This string of 40 low-lying sand cays is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. In this British Overseas Territory which lies just southeast of the Bahamas, you’ll find truly spectacular beaches, coral reefs, excellent scuba diving opportunities, upscale resorts, incredible sea life including stingrays and turtles and a sublime laid back way of life.
Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Turks and Caicos…
1. Grand Turk Island – one of the most popular places to visit in Turks and Caicos
Grand Turk Island is a popular Caribbean port stop because of its unique atmosphere and it’s the capital island of the Turks and Caicos archipelago.
One of the great things about the island is that it’s easy to explore independently, and there are so many great activities to choose from here.
The Grand Turk Cruise Center is home to the Largest Margaritaville you will find in the Caribbean and has the only Starbucks in Turks and Caicos! Activities range from swimming, snorkeling, and diving to exploring the old town settlements.
2. Governor’s Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches to explore
If you are looking for the best beach to visit on Grand Turk, then check out this place. Although it is one of the best-rated beaches on the island, it is not as crowded as you would expect.
The back part of the sandy beach is lined with pines and casuarinas, which give the beach a feeling of seclusion.
The perfect blue water is calm and peaceful, making it an excellent place to enjoy a dip in the ocean. Unlike other beaches along the coast, the trade winds don’t reach it. The beach is named after the Governor’s mansion, which is located close by.
3. Taylor Bay Beach – known for its shallow waters and gorgeous sunsets
Located only 2.5 miles from Five Cays, Taylor Bay is on the southwest coast of Provo.
The crescent-shaped beach is filled with white sand, and the clear blue water allows swimmers and sunbathers to easily see starfish.
Taylor Bay is a family-friendly beach perfect for having fun or just relaxing, as the water is only knee-high, and there are no steep drop-offs around.
4. Princess Alexandra National Park – a gorgeous marine reserve off the north coast of Providenciales Island
A coastal and marine park, Princess Alexandra National Park is located on Providenciales island in Turks and Caicos. The 6,532-acre park runs along the east and north coasts of the island.
Inside its boundaries are some of the best beaches, including Grace Bay, Leeward, Bight Beach, Coral Gardens, and more.
The northern area of the park is home to a nature reserve. Inside this area are iguana sanctuaries, including Little Water Cay Aka Iguana Island.
The nature reserve also includes Lizard Cay, Sinking Cays, and Bird Cay, which are rock islands. The wetland islands found inside the reserve include Donna Cay and Mangrove Cay.
5. Smith’s Reef – a stunning snorkeling site to explore
Smith’s Reef is one of the most desirable places to dive in Turks and Caicos, thanks to its amazing underwater visibility. If you plan to visit this spectacular location, you can easily get there from Grace Bay or Turtle Cove.
This is one of the best spots for snorkeling, as the underwater visibility is incredible.
As you explore underwater, you will be amazed by the beautifully colored coral blooming in the sandbanks and seabed. The one thing to watch for while enjoying marine life is lionfish with their poisonous spikes down their backs.
As this reef is located in a busy area of the Provo Coast, keep an eye out for speeding boats.
6. Cockburn Town – the capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands
Named after the Bahamas governor from the early 1800s, Sir Francis Cockburn, this is the oldest settlement in Turks and Caicos. It was settled in 1681 by Bermudan sea salt producers and now serves as both the Government seat and capital of Turks and Caicos.
A scenic town known for its British colonial architecture, crystal clear water, and white sandy beaches, Cockburn Town, has so much to offer visitors.
When exploring what the town provides, start on Duke Street and then continue heading north, following the coastal road. Some must-sees include the Grand Turk Lighthouse, Turks and Caicos National Museum, and Her Majesty’s Prison.
7. Gibbs Cay – swim with large southern stingrays in the blue waters
Being an uninhabited island is only one reason to visit Gibbs Cay. This island is known for its stunning beaches and breathtaking dive sites. Gibbs Cay can only be reached by boat.
Many local companies offer daily boat tours to the island. Visitors can stay and enjoy it for the day along with a picnic lunch.
Located on the east coast of Grand Turk, Gibbs Cay is home to numerous stingrays. If you have ever wanted to swim with stingrays, Gibbs Cay is the perfect chance.
Other activities visitors enjoy are exploring the coral reefs lining the beach and bird watching. Gibbs Cay is home to numerous seabirds.
8. SunRay Beach – located just at the end of the ship’s pier
Sometimes referred to as Cruise Center Beach, SunRay Beach is located on the island of Grand Turk. It’s one of the busier beaches as it’s located near the pier where multiple cruise ships dock.
Don’t let the crowds keep you away, though, as the water is typically calm and clear, and the coastline is nothing but soft, white sand.
While coral and rock patches can be found along the coast, snorkeling isn’t recommended because there is very little to see.
9. Half Moon Bay – a popular beauty spot
A three-fourths-mile long beach, Half Moon Bay is located between the two uninhabited islands of Water Cay and Little Water Cay. The beach first started as a small sandbar and has grown to now be 400 feet wide.
It is one of the most popular attractions for day cruises, picnic lunches, and one can kayak in from Provo.
The south side of the beach offers a small lagoon surrounded by soft, white sand and sparkling water. The north side features turquoise water with a beautiful beach.
10. Columbus Landfall National Park – stunning beaches and waters
This park is located along the west coast of Grand Turk. It was named after Christopher Columbus, as this was the spot he first stepped foot on when he discovered the New World in the 1400s.
People don’t just visit it because of its unique history. They enjoy all of the natural wonders found within the park.
Columbus Landfall National Park is home to the best underwater reaches in the area.
These reaches descend deep into the ocean and feature steep coral walls and an array of marine life, including manta rays, brightly-colored tropical species, and more.
11. Sapodilla Bay Beach – one of the safest beaches on Providenciales
Sapodilla Bay is located near Chalk Sound but on the ocean side of it. Yachters enjoy the secluded beach as it offers protection from the harsh seas.
The calm, shallow water makes this bay the ideal swimming location for families with small children. Locals on the beach sell food and drinks for a reasonable price.
Despite its soft, white sand and brilliant blue waters, Sapodilla isn’t just about the beach. Make sure you head over to the hilltop that overlooks the water.
The view is not only a fantastic photo opportunity but the stones are also engraved with messages from shipwrecked sailors.
12. Grace Bay Beach – one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean
For those looking for the best beach in the Providenciales area, you want to put Grace Bay Beach at the top of the list. The beach is over five miles long with crystal clear water and fine powdery sand.
As you look out across the varying shades of blue ocean water, you can just make out the coral reefs in the distance.
A protected area in the Princess Alexandra Marine Park, Grace Bay is one of the best places to visit in Turks and Caicos for snorkelers and swimmers. Grace Bay Beach is also home to a “JoJo,” a wild dolphin who loves interacting with swimmers.
13. Providenciales – a hub of tourism activity on the archipelago
More commonly referred to as Provo, as the third-largest island, it is one of the best places to visit in Turks and Caicos. When planning your vacation to these islands, the T & C Fish Fry, which is held every Thursday night, should be at the top of your list.
The fish fry takes place at Bight Park and is an evening filled with local vendors selling from various market stalls to dancing to live samba music.
After the sun sets, the local Junkanoo Band comes out to play.
Another stop to include in your visit is the Provo Golf Club. This 18-hole championship golf course is decorated with pine blooms, coconut plants, and palm trees. Herons and pink flamingos visit the lush green fairway on occasion.
The club also offers tennis courts. After a round of golf or tennis, check out the Fairways Bar and Grill for a cold drink or a delicious Caribbean treat.
14. Leeward Beach – one of the finest beaches in the Turks and Caicos
Located on the northeastern end of Provo, Leeward continues east, where Grace Bay ends. Although not as crowded as Grace Bay, Leeward offers excellent swimming opportunities for families and stretches of beautiful white sand.
Finding a secluded spot on this beach is easier than other popular beaches as there is less development nearby.
Leeward Beach features a seven-mile stretch of beach that allows visitors to walk from Leeward to the Turtle Cove Marina. You can enjoy the sights of Grace Bay, Bight Beach, and Smith’s Reef along that walk.
15. Chalk Sound – one of the best spots to explore on the Turks and Caicos
Located only about a 30-minute drive from Grace Bay, Chalk Sound provides visitors with stunning views and far fewer crowds.
The clear turquoise water of the lagoon is lined by a thin stretch of sand, keeping it separate from the ocean. Throughout the lagoon are several small rock islands inhabited with iguanas.
For several hundred yards, the water only reaches about 18 inches deep. You can reach depths of up to six feet as you go further out.
The calm waters are ideal for paddleboards and kayaks, although be careful of the currents. Visitors also have the option of booking a pontoon cruise.
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Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.