What are the five best things to see and do in Turks & Caicos?

K. Aleisha Fetters

You’ll never stray too far from the water when you visit Turks and Caicos. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Turks and Caicos:
 
1. Go conch diving. A short boat ride into the Atlantic gives adventure-goers the perfect opportunity to snorkel and dive their way to live conchs, a tasty shellfish. If you like, you can remove them from the shell and then eat them alfresco.

2. Learn to SNUBA. The waters surrounding the islands are home to some of the most well protected — and healthiest — coral reefs in the region, making for some spectacular underwater views. Don’t have any diving training? SNUBA, a cross between snorkeling and SCUBA, allows divers to swim about 20 feet deep while an oxygen tank floats on a raft on the water’s surface. No training is required.  

3. See the Glow Worms. A sunset boat outing is the best way to observe this local phenomenon that takes place every month two to six nights after a full moon. After sunset, the phosphorescent marine worms perform a mating dance that lights up the water.

4. Hit the beach. With beaches this beautiful, you’d be crazy not to spend your days with your toes in the sand. The sand is so white that it doesn’t even get hot, so feel free to leave your flip-flops in the hotel room.

5. Explore Smith’s Reef.  Called some of the best snorkeling anywhere, Smith’s Reef near Turtle Cove Marina offers snorkeling right off the beach. Even the kids can come along and see coral formations, colorful fish and turtles. Just be sure to consult a map, because the turn-off for #68 Coconut Road can be easy to miss.

  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    What should I pack for a trip to Turks & Caicos?

    When you visit Turks and Caicos, of course you’ll want to pack the same things as you would for any warm-weather vacation. But before you fill up your bag with shorts, bathing suits, flip flops and a just-in-case sweater, Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend you toss in lots of sunscreen and insect repellant. Turks & Caicos Islands have about 350 days of intense sunshine, so having plenty of sunscreen is a necessity, especially in the summertime. You’ll find that plenty of mosquitoes and other pesky bugs seem omnipresent as well, so it’s best to be prepared.
  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    What is the best thing to bring home from Turks & Caicos?

    Depending on your personal tastes, there’s a range of interesting souvenirs to bring home from your vacation to Turks and Caicos Islands. If you’re an ocean lover, you’ll want to take home a majestic conch shell. Besides housing tasty soft, succulent conch, their vibrant pink markings are beautiful and make them the perfect decorative souvenir. People who like to entertain may be more enchanted with a bottle of the locally made rum; look for the Lucayan, Bambarra or Turks Head brands. Other good choices include locally made handicrafts, which range from beautifully woven baskets to shell wind chimes, handmade Caribbean dolls or even rare conch pearl jewelry. And keep in mind that there’s no sales tax or duty up to $800 for U.S. citizens, so Turks and Caicos shops in Grace Bay may be the place to snag that crystal vase, SLR camera or luxury watch you’ve been dreaming of.
  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    What are the five best Turks & Caicos food experiences?

    There’s eating, and then there are food experiences that help make a vacation memorable. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s favorite food experiences to make the most of your visit to Turks and Caicos:
     
    1. Dive for conch. After snorkeling, diving and just plain searching for conchs on the bottom of the Atlantic, removing them from their shell and eating them al fresco makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Or if that sounds like too much work, head over to Da Conch Shack in the Blue Hills area of Providenciales for tender and crunchy conch fritters, cracked conch or conch chowder.

    2. Fish fry. Leave the resort and eat like a local. Head to a casual restaurant like Smokey’s on Da Bay in Blue Hills, Providenciales for fresh island fish crisply fried and paired with cole slaw, corn, fries and bread. Many towns have regular food fests, and your hotel can let you know when and where they are going on.

    3. Oxtail. This delicacy that’s slow cooked until the tender meat is falling off the bone is considered fine eating in the Caribbean. You’ll find it paired with rice and peas at places like Middle Caicos Café on Grace Bay and Hole in the Wall in downtown Provo.

    4. Peas & Hominy. Back when animal protein wasn’t as affordable, the staple dish on the island was locally grown pigeon peas and hominy or corn grits. It was usually paired with “Penn On”: island slang for “depends on,” since the main meat served at dinner depended on whatever meat was caught that day.

    5. Rum punch. This Caribbean favorite is a must. You’ll sound in the know if you ask the bartender to start with a local rum like Bambarra, Lucayan, or Turks Head. They’ll add orange juice, pineapple juice, bitters and grenadine to create this potent and sweet island tipple.
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  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    Where is the best nightlife in Turks & Caicos?

    While Turks and Caicos is a little laid-back, its nightlife is always fun. In typical island style, everyone is up for having a good time. From karaoke and dance contests to Caribbean-style jams and a Glow Worm cruise at sunset paired with rum punch, you’ll find plenty to do when the sun sets in Turks and Caicos Islands. On Providenciales, you can usually hear someone playing traditional island rip saw — music actually played by scraping a saw like a percussion instrument or calypso music on the beach. There are also beach shacks along Blue Hills Beach that are great, low-key spots for drinking Turk’s Head beer, eating conch and listening to the steel drums.
  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    What is the best way to see Turks & Caicos in one day?

    If you’ve got just a day to see Turks and Caicos Islands, Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest to options: by land or by sea. Travelling by chartered boat is the perfect way to take in everything the islands have to offer. Island hop, arrange a secluded beach picnic or hunt for sand dollars and conch shells. Many boat services can also take you out for snorkeling, kayaking or paddleboarding adventures. Big Blue Unlimited even offers eco tours in which visitors can learn about island geography and ecology while exploring cays, reefs and inlets.
     
    If you prefer to get closer to everything and feel like you’re interacting with locals, then pick one island to explore, like Providenciales, and rent a car or hire a taxi. Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you start at the highest point on the island: Blue Mountain. The view is stunning and gives you an overview of Providenciales. Heading east, your next stop is Turtle Cove, a scenic marina area that’s perfect for some sunbathing or snorkeling to see tropical fish, turtle and coral reefs at Smith Cove. Stop for lunch at one of the restaurants here, then head to the eastern tip of Provo for the Caicos Conch Farm — the world’s only conch farm — where five million of these sea creatures grow. After a conch fritter snack, backtrack and head to Grace Bay. You can shop for souvenirs, have dinner, and then find a place with rum punch and some music to end your day.
  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    Where is the best shopping in Turks & Caicos?

    While high end shopping isn’t the reason most come to Turks and Caicos, the islands do offer some great buys. There’s no sales or luxury tax here, and at many locations, items like jewelry, cameras, perfumes, handbags, cigars and liquor are available to U.S. and Canadian residents duty-free. Forbes Travel Guide editors say the best shopping is in the Grace Bay area of Providenciales. Check out Caicos Café Plaza, Ports of Call Plaza and Regent Village Shopping Mall, but plan to spend most of your shopping time at The Salt Mills Plaza. A local favorite, it’s home to everything from designer handbags and shoes to locally made glasswork, ceramics, paintings and straw items.
  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    What are the five best things to do with kids in Turks & Caicos?

    Lucky for you, there are plenty of things to do with kids in Turks and Caicos that are fun for adults, too. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five favorite things to do with kids:
     
    1. The Caicos Conch Farm. Explore the only conch farm in the world that raises Caribbean queen conchs. Kids can even enjoy a show with two trained conchs or interact with baby sea turtles.

    2. Semi-submarine ride. Take an hour-long underwater tour around Providenciales in a semi-submarine. Its glass walls offer a spectacular view of coral formations, stingrays, turtles and even JoJo, the island’s dolphin mascot.

    3. The National Environment Centre. This Providenciales attraction is a smart way to spend a couple of hours out of the sizzling sun. It offers exhibits on the island’s coral reefs, ecosystems and current research projects.

    4. Water sports. Active kids can burn through some energy with water sports such as swimming, snorkeling and paddleboarding. Most beachfront hotels can set kids up with everything they need right there, so you can read your book and still keep an eye on them.

    5. Provo Ponies. This Providenciales stable on the southeast end of the island has friendly horses and ponies that are perfect for riders of all experience levels. You’ll ride along quiet trails and in the shallow blue ocean water.  They offer morning and afternoon rides daily for small groups of up to 12 riders. Afterwards, the kids will enjoy the chickens, dogs and other farm animals.
  • On September 17, 2012
    K. Aleisha Fetters answered the question: K. Aleisha Fetters

    What are the five best things to see and do in Turks & Caicos?

    You’ll never stray too far from the water when you visit Turks and Caicos. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ picks for the five best things to see and do in Turks and Caicos:
     
    1. Go conch diving. A short boat ride into the Atlantic gives adventure-goers the perfect opportunity to snorkel and dive their way to live conchs, a tasty shellfish. If you like, you can remove them from the shell and then eat them alfresco.

    2. Learn to SNUBA. The waters surrounding the islands are home to some of the most well protected — and healthiest — coral reefs in the region, making for some spectacular underwater views. Don’t have any diving training? SNUBA, a cross between snorkeling and SCUBA, allows divers to swim about 20 feet deep while an oxygen tank floats on a raft on the water’s surface. No training is required.  

    3. See the Glow Worms. A sunset boat outing is the best way to observe this local phenomenon that takes place every month two to six nights after a full moon. After sunset, the phosphorescent marine worms perform a mating dance that lights up the water.

    4. Hit the beach. With beaches this beautiful, you’d be crazy not to spend your days with your toes in the sand. The sand is so white that it doesn’t even get hot, so feel free to leave your flip-flops in the hotel room.

    5. Explore Smith’s Reef.  Called some of the best snorkeling anywhere, Smith’s Reef near Turtle Cove Marina offers snorkeling right off the beach. Even the kids can come along and see coral formations, colorful fish and turtles. Just be sure to consult a map, because the turn-off for #68 Coconut Road can be easy to miss.
  • On July 9, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to eat in Turks & Caicos?

    The seafood in Turks and Caicos is about as fresh as fresh can get — and there are plenty of restaurants the specialize delicacies from the deep. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ suggestions for the five best places to eat in Turks and Caicos:
     
    1. Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar. Located on one of the few elevated spots on the island, Magnolia offers unbeatable views of Turtle Cove Marina from its wood deck. As for the food, you’ll dine on seafood with Mediterranean and Asian flavors — think seared tuna with soy ginger salsa or covered in a black pepper and sesame crust.

    2. Stelle. Come here to eat under the palms, by the pool or even on a private floating island in the Gansevoort’s pool. Stelle’s Chef Kevin serves up Mediterranean cuisine with local specialties like conch, grouper, snapper, mahi mahi and Caribbean spiny lobster. 

    3. Parallel23. This restaurant at Regent Palms sets the scene for romance with its elegant décor and French doors that let the ocean air in. The Caribbean fusion menu is delicious, highlighted by dishes such as crab rolls and sea bass to Moulard duck and veal tenderloin.

    4. Anacaona. The adults-only restaurant at the luxurious Grace Bay Resort is one of the most elegant places to dine in Turks and Caicos. Chef Martin Davies uses exquisitely fresh fish to create an inventive, Caribbean spiced menu with dishes ranching from conch cannelloni with salmon mousseline to seared foie gras with banana bread and mangoes to jerked Chilean seabass. Naturally, there are tropical cocktails to match.

    5. Coyaba Restaurant. Directly behind Grace Bay Club and next to Caribbean Paradise Inn, this posh restaurant serves up inventive creations from chef Paul Newman, who won the 2011 Canadian Iron Chef competition. If you like creative dishes such as whole yellow snapper fried in Thai spices, an updated version of lobster Thermidor or lemon meringue pie with an island twist, this is the place for you.
  • On July 9, 2012
    Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question: Forbes Travel Guide Inspector

    What are the five best places to stay in Turks & Caicos?

    As tourism to the island has been booming in recent years, so have the luxury accommodation options for visitors. Here are Forbes Travel Guide editors’ recommendations for the five best places to stay in Turks and Caicos:
     
    1. Gansevoort Turks + Caicos. On Grace Bay in Providenciales, this sleek and contemporary beachfront oasis has 91 guestrooms — about a third of which are suites and penthouses. The resort, which boasts four acres of private beach, is never crowded, so you’ll never have to search for a beach chair.

    2. Grace Bay Club. Like three properties in one, Grace Bay Club is made up of the adults-only main hotel, a family friendly portion called The Villas and 22 ultra-private and luxurious residences at The Estate. This opulent oceanfront property offers every modern convenience and amenity with a Caribbean twist.

    3. Parrot Cay and Como Shambhala Retreat. Set on its own island, this is a private paradise. It boasts elegant yet tranquil rooms and villas that combine cool-white interiors, Indonesian furnishings and plantation style four-poster beds. Shambhala features internationally acclaimed teachers certified in disciplines including yoga, Pilates and nutrition.

    4. The Regent Palms. Set on 12 acres of lush gardens, this sophisticated 72-suite resort on Providenciales’ Grace Bay, Regent Palms offers top-notch amenities like a 15,000-square-foot spa and a serpentine infinity pool. The suites include extravagant in-room luxuries like hand-tufted mattresses, full-size kitchens and hydro-massage tubs.

    5. Amanyara. The name of this resort means “a peaceful place” in Hindu and this posh and tranquil retreat on the edge of the Northwest Point Marine National Park lives up to its name. Star architect Jean Michel Gathy designed Amanyara with a clean-lined Asian aesthetic, softened by reflecting pools, streams and a 164-foot black rock infinity pool. The pavilions and villas are all open and airy with sliding doors that open onto terraces and gorgeous watery vistas.