Found to the north of Cockburn Town, Pillory Beach is a quiet and sheltered coastline that offers soft white sand and clear ocean water. It's the second best beach after Governor's Beach and doesn't have the crowds from cruise visitors.
The beach here varies a bit. Some patches, such as the section fronting the Bohio Dive Resort, are excellent with a clean sandy bottom. Other areas tend to be a bit rockier. Casuarina trees provide shade at a few spots.
Some historians believe that Christopher Columbus made landfall on Grand Turk, and not San Salvador in the Bahamas. This beach is the probable landfall spot (if he did arrive on Grand Turk). Along with all the other west coast beaches on Grand Turk, Pillory Beach is part of the Columbus Landfall National Park
Pillory Beach is within close walking distance of restaurants, shops and craft stands located on the northern side of Cockburn Town. The dining establishments is this area tend to offer better island cuisine and Caribbean dishes, as opposed to the American favourites that are the choices at the Cruise Center. The low-key residential community of Over Back is also nearby.
The Ike & Donkey Beach Bar restaurant at the Bohio Dive Resort likewise is a great place get lunch, as the food is excellent and their outdoor beachfront setting is a perfect place to relax.
As is the case with Cockburn Town Beach, Pillory Beach doesn’t offer excellent snorkelling. Rock shelves and gullies, formed from ancient reefs, can be found off the beach in many places.
These conditions support small amounts of reef fish, along with the occasional coral head or sea fan. This terrain is interesting to explore, but there’s little in the way of large marine life.
Fish sightings include small schools of French grunts and yellowstriped goatfish, bar jacks, and some stoplight parrotfish. Squirrelfish can also be found in crevices in the rock. Southern brown stingrays and eagle rays may be seen gliding by as well.
It’s easy to visit Pillory Beach if you have a rental vehicle. There’s ample (and free) parking. Simply follow Front Street in Cockburn Town to its conclusion to the north. You'll find a small unpaved parking area, which is the popular place to stop. See our Grand Turk maps for details.
There's no official or developed beach access on Pillory Beach, yet several roads in the area lead directly to the coast. If you'd prefer more seclusion, simply pick a spot that looks great and park.
The 'pillory', similar to the 'stocks', was a device used to secure a person so they could be subjected to punishment, such as by throwing rotten vegetables at them. It's not known if this is the reason why Pillory Beach is named as such.
Although the name largely didn’t catch on, in 1992, Pillory Beach was renamed Guanahani Beach by the Turks and Caicos government in honour of the indigenous Taino’s name for the island of Columbus’s first land fall in the New World.