Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands are two groups of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas.
Even though you only boarded the plane in Miami, Florida a scant hour before, the moment you step off the plane, you know you are in a different world. The tropical breeze hits you as you step onto the tarmac, and you start looking forward to the incredible scuba diving that awaits. Although definitely not one of the prettiest (at least above water) of the islands, it has its own charms that come from being a mostly undiscovered tourist destination.
- Caicos Islands
- Grand Turk
- Turks Islands
- Ambergris Cays
- Seal Cays
- Salt Cay
- Pine Cay
The islands were part of the UK's Jamaican colony until 1959, when they assumed the title of a separate crown colony. The governor of The Bahamas oversaw affairs from 1965 to 1973. With Bahamian independence, the islands received a separate governor in 1973. Although independence was agreed upon for 1982, the policy was reversed and the islands are presently a British overseas territory.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are arid compared to many other islands in the Caribbean. In the winter the weather is generally in the 70 - 80 degree Fahrenheit range. The temperatures easily climb into the 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer. The island gets less than 50 inches of rainfall a year. Most rainfall occurs during the hurricane months of summer. Sunshine and breezy cooling winds are the norm in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
American Airlines is a popular carrier which schedules flights from many US cities to Providenciales International Airport. Other major carriers from the US include Spirit Airlines, US Airways and Delta. British Airways also offers flights to London.
It is easy to sail to the Turks and Caicos from the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas or Cuba; so long as you have an ocean-going vessel. A small boat will do well simply cruising around the island chain, but to cross the open ocean, something about 36 feet or larger is best.
Taxis are widely available on Providenciales and Grand Turk. However, if you are able to drive, it is recommended that you rent a car. A number of car and motorcycle rental agencies are available on the island. Remember to drive on the LEFT side of the road and watch out for people who forget. Though the Turks and Caicos uses a righthand-drive road system, only about half the cars are equipped with righthand drive. The others use lefthand drive, the kind used in North America. It is certainly possible to use a bicycle to get around, but be careful as some drivers are not keen on following rules. Be careful driving at night.
English is the official language. Some people living on the islands are Spanish migrants from poorer Latin American countries, and may not speak English well. However, encountering such people is a relatively rare event and the common tourist need not worry about it.
The Saltmills plaza and Regent Village in Grace Bay are generally considered to be the premier shopping plazas on the island of Provenciales (or Provo as it is often called).
The islands have fabulous beaches throughout, in particular, the award winning Grace Bay.
- Provo Golf Club, . An 18 Hole Championship Golf Course on Providenciales which holds an annual Amateur Tournament. It hosted the Caribbean Amateur Open in 1999, and is due to again in 2009.
- Kenard Cruises, Turtle Cove Marina(Next to Shark Bite Restaurant, Providenciales), ☎ 6492323866, . 9am to 6pm. The Ultimate Experience in Turks and Caicos. We specialize in custom cruises. Visit deserted islands in comfort and style onboard our new luxury power Catamarancustom.
- Dive Provo, PO Box 413, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, ☎ 649-946-5040. Owned and operated by Alan and Clare Jardine, both SSI Platinum Pros, each with over 20 years experience in the dive industry, Dive Provo brings you tropical scuba diving at its best.
- Provo Turtle Divers, ☎ 800-833-1341. oldest and most experienced dive operation in the Turks & Caicos Islands. For over 38 years we have explored the reefs and walls of these islands, discovering new dive sites and uncovering some of the most unusual underwater spectacles accessible to divers in the Turks & Caicos.
- Snuba Turks and Caicos, The Windsong Resort, Stubbs Rd., Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands BWI, ☎ 649-241-7010, . We have a great tour in store for you when you come to our island, Providenciales Turks and Caicos. There is no experience needed to take our tour. If you can breath, look and kick your legs then you too can SNUBA.
Not all that many years ago, local island tables didn’t know what was going to be on the menu for dinner until the fishing boats brought in their catch of the day. Today the Turks and Caicos Islands feature fine and imaginative cuisine and world class chefs.
- Beaches Resorts
- Club Med Turkoise, .
- Grace Bay Club,, 649-946-5757 1800-946-5757, . Perched on 11 acres of immaculate beachfront, the Grace Bay Club was the first luxury, all-suite hotel in Turks & Caicos.
- Osprey Beach Hotel, on Grand Turk Island, 649-946-2666, Fax 649-946-2817, . 27 beachfront rooms.
- The Palms, . A beautiful island resort featuring 72 suites on the shores of Grace Bay Beach in The Turks & Caicos Islands.
- The Regent Grand, on Grace Bay, Providenciales, 649-941-7770, Toll Free: 877-537-3314 . New 54 suite resort.
- Sands at Grace Bay, 649-946-5199, Fax: 649-946-5198, Toll-free: 1-877-77-SANDS, .
- TradeWinds Condo Hotel, 1-866-389-6673, .
- The Tuscany on Grace Bay,, 649-946-4667, .
- Villa Renaissance, on Grace Bay, Providenciales, 649-941-5300, Toll Free: 877-285-8764, . Intimate 36 suite resort.
- Sunset Point Oceanfront Villa, Providenciales, Turks and Caiocs, ☎ 661-290-2629, . Spacious four bedroom vacation rental
- Windsong Resort Phone 649-941-7700, Toll-free: 800-WINDSONG (946-3766), fax 772-409-8685, 
- Discover TCI Reservations(Only locally based reservation service for Turks & Caicos), Neptune's Court(Grace Bay), ☎ 1-877-774-5486, . Discover TCI is the island's only locally based Reservation Center where those interested can call in and reach a live agent who lives and works in the islands themselves.
- Grace Bay Place(Providenciales), 81 Grace Bay Rd., ☎ 649-232-9663, . checkin: weekly; checkout: weekly. Quet 1 and 2 bedroom housekeeping units. Pool. 5 min. to beautiful Grace Bay Beach. On main road 2 minute walk to Saltmills. Restaraunts and Shopping. See our ad on www.tcimall.tc/grbayplace $1200.00.
- Grace Bay Place(Providenciales), 81 Grace Bay Rd., ☎ 649-232-9663, . checkin: weekly; checkout: weekly. Quiet 1 and 2 Bedroom, housekeeping units. Pool. Laundry, internet. In the heart of the tourist area,5 min. walk to beautiful Grace Bay Beach. On main road, just 2 min. walk to Saltmills plaza, shopping and restaurants. See our ad on www.tcimall.tc/grbayplace.$1200.00.
Work permits are easily obtained for foreigners. However, many jobs are designed for "Belongers" only. Belongers are people that have TCI citizenship which is not easily obtained. Work permits are applied through agencies on the island and require proof of citizenship, proof of employment, proof of residence on the island, and are then ratified by passing an HIV test. This test is safely and cleanly performed at the local clinic for $100 USD. After a work permit has been issued, your employer may ask you to apply for "National Insurance".
Few work permits are issued for specific jobs. Example, as of 2007 only 5 work permits on the island were held for photographers. Typical cost for this profession was around $2500 USD, renewable every six months. There are discounts (through agencies) for one year permits. A work permit for a Clerk position is $500 for every six months, with the same discount structure.
It can take up to 6 months to actually have the work permit in hand, with enforcement being slack unless you are in direct competition with a Belonger.
Certain jobs on the island are deemed unfit for non-Belongers to apply for: banking, civil servants, and boat operators are specific jobs that fall under this rule.
The Turks and Caicos are extremely safe by Caribbean standards, but please exercise common sense. Don't leave valuables in plain view, and always lock your car when leaving it, and lock your dwelling when you are not in it. Mopeds and motorcycles are targeted by thieves, so be sure that you lock yours up properly. Also, be aware that Islanders can be very aggressive drivers, so it is best to use caution when crossing or driving on the roads.
The Turks and Caicos has few fresh water reserves at ground level. Therefore, most water comes from either wells or cisterns that have collected rainwater. Cistern water is almost always safe to drink, but unless well water is purified, it could be contaminated or have unpleasant taste. It is generally a good idea to use bottled water when possible, but tap water can be used if necessary. The beaches are very soft and warm and welcoming
Islanders are very kind people and believe in practicing good manners and exercising respect. Greet people with a friendly "Hello" "Good Afternoon" and so on. In recent years, there has been talk about a union with Canada. Many islanders are bitterly divided on the subject, and awkward situations can arise when the subject is brought up. It is best to avoid this subject unless you're with friends and family whom you know.
This page was last edited at 18:23, on 27 March 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Kyle Parker and David, Wikitravel user(s) Ypsilon and Amberminty, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.