For a secluded, uncommon, yet comforting getaway in one of the Caribbean’s most sparkling hidden treasures, the Turks & Caicos is the crystal-clear choice!
The friendly Turks and Caicos
The pristine white beaches, vast coral reefs, and warm, crystal-clear waters that surround this set of eight inhabited islands and numerous deserted cays draw honeymooners, divers, and vacationers in droves. Everyone leaves smiling and de-stressed, and most return again and again to enjoy the tranquility of this tropical island paradise.
The most popular islands for holidaymakers are Grand Turk (site of the quaint capital, Cockburn Town) and Providenciales (“Provo” for short), both well equipped with modern hotel, condominium, and spa complexes offering every tourist amenity. The other islands feature more rustic accommodations suited to romantics who want to get away from it all. Clocks, televisions, and radios are hard to find on the laid-back cays, and nightlife consists of stargazing.
If you have ever dreamed of escaping from the rat race and becoming a castaway, this is the place to lose yourself in!
Where is Turks&Caicos Island?
The “TCI,” as the archipelago is known colloquially, is situated at the end of the Bahamas chain, 575 miles southeast of Miami. The Turks, with their dry, scrubby landscape, are divided from the more lush Caicos Islands by the Christopher Columbus Passage.
History of Turks&Caicos Island
Turks&Caicos Island Visa Requirements
Visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days in the Turks and Caicos Islands for citizens of many countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the US, the UK and Ireland and Canada. Extensions of stay for up to 90 days is possible once you are in the country. A passport valid for a minimum of six months is required by all visitors, however nationals of Canada and the USA may provide proof of identity such as birth certificate and photo ID instead of a passport. Proof of a return or onward ticket as well as sufficient funds for the length of stay are required by all visitors.
Even though a passport is not necessarily required for US citizens for entry into the Islands they should be aware of the US government’s requirement that all United States travellers be in possession of a valid passport to enter or re-enter the US.
There is a departure tax of US$23 and a Security Charge of US$5 which is usually included in the cost of your airline ticket when visiting the islands. If it is not included then it is payable only in cash or traveler’s cheques.
As entry requirements may change from time to time it is strongly advised that you check with the department of foreign affairs or your local consulate or embassy for the current requirements.
Turks&Caicos Island Travel Health
Recommended vaccinations for travel to Turks and Caicos Islands are Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus with Typhoid also recommended depending on the season and region being visited. Vaccination against hepatitis B is also sometimes recommended as cases of dengue fever have been reported.
All water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should be boiled before using and only powdered or tinned milk should be consumed. All meat and fish should be well-cooked and served hot and all vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
There is a small hospital on Grand Turk together with private practitioners and an emergency care facility, and on all islands there are community clinics. For serious emergencies patients are taken to the USA. Comprehensive insurance is strongly advised for all nationals visiting the islands.
The Islands are very safe however it is advised to always use common sense when visiting any foreign destination. Always keep valuables hidden away and always lock your car and accommodation when you leave them. Be particularly conscious with safety when it comes to mopeds and motorcycles as these are popular targets for thieves. Islanders are known to be quite aggressive drivers, so be especially careful when crossing or driving on the roads.
Like most countries you should be aware of the global risk of international terrorist attacks, which may affect civilians in popular tourist destinations.
The hurricane season for the islands runs from 1 June to 30 November.
The emergency numbers in the Turks and Caicos are 999 or 911.
What is Turks&Caicos Island Local Currency?
The US Dollar is the official currency for the Turks and Caicos Islands. Notes are in denominations of US$100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 and coins are in denominations of $1 and 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1 cents. There are no currency restrictions on the amount of money that visitors can bring in.
MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted on Provo and Grand Turk and Traveller’s Cheques are accepted by most hotels, shops, restaurants, banks and taxi services. ATM’s are readily available in the main tourist areas.
Banking Hours are: Mon-Fri 0830-1630.
Exchange Rate Indicators as of the 13th August 2010 are: 1.00 GBP = 1.51 USD; 1.00 EUR = 1.25 USD
What is Turks&Caicos Island’s Weather?
A tropical climate is experienced on the Turks and Caicos Islands with cool nights and rain in winter. Temperatures average 25°C in winter and 32°C in summer with the hottest months between August and November. Hurricanes and tropical storms are common between July and November. There is generally less than 50 inches of rainfall throughout the year with most of this falling during the hurricane season. Tourists will typically experience sunshine throughout the year with nights tending to be cooler. December to April is the peak season for visitors.
Recommended clothing for travel to the islands are lightweights and light sweaters for the cooler evenings.
Culture of Turks&Caicos Island
The people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are kind, friendly and quite religious. Their relaxed attitude makes for a perfect environment to have a restful and enjoyable holiday.
Tipping on the islands is usually approximately 15% for food waiters, bartenders, hotel maids, porters, or taxi drivers.
The majority of the people in the Turks and Caicos Islands are Christians: Baptist, Anglican, Methodist and Church of God.
As the people on the Islands generally practice good manners and exercise respect it is advised to practice the same behavior while visiting the country. Simple manners such as “Hello” and “Good Afternoon” should be followed.
Try to avoid the subject regarding a union with Canada as many islanders are divided about this subject and it may lead to a rather awkward situation.
What Languages Are Spoken In Turks&Caicos Island?
English is the official language of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The telephone country code for the Turks and Caicos Islands is: 1 649 and mobile phone coverage is good throughout the islands. Public card-phones are available on all the islands and there is a 10% tax on all calls. There are Internet kiosks located at the airport and Internet cafes scattered around the islands.
There is a Post Office available on Grand Turk, with sub-offices on North Caicos, South Caicos and Providenciales. Airmail to Western Europe usually takes five days.
Post office hours are: Mon-Thurs 0800-1600, Fri 0800-1530.
Turks&Caicos Island Transport Options
There are international airports on Grand Turk (GDT) and Providenciales (PLS) and the national airline is Air Turks & Caicos (QW). There is a departure tax of US$40 with children under two being exempt.
There are also landing strips on Middle Caicos, North Caicos, South Caicos, Parrot Cay, Pine Cay and Salt Cay. The national airline runs a regular air-taxi service to all the inhabited islands, together with flights to Cap Haïtien, Nassau, Kingston and Puerto Plata. Charter flights and charter boats can also be arranged.
On the islands traffic drives on the left. Taxis are available at the airports however there is a limited supply and it is advised to negotiate the fare before leaving. Car hire is available from local firms on Providenciales, Grand Turk, and North, Middle and South Caicos and seatbelts are compulsory. To hire a car you will need a local licence which is available for a fee if you are holding a national driving licence or an International Driving Permit. There is a tax placed on all car rentals.
Always stay alert when driving on the roads as it is common for some drivers to drive on the wrong side of the road. Speed limits on the roads are 32kph in town and 64kph elsewhere. The majority of roads throughout the islands are sealed and in good condition. It is recommended to exercise extra care at night when driving on the roads and be careful of hazards such as road work, blind intersections and changes in road conditions that are generally unmarked. Signs and traffic signals are sparse.
Turks&Caicos Island Travel Tips
The importation of firearms to the Islands is forbidden without prior approval in writing from the Commissioner of Police.
All visitors to the islands are advised to monitor changing weather conditions particularly during Hurricane season from June 1 to November 30
Turks&Caicos Island Local Food
Typical food you will find on the islands is seafood, lobster and conch with peas ’n’ rice as well as a variety of continental dishes. Good quality meals can be found in nearly all restaurants and bars with a moderate to expensive price tag attached. All food except seafood is imported from Miami hence why the expensive prices. Most restaurants charge a 10% gratuity or expect a 15% tip. Alcohol is widely available on the islands with a wide selection of imported beer, wines and spirits on offer.
National specialities include: Hominy (peas, grits and fish or pig’s tail); conch salad; and lobster and fish.
National drinks include: Turk’s Head beer and rum-based punch and cocktails.
The drinking age for the Turks and Caicos Islands is 18.
Turks&Caicos Island Local Timezones
The Turks & Caicos Islands Standard Time is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-5).
Daylight-Saving Time is in operation from March until November where the time is shifted forward by 1 hour making it 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-4).
After the Summer months the time in the Islands is shifted back by 1 hour to US Eastern Standard Time (EST) or (GMT-5).
Electricity for the Islands follows the usual US standard of 120/240 volts, 60 Hz. Plug outlets take Type A plugs: two flat parallel pins. European visitors will need adaptors.
Turks&Caicos Island Dutyfree Limits
The following items may be imported into the Turks & Caicos Islands without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 125g tobacco and 1.136l of spirits or wine.
Restricted items include: spearguns and Hawaiian slings. Firearms require a police permit.
Prohibited Imports include: controlled drugs and pornography.