It’s no secret that the Turks and Caicos Islands constantly makes the list for articles like “best travel destinations of 2018,” “best beaches,” or “top Caribbean getaway.” The beautiful beaches, awesome dive sites, and luxury resorts makes the Turks and Caicos a top contender for any of these lists.
However, just because the Turks and Caicos are already on many people’s bucket list, it still holds a few secrets that not every travel or beach enthusiast will know.
Here are 5 best kept secrets about the Turks and Caicos Islands that will make you want to bump them up on the priority of places you want to visit.
#5: Premier Kitesurfing Destination
The Turks and Caicos Islands have some of the best conditions on Earth for kitesurfing. Because of the unique island formations, the waters along and around the shore are generally calm and serene. And because the shore is so shallow, you can actually keep your feet on the sand as you wallow dozens of meters from the beach.
But it’s not all about the water. The Caribbeans is perfectly situated in the middle of strong and—more importantly—constant tradewinds. The most predictable and consistent wind on Providenciales is the east southeast trade winds. The islands typically experience this wind on and off over the year, but it’s usually a bit more pronounced and regular in the winter months. When the season is right (Usually November to May) and the breeze picks up, it’s consistent and more predictable than most winds.
#4: Ecological Wonder
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a biodiversity hotspot. The islands have many endemic species and others of international importance, due to the conditions created by the oldest established salt-pan development in the Caribbean.
The variety includes a number of lizards, snakes, insects, plants, and marine species found nowhere else on the planet. In addition to the unique native species, the islands are also a crucial breeding area for countless seabirds, and the surrounding seas are an important water highway for humpback whales.
The U.K. and Turks and Caicos Islands Governments have a joint focus and responsibility to conserve and preserve the natural environment. Due to the combined effort of both governments, the islands are on the United Kingdom’s tentative list for future UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are many special eco-tours that take you out to mangrove channels and national parks to see delicate ecosystems that support the nesting birds. The guides accompanying these tours are informative and certified to ensure that all safety precautions are taken. Guides will point out turtles, sharks, stingrays and any other sea animal that pass by.
#3 Beautiful Dive Sites
Much of the Turks and Caicos biodiversity can only be found in and beneath the waves as it is also home to one of the larger barrier reefs on the planet. While snorkelling and diving enthusiasts may already know this, much of the general population of visitors who come to the island usually aren’t aware of this “known secret.”
Because the beaches and resorts are so beautiful, it’s so easy to forget the wonders of life under the sea. There are countless number of great sites, and you should choose your site based on your experience, skill, and whether you snorkel or SCUBA dive.
Snorkelling is definitely one of our recommended activities on Providenciales. The Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef are the two main snorkelling sites accessible from the beach. The Bight Reef is easy to access, but the more difficult to find Smith’s Reef offers much more to see. Snorkelling on a boat cruise can be excellent and better than the beach reefs, but it depends on where your captain takes you. A dedicated snorkelling trip will usually give the best underwater experience.
If you’re trained, you may want to opt for a diving trip. The Turks and Caicos is renowned for miles of exquisite barrier reefs, walls, clear waters and abundant wildlife. Many of the dive sites accessed off Providenciales are located in protected areas, mainly in the Princess Alexandra National Park, Northwest Point Marine National Park, and the West Caicos Marine National Park.
Providenciales has the advantage of being within access to over 70 miles (112km) of barrier reefs and walls. Because of this, there’s a huge variety of marine life and corals at the dive sites.
#2 You Might Run Into Your Favorite Celebrity
It’s no secret that the Turks and Caicos is popular. However, some of the visitors and vacations may wish it wasn’t! The TCIs is a popular getaway for many celebrities, some of whom, actually have vacation homes built here.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria, and Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld all famously married or honeymooned here, and if you’re lucky, you might see A-list celebs like Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Beyoncé, LeBron James, and Paul McCartney enjoying the beach.
#1 Interesting History
The Turks and Caicos has a rich history that many history buffs will appreciate. While the sun is always shining and the beaches are always beautiful, it wasn’t always paradise. The arrival of Europeans in the 1500s sparked the decline and eventual extinction of the aboriginal people and culture. Then came Bermudian salt collectors who settled the Turks Islands around 1680. For several decades around the turn of the 18th century, the islands became popular pirate hideouts.
The Turks and Caicos Islands also had a strong U.S. presence. From 1950 to 1981, the United States had a missile tracking station on Grand Turk island. In the early days of the American space program, NASA used it. After his three earth orbits in 1962, American astronaut John Glenn successfully landed in the nearby ocean and was brought back ashore to Grand Turk island. (Not a bad place to land, huh?)
The Secret Is Out—Book Your Trip!
Turks and Caicos excursions are very popular and spots fill up fast. It’s important that you book early so you can secure your favorite activities. Because if a tour operator is down to one spot, you know who will get that last seat if it’s between you and Matt Damon.