Turks and Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos consist of 40 different islands and cays, only 8 of which are inhabited. The islands of the Turks and Caicos are almost as diverse as its people. From the main tourist center of Providenciales to the quiet and tranquil islands of North and Middle Caicos to the historic Capital Island of Grand Turk; each one offers a different experience and a unique character but all offer year round great climate, beaches and underwater activities. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti.) Technically, the Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea. The islands are home to roughly 30,000 full time residents, and welcome more than 200,000 tourists annually. The only true way to experience the Turks and Caicos Islands is to experience each island in the entire chain. This is probably why most of the visitors come back to the Turks and Caicos on a regular basis. You can read about each of the islands here and maybe pick a few to see on your vacation either for daytrips, or longer stays.
Most of the islands are only about 10 to 25 minutes by air from Provo and most can be reached by boat, too. There are also regular ferries from North to Middle Caicos.
Providenciales is the most well known of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is the center of the tourism industry with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, attractions and facilities. Grand Turk and Salt Cay offer a glimpse into Caribbean history with great Bermudian architecture and a rustic charm as well as some of the best diving and probably the most "relaxing" time you will ever have. Grand Turk is also home to a brand new cruise ship center.
Middle Caicos and North Caicos represent the best of the environment, with lush green woodlands, the biggest cave network in the Caribbean on Middle Caicos, cottage pond and flamingo pond in North Caicos and a vast range of plant life and birdlife. North Caicos is also an up and coming resort destination with several new projects under development. South Caicos is the center for fishing, with lobster and conch exported from the islands, the historic Cockburn harbor and the natural phenomenon of the boiling hole. This small yet friendly island offers many secluded beaches with awe inspiring views of the turquoise waters and surrounding islands.
Parrot Cay and Pine Cay are privately owned islands and are home to the most exclusive resorts Parrot Cay Resort and Spa and the Meridian Club.
Language - English
Currency - The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques, which can be cashed at local banks. Most credit cards are accepted and banks offer ATM's as well as cash advances on credit cards.
Tipping is normally paid to waiters, taxi drivers, maids and porters at 15%.
Time Zone - Eastern Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time is observed from April to October.
Electricity - 110 volt/60 cycle, suitable for U.S. appliances.
Climate - The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees celsius) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90's (35 degrees celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees celsius). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level.
There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30th.
Government - The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony. A Governor is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council formed by an elected local self-government. Government offices are located in Grand Turk, with branches on other Islands as needed. The legal system is based on English Common Law.
Water - As on many Islands, our fresh water is precious, we depend upon rainfall or desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis for the supply. Please be conservative in using water.
Country code is 649. Network is through Cable and Wireless. Pay phones, calling cards, facsimile, Internet, cell phones for rent at various locations.
If you have cell service in the USA please bring your phone with you because if you have International Roaming service with a cellular carrier that has a roaming agreement in the Caribbean then your phone will be able to make and receive calls whilst in the Turks and Caicos. If you do not have roaming then you will be able to make calls using the credit card platform.
Crime - These Islands boast one of the lowest crime rates and highest crime-solved rates in the Caribbean. We cannot, however, let down the guard against opportunist-type theft. Do not leave valuables unattended. Lock doors and windows. Use the hotel safe for storage of valuables. These simple precautions should prevent the loss of cash, jewelry and identification. Confrontation and violent crimes are extremely rare. Any problems should be reported immediately to the Royal Turks and Caicos Police.
Clothing - Shorts are worn in town as well as the beach during the day, it is advisable to also wear sunhats and sunscreen. In the evenings, light sweaters and jackets may be occasionally needed in the winter. Dinner is usually not formal, most restaurants accept dress shorts while others require pants with a collared shirt for gentlemen and dress slacks or dresses for the ladies.
Public Nudity is illegal throughout the islands.
Customs and Immigration - Duty free goods that may be brought in to the Islands include: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 liters of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use.
There are no restrictions for travellers on the import of cameras, film or sports equipment, except spear guns and Hawaiian slings.
To bring in firearms of any type (including spear guns and Hawaiian slings), you must have written approval from the Commissioner of Police. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.
Effective January 8, 2007 all US Citizens traveling by air to the Turks & Caicos Islands will be required by the US Government to have a valid US passport. Cruise ship passengers have until June 1, 2009 to meet the requirement. Visitors from other countries do require passports, but no visas are necessary except from countries of the former Eastern Bloc. They are advised to contact the nearest British Consulate Office.
- All visitors must hold a round trip ticket.
- Visitors are allowed to stay for 90 days
- For luggage restriction, individual airlines should be consulted.
Pets - There are some restrictions on bringing domestic pets into the Turks and Caicos Islands. All pets should be up-to-date with vaccinations and pet owners should ensure that they have completed the standard documents required for their pet's international travel.
Health Care - Health Care – There is now a modern hospital system comprising two state-of-the-art medical centres, managed by InterHealth Canada; Cheshire Hall Medical Centre on Providenciales and Cockburn Town Medical Centre on Grand Turk. Health services provided at the centres include: emergency care, dental, dialysis, internal medicine, surgical, orthopaedic, obstetric and endoscopic procedures, physiotherapy and diagnostic imaging. Tele – medicine is also currently being introduced to improve inter island healthcare delivery.
Providenciales also has a number of private general practitioners and all of the other islands have community clinics.