The Undiscovered Charm of the Turks and Caicos
The bluest waters in the Caribbean and an eclectic, peaceful culture are just a 90-minute flight from Miami. Here's your guide to visiting this underrated island nation.
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Your New Favorite Caribbean Destination
Although the Turks and Caicos did take direct hits from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the fall of 2017, a strict set of building codes and local spirit meant the country was up and running again in a matter of days following the storms. There’s a lot to love about this Caribbean nation, and it’s worth a visit to understand why many are trading in the traditional hotspots for this up-and-comer. Here are 10 of our favorite things to check out.
The Luxury of Peace and Quiet
Celebrities, executives and the wealthy are flocking to the Islands for their privacy and relaxed nature. Since 2012, a number of high-end rentals and investment properties have popped up, including The Gansevoort Hotel’s small set of villas situated about 10 minutes from the main property on a tucked away patch of beach. This month, they’re introducing a rental program with four-bedroom villas available starting at $5,500 per night.
The other advantage of visiting a tiny group of islands: If you want total privacy and serenity, you can get it. Pine Cay has been home to The Meridian Club since the 1970s and was purposefully built with that ethos in mind. Less than 40 private homes plus a small collection of cottages are spread out across 800 acres. The only other souls you’ll see are the captain and his/her crew on the 20-minute boat ride to and from the retreat.
Across from Pine Cay is this even more secluded island that’s become a favorite among celebrities looking for a way to get away from it all. It now features a COMO property and offers an accessible window into this special lifestyle. It’s truly a place to reset and detox (digitally or otherwise).
An Affordable Option
The Islands aren’t all glitz and glamour. Over on Grand Turk Island, Turks Head Inne is an 1800s-era boutique hotel with very reasonable rates year-round. It’s a small property steeped in history and operating as a hospitality establishment since the 1840s. The property is also a short walk to the center of town and historic Front Street.
A New Way to Get Out on the Water
The trade winds pick up off and on throughout the year around the main community of Grace Bay and other parts of the Islands, creating some excellent conditions for your favorite water and wind sport. Most resorts with beach access have their own rental options for kite and windsurfing plus lessons for beginners too.
The Culinary Mix of the Caribbean
With centuries of diverse influences, the Islands have drawn from European, Latin American and English cultures as they’ve come into their own, and this extends to their cuisine. One example is Chinson’s, which quietly sits on a hillside producing luscious fried patties filled with meat and cheese. Although the snack is decidedly Jamaican, it does draw from British meat pie influence, meaning you’ll see plenty of expats stopping by (and enjoying their outdoor bar).
Conch Bar Caves
One of the largest networks of caves in the region lies on Middle Caicos, a fairly uninhabited island easily accessible from the more populated centers. This 1.5-mile network of underground caverns is home to some interesting formations and small communities of bats. It’s a unique experience worth the short trip as a contrast to all of the sea and sand.
The lack of mainstream tourism means that the reefs around the islands are among the most pristine and unspoiled examples on the planet. Both Providenciales and Grand Turk have easy options, but getting out to smaller islands like Salt Cay offer extraordinary sights. Go with a tour operator on a cruise to make the most of the day.
Savor Local Suds
The Islands have one brewery: Turk’s Head Brewery in Central Providenciales (and after some time at the brewery, you’ll quickly be calling it "Provo," like the locals do). If you can’t make it to the main outpost, almost every bar on the Islands has a couple of their surprisingly tasty varietals. It’s a unique treat for a country that doesn’t make many of its own products within its shores.
No Currency Exchange Needed
Although the Turks and Caicos operate under British rule, they trade with the U.S. Dollar. Prices are generally a bit higher since you’re on an island, but it makes purchasing very easy. Considered among the more stable Caribbean nations, the value of goods tends to stay pretty steady, making it easy to budget for a wonderful getaway.