Paradise in Action Things to Do in the Turks and Caicos Islands
Where When How Turks & Caicos Islands January / February 2012
Paradise in Action Things to Do in the Turks and Caicos Islands
Our sun–drenched islands with their powdery white sand and gentle turquoise sea help to make the Turks and Caicos Islands one of the best places in the world to perfect doing absolutely nothing. I would argue that you could travel the world over and never find better. If you’re looking to practise the art of relaxation, you’ve come to the right place. Fortunately, though, if the thought of lying in a hammock leaves you unimpressed, there is another side to The Turks and Caicos Islands that more and more tourists are discovering each year.
For such a tiny place, we have an awesome number of thrill–seeking entrepreneurs who have made their passion a vocation. Even better, they are willing to share their expertise to help you learn an exciting new sport, or provide opportunities for you to show off your existing skills in paradise. If it’s adventure you’re after, but without the adrenaline, there’s something for you, too. In fact, there’s sure to be an excursion, watersport, or day trip that will make your vacation to The Turks and Caicos Islands memorable and exciting. In case you need some help planning your activities, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide for everything there is to do, under the sun! Don’t worry though, if you just want to pass the day in a hammock, no one will judge you!
See the Underwater World without getting wet on the Undersea Explorer Semi-Submarine
Getting around the island can be part of the fun! We have included an easy to follow map within the pages of this magazine, and it’s difficult to get very lost on a small island. Don’t hesitate to ask for directions if you need them, we’re happy to oblige. If you’re from North America, here you’ll get to experience driving on the left hand side of the road, and you’ll learn how to navigate roundabouts! But, please be careful out there! Rental vehicles have yellow license plates, which are different from the plates you see on the cars of islanders; we’ll be watching for you and hope you’ll remember to watch out for us! Be especially careful when leaving a parking lot, as it’s easy to forget where you need to be. If you’re going for the Beach Blanket Bingo sort of holiday experience, you can even rent a ragtop or convertible to explore!
Having a car allows you access to parts of the island outside the Grace Bay area on your own schedule. For example, you could drive to Chalk Sound to spend an afternoon lazing on Sapodilla Bay or Taylor Bay, two of our most popular beaches for families travelling with small children. Side by side, each has a quiet sandy beach, which rarely has any wave action, and both are extremely shallow for quite a significant distance, which makes it easy for little ones to play and swim, and makes it easy for parents to keep a watchful eye. While you’re in Chalk Sound you might as well take a break for a meal at Las Brisas, where you can also rent water sports equipment to explore the sound itself; the 160 small cays scattered through the Chalk Sound Marine National Park are, themselves, very interesting, but the marine life in the park is also impressive. In addition to numerous turtles you are likely to see juvenile lemon sharks, rays and plenty more! Listen for the telltale gasp of air that will tell you a turtle has surfaced nearby!
If you’re not that keen on driving on the left side of the road, don’t give it a second thought. Your resort or villa manager can help you organise transportation with one of our local taxi drivers, and many of our excursion operators provide pick–up and drop–off service for their guests.
Take Lessons or Play a Round of Golf at Provo Golf Club
Obviously here on Providenciales, water is the main source of entertainment; from above and below; and both motorised and non! Sailing is a great way to enjoy the water, see the coastline, and maybe even check out some of the uninhabited cays; stop for lunch or a romantic stroll on a deserted island! Half day, full day, sunset, dinner cruises, Sunday brunch, glowworm cruises, and private charters are available aboard a variety of boats, with a host of itineraries to choose from. If you’re looking to create a special experience, your captain will be able to help you with catering requests and give you advice on everything from where to take the kids to find the best sea–shells to where you’re most likely to get an answer of, “Yes!” after a shipboard proposal. If you’re itching to be your own Captain for a day, many resorts also offer Hobie Cats, a nice option if you would like to sail around Grace Bay on your own.
Power Boating or Jet–Skiing are also great ways to explore! The waters surrounding our islands are shallow, reefy and sprinkled with coral heads. For this reason powerboats are generally chartered with an experienced captain who is familiar with our underwater geography. If you are an experienced and confident Captain, it may be possible to rent a small boat to play Columbus on your own. When you’re renting jet–skis you can choose to have a guide accompany you, which is a nice way to be sure you don’t miss any of the most interesting sights.
Stand Up Paddleboarding with Big Blue - Photo provided by Big Blue
Charter excursions will take you to neighbouring cays to photograph iguanas, do a little beachcombing, snorkel, bbq, and explore. Selecting a charter can seem daunting, but once you’ve narrowed down the list of things you want to see and do, you’ll be able to find the right excursion for you and your family. One of the most popular excursions if you’re travelling with kids includes a trip to see carved pirate maps and the names of shipwrecked sailors. The history of these carvings is fascinating, and although you could find the bluff on your own, they are best explored with the help of a guide for your own safety and to have the carvings interpreted for you.
Fishing is very popular in the Turks and Caicos Islands and we have a variety of fishing options. Bottom, bone and blue water fishing are all available from various fishing charter and guide services. Most of the tour operators will organize a fishing license for you, but you can get a license from the office at Turtle Cove Marina. If you intend to fish on your own it is absolutely critical to be sure you are not fishing within a protected area, the fine for fishing in any of the marine parks is $50,000, and the cost to our environment would be exponential. Bottom and Reef Fishing are the easiest variations and most likely to produce plenty of bites and a large catch – especially fun for children. Bonefishing is an exciting sport that can be done by spin casting or with fly rod. This fish is said to be far feistier in the smaller version and feels like a monster on the end of your line! Blue Water Fishing in the Turks and Caicos is said by many to be the finest in the Caribbean. The Atlantic’s premiere big game trophy fish – the Blue Marlin – is plentiful all year, but caught in record numbers during the summer season.
For the genuine Adrenaline Junkie, there are many options to choose from while visiting the Turks and Caicos! Whether it’s high in the sky, skimming the surface of the water at high–speed, or getting up close and personal with a shark or two... there’s a very good chance you will find the high you’re looking for!
Deep Sea Fishing with Silver Deep — Photo provided by Silver Deep
Seeing Providenciales, and some of the outer islands and cays while experiencing the excitement of a helicopter ride is something you will never forget! TCI Helicopters offers a variety of tours depending on what you want to see, how long you want to ride and what your budget is. A helicopter trip is a great way to get a real feel for the islands and to take some amazing pictures of paradise. Parasailing is another way to check out Grace Bay from above. Rides usually last about 15 minutes and you can fly up to 450 feet! Experienced and safety conscious crews can be seen on Grace Bay every day. In particular, look for Sky Pilot’s boat; you can flag them down from the beach, or call them to book in advance and they’ll pick you up in front of your resort. You’ll be amazed at how quiet it is floating above Grace Bay!
We also have a healthy share of adrenaline producing extreme sports to choose from. Kiteboarding finds an ideal training location in the TCI. Our shallow, calm water combined with our nearly year–round tradewinds mean that kiteboarders can get out skimming the surface, and flying above it, nearly every day. If you have wanted to try this sport, there’s no better place to be a novice, and if you’re an expert kiteboarder already, the Turks and Caicos is a destination of choice.
Windsurfing made its debut here in the mid 1980s and has steadily gained in popularity. Our calm near shore water and steady breeze provide great conditions. You’ll often see windsurfers on Grace Bay making the most of the breeze and, not recommended for the occasional practitioner, those with advanced skills can sometimes be spied plying the waves out near the reef. Windsurfing lessons can be booked and you’ll be surprised how much you can learn in a short time. Mike Rosati at Abuv–it–All is Providenciales’ most seasoned windsurfing instructor and you can book lessons with Mike, or rent equipment from him at Ocean Club East. Waterskiing here is among the best in the world. Lengthy runs and glassy water make it a great place to learn or master the sport. You might even want to learn to Barefoot Waterski and you can also try Wakeboarding, Wakeskating and Wakesurfing. If you’re not quite that adventurous, although it looks edgy, Stand–up Paddleboarding is easy to learn on the calm waters surrounding Providenciales. It’s a great way to get an in–depth look into our clear water, without making noise and disturbing our birds and marine life.
The Ocean Outback Adventure Cruise includes snorkelling, pirate cave tour and miles of isolated beaches to explore along the south side of Providenciales
There are a few Snorkelling spots you can hit right off the beach on your own. In front of Coral Gardens, you will find a large area of coral reef where it’s easy to spot rays, turtles and all manner of reef fish. There’s also Smiths Reef just off Turtle Cove. If you’re trying to snorkel in other locations, look for dark patches in the water or head for jetties and docks where you will be more likely to find something fun to look at. You can pick up guidebooks and identification cards at Unicorn Books or any of the dive shops. In order to preserve our underwater world for others it is important to avoid killing any corals by touching or standing on them. If you are not a strong swimmer floatation devices can be used. Nothing may be removed from the marine parks and reserves and nothing should be left behind. Underwater cameras are a popular way to record your sightings. “Take only pictures, leave only bubbles.”
If you’re not quite ready for SCUBA yet, why not try SNUBA! It’s the next step from snorkelling and is fun for ages 8 and up. SNUBA stands for surface nexus underwater breathing apparatus, the air tank that you will be using stays at the surface while you get to explore the sea at a depth of 20 feet.
The waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands are world renowned for their clear visibility, comfortable temperatures, and the abundance of marine life, including the proliferation of large pelaegics such as dolphins, sharks and whales. This makes us a fabulous scuba diving destination. You can actually get started as a SCUBA diver with just a few hours to take a Discover SCUBA course, or you can take a few days of your holiday and be certified as an Open Water Diver. If you’re interested in taking the certification course, it’s a great idea to sign up on the PADI website and do some of the course work online, before you arrive on island. This will save you time and money.
Get a birds-eye-view of the Turks and Caicos with TCI Helicopter Tours
The Turks and Caicos Islands are part of the Lucayan Archipelago. From our shallow inland waters, there occurs a dramatic change in depth from around 60 feet to an estimated 6000 to 7000 feet. The sudden drop provides fantastic opportunities for what is undeniably some of the planet’s best Wall Diving. The third largest barrier reef system in the world protects the north shore of Providenciales and it, along with many patch reefs, give divers and snorkellers opportunities to view the myriad creatures who make their homes among the living reefs. Marine parks and nature reserves have been established to protect the reefs and walls and a mooring system is in place to protect the reef from anchoring damage at popular dive sites.
If you love the fish but hate the water, not to worry! You’re in for a treat as Providenciales is home to the Undersea Explorer –Semi–Submarine that will allow you to check out the reef and all the reef’s residents from a perfectly dry seat, in air–conditioned comfort. The added bonus of the semi–sub is that a guide is along to entertain you, to identify the turtles, fish and corals and describe everything you’re seeing, as you’re seeing it.
Eco–tourism is quickly gaining popularity in our islands, and you can book a guided eco–encounter with many water sport providers. Kayaking in the mangroves, for example, is a fantastic way to see the shoreline and witness the delicate eco–system at work. Baby sharks use the shallow waters as a nursery, as do turtles and a host of other marine life. Kayak rental outfits will provide instruction, equipment and even guides, if you’re interested. Birders will be pleased with opportunities to view species rarely seen on land, as pelaegic birds sometimes use our islands as rookeries. You can book Bird Watching tours or plan private guided excursions that allow you to explore historic sites, remote landscapes, geological rarities and natural wonders.
Horseback Ride along Long Bay Beach with Provo Ponies
If you’re travelling with little ones, we have just what the holiday doctor ordered. You’re sure to hear plenty of great reviews about Surfside Ocean Academy from tourists and islanders, regarding their Excurions For Kids. There are several options for your child to learn about the island environment, including marine life, plants and animals! There's also a swimming program so your kids can learn how to be safe around and in the water, and there are opportunities to share amazing eco–adventures with their entire family. Beach BBQs, camping, and swimming lessons are all offered. There are even special courses to keep your teens challenged and entertained! The staff of the Academy also provide professional nanny services!
There are also sports to be played on Providenciales! Consistently rated as one of the best in the Caribbean, our 18–hole Provo Golf Club course was designed by Karl Litten. Not an easy course to play, according to the pro, it’s a fun one. The club record is a 65 shot by the club professional from Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, NY. An added bonus of playing a round at our golf club is the chance to see some of our native water birds in action on the course’s lakes. Tennis is another great way to stay in shape while on island. Provo Golf Club, and many resorts, have tennis courts and usually provide racquets and balls. You can also rent gear from Island Sportique, located in The Regent Village.
How many kids dream of hopping on a horse and heading off on an adventure? Horseback Riding with Provo Ponies will put you on a well–behaved island pony who will carry you along quiet country roads, along canals and back bush trails in the picturesque Long Bay area until you find yourself on a stretch of deserted Long Bay Beach, which is three miles in length and slightly off the beaten track.
Ride the TCI Ferry to Beyond Providenciales - Explore North and Middle Caicos
If you prefer a mount with wheels, you’re not alone! Cycling has steadily been earning more interest, especially in the Grace Bay area, and you can now rent touring bicycles and mountain bikes; many hotels and resorts also provide bikes for their guests’ use. The Grace Bay area is flat and easy to cycle on. It’s acceptable to ride on the wide paved sidewalks in the main tourist area, as long as you are mindful of pedestrians. Please be sure to pay close attention to traffic, don’t forget, we drive on the left! You can also book guided cycling tours to some of the outer islands with excursion operators. Check for eco–tours on North and Middle Caicos, for example.
Team Sports are an important part of island culture, and we have several fun leagues, as well as more serious teams who play within the Caribbean and beyond. Rugby, Football (what Americans call Soccer) and Cricket are all popular sports to play and watch, and the Canadian contingent has made a concerted effort to keep Hockey alive, albeit on roller blades rather than skates. Beach Volleyball tournaments happen regularly on the beach in front of Rickie’s Flamingo Cafe. If you’re a die–hard sporting fan, or if you’ve never seen a Cricket or Rugby match, you might enjoy seeing a National event, should one coincide with your time on island.
If you’re interested in a Land–Based Tour, you will enjoy a day or evening with Island Rhythms. You’ll experience the authentic local culture, history, cuisine and music of our islands. The day and evening tours by bus are fun and educational for the whole family and the evening tour includes a party crawl stopping at many local night spots for music and island–style fun!
Though not a sport, exactly, Shopping is certainly a popular activity here! We have three main retail areas on Providenciales: Ports of Call, The Saltmills and The Regent Village. You will also find unique items in the boutiques at many of our resorts. If you are heading along Leeward Highway you should also take a peek at Greensleeves at Central Square. If you’re visiting Grand Turk on a Cruise Ship day, the terminal has many wonderful shops for everything from diamonds to keychains. You can find out more about shopping on the Islands in our Shopping Section beginning on page 18.
Try your hand at Craps or Blackjack — Photo provided by Casablanca Casino
Speaking about other islands... the Turks and Caicos Islands are made up of an abundance of islands and cays. Should you wish to explore more of the country, it’s easy to arrange Day Trips, or even multi–day explorations Beyond Providenciales, to any of the other inhabited islands. Learn about history and agriculture on North Caicos, visit one of the Caribbean’s most spectacular cave systems on Middle Caicos, check out the architecture and the National Museum on Grand Turk, and find out about our annual whale migration from the naturalists on Salt Cay. Other inhabited islands it is possible to visit include Parrot Cay, Pine Cay and South Caicos.
Nightlife on Providenciales is abundant. If you’re a gourmand, you will enjoy Dining at one of our World–Class Restaurants and sampling the Caribbean creations of our International stable of lauded Chefs. Many of the resorts and restaurants feature Live Music. Schedules tend to change regularly; check around when you reach the island to find out who is playing. Choices vary with performers in traditional island Rake n’ Scrape, acoustic, Rock n’ Roll, and smooth Jazz. Casablanca Casino is great fun whether you’re a high–stakes poker pro or have never set foot in a casino before. Casablanca staff will point you in the right direction whatever your experience level; if you’ve never had an opportunity to try your hand at Blackjack or Craps this is a great place to learn. There are also Women’s Poker Nights where you can get a lesson and then play in a tournament. Several resorts and pubs feature live satellite feeds of major Sporting Events. We also have a very active Arts organization on Providenciales: The Turks & Caicos Friends of the Arts Foundation puts on several high–quality shows annually. Check out their schedule to see if you can catch one the very popular locally produced plays or pantomimes, or one of the professional touring shows brought in to entertain residents and visitors.
We hope you and your family will fall in love with our islands and want to return again and again to sample everything we have to offer. This is one of the world’s most unique holiday destinations and you’re bound to find a pace and a style to suit your holiday personality. Now, get out there and have fun! Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Care was taken to ensure correctness of information at press time. Information is subject to change without notice. Ad Vantage Ltd. accepts no responsibility for such alterations or for typographical errors or omissions. Entire contents of this page may not be reproduced in any manner without written permission of Ad Vantage Ltd. © January / February 2012 Where When How - Turks & Caicos Islands.
- Things To Do in Turks & Caicos - Listings of all island activities!
- Turks and Caicos Islands Weather Forecast, Climate and Rainfall Charts
- Turks and Caicos Shopping Guide
- The Best Turks & Caicos Hotels & Resorts
- The Best Restaurants in the Turks & Caicos Islands
- Turks & Caicos Islands Maps and Detailed Maps of Provo, North Caicos and Middle Caicos