Most cruise visitors to Grand Turk tend to stay at the beach, pool, shops and facilities of the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Although a large complex, the crowds here are stifling and the only sights are high prices and the typical chain duty-free shops.
Quite a few different activities are offered through the cruise lines, but choosing what to do may be difficult for those unfamiliar with Grand Turk.
We believe that the majority of visitors would most enjoy spending their brief stop on Grand Turk in one of the following ways.
Renting scooters, a golf cart or a car and exploring Grand Turk on your own is our recommendation for those who want to get the most out of their brief stay.
Grand Turk is a small island and there aren’t any crime-ridden areas (unlike nearly every other Caribbean cruise destination) so simply explore. Navigation is a breeze and it’s almost impossible to get lost.
Gibbs Cay is a small island off the east coast of Grand Turk. The cay is quite scenic with a beautiful beach and sea oat covered bluffs, but the main attraction are the friendly Southern Brown Stingrays that swim up to meet any visiting boats. These stingrays interact with people and offer an opportunity to experience large wild sea animals close up.
A stop at a nearby reef for snorkeling is usually included and is recommended. The reefs around Gibbs Cay are far superior to what can be easily accessed from the shore on Grand Turk.
Although a great place to visit, be aware that this tiny island can get quite busy when cruise ships are in. A visit to Gibbs Cay will typically occupy most or all of your available time on Grand Turk.
Grand Turk has some great beaches, and relaxing on the white sand may be the perfect idea of a great day for some. There are four exquisit beaches to discover, and many smaller coasts. Of the four top beaches, two are within walking distance of the Cruise Center; Cruise Center Beach (SunRay Beach) which fronts the cruise center, and Governor's Beach.
The Cruise Center Beach is of course the easiest to access and is quite nice, but crowds can be overwhelming. Consider walking north up the beach a bit to get some more space to yourself.
A bit wilder, Boaby Rock Point Beach is found south half a mile (.8 km) down the beach from the Cruise Center. Here it’s rocky in places and has a bit more sea grass than the Cruise Center Beach, but you’ll encounter far fewer people and beachcombing and snorkelling is much better.
Although a bit farther away, Governor's Beach is the best beach on the island and doesn’t have the crowds that the Cruise Center Beach has. Found about less than a mile north up the coast of the Cruise Center, it’s unfortunately not possible to walk to this location up the coast from the Cruise Center as the main port for Grand Turk blocks a small section of the beach. Some may consider walking the one mile (1.6 km) each way journey along the road, but be aware that there are no sidewalks and few directional signs.
Cockburn Town Beach has several very nice sections, with the added benefit of being close to the sights, shops and restaurants of old Cockburn Town.
Pillory Beach is a little harder to find than Grand Turk’s more popular beaches, yet this sheltered coast offers calm water and some small snorkelling reefs. On this beautiful beach is the Bohio Dive Resort, a great place to get lunch.
An organized beach transport package is offered through the Cruise Center to Governor’s Beach. The “Governor’s Beach and Snorkelling” package includes bus transport, a bottle of water, and the use of (well used) snorkelling gear. There really isn’t any decent snorkelling at Governor’s Beach, and you'll be able to rent a car or scooter for about the same cost, which will allow you to do other things as well.
For those that have the minimum necessary qualifications (PADI Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver, or equivalent), diving can be a great way to spend the day. Grand Turk offers excellent wall diving, with vibrant corals sponges and sea creatures.
As to be expected, cruise line packages may result in crowded dive boats. Depending on your ships schedule, you may also have time to do something else on Grand Turk in addition to a two tank dive.