With the most pristine, turquoise water and beach in the world, it’s no surprise that most of the activities in Turks and Caicos and things to do in Providenciales revolve around the ocean and beach. Scuba Diving, snorkelling tours, kayaking eco-tours and boat charters are great ways to make your stay memorable.
For expert divers, Turks & Caicos is a mecca for their walls: the islands lie right on the edge of two undersea mountaintop plateaus with steep walls throughout. Closer to shore than almost any dive site anywhere, you can swim along the edge of an awe-inspiring abyss, staring into the dark where the ocean floor drops off rapidly to as deep as 7000 feet.
Eco-tours in TCI are as soft or rough an adventure as you wish. Beginners of all ages for all activities are welcomed and trips are tailored to all levels. Combine snorkeling, biking, horseback riding, hiking and diving from resort course to expert course level, as you wish.
Fish tuna year-round, though most frequently from April to November. Right offshore hook blackfin, little tunny and slapjack as well. Wahoo and mahi-mahi, caught from November to March, make big game fishing a year-round sport in TCI. Speeding their 6 feet and 180 pounds through the sea at up to 65 mph, Wahoo will give the best sports fishermen an intense and unforgettable fight. The Mahi-mahi bull’s 80 pounds of vivid blues, yellows and greens, and stunning acrobatic jumps up to 6 feet, will electrify any sportsfisherman. And after the sport, the day’s catch at dinner is a delicacy to be relished. Bottom fish many species of snapper, including large pink and orange silky queens, among our reefs, where grouper and jacks are also found in large numbers. Fish the bottom to eat at the top, without spending much time and fuel to get to your prize.
Arts & Crafts
Artists in the Caribbean are blessed with an environment ripe for inspiration and in Turks & Caicos the sparkling turquoise waters along with the colorful characters of the local population provide even more drama and stimulation for sketches, paintings, drawings and craftwork.
Oil and watercolors are the two most widely used techniques of the local artist. With the colorful influence and broad styles of neighboring Haiti and the Dominican Republic, a new style of Turks & Caicos art is emerging to further define the scenes, themes and subject matter for young and upcoming artists as they capture the culture on canvas.
Phillip Outten, Jean Taylor, Ianthe George, Joan Astwood, are just a few prominent local artists whose works standout and find their way on to the walls of many homes and businesses on the Islands and abroad. The art galleries on Providenciales and Grand Turk offer a wide range of local, Caribbean and international pieces for sale, and individuals are welcomed to visit.
The art of basket weaving, plaiting palm leaves for straw hats, net making, binding mosquito brushes, and weaving fanner dishes and bowls is very much alive in the Turks and Caicos Islands. While the majority of these craftsmen and women are found in the three settlements on Middle Caicos: Conch Bar, Bambarra and Lorimers, there are also some of these talented artists on the neighboring island of North Caicos.
Farming and fishing was the way of life for the people in the Caicos Islands and the need for these items necessitated this type of work. Nets were needed for catching fish and turtles. Baskets and bags were required to collect and transport the catch and the crops. Hats were used to provide shade during the long hours in the hot sun. Fanner dishes were ideal to separate the chafe from the corn when making grits. Mosquito brushes were useful in keeping the bugs away in the fields. Broom and brushes made from silver palmtop leaves were used to keep the house and yard clean.
Many of the craftspeople donate their time and skills for teaching and training the young people of the settlements, all with the intention of keeping the technique of making these crafts alive. These skills are a very important part of our culture and need to be preserved and passed on for future generations.
The national music of the Turks and Caicos is called “Ripsaw Music”. Another name for this type of music is ‘Rake ‘n’ Scrape’. The basic instruments used are the saw, the goatskin drum, the hand accordion, also known locally as the Constentina, hand-made maracas and the acoustic guitar. The main instrument featured is the ordinary carpenters handsaw found in any hardware store. The saw is held with either end in a number of ways to produce a bend in the center of the blade. A metal scraper, usually a long nail, a fork or knife or a screwdriver, is raked and scraped over the teeth of the saw to produce a unique percussive scraping sound, this action is called “Ripping the Saw”. Bending the body and ripping the saw in time with the beat of the music produces a wobbled overtone. This gives you the characteristic sound of ripsaw music. Lovey Forbes and his son Corry Forbes are the fore runners in composing and recording Ripsaw music in the Turks and Caicos.
Lovey Forbes came up with the name “Combina Music” to describe the new mix of Ripsaw and popular foreign music. Jamaican Reggae, Bahamian Calypso and Eastern Caribbean Soca all play a major role in the local music scene. Another popular form of music emerging in Turks & Caicos is Junkanoo.
The exact origin of Junkanoo is not known, but it dates back to the early days of slavery, when the Christmas and New Years holidays were the only times slaves were given any recreational freedom. In the early days, Islanders would wear old clothes painted with bright colors or they would tie colorful strips of ribbons and cloth to their clothes along with other costumes made from cardboard and crepe paper.
In these costumes they would dance to the rhythm of the goatskin drums, cowbells and other handmade percussion instruments, they went house to house singing songs and performing for money, food, candy and drinks.
These days Junkanoo is more organized. Groups from different settlements would compete against each other for the most outrageous costumes or the best drummers and rhythm section. The costumes have become elaborate, depicting different themes and characters.
Junkanoo happens throughout the year for public holidays and local events. Visitors can see the biggest Junkanoo celebrations on the early morning of New Years Day in particular.
The most popular dance sytle in the Turks & Caicos is “winin” also known as “Wine-up” or “The Wine”. To “wine” is to gyrate the hips from the waist in a circle in the time to the beat of the music being played, usually Rip-Saw, Soca or Calypso. More stylized dances such as the “Shati,” which is a waltz dance and the heal and toe polka combine a mix of European and African heritage and are preferred by the older generation. The “Conch Style” is a local dance that is done by stepping and hooking one foot behind the ankle of the other in time to the ripsaw music.
Grace Bay Beach named the #1 Beach in the World
Providenciales, or more commonly known as “Provo”, covers an area of 38 miles and is the most developed island in Turks and Caicos. It is here where most international flights arrive at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS). Surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches, Provo has been ranked “Best Beach” by Conde’ Nast magazine and by the World Travel Awards for several years running. Found on the western end of the island chain, Provo offers all modern conveniences, including luxurious hotels, villas and condos, numerous restaurants, spas and shopping facilities, a championship caliber golf course, and full service grocery store. Although Provo is the most developed of the islands, it is still a destination for those who want to escape their busy schedules and relax.
On the north shore of the island, near Grace Bay, you will find the most beautiful beaches, as well as a long coral reef, which is rich in aquatic life. This main strech is home to the majority of the island major resorts and tourism services. Towards the south of the island you will find Chalk Sound, a large lake with striking turquoise water and an array of small cays. Islands Magazine described Chalk Sound as “Beneath the radar: Untouched and off the beaten path, the pristine islets in Provo’s Chalk Sound provide an ideal backdrop for expansive thoughts.” Along the south side of the island in areas such as Sapodilla Bay, Copper Jack, Discovery Bay, Turtle Tail and Long Bay you will find many private villas available for rent. The island’s commercial port, South Dock, is found east of Sapodilla Bay and has the capability to deal with containerized goods.On the far western end is unspoiled Malcom’s Beach, just adjacent to the magnificent Amanyara Resort. On the eastern end of the island is Blue Haven Marina and development.
While there are some 40 plus cays that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands, only eight of them are inhabited by people. The Turks and Caicos natives are called “Belongers” or “Turks and Caicos Islanders”, and are either descendants from African slaves who were originally brought over to grow cotton and work in the salt industry, or have immigrated here from the neighboring countries. The local population mixes harmoniously with a large expatriate community of British, American, French, Canadian, Haitians, Dominicans and Scandinavians, giving the islands an international influence and unique culture.
The people here – both Expats and Belongers –are relaxed and friendly and generally operate on “island time”, resulting in a low-key, slow-paced environment.
A cultural explosion is rocking Provo! Every Thursday from 5:30p to 9:30p at the Bight (Children’s) Park, over a dozen local food vendors, entertainers and cultural acts come together for Island Fish Fry to create an evening of “all things TCI.”
The Turks & Caicos Tourist Board in collaboration with the Department of Culture, DEMA and major presenter LIME, kicked off the event in late January. It has been growing week by week enticing locals and visitors alike to experience an evening in the park in a fun, family style setting.
The aroma of fresh, fish frying permeates the air, while visual treats abound with vats of boiling lobster and conch salad masters plying their craft. Plates loaded with crab ‘n rice, lobster mac ‘n cheese and local island corn straight off the grill sit in front of hungry patrons relaxing on park benches under starry skies. Local restaurants come from all corners of the Island and include Froggie’s on da Beach, Kay Jo’s, Miss Moonies, Upstairs Bar & Grill, Hole in the Wall, Smokey’s on da Bay, Cactus Bar & Grill, Uncle Dough’s Salad Bar, Middle Caicos Café, Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl, Doreen’s Place, Sailing Paradise, Native Cuisine and Three Queens, with each offering up their specialty menu items and the opportunity to try one or all.
Each week a new band takes the stage with rotations by local favorites Lee & the Force, Sea Breeze Rip Saw Band, Keno & Kazz Alroy & Daz, Kew Band Lynx and V6 Rake n Scrape Band to bring to the venue a variety of styles and sounds and keep the lineup fresh. Cultural acts are interspersed throughout the evening with performances by the Breezy Beach and Edward Garland Youth Centre Dancers to bring vibrancy and passion to the night. The National Trust displays their wares and students from various youth enterprise groups bring locally handcrafted items for sale. “Henry the Conch” makes his appearance; folkloric storytelling and skits, maypole plaiting and instrument demonstrations showcase all that is TCI surrounded by a culturally enhancing monologue by Director of Culture, David Bowen. Local school and church groups are also on tap to perform. A junkanoo rush by “We Funk” brings the crowd to their feet with many in the audience joining in to dance to the symphonic booming of the drum and scraping of the grater.
In what is fast becoming the place to be on Thursday evenings an invitation goes out Island-wide to come and enjoy good local food, great entertainment and a peek inside Turks & Caicos’ culture in a beautiful setting.
The Turks & Caicos National Museum- Grand Turk
Explore the island’s Culture & History, roam through exhibits on Nature & Environment, keep up with the latest museum events and follow projects, both old and new. Plan your visit and discover for yourself how they came to be the “best little museum in the Caribbean” and called “a little gem” by travel blogs.
The Turks and Caicos consist of 40 different islands and cays, only 8 of which are inhabited. The islands of the Turks and Caicos are almost as diverse as its people. From the main tourist center of Providenciales to the quiet and tranquil islands of North and Middle Caicos to the historic Capital Island of Grand Turk; each one offers a different experience and a unique character but all offer year round great climate, beaches and underwater activities.
The only true way to experience the Turks and Caicos Islands is to experience each island in the entire chain. This is probably why most of the visitors come back to the Turks and Caicos on a regular basis. You can read about each of the islands here and maybe pick a few to see on your vacation either for daytrips, or longer stays.
Most of the islands are only about 10 to 25 minutes by air from Provo and most can be reached by boat, too. There are regular ferries from Providenciales to North Caicos, as well as ferry service from Providenciales to South Caicos.
Providenciales is the most well known of the Turks and Caicos Islands and is the center of the tourism industry with a wide range of hotels, restaurants, attractions and facilities. Grand Turk and Salt Cay offer a glimpse into Caribbean history with great Bermudian architecture and a rustic charm as well as some of the best diving and probably the most “relaxing” time you will ever have. Grand Turk is also home to the cruise ship center.
Middle Caicos and North Caicos represent the best of the environment, with lush green woodlands, the biggest cave network in the Caribbean on Middle Caicos, cottage pond and flamingo pond in North Caicos and a vast range of plant life and birdlife. North Caicos is also an up and coming resort destination with several new projects under development.
South Caicos is the center for fishing, with lobster and conch exported from the islands, the historic Cockburn harbor and the natural phenomenon of the boiling hole. This small yet friendly island offers many secluded beaches with awe inspiring views of the turquoise waters and surrounding islands. Enjoy all of what tranquil South Caicos island has to offer from their newest resorts, Sail Rock and East Bay Resort.
Parrot Cay and Pine Cay are privately owned islands and are home to the most exclusive resorts Parrot Cay Resort and Spa and the Meridian Club.