The Turks and Caicos is home to a wonderful collection of islands, and this page gives an overview of our many very small cays, rocks, and islands. 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. You won’t find any resorts on these tiny pieces of paradise!
All beaches in the Turks and Caicos are public up to the high tide mark, and access to these islands and cays 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. Popular cays in this region include Little Water Cay, Water Cay, Pine Cay, Fort George Cay, and Parrot Cay.
The Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands
As the country’s name may suggest, our archipelago is made of two island groups, which are divided by the 5000-foot-deep (1500 m) 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 shelves is typically quite shallow. In fact, if the 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 the vast majority of the islands in the country. The Turks Islands only consists of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and about a half dozen islands of any significant size.
Our Marine Limestone Geology
Almost the entirety of rock in the Turks and Caicos is limestone, which is the lithified remains of broken-down corals and mollusks. 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 gray 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 hard limestone. In the Caicos Islands, such cays often support vibrant red mangrove populations on the coasts facing the shallow Caicos Banks.