The Turks and Caicos is a small archipelago nation, and rental cars and taxis are the primary means of transport. Taxis are typically quite expensive, which consequently makes a rental vehicle the best way to get around for the typical visitor.
Our country consists of six main islands. Only two of these islands, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, are connected by a road causeway. There are no car ferries that travel between our islands. If you’d like to visit one of our outer islands on a day trip, it’s necessary to make arrangements for a separate vehicle rental.
Car Rental Requirements
- The minimum car rental age in the Turks and Caicos is in most cases 25 due to insurance policies. A few businesses have a minimum rental age of 21.
- A valid driver’s license is required. An International Driving Permit (IDP) is not needed, unless your license is not in English.
- A valid passport and credit card are usually required to rent, especially on Providenciales.
Each of our main islands offers widely varying numbers of car rental companies, fleet sizes, and general levels of car conditions.
Providenciales supports by far the greatest number of rental agencies, and has large fleets of great condition cars of every class. Many of the larger companies maintain fleets that are no more than 2-4 years old.
Grand Turk’s tourism largely centers on the cruise industry. The island isn’t extensive and many visitors only stay for several hours, so rental vehicles are usually compact economy-class, scooters, or 4x4 buggies. Larger conventional cars and SUVs are available, yet tend to be a bit older than what’s common to Providenciales.
North Caicos and South Caicos, due to the limited number of tourist arrivals, have only a few businesses to choose from. Vehicle selection is quite limited, and age and condition are not up to the standard found on Providenciales.
Salt Cay is a very small island, and the only rental vehicles available are off-road golf carts, bicycles, and the occasional moped.
Car Rentals in Grace Bay
All of the islands in the Turks and Caicos are very small, and as long as you choose a car rental company on the island you’re planning on visiting, the actual location of the business generally doesn’t matter. Most companies are able to either provide a shuttle service to their offices, or can drop off your rental where you’d like.
The famous beach and tourism destination of Grace Bay is located on the island of Providenciales. It’s typically easiest for arriving guests to simply pick up their rental at the airport upon arrival, which saves time and taxi expenses.
If you’d prefer to walk to the rental company from your resort, there are several businesses located in Grace Bay, including Tropical Auto Rentals, Avis, and Grace Bay Car Rentals.
Driving in the Turks and Caicos is generally a lot easier than in other parts of the Caribbean, with the main difficulty for North American visitors being that we drive on the left and widespread usage of roundabouts.
Airport Pick Up and Drop Off
On Providenciales, several of the car rental companies offer complimentary airport car pick up and drop off, or an airport transportation shuttle service from a nearby facility. We generally recommend selecting a company with such an amenity, as the taxi rates for two short rides will often approach a day’s car rental costs. You’ll typically be asked to provide flight information to ensure that a staff member is waiting for you.
Some companies provide complimentary delivery and return to your resort or hotel. For Providenciales, some companies are located directly within the main tourism area of Grace Bay.
Economy car rates on Providenciales start at just under $40 (with taxes) per day, and up to about $170 per day for large luxury SUVs and passenger vans.
For families and groups, a larger SUV or van may be a good choice, as the typical economy car is small compared to American standards (Suzuki Swifts and Nissan Marches are typical small economy cars).
The rental rates on our other islands tend to be a bit higher due to the fewer number of visitors and greater business operating costs. Basic cars start at about $75 per day on our family islands. Additionally, the smaller rental fleets mean you’ll want to book in advance.
Gasoline and diesel fuel prices tend to be quite high in the Turks and Caicos, largely due to the import expenses associated with the lack of a deep-water cargo port.
Prices within the TCI are typically the lowest on Providenciales, at around $6 per gallon, and are a little higher on our less-populated islands.
As our islands are quite small, driving distances are not great and fuel consumption is typically far less than what may be experienced at other destinations.
Navigation and GPS
GPS navigation and mapping are typically not needed or very accurate in the Turks and Caicos.
A few beaches and sights can be somewhat difficult to find, yet in the majority of cases, inaccuracies in maps and the lack of address and street names restrict the effectiveness of GPS.
Traffic and Driving Conditions
Providenciales is the center of tourism in the Turks and Caicos, and the driving conditions on this island can be frustratingly bad due to the poor behavior of some drivers, especially taxis and illegal jitney taxis. Leeward Highway is the main highway on Providenciales, which runs from Downtown to the Heaving Down Rock area. We advise driving with great caution.
Our other islands see far fewer vehicles on the roads, and road conditions are generally stress-free.
Baby and Child Car Seats
Baby and child car seats are typically available from the larger rental companies on Providenciales.
The rental car companies on our other islands usually do not have child seats.
Handicapped Customers and Accessible Vehicles
None of the local auto rental agencies offer wheelchair-accessible vans for rental.
Scooters and Mopeds
Scooters are available for rent on Providenciales and Grand Turk. For guests staying on Providenciales, we suggest that an economy or “character class” car is the better choice due to the hectic road conditions, and their lower rental fees, air conditioning, and sun protection.
Existing Car Imperfections and Damages
We advise ensuring that all damages and imperfections of a rental car are noted before departing from the rental company.
On Providenciales, there is no reason to settle for a poor condition or unreliable car. The majority of rental cars are in good condition.
The Turks and Caicos offers a plethora of back roads and scenic routes, and many of these can be quite rough and only suitable for high-clearance vehicles. Strikes from rocks can cause expensive repairs which may not be covered by insurance.
Driving off-road on the beach, in salt flats and wetlands, or through light coastal vegetation is strictly prohibited. Many of these beautiful environments take decades to recover from the damage caused by a single car.
Be aware that the insurance policies offered by local car rental companies may not cover damage sustained on poor-condition roads or during off-road use. One local Providenciales company clarifies that its policies do not cover the remote albeit beautiful locations of Northwest Point, Malcolm’s Road Beach, and West Harbour Bluff on the west coast of the island.
Choosing a Car Rental Company
The large international car rental brands (such as Hertz, Avis, Payless, Dollar, Sixt, or Enterprise) license their names under a franchise arrangement to local companies. Many of the local companies which operate under an international brand have their own local brand in addition (you’ll notice both names and logos visible at their office).
Some car rental companies (including the ‘international brands') have a reputation of routinely charging tourists ‘fees', which include situations such as sand in the car (even infinitesimal amounts), pre-existing damage or scratches, charges to your credit card due to fuel not being ‘filled 100%', and other similar situations.
Booking and Reservations
Generally, booking direct will give you the best rate. A government stamp duty of 12% is usually applied on top of rates, and there may be additional fees. Some tourists have reported that when booking via large international travel agents, their booking isn't sent to local rental car companies and their vehicles aren't ready or available. We advise booking direct, and be especially cautious of any cheap deals you may find not available directly from a local company.
Some local travel companies provide vacation packages which includes a car rental for part or all of your stay.
Check if your car rental company includes roadside assistance services, especially if you plan to drive off surfaced roads.