The Ultimate Travel Guide to Turks and Caicos
The ultimate Turks and Caicos travel guide! One of the most beautiful Caribbean destinations, these islands are home to turquoise, crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. Here’s everything you need to know to have a fun and relaxing getaway including where to stay, things to do, and places to eat!
Turks and Caicos Travel Guide: Where to Stay
The Oasis at Grace Bay | $310/night
Kicking off this Turks and Caicos travel guide with where to stay when you are visiting. We chose to stay in Grace Bay on the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. Providenciales, also known as Provo, is the third largest island of the Turks and Caicos islands and where the primary airport is located. Grace Bay is a 12-mile beach where many resorts, hotels, and dining are located. We thought the location was convenient and walkable to beautiful beaches and top-rated restaurants. The area is full of luxury accommodations but The Oasis at Grace Bay offers a beautiful property and great amenities for nearly half the price as its neighbors.
The Oasis at Grace Bay is a boutique hotel. We stayed for 5 nights in their Premium King Room which was situated on the second floor with a spacious balcony overlooking a garden of palm trees. The room included bedroom, living, bathroom, and kitchenette equipped with a Nespresso, microwave, and mini-fridge. The property has two pools, loungers, gazebos, umbrellas, and full of lush tropical plants. Staff are available 24/7 and are super helpful if you need assistance in planning activities, scheduling taxis, or providing recommendations.
The hotel is just a block away from the beach or a quick complimentary 2-minute golf cart shuttle. There are also bikes that you can rent daily for free. At the beach, there is a dedicated area for The Oasis at Grace Bay guests. Here you can find complimentary loungers, umbrellas, and floaties to use for a relaxing beach day. There are staff on the beach to assist you as well and can call for a shuttle when you are ready to return to the hotel.
Turks and Caicos Travel Guide: Things to Do
The only real excursion we did during this trip was a snorkeling cruise with Caicos Dream Tours. I definitely think it should be a part of any Turks and Caicos travel guide! It was $112 for adults and $56 for children 10 and under. These tours run 7 days a week, twice a day at 9am and 1:30pm. There is a lot of availability so it’s easy to book. In general, it’s better to snorkel in the mornings when the waters are calmer. You have more visibility and the fish are more active.
The company offers complimentary beachside pick up at Grace Bay and Leeward resorts. If you are outside of the pickup zone, you can meet them at Alexandra Resort. They provide all the gear you will need for snorkeling including floaties/swim belts or you can bring your own. You do not need to be a strong swimmer to have a good time, just know how to kick and paddle. There is also a slide on the boat and a small restroom.
The tour lasts 4 hours. The first stop is for 1 hour of snorkeling at the Barrier Reef, it’s also the only snorkeling stop. This is the third largest reef in the world spanning over 125 miles. There were so many beautiful colorful fish and corals. The tour also stops at Half Moon Bay for about 30 minutes. They provided sandwiches, chips, fruit, and an open bar (beer, rum punch, water, soda) while the boat cruised along Grace Bay. The last stop of the tour was Iguana Island where we saw lots of little rock iguanas running around. This stop was for about an hour at Little Water Cay. Here we saw a shallow pool area and a picturesque sandbar.
One of the best snorkeling spots on the island is Bight Reef also known as Coral Gardens. It is great because it is easy to access from the shore and free. You will need to bring your own snorkel mask. Also bring a noodle or floaty if you can. We saw some at the store for about $5. There are people at the beach that will try to rent it to you for $10. However, you might be lucky to find an abandoned floaty or people leaving that will give it to you. We saw lots of beautiful fish, although the fish and corals here are not going to be as abundant and bright as the ones you would see at the Barrier Reef on a snorkel tour.
Chalk Sound National Park
Chalk Sound National Park is a super scenic area in Turks and Caicos. The water is almost like a chalky bright turquoise color. It is made up of hundreds of small islands and limestone sand. The area is rocky so it is not a great swim spot. However it is worth driving by and stopping alongside the road to enjoy the sights. Powered watercraft is prohibited here but it is a popular destination for kayaking and paddle boarding.
Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The water is super clear turquoise and the sand is white and soft. There are no seaweed or rocks and the water is calm without big waves. Although it is a popular spot, the beach is large so you won’t feel too crowded. Grace Bay is where the majority of big resorts and hotels are. However, all beaches in Turks and Caicos are public so everyone can enjoy even if you are not staying there.
Sapodilla Bay Beach
Sapodilla Bay Beach was a spot that was recommended to us by locals. Like other beaches on the island the water is super blue and clear. It was also really calm. You can find it by the Chalk Sound. There is free parking on the side of the road. On the beach there was even a little bar on the sand to get drinks at.
Turks and Caicos Travel Guide: Places to Eat
For me, the best part of vacation is always getting to try the local cuisine. So of course I had to include a list of places you should eat in this Turks and Caicos travel guide! The island is known for its comforting Caribbean food and fresh seafood. I read several blogs and browsed through social media to see where others who have traveled there before recommended where to eat. Additionally, once we got on the island, I also pretty much asked every local we met where their favorite spots were. I also combed through Google and Yelp reviews. Every where you go will either offer beautiful beachside, waterfront views, or you’ll be surrounded with lush tropical plants. From casual spots to fancy night outs, I’ve rounded up the 9 Best Restaurants to Visit in Turks and Caicos!
How to Get Around in Turks and Caicos
Providenciales is not a big island, it has an area of under 40 square miles. Therefore, it does not take long to travel throughout the island. However, taxis can be expensive. For example, a 7-mile shuttle from the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) to Grace Bay costs about $30. With one-way rides costing $20-$30, we found it worthwhile to rent a car for a couple of days which was about $75/day. Since we stayed in Grace Bay, a lot of things we needed and places we wanted to go to were within walking or biking distance so we only opted to rent a car for 2 out of our 5 day stay. I felt like that was the perfect amount of time. We used Caicos Wheels Car & Scooter Rentals, which our hotel helped arrange. The company even offers complimentary pick up and drop off at our hotel.
Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory and therefore they also drive on the left side of the road. Additionally there are no traffic or stoplights on the island. Major intersections utilize roundabouts. Roads are generally calm and have little traffic so driving around is pretty easy once you get used to driving on the left side. Everywhere we went had free and easy parking. Gas can be quite expensive, it was about $6-7 a gallon (August 2022) but driving distances are short so you won’t use up too much fuel. For driving around 2 days, we used up maybe 2-3 gallons.
Is Turks and Caicos Expensive?
A travel guide to Turks and Caicos would not be complete without discussing costs. The short answer is yes. Turks and Caicos is one of the most expensive Caribbean islands we have traveled to. We had heard that it was an expensive place to visit prior but didn’t realize the extent. Fortunately we were able to get a good flight deal and the hotel we stayed at was running a deal also.
Turks and Caicos is a small island and therefore imports a lot of things from the US. We spoke with a local and he shared that the prices are not just inflated for tourists. Providenciales is small so a lot places that tourist visits are the same places that locals go and similarly pay the high prices. For example in local grocery stores, all the items were imported American items, but with a price tag much larger than what we are used to in the states.
For example a box of cereal was $10 and bread $12. The more affordable casual restaurants were $20-$30 for an entree. If you go out to a nicer restaurant, you can expect to pay $40-$50 for an entree. A regular hotel can start at upper $200s per night while all-inclusive resorts can be upwards of $800 per night. Overall there is no doubt that Turks and Caicos is a beautiful destination. However, it is not necessarily the most budget-friendly option.