Here’s a list of the many small cays and islands found throughout the Turks and Caicos. Every island shown here is uninhabited and most are Crown Property (controlled by the government), yet a few are privately owned. In addition to the 17 better-known and larger islands, there are about 84 named small islands, cays and rocks in the Turks and Caicos.
All beaches in the Turks and Caicos are public up to the high tide mark, but with that considered, access to these islands is generally not restricted.
Due to treacherous reefs and extensive shallows and shoals, it can be quite difficult to get to many of the remote and uninhabited cays in the country.
The highly-scenic islands between Providenciales and North Caicos and very popular places to visit on boat cruises and tours.
As the country’s name may suggest, our archipelago is made of two island groups, which are divided by the 5000 foot (1500m) deep Columbus Passage.
The Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands are situated on extensive and submerged plateaus, and the ocean depth on the top of these shelfs is typically quite shallow. In fact, if ocean level were about thirty feet lower than the current level, the Caicos Islands would form a single island about the size of Long Island in New York!
The Caicos Islands group includes that vast majority of the island in the country. The Turks Islands only consists of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and only about a half dozen islands of any significant size.
Almost the entirety of rock in the Turks and Caicos is limestone, which are the lithified remains of broken-down corals and molluscs. The calcareous materials that became our country’s foundation usually reached a sand state before it accreted, compressed and lithified.
Depending on the location, the period of time, ocean level, and other factors, the patterns that the sands collected in, or stratification, show patterns of having been shallow ocean bed, low elevation plains, or sand dunes.
The limestone on our many islands presents in widely varying styles and hardness. In some places, such as at Mudjin Harbour, on the Crossing Place Trail and at Chalk Sound, the rock is quite hard and has developed a grey patina. On other coastlines, such as on the east coasts of West Caicos and South Caicos, the rock is little more than compressed sand dune.
As a limestone environment, the Karst Process of dissolution has left its mark on our archipelago. Small caves, sinkholes and underwater cave systems can be seen on nearly every island with solid rock. Two such features stand out on a global scale: Conch Bar Caves, the largest dry cave system in the Antilles, and the Middle Caicos Ocean Hole, the widest blue hole in the world.
Many of the smaller islands in the Turks and Caicos are small and sandy, with very little had limestone. In the Caicos Islands, such cays often support vibrant red mangrove populations on the coasts facing the shallow Caicos Banks.