Turks & Caicos Islands
The Turks and Caicos Islands, archipelagos comprised of 40 low-lying and mostly undeveloped islands boast miles of white powdery beaches, superb diving, accommodations, and gourmet restaurants. Much of the underwater excitement is found off the Turks, where wall dives are outstanding, and along West Caicos and Provo. Sport fishing is a big international draw, and the mangrove salt flats offer a prime habitat for bonefish.
Providenciales (known as Provo) is the hub for tourism. The island’s crowning glory is Grace Bay, a 12 mile stretch of velvety sand. Also on Provo, bird watchers enjoy acres of inland lakes frequented by white herons and pink flamingos. Just a dozen miles from Provo is North Caicos, which receives the most rainfall, making it notably greener with tall trees and lush vegetation. The southern part of North Caicos is swampy, with broad estuaries that are home to a vast colony of West Indian flamingoes. North Caicos is popular with holiday-home buyers, especially around Whitby, with its stunning seven mile beach.
On Middle Caicos, you can sign up with a local guide and head for a settlement called Conch Bar where a labyrinth of caves are home to limestone formations and resident bat populations. Elsewhere, recent archaeological excavations have uncovered ancient Lucayan artifacts dating back more than 1,200 years. Uninhabited West Caicos and East Caicos are lined with fine beaches accessible by boat, and South Caicos was once a salt-producing island. Today it has a fishing port and a yachting centre, along with miles of deserted beaches.
The capital and centre of government lies east of the Columbus Passage on Grand Turk, where visitors can tour several restored churches and the Turks and Caicos National Museum. From January to March, visitors flock to nearby Salt Cay to spot humpback whales on their annual migration to the Silver Banks off Hispaniola.