Turks & Caicos Travel Tips
Keep in Mind...
- Dive safe Diving is a popular activity, but you should always receive proper training, check the weather conditions and find a diving partner before you go.
- Keep your cash handy Even though Turks and Caicos are considered a British overseas territory, the official currency is the U.S. dollar. Keep in mind that the smaller islands and cays only accept cash.
- Try the local cuisine Drool-worthy dishes like crispy conch fritters and steamed Caribbean lobster are best enjoyed at the local seafood spots.
Turks and Caicos has the perfect antidote for your hectic lifestyle; nearly abandoned, blinding-white sand fringed by shimmering azure water, colorful coral reefs, crispy conch fritters and a sleepy, light-hearted atmosphere. Even as recent years have generated more tourist activity, more chain restaurants and more commercially driven experiences, Turks and Caicos still holds tight to its reputation as exclusive and secluded. And regular vacationers to these skinny strips of white sand will tell you that they wouldn't have it any other way.
This network of 40 islands and cays has three dominant personalities: There's glamorous Providenciales, or "Provo," which acts as the main port for the cruise-ship crowd and site of the most accommodations. Laid-back Grand Turk is the historic and cultural nucleus, best seen in the Turks & Caicos National Museum or along the shores of Cockburn Town, where Christopher Columbus first docked in the Western Hemisphere. Tiny, flat Salt Cay plays host to the best dives: From here, you can explore one of the largest reef systems in the world.
How To Save Money in Turks & Caicos
- Pack an umbrella Hotels and airlines slice their prices by up to 40 percent from June to November, during the islands' rainy season.
- Stay on a Turks island The inns and guesthouses there are generally more budget friendly than the boutique resorts on Caicos, Pine and Parrot cays.
- Book early If you do want to visit during the peak season, booking a year in advance can mean substantial savings on your hotel bill.
Turks & Caicos Culture & Customs
Residents of the Turks and Caicos frequently refer to themselves as "Belongers," but ex-pats and visitors are always welcome -- especially as English is the official language and the U.S. dollar is the official currency. Service charges are usually 15 percent, but you should clarify with your hotel whether it's already been added.
Beachwear is generally only accepted on the shore, and even then, you'll notice many residents wearing shorts over their swimwear. Wearing your swimsuit (and even flip-flops) away from the beach and pool area will mark you as a tourist.
Turks & Caicos Dining
Because the islands' restaurants rely heavily on imported food products, dining in Turks and Caicos can be expensive, especially since there is a 10-percent government tax on all restaurant bills. If you want to eat cheaply, go for the seafood; the islands are home to the only conch farm in the world, so don't miss your chance to sample this shellfish in all its glory. Regional favorites include crispy conch fritters and creamy conch chowder.
Providenciales has the most recommended eateries of Turks and Caicos. Try mom-and-pop establishments like Tiki Hut for outstanding seafood at reasonable prices. Providenciales also boasts international restaurants serving everything from Asian to Mexican cuisines.