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mega yacht moored off of Grace Bay A yacht off Grace Bay with the civil ensign of the Isle of Man.

Turks and Caicos Yacht and Cruising Guide

This pager refers to yachts and vessels visiting the Turks and Caicos from abroad. If you’re interested in a local yacht excursion, see Boat Cruises and Charters.

aerial view of Turtle Cove Marina in the Turks and Caicos
Aerial view of Turtle Cove Marina, Providenciales.

The Turks and Caicos, and especially the island of Providenciales, is a popular destination for yachts and sailing. Conveniently, Providenciales is also located halfway between Florida and Puerto Rico.

There are many marinas and harbours to choose from, and the larger sites can accommodate vessels with a maximum draft of 8.5 feet at low tide. There are deeper water moorings for vessels with greater drafts.

The same shallows that provide the Turks and Caicos with plentiful conch and lobster unfortunately also make navigation especially tricky. Our underwater steep bank foundation also means that the depth goes from very deep to very shallow in a short distance, and there’s often shallow reefs at the transitions.

General Travel Information

The Turks and Caicos is made up of nine inhabited islands, and has a total of about 100 named islands, cays, and rocks. We’re a British Overseas Territory that’s largely self-ruled.

We’re located in the tropical Atlantic, yet are not actually in the Caribbean.

The majority of marinas, shopping, professional services, and medical services are on the island of Providenciales. All scheduled international flights arrive at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS).

English is our official language, we use the U.S. Dollar, and we observe Atlantic Standard Time.

Customs and Immigration Information

aerial photo of Blue Haven Marina in Leeward Channel and Mangrove Cay
Blue Have Marina at Leeward on Providenciales.

Yachters and cruisers must follow the same passport and visa requirements that apply to air travellers. A valid passport is required, yet a visa is not needed for many nations.

Your initial stop once you arrive in the islands must be at a port-of-entry. There are several on Providenciales, and are listed below.

The harbourmaster has the authority to grant a permit to enter for one-week at the cost of $100 ($130 on weekends and holidays). If you wish to stay longer, you must visit one of immigration offices located in either Downtown Providenciales, or at South Base near the airport on Grand Turk. It’s possible to obtain a 90 day Cruising Permit, which costs $300.

Upon arrival, vessels and crew will be cleared by the personal from the Customs Department. Crew should remain on board until the arrival of the government officers.

Firearms and Prohibited Items

Firearms are strictly controlled in the Turks and Caicos, and it’s illegal to be in possession of a firearm, ammunition, or a firearm part or accessary without an appropriate license.

In most cases, the police will meet vessels at the port of entry, and maintain custody of any weapons until the vessel’s departure from the Turks and Caicos.

If you’re vessel is carrying any guns or ammunition, contact the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force for more information and instructions before arrival in the country.

the Nero yacht moored off of Grace Bay at dawn
The superyacht Nero moored off of Grace Bay.

Any drug or substance that’s illegal in the United States or United Kingdom is also highly likely to be illegal in the Turks and Caicos as well. There are stiff penalties for those found in possession of such substances.

Pets

The same requirements of applicable to flying with pets applies to those on ocean vessels: a valid veterinary certificate from your country of origin, a completed import application, and a fee of $50. Certain breeds of dogs may be restricted.

Charts and Navigation

Proper charts are a necessity for navigating among the Turks and Caicos Islands. The waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands can be very tricky to navigate, yet the leading charts and marine GPS map data tends to be quite accurate.

The foremost chart publisher is Waveyline Publishing, based in Grand Turk, which sells detailed charts of Providenciales and Grand Turk, plus overview charts of the complete Turks and Caicos archipelago.

Electronic charts containing Waveyline data are available for Garmin GPS chart plotters with the Bluechart Americas mapset, versions 7.5 and above. Paper charts can be ordered from Waveyline directly, and can be purchased on Providenciales from Walkin Marine.

Mooring and Anchoring Locations

two yachts moored in the waters of the Bight Beach on Providenciales
Yachts in the Bight, Providenciales.

Mooring and anchoring is possible if you’d rather not stay in a marina. All of the inhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos offer adjacent and sheltered locations for typical cruising vessels during usual weather conditions.

All vessels greater than 60 feet (18m) in length will require an Anchoring Permit, which is valid for 30 days and can be obtained from the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) and some of the larger marinas.

For larger vessels with drafts above 8 feet (2.5m), the choice is a bit more limited to permanent moorings off Grace Bay and the Bight Beach, off Parrot Cay, and off Malcolm's Road Beach near Amanyara Resort.

National Parks and Protected Areas

The Turks and Caicos is home to many marine nature reserves and national parks, and it’s important that yachters are aware of these area and applicable laws and policies.

It is illegal to harm or remove and natural or historical object, or use jet skis in a protected area.

Great care and attention must be taken both inside and outside of protected areas to only anchor on sandy bottoms, and not to damage and coral, reef, or sea grass. Significant fines may apply if reef damage occurs.

Providenciales

There are many popular mooring location for the typically-sized vessels around the island of Providenciales, including inside the barrier reef near the Bight and Turtle Cove, off Sapodilla Bay Beach, at Malcolm's Road Beach, at Cooper Jack Bay in the lee of the hills, and in the lee of Bay Cay near Five Cays.

boats and the incredible water colours of Leeward and the Princess Alexandra National Park
Leeward Going Through Channel.

North Caicos and Middle Caicos

The options of North Caicos and Middle Caicos are a bit more limited. The north coasts of these islands are generally a bit too exposed, and much of the remaining coastlines consist of shallow wetlands.

Bellefield Landing and the adjacent Parrot Cay Channel on North Caicos offer the best conditions.

South Caicos

The lee side of Long Cay in the Admiral Cockburn Land and Sea National Park offers the best anchoring near South Caicos. This location is only a short cruise from Cockburn Harbour, where fuel and some supplies may be found.

Grand Turk

Much of the ocean off the west coast beaches of English Point and Cockburn Town Beach at Grand Turk is suitable for anchoring. There are no marinas dedicated for private yachts and boats.

There is a small public dock at Cockburn Town for the landing of tender boats.

Salt Cay

The quiet little island of Salt Cay offers sheltered anchoring off the west coast near Deane’s Dock and the main settlement of Balfour Town. Little more than fuel and the most basic essentials can be bought in town.

A short cruise away from Salt Cay is the exquisite anchoring spot of Big Sand Cay. This breath-taking uninhabited cay is home to one of the finest beaches in the Turks and Caicos, and as the island’s landmass is long and thin, there’s typically ample sheltered on the leeward side of the cay.

Supplies, Repairs and Refuelling

Royal Turks and Caicos Police vessel and yacht at Caicos Marina at dawn
Caicos Marina at Long Bay, Providenciales.

Providenciales is home to a great range of services and shops. Almost anything other than specific or proprietary parts can be found. There are grocery stores, marine and fishing shops, and the expansive Do It Best building centre.

The shops and stores of Grand Turk also offers a decent selection of necessities.

Due to the small-scale commercial fishing industry, there are fuel services and some supplies available on South Caicos, yet the selection is limited.

There isn’t a wide range of shops or amenities on North and Middle Caicos (which are connected by a driveable causeway, and Salt Cay.

Waste Management

There are strict guidelines on vessel waste management and disposal in the Turks and Caicos. It is illegal to discharge any waste, including sewage and bilge, within 12 nautical miles (22km) of shore.

Treated sewage and bilge that does not discolour the water or result in a sheen may be discharged when over 12 nautical miles (22km) when the vessel is travelling at no less than 10 knots.

It is illegal at any time to discharge any oil or chemical product, trash, or solid waste.

Repairs and Service

Nearly all repair services are on Providenciales, and most marinas offers the typical cleaning and refuelling services. Caicos Marina is the primary site for hull work, engine repair, or painting. Tibor’s Machine Shop on Providenciales is the foremost welding and metalworking establishment in the country.

Weather, Climate and Tides

The Turks and Caicos generally experiences great and sunny weather throughout much of the year. Typical conditions vary from calm, sunny days, to breezy days with 12-18 knot (22-33kph) east-southeast winds.

Rainfall tends to be quite low throughout the Turks and Caicos.

As we’re in the tropical Atlantic, we’re at risk of a tropical cyclone during the hurricane season, yet the number of hurricane strikes in recent decades has been quite low.

Concierge and Catering Services

mega yacht in Leeward Going Through Channel near Providenciales
Luxury yacht off of Providenciales.
See Concierge Services Catering and Private Chefs

Concierge, catering and private chef services are available on Providenciales, and many businesses have experience working with luxury yachts and private aircraft.

Most services can be arranged, including private transport, activities and local excursion charters, the handling of customs and immigration issues, accommodations, food crafts, private dining, and more.

Budget Cruising

Those that enjoy the great outdoors will find plenty of free marine attractions in the waters of the Turks and Caicos. There are great beaches, exquisite snorkelling sites, and many of the historical and natural land attractions that feature free admittance.

If you’d like to spend some time exploring on land, rental cars on Providenciales start at about $40 per day. On our smaller and outer islands, rates are higher at around $75 per day.

The south coast Providenciales marinas of Caicos Marina and South Side Marina tend to have the best slip and fuel rates. If you’re looking to stock up on food supplies, the wholesale supermarkets near Downtown Providenciales offer the best prices.

Fishing

A fishing license is required to fish in the Turks and Caicos. At most marinas and at the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA), a one day license may be purchased for $10, and a 30 day for $30.

Be aware of our protected areas, where fishing is generally prohibited, and our fishing seasons for conch, lobster, and Nassau Grouper.

Dangers and Considerations

small yacht sailboat grounded on a shoal at Northwest Point on Providenciales
A sailboat that ran aground at Northwest Point, Providenciales.

The Turks and Caicos is generally a very safe destination for cruising and yachts. The only yacht and boat crime reports tend to be occasional theft from unattended vessels. Most marinas (especially the larger sites) have staff or security onsite at all times.

The greatest concern is accidental strikes to the reef and coral heads, and grounding in shallow waters.

The Turks and Caicos receives a large number of cruisers, yet even considering this, there are too many vessel groundings, wrecks, and instances of reef damage. Please take great care when navigating in the Turks and Caicos.

Marinas and Ports of Entry

Call ahead on channel 16 or by phone before arriving as customs officials are not stationed permanently at all ports. The lager complexes on Providenciales typically offer pilot and guide boat services, which we generally advise taking advantage of.

Docks and Harbours

These sites are not ports of entry, yet may offer moorings or places to purchase supplies and fuel.