The Turks and Caicos are beautiful by nature. That’s an essential part of what makes the islands the ultimate adventure destination. We at the Big Blue Collective are proud to be able to share some of this spectacular scenery with you through our magical eco-tours on the back islands- but did you know that that same beauty is a key aspect of what makes life thrive here? Here’s some fascinating facts everyone should know about the exquisite Turks and Caicos.
Limestone and landfall
The Turks Island Passage, the key channel that separates Grand Turk and Salt Cay from the Caicos Banks and the rest of the islands, is a quirk of the natural landscape we’ve looked at before. Because of this deep channel, running so smoothly between the islands perched on their natural shelf, whales and other deep-sea creatures are funnelled between the islands, creating the spectacular visibility of the whale migration every year.
But that’s not all it does! It’s the kingpin of the island ecosystem, creating the shallow, warm waters you love, but also allowing divers to experience the thrill of plunging off of the Wall. It helps create the steady, predictable currents that have shaped the spectacular beaches and cays we love. And it helps the local ecosystem thrive.
Did you know that most of the islands and the shelf they sit on is made from soft, white limestone? This is why you will see such gorgeous, yet startling, contrast where roads and land grading has taken place. It’s also one part of the secret to our gorgeous beaches. With no hard gravel to mix with the sand as there is in the rest of the Caribbean, you get the lusciously soft sand visitors adore so much.
Perfect beaches, heart-thrilling adventures
What’s the other half of the secret? Our offshore barrier reef. Not only is it a critical part of the underwater ecosystem here, helping hundreds of unique marine species- from reef sharks to angelfish- thrive, but it’s responsible for our beaches too. The Turks and Caicos barrier reef is home to both soft corals, which shelter marine life, and hard corals, which form the backbone of the reef. As this hard coral crumbles with time, and as little shelled sea creatures live and die, the current tumbles the coral and shells to dust, creating powder-soft sand over time.
It’s this same sand that makes the peach-and-white vistas that stretch for miles along our coasts. Nor does it stop there! The protective stretches of barrier reef along our coasts also help soothe the sometimes fractious sea, keeping our bays warm and welcoming and preventing excessive coastal erosion from stipping away our beautiful beaches forever.
Exploring the bones of the islands
We talk a lot about the pristine beauty of the back islands. How the encroaching tropical flora creates a timeless mystique. Of buried remains of the salt trade (and wrecking industry), and the romance of beaches that stretch to the horizon with only you to enjoy them. Did you know there’s as much spectacular natural beauty under the islands as there is on the surface?
The Turks and Caicos have earned their reputation as an adventure holiday destination not only because of the adrenaline-pumping water sports on offer, but also because of the breathtaking opportunities to explore nature at its finest. Especially our hidden blue holes and caves.
Most of our underground destinations are part of karst systems- what happens when soft limestone is dissolved by rainwater and seawater into spectacular, ethereal shapes. You’ll find caves and sinkholes on land to explore, as well as some that are partially (or fully) submerged and can only be reached through dives. Conch Bar Caves, our best-known cave system, is the largest non-submerged cave system in the Bahamas. It’s been sheltering humans since prehistoric times. Or dazzle in the limestone skylights at Indian Cave, as papaya trees and wild ficus strain to infiltrate the ancient landscape below.
An adventure holiday destination like no other
If the water is calling you, our shallow sounds and mangrove channels are littered with spectacular sinkholes and cave sites to explore on your very own yacht charter. There’s even submerged inland sites to challenge your dive skills, too. There’s a reason so many people see the Turks and Caicos as the best diving location around– you truly can experience a little of everything here!
Ponder the mysteries of how so many of our inland cave sites are clearly tidal, yet (to date) explorers have found no direct ties to the sea. Wave hello to the barracuda that thrive on East Caicos, or meet the tarpon of Boiling Hole on South Caicos.
When you head back to dry land, why not compare them to the limestone sinkholes that dot the islands? While The Hole on Provo is a local favourite for its exceptional size, there’s a ton of fascinating sites to explore. The Cooper Jack Bay Beach Cliffs even offer you a stunning field of over 50 sinkholes, from tiny to large. Or explore a piece of our history at West Harbour Bluff, the site of some spectacular archaeological finds. This fascinating destination pairs up beautifully with a yacht charter, so be sure not to leave it off of your must-see list.
No adventure would be complete without a Blue Hole or two, either. Submerged Blue Holes have exquisitely perfect round openings, and often plunge to spectacular depths. Cottage Pond, a popular visitation site, drops 250 feet (76 meters), and the bottom was only finally reached in 2001. A previously unknown marine remipede was found lurking in the depths. Yet this remarkable site isn’t the most famous in the Turks and Caicos. That honour goes to the Middle Caicos Ocean hole, quite possibly the largest blue hole in the world. With poor visibility and sharks roaming the depths, it’s never been fully explored, but it’s at least the same depth and over 2000 feet (600m) wide.
From the heights of your kiteboarding adventure to the depths of your favourite dive, the Turks and Caicos are an adventure holiday destination like no other. It’s a thrill that has to be experienced to be believed, so why not let our local experts at the Big Blue Collective guide you through an action-packed trip of a lifetime, and experience the islands’ mystique for yourself?