Turks and Caicos really is an incredible destination. I've been lucky enough to visit 3 times now - once as kid, another as a teenager, and just recently as an adult. It's pretty wild to see how much development the country has seen in just my lifespan.
The first time I went to Turks over 20 years ago, our hotel was one or just a handful on Grace Bay Beach. It felt as if we had the entire island of Providenciales to ourselves. The second time, about 15 years ago, more hotels had cropped up but the island still maintained it's underdeveloped essence and pristine white sand beaches were practically vacant.
Now though, few wild parts of Grace Bay Beach remain. There's more options in terms of hotels, luxury resorts, restaurants, and activities. The rest of Turks and Caicos is still pretty natural and had plenty of undeveloped parts but the queen of the islands isn't what it once was.
While I'd be lying if I said I didn't prefer Turks and Caicos back when it felt like we were in on a magical secret, the charm and natural beauty remains. I've been lucky enough to travel to some of the most beautiful parts of the world but the crystal clear waters and fluffy white sand never ceases to amaze me.
Since I can't put you in time machine to take you back to Turks and Caicos in the 90s or early 2000s, fear not, now there are plenty more things to do than flop down on the beach (although we definitely want to make sure you have some time for that).
So, let's dive right into the 8 best things to do in Turks and Caicos so you can plan your dream getaway.
Things to Know Before You Go
Now that you’re gearing up for your trip and planning the specifics of where and when you’ll go, there are a few things you don’t need to overlook.
I know just how easy it is to look towards simply visiting this beach of your dreams and forget about all of the little things in between that’ll make your trip run as smoothly as possible. Be sure to take into consideration these few things before you go to make sure you get all the good bits of your trip without the stress.
- Make sure you have travel insurance. A good travel insurance, like SafetyWing, will ensure you’re covered in case of emergencies. While you will have to pay upfront for your doctor or hospital costs, unless it’s for a pre-existing condition, you can file a claim and should be reimbursed. For any Americans reading this, fear not, healthcare in pretty much every other country is far more affordable than ours, even if you’re paying out of pocket.
- Before you start booking your flights, hotels, and tours, consider opening up a travel credit card. Thanks to our Capital One Venture card, my husband and I have gotten countless free flights just by gaining points on everyday expenses.
1. Book a Great Stay
Let's start from the beginning with where you'll lay your head. Turks and Caicos is famous for high-class, romantic getaways but from experience, I can say it's not always that. While it certainly can be the quintessential honeymoon destination, it can also be done on a lower price tag, for a group of friends, or your entire family.
Either way, the perk of Turks is the beach so for your stay, you'll want to be as close to it as possible. Plus, taxis are seriously costly here so you'll want to be a walk or a bike ride away from most things to do in Turks and Caicos. If you end up staying away from the action, it might be cheaper to rent a car instead of relying on taxis.
Personally, the Grace Bay Beach area is hard to beat. Not only will you have access to one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet but you'll also be able to walk to many shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
2. Go on a Private Boat Tour
If you haven't already assumed this from looking at just one picture of Turks and Caicos, one of the best things to do is simply enjoy the pristine Caribbean Sea. And what better way to do that than with a boat tour - ideally a private one.
How reasonable this is will certainly depend on how many people you're traveling with or how big your budget is but if you can swing it, it'll be one of the highlights of your trip. When we went to Turks and Caicos, we visited with my entire family of 12 people so while the boat trip was still expensive, it was far more worth it given how many of us there was.
The reason a private tour is so great is because they'll work on your schedule. Sure, you'll have an itinerary but you still get some wiggle room on the exact details. For example, on our trip, we happened to catch up to a large pod of dolphins that hung out around our boat. We all unanimously agreed that'd we like to stop and jump in the water with them instead of pushing along to our destination. Who's to say if an entire group of strangers would agree?
While there are different boat tours you can enjoy, we went with Big Blue Collective and had a fantastic time. Not only did we get the lucky chance to snorkel with a pod of dolphins, we also got to snorkel with colorful reef fish and play around on a private beach for the day.
We went on the North Caicos boat tour but they also offer South Caicos and Middle Caicos tours, too.
Whale Watching Tour
If you're visiting between January and April, don't miss the chance to witness humpback whales during their migration. Guided boat tours offer an up-close encounter with these majestic creatures as they breach and play in the warm Caribbean waters. Although I've never been to Turks and Caicos during their whale season, I have gone whale watching in Ecuador and it's something I would highly recommend.
3. Enjoy the View at Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach is a stunning stretch of powdery white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, consistently ranked among the world's best beaches. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling, or simply relaxing, it offers a serene escape where visitors can unwind amidst breathtaking natural beauty.
I highly recommend you book a hotel in the Grace Bay area because seriously, it's hard to beat. A hotel with a sea view is the dream but even if you just walk, bike, or taxi over here a few hours will be enough to feel as though you're in paradise.
While you might think you have to stay right in the center of it (around the Ritz Carlton), it's not necessary. Although that area has the most going on in the sand and on the street-side in terms of restaurants, bars, shopping, and casinos. If you want to eat out and enjoy town without having to fork over expensive taxi fares, this area is very walkable.
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4. Go Scuba Diving (or at least a snorkeling excursion)
The coral reefs surrounding Turks and Caicos are a diver's paradise. Explore the underwater wonderland filled with vibrant marine life, colorful corals, and even the opportunity to spot sea turtles, rays, and various fish species.
This is actually where I got my scuba diving certificate back in 2008. While I've had the chance to dive in some pretty remarkable places, Turks and Caicos is still one of the best. The water clarity really makes it hard to beat since you'll have such good visibility below the surface. Scuba diving along the Grand Turk Wall will leave you in awe when you realize just how big the ocean really is.
Smith's Reef and Coral Gardens are popular snorkeling spots. When we first visited Turks and Caicos back in the early 2000, Smith's Reef was incredible. It was vibrantly alive reef and felt like a real secret. In 2008, it was the same. Although in 2023, the Reef was in trouble. There were way less tropical fish and the coral looked like it was really struggling. The once secluded beach also had a handful of hotels and vacation rental homes right off the sand.
I'd recommend skipping these spots right off the shore and instead go snorkeling on a barrier reef reachable by boat. Here you'll find the best sea life and truly get to enjoy one of the best things to do in Turks and Caicos Islands.
5. Kayak to Iguana Island (Little Water Cay)
Iguana Island (Little Water Cay) is a sanctuary for the endangered Turks and Caicos Rock Iguanas. Visitors can observe these ancient reptiles in their natural habitat and learn about the ongoing conservation efforts to protect them.
While you can get here by a quick boat ride, I highly recommend you take the scenic route and arrive by kayak or stand-up paddleboard. The journey across the inlet isn't excruciating but does require you to have a least some level of physical fitness, especially if you cross when the tides are shifting. I'd only recommend going by paddleboard if you've done the sport before and are confident in your skills.
Although I'm always up for a good kayak or paddleboard, the real reason I recommend getting there the scenic route, is to take your time through the mangroves before crossing the inlet to Little Water Cay. The mangroves are teeming with life, especially sea turtles. You might also see baby sharks if you're lucky.
6. Eat at All the Delicious Restaurants
Turks and Caicos is a tasty little island with a ton of great restaurants to eat at. I'm one of those people who will happily travel for food so I can say with confidence there are a few places you need to try out while visiting Provodenciales.
This is just a peak at the restaurants and the few that really stood out to me.
Coco Bistro is my favorite restaurant on the island. It offers a lush garden setting and a menu featuring Caribbean-inspired cuisine with a modern twist. The focus on fresh, local ingredients ensures a delightful dining experience. You'll need to make reservations well in advance, especially if you have a big group.
The only restaurant to rival Coco Bistro in my opinion is it's neighbor, Coco Van. Built in the same complex, this is the laidback version of the romantic Coco Bistro. You'll still enjoy high quality food but instead of sitting down to a table with waiters, you'll wait in line and order your meal and drinks from Airstream trailers then grab a picnic table to dine. Come early so you don't have to wait too long in line.
Thursday Night Fish Fry
Experience the local culture and cuisine at the Thursday Night Fish Fry event in Providenciales. This vibrant street fair features local food vendors, live music, and a lively atmosphere. It's the perfect opportunity to savor delicious island dishes and mingle with both locals and fellow travelers. If you come early, you'll miss the crowds but you'll then also miss the live music.
Da Conch Shack
Da Conch Shack is a must-visit for its beachfront setting, fresh seafood, and vibrant Caribbean atmosphere. It's a great spot to savor local dishes and enjoy live music. I didn't have the chance to visit this one last time we were in Turks and Caicos but did on my previous two visits. I've heard it's still as delicious as always!
7. Gamble the Night Away at the Casino
Now I'm by no means suggesting you spend every night of your vacation hitting the casino after dinner like my family did but I'm only not suggesting that you don't. There are two main casinos that I'm aware of you could visit: Casablanca Casino and the one at the Ritz.
We never actually visited Casablanca as we liked the one at the Ritz to just keep on going back. They have a variety of slots and table games but my family doesn't move much from the Craps table. Although you might not come home any richer, you do get free strong cocktails if you're gambling to add to the fun.
8. Rest, Recharge, & Relax on the Beach
I've saved the most obvious of all the things to do in Turks and Caicos for last. And that's to simply enjoy the beach and relax with your toes in the powdery white sand beaches. Although my favorite spot for this is Grace Bay Beach, there are more beaches than just this one to choose from.
The best beaches for you will probably end up being the ones closest to your accommodation so you can relax without the stress of having to get somewhere new.
Even if you're not a strong swimmer, the beach isn't the only relaxing place in Turks and Caicos - the water is, too. Given it's high salt concentration, floating is easier here than you might be used to. The lack of big waves and that ability makes the Caribbean Sea that much more peaceful here.
You'll Love These 8 Best Things to Do in Turks and Caicos
Regardless of how you decide to spend your vacation, I'm sure you'll love your time in Turks and Caicos. It seriously is one of the most beautiful places I've had the privilege of visiting.
If my list above isn't quite enough for the action-packed trip you're planning, you could add in an island hopping boat trip, horseback riding, and deep sea fishing. Known as a peaceful paradise, you'll still have more than enough things to do and see in Turks and Caicos than just lounging on the pristine beaches, although that's still my preferred thing to do!
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