed island, and where the majority of tourists vacation. This is also where my husband and I have spent the majority of our time, so the information in this travel guide is largely focused on Providenciales. 

The other inhabited Turks & Caicos islands include Grand Turk, North Caicos, South Caicos, Middle Caicos, and Salt Cay. These other islands are sparsely populated, and you’ll find limited accommodations on these islands,  

Grand Turk is the second most populated island in Turks & Caicos, and it largely caters to cruise ship passengers who are just there for the day, and scuba divers. There are walls that drop off to over 7K feet, making it a very popular diving spot for enthusiasts.

South Caicos has remained untouched by the tourism industry. There are VERY few established tourist attractions, watersports operators, gift shops or large grocery stores but the gorgeous and quiet beaches are the main draw for those seeking total seclusion. It is an island we have not yet visited, but would really like to. It would be so nice to visit South Caicos for just two to three days of pure relaxation and then spend the rest of the time in Providenciales where there’s a little more action. There are two main hotels in South Caicos – East Bay Resort and Sailrock Resort. Both are luxury hotels but are great options if you’re looking for a quiet, secluded beach getaway!

Middle Caicos and North Caicos are a popular day trip from Providenciales. These two islands are connected via a bridge, although you should know that these islands are quite remote and accommodations are limited.  

While people do live on Salt Cay, the population tops out at just over one hundred people. Food and supplies are very limited, roads are mostly unpaved and private villas are the only available accommodations.

West Caicos and East Caicos are both uninhabited islands.

Driving is on the left in Turks & Caicos, and their official currency is the U.S. Dollar.

Leeward Beach in Turks & Caicos
Leeward Beach in Turks & Caicos

How To Get To Turks & Caicos

There are two international airports in Turks & Caicos – Providenciales International Airport (PLS) and Grand Turk JAGS McCartney International Airport (GDT). While GDT is still classified as an international airport, it’s currently only being used for domestic flights.

Providenciales International Airport (PLS) in Providenciales is the typical point of entry for international and commercial flights, as it’s the most developed island of Turks & Caicos and where most vacationers stay.

Providenciales is a relatively easy destination to get to, particularly if you live on the east coast of the United States. The flight time is under 3.5 hours from most major east coast cities and most of the large commercial U.S. airlines fly here, including American, JetBlue, United, Delta and Southwest. When you’re close to landing, make sure to peer out your window – the views are truly spectacular!

View from the airplane looking out over Grace Bay Beach
View from the airplane looking out over Grace Bay Beach
View from the airplane over Turks & Caicos
View from the airplane over Turks & Caicos

Once you’ve landed at PLS, domestic flights to several of the other inhabited Turks & Caicos islands are available through Caicos Express Airways or interCaribbean. You should be warned though that the jets for these domestic routes are quite small, but can get you to these other islands in 30-35 minutes.

There are three main ferry routes within the Turks & Caicos islands, but you should note that these are passenger ferries only and do not accommodate cars. These routes are:

  • Providenciales to North Caicos (daily service; from here you can drive to Middle Caicos)
  • Providenciales to South Caicos (available a few days per week)
  • Grand Turk to Salt Cay (available a few days per week)

COVID-19: What You Need To Know

As rules & restrictions pertaining to COVID-19 change regularly, please verify visiting requirements directly with the Turks & Caicos Tourism Board prior to your trip there.

Despite the increase in COVID-19 cases rising again due to the Delta variant, I felt very safe traveling to and being in Turks & Caicos during the pandemic. Starting September 1, 2021, all visitors ages sixteen and over must be fully vaccinated in order to enter Turks & Caicos. Additionally, as of the date this Ultimate Turks & Caicos Travel Guide is being written, the country requires that anyone age ten or over get tested for COVID-19 no more than three days before traveling to Turks & Caicos, and they will accept antigen tests. We left for our trip on a Thursday morning, so we made appointments and got tested at CVS on Tuesday morning. After getting tested, we got a call from CVS about 20 mins later confirming our negative test results and within a couple of hours we received an email with a link to download a copy of our negative test results.

Additionally, Turks & Caicos’ hospital is extremely small and is not equipped to handle an influx of COVID-19 cases, so you are required to purchase travel insurance that would cover medical costs and full hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, and air ambulance. We personally purchased Travelex’s Travel Basic plan, which cost $34 per person for our ten-day trip. This price was based on us declaring that the value of our trip was only $500 per person (airfare and hotel), even though it was significantly more than that (we personally felt comfortable taking a risk there to save a little money). Of course if you do want the full value of your trip to be covered in the event you need to cancel, you get sick, etc. you’ll need to declare the full value of your trip and your travel insurance costs will be higher. 

Once you have your negative COVID-19 test results and a copy of your travel insurance policy, you’ll need to upload these documents to the TCI Assured Program portal (no less than 24 hours in advance of your travel date), and answer a health questionnaire. Assuming that your documentation and questionnaire responses satisfy the requirements, Turks & Caicos will approve your request to enter their country. You’ll get this response via email, in the form of a Travel Authorization Certificate. Waiting for the approval to come through was a bit nerve-wracking, as there doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason to the order in which they approve them. My husband uploaded his required documents about an hour after me on a Tuesday afternoon and was approved within 45 minutes, whereas my approval didn’t come through until about 3pm on Wednesday (12 hours before we were leaving for the airport), so I was definitely stressing a little!  

When you arrive at your local airport on the day of travel to Turks & Caicos, you will need to show your airline your Turks & Caicos Travel Authorization at the ticket counter (note: you will not be able to check in for your flight online from home in advance because of this). I highly recommend printing the Travel Authorization, as well as your negative test results and travel insurance policy so that you can quickly produce these documents if customs asks for them, or in case your phone dies. 

Documentation is also needed to return to the United States, from Turks & Caicos. Currently the United States requires you to get tested for COVID-19 no more than three days prior to returning to the states, and an antigen test is accepted. There are testing centers throughout Providenciales, many of which are located at the hotels and resorts to make it easy for tourists. We stayed at Seven Stars Resort & Spa, and they had a test site adjacent to their spa that was open to both guests and non-guests. The test was free to those staying at Seven Stars and $50 per person for those not staying at the resort. Masks were required to enter the testing site, and you were required to bring your passport. After they do your swab, you wait for the results (about five minutes), and then they provide you with a copy of your test results, which also includes your passport number and date of birth. Make sure the test site input your passport number and date of birth correctly, as your airline will check to make sure they match. The second page of the results includes a declaration that you need to sign and date, stating that you’ve been tested and received a negative result. 

Once you receive your test results, you’ll need to download the Verifly app, and within the app provide your flight information and upload a photo of your test results to gain approval to re-enter the United States. My husband and I recieved our approvals almost instantaneously, so getting back into the United States was much easier than securing our approvals to visit Turks & Caicos.

While the mask rules may vary by resort, guests who stayed at our resort (Seven Stars Resort & Spa) were not required to wear masks on the property or in the resort’s restaurants, however all resort employees were required to. Hand sanitizer stations were located all throughout the property, as well as signs asking guests to sanitize before touching the water coolers located by the pool and beach. Off of the resort, masks were required in all public places. So you will need them to enter restaurants (even if they are outdoors), and they could be removed once seated at your table. In addition to the mask requirement, when we entered their grocery stores an employee sprayed our hands with disinfectant. Turks & Caicos is definitely taking the health and safety of their citizens and visitors very seriously, which I appreciated!

What Type of Traveler is Turks & Caicos Best Suited For?

Turks & Caicos is an ideal destination for those seeking relaxation, traveling with young kids, a significant other, or a group of friends. The stunning beaches with clear, turquoise waters and white powdery sand are the main draw for most tourists. However, if you or someone you’re traveling with is active and doesn’t like to lounge on the beach all day, I’ve provided tour and activity recommendations within this Turks & Caicos Travel Guide. There’s certainly no shortage of fun activities!

As mentioned, Turks & Caicos is kid-friendly. Many who travel with kids like to stay at the all-inclusive Beaches resort, but many of the luxury resorts also cater to kids. We stayed at Seven Stars Resort & Spa on our last trip, and although there’s an adults-only pool and deck, they did have a large main pool, a small, shallow children’s pool, as well as a water trampoline that the kids (and many adults!) were loving!

There are some adults-only resorts, including The Beach House and Club Med Turkoise

If you’re looking for nightlife, then Turks & Caicos may not be the island for you. However, I’ve provided some nightlife suggestions in the last section of this Ultimate Turks & Caicos Travel Guide. 

View of Grace Bay Beach from the main pool area at Seven Stars Resort & Spa
View of Grace Bay Beach from the main pool area at Seven Stars Resort & Spa

When Is The Best Time To Visit?

Turks & Caicos enjoys warm temperatures year-round, ranging from average highs of 82 degrees Fahrenheit in January, February and March (the coolest months) to average highs of 89 degrees in July, August and September (the hottest months). So anytime of the year is great, but keep in mind that June-November is hurricane season so if you opt to go during one of those months, I’d recommend purchasing travel insurance (which due to COVID-19, is currently a requirement for traveling to Turks & Caicos anyway). 

The precipitation level in Turks and Caicos is among the lowest in the Caribbean, so you can generally count on plenty of sun for your beach vacation! April through July tends to have the greatest number of showers, but the majority of rainfall comes from one or two single instances during the June to November hurricane season.

Your budget may dictate the best time for you to personally travel to Turks & Caicos. During the “high” season (December-April), hotel rates are the highest. You’ll generally find the lowest hotel rates in August, September, October, and early November. Given that Turks & Caicos can be an expensive island in terms of lodging and food costs, this is good to keep in mind. While still expensive, the shoulder and off-season in Turks & Caicos may be a more affordable option for you. 

I’ve now traveled to Turks & Caicos twice in July, and three times in March and there are certainly advantages to both. Aside from the cost difference, the water is a bit warmer and calmer in the summer months which I prefer. However, it is HOT on the beach in the summer, with real feel temperatures being in the mid to upper 90’s. A bit oppressive for anything other than water activities. I personally prefer the slightly milder temperatures when we visit in March.

Grace Bay Beach at Seven Stars Resort & Spa
Grace Bay Beach at Seven Stars Resort & Spa

Car Rentals in Turks & Caicos

Depending on where you stay, you can likely get away with not renting a car on Providenciales – especially if you stay right on Grace Bay and don’t plan to leave the resort much. However, taxis are expensive so depending upon how much you want to explore and dine out, it may cost you less to rent a car. We’ve rented a car each time we’ve visited Turks & Caicos, and I highly recommend doing so! It’s a big reason we now know the area, the beaches and the restaurants so well! 

Driving is on the left side of the road, but it doesn’t take too long to adjust and because Providenciales is relatively small and flat, it’s pretty easy to navigate!

We prefer to rent from Grace Bay Car Rentals or Sixt Car Rentals, as they are the two car rental companies located on site at Providence International Airport (PLS). Sixt has a kiosk located right outside the baggage claim exit and they will have your car waiting for you at the airport, which they have brought from off-site. Grace Bay Car Rentals on the other hand has a full rental center just up the hill, right when you exit the airport.

The other rental car companies such as Avis and Hertz are located off-site. They have desks located at the airport, and once you let the representative at the desk know that you have arrived, they will call a shuttle to pick you up and bring you to their off-site rental center. So unless there’s a huge price difference, we almost always go with Grace Bay Car Rentals or Sixt so that we can hop right in our car and immediately start our vacation!

Where To Stay in Turks & Caicos

This is the number one question I get asked and honestly it comes down to your budget, what amenities are important to you and if you need to be beachfront. Turks & Caicos generally caters to luxury travelers – which means the beachfront hotels and resorts are generally more high-end, and you’ll see that reflected in the rates. Many of the beachfront resorts on Grace Bay Beach average $800-$1,200 per night during the high season for a studio guest room, so if you’re traveling as a family, be prepared to spend a lot more for multi-bedroom suites!

If budget isn’t a concern or you’re looking to splurge for a special occasion, I would recommend the following Providenciales properties based on their rooms, location and their beachfront (these have wider stretches of beach whereas some resorts are located on a narrower section of Grace Bay Beach):

If you do have a little more budget or are willing to splurge, I can’t recommend Seven Stars Resort & Spa enough. This is where we stayed on our most recent trip to Turks & Caicos and the property was stunning, the staff was friendly and service-focused – and in my opinion, they are located on what I think is one of the nicest and widest stretches of beach on Grace Bay. Stay tuned for my full review of this property in the coming weeks! 

View of the Beach and Adults-Only Pool at Seven Stars Resort & Spa
View of the Beach and Adults-Only Pool at Seven Stars Resort & Spa

I received some questions about the Ritz Carlton, which opened directly next to Seven Stars about two months ago. Although I only scoped out their beach, pool and outdoor areas, I have to admit that it was certainly nice – but I wasn’t blown away like I usually am by Ritz properties! This of course is just my personal opinion but The Ritz felt very sterile, didn’t have a lot of lush landscaping, and the property didn’t give off any Caribbean vibes. When I’m in the Caribbean, I like my surroundings to remind me of that, and the Ritz didn’t. They are located on a very nice, wide stretch of Grace Bay Beach though and their guest rooms that I checked out online look beautiful and have amazing views!

I should mention that Beaches Turks & Caicos, Alexandra Resort, and Beach House Turks & Caicos are good all-inclusive options, but given the great restaurants on the island and how safe I always feel when I’m there, I personally wouldn’t want to be limited to just the food on a single resort. I know many love the ease of all-inclusive though so I thought it was important to mention these as solid options as well! A lot of families with kids stay at Beaches, so something to keep in mind if you’re looking for a quieter couples trip.  

If you’re looking to travel to Turks & Caicos during the high season and $800-$1,200 per night is out of the question (like it is for me!), don’t be discouraged or write Turks & Caicos off! There are certainly more affordable accommodations that are available!

Two affordable options that I recommend are the units at La Vista Azul (located in Turtle Cove) and the Atrium Resort (located in the Leeward neighborhood). While these two properties are not beachfront, the second and third floor units at La Vista Azul have ocean views (from a distance), and they are both within a three minute drive to the beach. 

Rooms and suites at both La Vista Azul and the Atrium resort can be booked directly, or you can rent them on VRBO from people who own units at these hotels/resorts. When we stayed at these properties, we rented directly from owners. I’ve found that the units don’t vary too widely in the Atrium Resort in terms of furniture and decor (regardless of whether the unit is privately owned, or owned by the resort). However, I have found the opposite at La Vista Azul so make sure to do your research!

Either way, you can likely find studio rooms at La Vista Azul and the Atrium for about $300 (or slightly less) during high season, regardless of whether you book directly through the hotel or rent a privately owned unit. Just know that neither are super fancy but are solid, fairly modern options for those who are budget-conscious and wish to visit Turks & Caicos. I should also mention that even though both of these properties are positioned as a “hotel” and “resort,” I wouldn’t quite call them that. Because there are a lot of owner units at both properties, I’d compare them more to condo complexes. Yes, there are pools and fitness rooms but there’s not a bar or restaurant on site at either, and they are generally very quiet. That’s not a bad thing in my book since I travel there for the beaches and just want a clean, modern place to stay, but for those that like a livelier atmosphere these places may not be for you!

Turks & Caicos Travel Tip

Recommended Activities in Turks & Caicos

Personally, when we travel to Turks & Caicos, our goal is relaxation so we spend most of our time just lounging on the beach and swimming. I also love getting lost in a good book while on the beach, and my husband is really into snorkeling. However, over the years we’ve taken day trips to visit some of the sister islands, and have done a handful of tours – almost all of which I’d highly recommend!

First and foremost, a lot of the resorts offer free activities. So if you or someone that you are traveling with likes to stay active, be sure to check with each resort before booking to see what they offer to guests. Many provide kayaks, stand up paddleboards and snorkeling equipment at no charge, and at Seven Stars Resort & Spa where we just stayed, they also offer hobie cats, tennis and basketball courts.

Snorkeling is very good in Turks & Caicos, so if that’s of interest to you there are some great options! The two most popular reefs to snorkel are Bight Reef, located on Grace Bay in front of Coral Gardens hotel (there is public parking and beach access there), and Smith’s Reef in Turtle Cove. Both can be accessed from the shore, but the waters at Smith’s Reef can be a little rougher and have an undertow. So this reef is not as suitable for kids or inexperienced snorkelers. Between Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef we’ve seen everything from reef sharks, nurse sharks, sea turtles, barracuda, angel fish, eagle rays, pods of squid, and so many other really cool fish! Go early (before 9am) for the best chance of seeing all of these but you’ll still see plenty during the later morning or afternoon hours as well. You may even spot JoJo the Dolphin while swimming in these waters, who we were lucky to see on our most recent trip (he swam right up to my husband)! JoJo has been living in the Turks & Caicos waters since 1980 and is one of the few dolphins around the world that voluntarily interacts with human beings in his own natural habitat, which is pretty cool!

My husband Josh heading into the water to snorkel at Smith's Reef
My husband Josh heading into the water to snorkel at Smith’s Reef
We always spot lots of sea turtles snorkeling in Turks & Caicos!
We always spot lots of sea turtles snorkeling in Turks & Caicos!
We've spotted plenty of nurse sharks while snorkeling at Smith's Reef and a reef shark at Coral Gardens
We’ve spotted plenty of nurse sharks while snorkeling at Smith’s Reef and a reef shark at Coral Gardens

There are also many tour companies that will take you out to the barrier reef, which is the third largest in the world! Caicos Dream Tours is a very reputable company if you are interested in a snorkeling excursion.

Kiteboarding is also a very popular activity on Long Bay Beach, and lessons and rentals are available from a few different companies, including Turks & Caicos Kiteboarding, and KiteProvo

During one of our first trips to Turks & Caicos, we also went on a guided horseback riding tour on Long Bay Beach through Provo Ponies, and I would highly recommend it (even if you’ve never ridden before)! The horses are well-cared for, and the tour guides are great with providing riding tips and explaining each of the horses’ different personalities. The horses LOVE walking along the beach and in the water, and it was such a memorable experience! Tip: you’ll be going in the water with the horses so wear clothes and sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet!

Had such a blast riding with Provo Ponies! We still laugh about Josh's horse "Turtle" who we nicknamed Fabio because of his hair!
Had such a blast riding with Provo Ponies! We still laugh about Josh’s horse “Turtle” who we nicknamed Fabio because of his hair!

Another favorite activity was the High Wave Tour, on a two-seater catamaran. The typical tour is two hours long and you’ll have up to ten others with you on the tour (including the guides). However, we opted to do a custom tour so that we could pick and choose where to visit and how to divide our time so it was just us and the two tour operators! The High Wave Tour goes out of Heaving Down Rock Marina so we first zipped along the nearby Long Bay Beach on our catamaran and took in all of the incredible multi-million dollar homes being built on the shoreline. We then stopped at La Famille Express, a cargo ship two miles off of Long Beach that ran aground in 2004 during hurricane Frances. You can climb to the top of the ship and jump off of it into the water, and/or snorkel around the boat which we did! So, so fun! We saw some pretty interesting sea life and items (one of which was a toilet!) while snorkeling in this spot! From here we zipped over to Little Water Cay (also known as “Iguana Island,” named after all of the Turks & Caicos rock iguanas that roam the island). A fair warning though – people must feed them because they are very, very friendly and will chase you hoping that they’ll get some food from you LOL! While on Little Water Cay, we were able to experience Half Moon Bay – one of the most gorgeous, unspoiled beaches that I’ve ever stepped foot on! Half Moon Bay is only accessible by boat and we pretty much had the beach to ourselves for most of the time before a couple other small boat tours arrived. Our time was starting to wind down on the High Wave tour so we opted to ride along Grace Bay Beach before returning the catamarans back to the marina. This was for sure one of our most fun and memorable times!

These are the two-seater catamarans you'll zip around on during the High Wave Tour - they were an absolute blast!
These are the two-seater catamarans you’ll zip around on during the High Wave Tour – they were an absolute blast!
Josh, my trusty captain!
Josh, did most of the driving and I just sat back and relaxed! 🙂
Snorkeling around La Famille Express was one of our most memorable stops on the High Wave Tour!
Snorkeling around La Famille Express was one of our most memorable stops on the High Wave Tour!

Our day trip to Middle and North Caicos is also a highlight of our many trips to Turks & Caicos, although I don’t advise embarking on this adventure on a Sunday as most restaurants, shops and even gas stations on these two islands are closed. We took the TCI Ferry that goes out of Heaving Down Rock Marina in Providenciales to Sandy Point in North Caicos (about a 30 minute ride and $55 per person round-trip), where we picked up our rental car for the day. We rented from Al’s Rent A Car, and rates were about $50-$85 for the day depending on whether you rent a car, jeep, van, etc. Someone from Al’s met us right at the ferry with the car, and they accept both cash and credit cards. Both North and Middle Caicos (which are connected by a mile-long causeway, with gorgeous views) are quite remote and road conditions aren’t always great (you’ll encounter unpaved routes, lots of potholes, etc.). Because of this, I highly recommend renting a vehicle with four-wheel drive. We drove straight to Middle Caicos since we knew we wanted to spend the most time at Mudjin Harbor and have lunch there, and then we hit a couple spots on North Caicos in the afternoon, on the way back to the ferry. The highlights of our day trip include:

  • Mudjin Harbor and lunch at Mudjin Bar & Grill (Middle Caicos) – definitely do not skip this! In addition to the gorgeous landscape and views of Dragon Cay, there’s a really cool stone staircase here that leads down to a “secret” beach so be sure to check that out! You can see photos from our time at Mudjin Harbor within the “My Favorite Turks & Caicos Beaches” section of this Ultimate Turks & Caicos Travel Guide!
  • Bambara Beach (Middle Caicos)
  • Horsestable Beach (North Caicos)
  • Ice cream at Parrot Ice (North Caicos; great to enjoy on the ferry ride back to Provo)

Chalk Sound – a highly scenic lagoon in Providenciales, there is no other way to describe the water than electric blue! Unfortunately, massive homes have been built all around the lagoon obstructing the view from the roadway and there aren’t any scenic overlooks or public lots that allow you to leisurely take in the view. While I still think it’s worth driving around to catch small glimpses, you can also rent kayaks and paddleboards from Neptune Villas which is located right on the sound. You’ll love paddling around in Chalk Sound!       

While the weekly Fish Fry in Providenciales is on hold due to COVID, I am quite confident it will return once the pandemic is under control as it’s a favorite among both locals and tourists alike! Up until the pandemic, this family-friendly event took place on Thursdays from 5:30pm-9:30pm at Bight Park, right by the beach and it’s a great cultural experience. At the fish fry you’ll find tons of food from local restaurants and vendors (everything from the freshest conch, lobster and seafood to jerk chicken and amazing drinks served in pineapples!). They have picnic tables throughout so that you can sit and eat, but you may have to wait for another group to finish eating and then grab their spot. Or, you can take your dinner right onto the beach and eat there! They always have a local band playing up on stage and you’ll find local artisans selling souvenirs. Parking (along the street) can be tough though and the lines for food can get really long so I recommend going on the earlier side if you can!   

A local vendor making a conch dish at the weekly Fish Fry!
A local vendor making a conch dish at the weekly Fish Fry!
Have you actually been to Turks & Caicos if you haven't had a pineapple drink at the FIsh Fry? :-)
Have you actually been to Turks & Caicos if you haven’t had a pineapple drink at the FIsh Fry? 🙂
Turks Head Brewery is a local brewery, and is almost always serving up cold beer at the Fish Fry!
Turks Head Brewery is a local brewery, and is almost always serving up cold beer at the Fish Fry!
My husband Josh loves trying out all of the local food at the Fish Fry!
My husband Josh loves trying out all of the local food at the Fish Fry!

If you’re a golf enthusiast, the Providenciales Golf Club has a beautiful course, and they have a special “twilight” rate after 3:30pm making it just $80 for eighteen holes. Club rentals are available as well.  

I wouldn’t consider Providenciales to be an island to go to if shopping is really high on your list of activities but there are a dozen or so cute boutiques, art galleries and souvenir shops on Grace Bay Road (not to be confused with “downtown” Providenciales, which is over by the airport and geared more towards the locals as it includes government offices, the post office and very local shops and restaurants). This shopping district on Grace Bay Road in Providenciales is clean, modern, has wide sidewalks, and is very safe to walk around in (although like anywhere, I wouldn’t walk alone here late at night). Note that most of the shops do close by about 5pm, so you will have to sacrifice beach time if you want to check them out!

My Favorite Turks & Caicos Beaches

To be honest, it’s really difficult to narrow down my list of favorites because I haven’t stepped foot on one beach in Turks & Caicos that didn’t take my breath away! All of them them have soft, white powdery sand and crystal clear water. You’ll find very little seaweed and the ocean floor is generally very sandy in most spots unless you’re near a reef!

Grace Bay Beach

Grace Bay Beach (Providenciales) – this beach is where most of the major hotels and resorts are located, so you’ll find it’s the most crowded beach. You’ll also find some vendors walking the beach selling snorkeling, parasailing, boating and jet-ski excursions, as well as hair braiding and gelato. So depending on whether you like a beach with action and a few vendors, or like a more tranquil experience, Grace Bay Beach may or may not be the best beach for you. I will say that these vendors are VERY respectful if you politely decline, and it’s not as constant as I’ve seen on other islands. If you’re renting a condo or villa, or are staying on another part of the island there are public access points to this beach. A few that I know of are next to Seven Stars (there are beach and umbrella rentals there), Sibonné Beach Hotel, Coral Gardens and Bight Park.

The beautiful white sand at Grace Bay Beach
The beautiful white sand at Grace Bay Beach
I've only seen a large starfish once on Grace Bay Beach, but she was a beauty!
I’ve only seen a large starfish once on Grace Bay Beach, but she was a beauty!

Leeward Beach/Sunset Beach

Leeward Beach/Sunset Beach (Providenciales) – while Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales is certainly the most popular and well-known beach of them all, there are so many gorgeous beaches in Turks & Caicos that I highly recommend visiting, even if only for an hour or two! If you continue walking east on Grace Bay Bay (i.e. – if facing the water, walk right), you’ll run into Leeward Beach. Since it’s adjacent to Grace Bay, you’ll get that same white powdery sand and clear turquoise waters, but without all of the people and vendors. There are no hotels on this beach, only private homes and villas. It’s also a peaceful spot to take in a beautiful sunset! There are three main public entry points to Leeward Beach – Sunset Beach (my favorite), Pelican Point, and what they call “Leeward Going Through” – which is the very northeast point of Providenciales.

The entrance to Sunset Beach
The entrance to Sunset Beach

Long Bay Beach

Long Bay Beach (Providenciales) – we love Long Bay Beach for the same reason we love Leeward Beach – fewer people. I swear, I don’t dislike people (ha!) but the quietness and seeing nothing but beautiful water makes for such a serene and relaxing day. There have been a lot of luxury homes built on Long Bay Beach over the last five to eight years or so, so we’ve started seeing a few more people on this beach but it’s so much less crowded than Grace Bay! You’ll find it can be slightly rocky in a few spots entering the water, but once past a couple feet of initial rocks the ocean floor is very sandy. You won’t find tons of sea life here, but you will likely see plenty of conch and the occasional starfish if you bring your snorkeling equipment! Because of it’s wind patterns and location, there are times that this beach is affected by sargassum (which was the case when we were there at the end of July/early August), but it’s not the norm. Long Bay Beach is very popular with kiteboarders, and there are several kiteboarding schools and rentals here. The two public access points that we’ve used to enter this beach are by The Shore Club (which is where you’ll find most of the kiteboarders) and by Triton Villas, which is at the end of Curlew Drive. If you enjoy a quiet beach experience like I do, use the access point by Triton Villas. You’ll walk uphill along a long sandy path that goes between two private villas. This path is a little challenging to walk because of how deep the sand is but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view once you reach the very top of the path!

This is the beachfront on Long Bay Beach when you use the Curlew Drive public access point to Long Bay Beach. These loungers belong to a private home, and should not be used. Aren't they pretty though? :-)
This is the beachfront on Long Bay Beach when you use the Curlew Drive public access point to Long Bay Beach. These loungers belong to a private home, and should not be used. Aren’t they pretty though? 🙂
Long Bay Beach - it's much narrower than Grace Bay Beach but the water is beautiful and it's so quiet here!
Long Bay Beach – it’s much narrower than Grace Bay Beach but the water is beautiful and it’s so quiet here!
A starfish that we found in the water at Long Bay Beach!
A starfish that we found in the water at Long Bay Beach!

Taylor Bay Beach

Taylor Bay Beach (Providenciales) – my husband finds this beach a little too quiet and boring (ha!), but at the very least go for some photos because it’s stunning! Since it’s a bay, the water is extremely shallow, calm and crystal clear. You can walk out for quite a way without the water creeping past your waist, which makes it a really great beach for young kids. There is very little shade on this beach though and there are no chair or umbrella rentals so definitely keep that in mind when planning your day since the sun is intense!

Walk out for miles at Taylor Bay!
Walk out for miles at Taylor Bay!
The calm, shallow water at Taylor Bay makes it a great spot for photos!
The calm, shallow water at Taylor Bay makes it a great spot for photos!

Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay – one mile from Providenciales, between Water Cay and Little Water Cay, is where you’ll find this absolutely beautiful beach. Because it’s only accessible by boat, there’s very few people on this beach and it makes for such a tranquil and relaxing experience. I pinch myself every time I’ve gone to this beach because it feels like you’re in the midst of a dream! Powdery white sand, a sandy ocean floor with no seaweed, and some of the bluest water that you’ll ever encounter!

Half Moon Bay - not a soul around for most of the time we were there!
Half Moon Bay – not a soul around for most of the time we were there!

Mudjin Harbor

Mudjin Harbor (Middle Caicos) – a three mile stretch of beach, it’s one of the most beautiful landscapes that we’ve encountered in Turks & Caicos. It is most known for Dragon Cay – a rock formation that extends out of the ocean that looks like a dragon. There’s a beautiful overlook at the top of the cliffs, as well as a large open-faced cave above the beach that’s fun to explore. Be sure to check out the stone staircase here that leads down to a “secret” beach. While I did wade in to about my waist here, it’s not an ideal swimming beach for most. The water can be rougher here in some spots and because of the nearby reefs, sharks can sometimes be seen close to shore. Most are generally harmless reef sharks, but they would definitely startle most people! When we were there, we were lucky enough to spot whales off in the distance, which was a pretty cool sight to see! Make sure to have lunch at Mudjin Bar & Grill while you’re there! Great food, drinks and view!

View of Dragon Cay from Mudjin Harbor
View of Dragon Cay from Mudjin Harbor
These stone steps lead into an open cave and a small, "secret" beach
These stone steps lead into an open cave and a small, “secret” beach
Open cave at Mudjin Harbor
Open cave at Mudjin Harbor
Made it through the cave, onto the "secret" beach - white powdery sand and slightly rough water!
Made it through the cave, onto the “secret” beach – white powdery sand and slightly rough water!
Enjoying the views of Mudjin Harbor and Dragon Cay while we have lunch at Mudjin Bar & Grill
Enjoying the views of Mudjin Harbor and Dragon Cay while we have lunch at Mudjin Bar & Grill

My Favorite Restaurants in Turks & Caicos

While Turks & Caicos caters to a more luxury traveler, you’ll find a good mix of both fine dining and casual spots. The food in Providenciales is fantastic at these upscale restaurants, however the costs add up very quickly so we like to mix in plenty of meals at some less expensive establishments as well. Tip: unless you specifically ask for the check at the end of the night, your server will not likely automatically bring it – even if you politely decline after dinner drinks or dessert. Took us a bit to figure this out. 🙂

Recommended For Fine Dining:

Coco Bistro

Coco Bistro – while I typically gravitate towards restaurants with water views, Coco Bistro is absolutely worth leaving the beach behind for a night! Dinner reservations are typically needed weeks in advance, so you’ll want to arrange them before leaving for your trip. This restaurant is located within a palm tree grove, and it’s such a memorable dining experience! I’ve always been wowed by every meal that we’ve had there!

Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar

Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar – I’ll be honest in that I really love this restaurant for the view. It’s set on top of a hill, overlooking Turtle Cove and it’s so pretty in the evening when the sun is setting! We’ve eaten here each time we’ve visited Turks & Caicos and while the food is good, I didn’t think our dinner there this past trip was as good as usual. It may have just been an off night, so I’m not writing this restaurant off. Next time we may just order a bottle of wine and some apps to enjoy while taking in the gorgeous view! 

The view from Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar
The view from Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar

Le Bouchon Du Village

Le Bouchon Du Village – delicious bistro food with a French vibe and outdoor patio seating. Highly recommend the steak au poivre and frites!

Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar

Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar – we ate here for the first time this past trip, and we’ll absolutely be back to this chic restaurant! Located at The Grace Bay Club, the atmosphere is absolutely stunning and gave me Serena & Lily vibes with all of the rattan lanterns! Go on a Friday night and enjoy live music and the sunset over Grace Bay Beach!

The gorgeous lanterns at Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar!
The gorgeous lanterns at Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar!

Recommended For a Moderately Priced Meal:

Mango Reef

Mango Reef – located on the marina in Turtle Cove, it’s one of the larger restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating. When it’s lobster season, we always order their lobster tail there!

If you're in Turks & Caicos during lobster season, you'll find plenty of lobster tail on the menu!
If you’re in Turks & Caicos during lobster season, you’ll find plenty of lobster tail on the menu!

Bay Bistro

Bay Bistro – I recommend making a reservation for a table on the patio and going for dinner at sunset. I find the food to be consistently good (I mostly order seafood) and the staff are some of the friendliest on the island. We ate there on my 40th birthday and they had special menus printed up for us, and brought out complimentary cake with a balloon. It was so sweet of them, and I was so surprised! A beautiful spot to watch the sunset, as it’s right on Grace Bay Beach!

Josh and I at Bay Bistro - ask for a table on the patio!
Josh and I at Bay Bistro – ask for a table on the patio!

The Deck

The Deck is a beachside restaurant located at Seven Stars Resort & Spa in Grace Bay and when we were there in late July/early August 2021, they required reservations for dinner (but not for lunch). While the menu and setting is pretty casual, prices are a bit higher than you might expect (the burger and the salad with grilled chicken my husband and I ordered were about $25 each) but in my opinion it’s worth it for the view and setting!

The Deck overlooks Grace Bay Beach and is a great spot to catch the sunset!
The Deck overlooks Grace Bay Beach and is a great spot to catch the sunset!

Recommended for a Casual, Budget-Friendly Meal:

Coco Van

Coco Van – same owners as Coco Bistro (one of the best fine dining restaurants in Providenciales), and the food is served out of an Airstream which is really fun! It’s located within a palm tree grove, with picnic tables and some high-top tables that you seat yourselves at. They do not take reservations but we’ve never had an issue getting a table the handful of times we’ve been there. My husband Josh loves their fried chicken sandwich, and I love both their fish tacos and their spicy & crispy steak tacos (shown below). It’s also a great option for take-out and definitely very kid-friendly!

Omar’s Beach Hut

Omar’s Beach Hut – located in the local neighborhood of Five Cays by the fish market, it’s a great casual lunch spot with Caribbean cuisine and ocean views. You will need a cab or rental car to visit from Grace Bay Beach.

Somewhere Cafe

Somewhere Cafe – While this Mexican food won’t absolutely blow your mind, it’s definitely good and we love the view and the super casual atmosphere here. We usually eat dinner here towards the end of our vacation when we’re starting to get sick of seafood and want a change of pace. Good drinks and a beautiful sunset right from your table, although right now because of COVID-19 they have a limited menu! Try to snag a table on the top floor for the best views!

Somewhere Cafe, located right on Grace Bay Beach
Somewhere Cafe, located right on Grace Bay Beach

Da Conch Shack

Da Conch Shack – if you’re looking for authentic Caribbean food, this is a fun lunch spot right on the beach, with tables in the sand. You’ll need a cab or a rental car to get there from Grace Bay Beach, but it has a fun and lively vibe and the restaurant received recognition from CNN as one of the world’s 50 best beach bars!

Dine with your feet in the sand at the very casual Da Conch Shack!
Dine with your feet in the sand at the very casual Da Conch Shack!

Shay Cafe

Shay Cafe – in my opinion, one of the best little breakfast and coffee spots on the island! They offer everything from pancakes and French toast to avocado toast and crepes. The owner is Canadian and extremely friendly, and they also have salads, lunch wraps, paninis and smoothies. Plus, you have to love a small business with a sense of humor! Order at the counter, seat yourself and they will bring your food right over to you!

Sign at Shay Cafe, located on Grace Bay Road
Sign at Shay Cafe, located on Grace Bay Road
My avocado toast at Shay Cafe
My avocado toast at Shay Cafe

Caicos Bakery

Caicos Bakery – we always have to stop at this French bakery in Grace Bay at least once each trip. My husband Josh loves the strawberry and raspberry-filled doughnuts, and they have all kinds of croissants, tarts, breads, quiche, eclairs and more. Just be aware that it’s cash only.

Strawberry-filled doughnut from Caicos Bakery!
If you’re limiting carbs, don’t go to Caicos Bakery! 🙂

Also, you should be aware that most (but but not all) restaurants will add a 10% service charge, which is a tip that then gets divided up amongst the entire staff (the chef, sous chef, bartender, bus boy, dishwasher and server). It’s customary though if you received good service to add another 5-10% tip on top of the service charge, which will then get paid out directly to your server.

Service is notoriously slow, as it is on most Caribbean islands so just remind yourself frequently that you’re on island time. 🙂

Turks & Caicos Travel tip - pick up groceries at their local grocery store to save money

Best Spots for Drinks in Turks & Caicos

  • Pack a cooler of drinks and some beach chairs and head to Leeward Beach/Sunset Beach to watch the sun set!
  • Pelican Bay Restaurant & Bar – you won’t find many happy hours in Providenciales, but Pelican Bay (located in the Royal West Indies Resort) offers 50% off alcoholic drinks & house wines each day from 5-7pm. They make a good pina colada and Patron margarita! Depending on where we’re staying, we’ll sometimes walk up Grace Bay Beach, get our drinks “to go” and then walk back to our resort with our feet in the water as we sip on them.
  • Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar – probably my favorite spot for drinks, you can’t go wrong with any of their signature cocktails. The “Watermelon Crush” made with fresh watermelon and lime, vodka and club soda is so delish! And of course, you can’t beat the ambiance!
  • Coco Bistro– not only do they have an extensive wine list, but many of their cocktails are made with fresh-squeezed juices, which surprisingly is more difficult to find in Turks & Caicos!
Turks & Caicos Travel tip - bring one liter of spirits with you to ensure you have your favorites while on vacation!

Nightlife in Turks & Caicos

As mentioned earlier in this Ultimate Guide to Turks & Caicos, if nightlife is important to you I would recommend other Caribbean islands over Turks & Caicos (Barbados, Saint Martin, or Aruba are a few with great options). Right now because of COVID-19, there’s an island-wide curfew between 1am-5am and all businesses must close by 12am. This is currently set to expire on October 31, 2021 and could potentially get extended like it has already.

Most come for the beautiful beaches and may linger at the hotel and restaurant bars for some post-dinner drinks, however in my experience it’s rather quiet by 11pm. 

Dany Bouys is a sports bar walking distance to some of the Grace Bay resorts that’s popular with tourists and can be lively at night. It’s a great place to gather and watch big sporting games and they often have karaoke nights, which are well-attended. Normally they stay open until 2am, but because of the COVID-19 curfew, they close at 12pm.

There are also two main casinos on the island, which I have not personally visited. Casablanca Casino is a very small casino in Grace Bay and they run a free shuttle to and from the resorts. The second is the brand new 5,500 square foot casino at The Ritz-Carlton, which is also very small in comparison to the large casinos in Las Vegas. 

If you’re looking for something to do in the earlier evening hours, a champagne sunset cruise with Ocean Vibes is something that’s been on our list to do that we hope to get to on our next visit! We actually purchased tickets a few years ago, and it rained about seven of the ten days that we were there (extremely uncommon!) so we weren’t able to go on it!

Sunset over Grace Bay Beach
Sunset over Grace Bay Beach

The Turks & Caicos islands are truly the most beautiful islands that I’ve been to, and there’s something for everyone! Whether you’re seeking relaxation or action, are traveling as a couple or as a family, I’m pretty confident you’ll end up falling in love with Turks & Caicos just like I have!

I hope you enjoyed my Ultimate Turks & Caicos Travel Guide! If you’re planning a trip and have questions, leave them in the comments below and I’ll happily answer them! If you’re looking to take a beach vacation but can’t decide where, also be sure to check out My Favorite Caribbean Beaches blog post!

XO,

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Turks & Caicos: The Ultimate Travel GuideTurks & Caicos: The Ultimate Travel Guide
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2 Comments

  1. August 22, 2021 / 1:13 pm

    Hi Kerry-
    Wow, what a write-up! Thank you! We started going to TCI in 2010 and don’t even want to try anywhere else, since I gave up on Mexico. I had a particular interest in TCI Assured and the CVS antigen test, and you answered it. Since TCI Assured added all the references to ISO this and other minutia regarding the lab, etc. I wondered if the CVS report was still acceptable and based on your report it looks like it’s OK. Your narrative and photos are wonderful, thanks again!

    • August 22, 2021 / 1:33 pm

      Hi Randy,
      I’m so glad this was helpful! Yes, no issues with getting accepted with tests from CVS and the testing process with them was so simple!

      I am with you – we’ve traveled extensively through the Caribbean over the last 20 years and since discovering Turks & Caicos in 2015, we haven’t gone anywhere else! There’s just no other island that compares!

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