The Turks and Caicos is recognized as having some of the best beaches in the world and a visit to one of the popular coastlines will convince nearly everyone of the fact.
There are several causes which account for the white sand and spectacular turquoise water.
The defining characteristic of a beach is its sand. The Turks and Caicos beaches almost without exception have shell and coral origin sand. This type of sand is formed from the naturally broken down particles of sea shells and hard corals, and the result is breathtaking bright white sand with touches of pink and peach hues.
Another factor is the lack of hard rock origin or dark colored sand and gravel. The Turks and Caicos Islands and its subterranean foundation is primarily limestone. With the exception of very thin outer layers exposed to the elements, this limestone tends to be quite soft and white. Once this rock begins to break up into smaller pieces, it rapidly decomposes into sand and dust and remains a bright white throughout the process. Because of this, sand on the beaches and ocean floor has almost no gravel and is consistent and naturally light colored.
As seen throughout much of the world, beaches with hard rock origin sand tend to be have denser, smaller and more uniform sand grains, and these grains naturally pack together tighter when damp or wet. The larger and irregular grains of the Turks and Caicos sand allow for much greater gaps in between grains which leads to the fluffiness we all love.
The size of the sand grains does vary by beach throughout the country, and the beaches of Providenciales are perfect for highlighting this. On the west coasts of Malcolm's Road Beach and the Northwest Point National Park, the beaches are often very close to the barrier reef and consequently the sand is quite course with recognizable shell fragments. However, due to being formed from the weathered sand of the extensive Caicos Banks, the south coast beaches of Long Bay Beach, Taylor Bay and Sapodilla Bay have very fine sand grains. The sand of Grace Bay Beach, The Bight Beach and Leeward Beach comes in between these two extremes.
The Turks and Caicos has some incredibility beautiful ocean water and there are several factors behind this.
The vivid blues of the deeper water is mainly due to the fact that the longer and warmer wave length colors (reds, oranges, yellows) are filtered out and scattered before the short blue wave lengths. This results in the deep blues common to all clean and deep ocean water.
The azures, aquas and turquoises of the shallower depths are what really contributes to the unique Turks and Caicos water and are caused by light reflecting off the white sandy bottoms and off of fine white sand particles that are suspended in the ocean. This is especially apparent in the brilliant Chalk Sound National Park on Providenciales where white limestone silt reflects amazing turquoise hues.
Although less common, phytoplankton is the main cause of some of the bottle greens seen in the sheltered wetlands and in patches in the Caicos Banks.
Last but not least, corals can add quite a bit of color in some areas. Bright yellow sea fans, reddish sponges and green hard coral all add to the spectrum.
The normal tide shifts cause differing water depths in the channels and varying amounts of suspended particle densities, which paint spectacular landscapes. No places in the Turks and Caicos display this better than the channels dividing the small cays between Middle Caicos and South Caicos.
When many people see photos of the beaches and lagoons of the Turks and Caicos, they believe that the water in the images must have been edited. In actuality the ocean is typically far more vivid when seen in person.