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Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos Islands is a state in the Atlantic Ocean which includes two groups of islands with 40 small islands in each. The capital city is Cockburn Town.

The climate is marine tropical. The average temperature in summer can reach +32°C, and in winter it is +25°C. From July to November is a period of tropical storms and cyclones. The best time for traveling to The Turks and Caicos Islands is from December to July. 

The majority of the population are the Christians. The official language is English.

The Turks and Caicos Islands attract the tourists from all over the world with their amazing white beaches on the Salt Cay Island, North Caicos, West Caicos and Middle Caicos. On the North Caicos, the tourists can combine a rest on the beach with excursions. The lovers of country holidays will enjoy the excursion to the Wade’s Green Plantation, Pumpkin Bluff Pond Nature Reserve, East Bay Island National Park and a very beautiful Free Mary’s Reef. The waters near the North Caicos, neighboring island Providenciales and the Middle Caicos are ideal for diving, snorkeling and surfing.

A trip to the West Caicos includes a visit to the Elephant Ear Underwater Canyon with sea sponges which can be as long as 27 meters and to the Magic Mushroom Submarine Valley with the fields of black corals populated by lobsters.

The Middle Caicos island offers interesting hiking trails and the Conch Bar Caves with lakes and ancient petroglyphs on the walls. 

If you crave for shopping, beaches and city entertainments, head right to Providenciales. On the island, anyone can see the underwater cave and visit a farm cultivating Strombus gigas (a huge queen conch). On the 19 km Grace Bay Beach, there are luxurious hotels and the beach is considered to be one of the best in the world. 

Get in

By Plane

There are no direct flights between CIS countries and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The tourists have to take transit flights with one or two stops.

The most convenient route for the EU and CIS citizens is a flight from London to Providenciales which will take you about 12 hours. A rest stop is in Nassau, Bahamas.

There are also flights from Toronto, New York and Miami which last for over 24 hours. The flight from New York is 3 hours.

All the planes arrive either at the Providenciales International Airport or the Grand Turk JAGS McCartney International Airport.

Air Turks, Caicos (QW), Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Delta, JetBlue, and US Airways offer international flights to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

By Ferry

Many cruise ships make a stop on the Grand Turk Island. 

Visa

The tourists from CIS countries must obtain a visa to travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands except the tourists with a valid USA, Canada and United Kingdom visa. In this case, they can stay on the islands for 30 days.

It will take you from 10 to 21 days to obtain a visa because tourists’ requests are submitted to the Immigration Service of the state.

A visa is valid for 3 months and the tourists can extend the permit up to 90 days right on the islands.

The citizens from the European Union do not need a visa, only a valid passport and return ticket are required. 

The travelers from Canada can enter the country without passports.

To submit documents for a visa, the tourists should register on the website of the Teleperformance visa centers first and then come to the Embassy of the United Kingdom. 

Customs

The Customs legislation of  the Turks and Caicos Islands does not restrict import and export of national and foreign currency.

The tourists can bring in the following goods duty-free:

  • gifts (the total cost should not exceed 200 US dollars);
  • tobacco;
  • alcohol.

It is prohibited to export:

  • fishing harpoons;
  • sea shells and corals during the closed season (from July to October).

The tourists are allowed to import corals and sea shells during the closed season only upon authorization of CITES.

If you are planning to take pets make sure you have the following documents:

  • a vet passport;
  • a health certificate and the date when a microchip was implanted;
  • a vaccination certificate.  

Cuisine

The authentic cuisine of  the Turks and Caicos Islands did not survive and now it is a bright mix of cooking traditions of Great Britain and Spain.

The locals prefer exquisite seafood dishes to meat. Rice, peas and corn are usually served as a side. We recommend the tourists one of the most popular dishes on the island Grits which is a mix of fresh seafood, smoked fish, vegetables and poultry with a pea mash. The tourists can reveal a new unusual taste of  fish stuffed with corn, mussel soup and a famous soup Whelk. The foodies can treat themselves to a tender crawfish meat, lobsters and crabs, mussels and scallops. These products are exported to many other countries.

In the local restaurants order a fish soup with pea and a pea porridge with mussels.

For a dessert, have juicy citruses and coconuts.

The most popular non-alcoholic drink on  the Turks and Caicos Islands is tea. They prepare it in a traditional British way with milk or creams.

On the islands, the Bambarra Rum is produced. It got its name after a colony in the Middle Caicos. The local also make punch with coconut rum. You will also like a thick sweet syrup Grenadine. 

Money

The official currency on the Turks and Caicos Islands is US dollar (US$). In circulation are:

  • the bank notes (from 1 to 100 US dollars);
  • 1 dollar coins;
  • 1 and 50 cent coins.

The banks are open during weekdays where the tourists can exchange the currency.

International cards are accepted almost everywhere in Providenciales and Grand Turk. MasterCard and Visa are more willingly accepted.

Traveler’s checks are accepted in many large restaurants, stores, hotels and taxis. Outside large islands cashless payment is not possible. The locals prefer cash.

The highest level of crimes is in Providenciales and Grand Turk. On the territory of these islands, there are a lot of robberies,  burglaries and thefts. It affects both the locals and the tourists. 

Details of interest

Sightseeing on the Turks and Caicos Islands

  • If you spend your time on the Providenciales island, visit a Tiki Hut Island, see the ruins of old Richmond Hill Plantation, Cheshire Hall Plantation and a mysterious Provo’s Hole in the Long Bay. The tourists can also have an excursion to the unique Caicos Conch Farm cultivating Strombus gigas (huge conch). Don’t miss a chance to visit the Parrot Cay Reef, Chalk Sound Lagoon and Little Water Cay Reef.   
  • On your trip to the North Caicos, visit the historical plantation Wade’s Green and  Free Mary’s Reef. You can also go to the Pumpkin Bluff Pond, the habitat of many birds and the East Bay Island National Park.
  • You will enjoy your trip to the Little Water Cay Reserve which is located between the islands Providenciales and North Caicos. This unique reserve is a habitat for thousands of iguanas.
  • On the Middle Caicos, there are the Conch Bar Caves. In the past, the Locayata Indians lived here and they left many petroglyphs on the walls. 
  • Go to the Ambergris Cay, Marine Natural Park and the Sail Rock Hills. All these places will not leave anyone indifferent. In the city of Cockburn Town, the harbor and the buildings in the Bermudian style  such as Wesleyan Church are of a great touristic interest as well as the Salt Lakes. 
  • On the Salt Cay island, excursions to the windmills and Salt Lakes are arranged. In the historical Balfour Town, the tourists will see the White House, St, Thomas Anglican Church and a wooden Treasury Building. 
  • In the West Caicos, the tourists will be amazed by the Elephant Ear canyon hidden under water. This canyon is a habitat for gigantic sea sponges. And in the Magic Mushroom Submarine Valley, one can find the black corals. 

Souvenirs on the Turks and Caicos Islands

Crafts from sea shells of all sizes and shapes can be bought on the farm and everywhere on the islands.

The travelers like to buy water-color, oil or acrylic paintings or silk paintings. In the Art Gallery and in small shops, the travelers will find the prints and cute wooden souvenirs.

Jewelry, rings and necklaces made from rare sea shells and pearls are sold in Providenciales  and Grand Turk.

Straw souvenirs, woven baskets, bags, and hats can be bought on all the islands.

Handmade dolls in bright Caribbean costumes, candles, wooden bells and pottery are sold in any souvenir shop.