One of the finest thatch palm forests is found on West Caicos.
The Turk and Caicos consists of about one hundred named
islands and cays, and there’s a tremendous array of incredible landscapes that can be found off the beaten track.
Due to our low elevations and extensive
tidal marine wetlands, there’s a plethora of fascinating transitional landscapes and terrains to discover between the ocean and our inland tropical dry forest, several of which are globally unique.
One such example is the intricate limestone features that line some of our coastal areas, a terrain that’s locally referred to as ironshore. This marine limestone is generally exposed and exhibits ample evidence of the Karst-process actions, with a high density of tiny
sinkholes and caves.
Due to their location on the shallow Caicos Banks, the southern coasts of the central Caicos Islands feature
extensive marine wetlands that gradually transition to saline tundra and flats. This environment eventually becomes limestone coppice, which support sabal palms and sawgrass.
In many areas, larger Karst cave features may be found, which range from dry cave systems, collapsed water lens caves (essentially round depressions in the ground), and perhaps the most impressive; blue holes such as
Cottage Pond and the gigantic
Middle Caicos Ocean Hole.
Unique and endemic plants also add to our beautiful local environment. One example is the thatch palm (Coccothrinax inaguensis), an underappreciated little palm that’s common to the Turks and Caicos and Bahamas, yet is found is nowhere else.
Another rarity is the Caicos pine (Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis) a unique variety of the Caribbean pine. This true pine is endangered and only found on a few of our islands in rare brackish water environments.
The high salinity terrestrial landscapes in the Turks and Caicos support many types of halophyte and salt-resistant plants, from the dense red mangroves, to the endemic dwarf sea purslane (Sesuvium microphyllum).
Floating Sand at Halfmoon Bay Lagoon
Floating sand at
Half Moon Bay Lagoon, Turks and Caicos. This phenomenon sometimes occurs on windless days during an incoming tide. Air bubbles remain attached to porous sand grains and cause little patches of sand to float as the water rises.
Middle Caicos Oasis
Although rather scarce, brackish ponds such as this palm oasis on Middle Caicos can be found at a few locations in the Turks and Caicos.