Providenciales is the most developed and populated island in the Turks and Caicos, and is home to spectacular beaches, luxury resorts, and fine dining. Nearly all international flights to the Turks and Caicos land at the
Providenciales International Airport (PLS).
Chalk Sound National Park is another unique natural feature of Providenciales. This lagoon paints an amazing picture: hundreds of tiny and delicately-formed limestone islands contrasting against brilliantly turquoise water.
An Amazing Destination for Water Sports
There’s a huge array of
water sports and
activities offered on Providenciales.
Boat charters are another great way to experience our pristine ocean and secluded islands, and you’ll find a great selection of vessels and tours to choose from.
Chalk Sound National Park, Providenciales. Hundreds of small rocky islands are found in this shallow lagoon.
snorkelling is of course excellent, with over 80 miles (129 km) of barrier reef being regularly visited by dive shops from Providenciales. Abrupt walls define most sites, where the depths can drop rapidly from 40 feet (12 m) into the thousands.
Exposed to the eastern trade winds,
Long Bay Beach is one of the finest
kiteboarding spots in the Caribbean and an exceptional place to learn. The ocean here has a soft sandy bottom and is the perfect depth – sufficiently shallow for standing, yet deep enough for the inevitable crashes!
The sheltered wetlands of Providenciales and the nearby
cays are the perfect environment for
stand up paddle boarding, where juvenile sharks, starfish, turtles, conch, and stingrays can be seen in their natural habitat.
Provo Golf Course, designed by Karl Litten and rated in the top ten in the Caribbean, offers a par 72 course amongst a scenic backdrop of ponds, limestone features and bird life.
Providenciales is the north-western-most island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago and the fourth largest by land mass at 38 square miles (98 km²).
Compared to the other islands in the country, Providenciales has the greatest average elevation, with the central
Blue Mountain sharing the title of highest point in the Turks and Caicos with Flamingo Hill on
East Caicos at 156 feet (48 m) in height.
The interior of Providenciales consists of the typical tropical dry brushland drought-resistant vegetation common to the Caicos Islands.
Previous to the 1980s, Providenciales was a relatively unimportant place.
Fireworks over Grace Bay. This spectacular beach is an excellent place to watch the New Year's Eve display.
Although little evidence exists today, Providenciales likely supported a significant aborigine Taino population. As the majority of non-ceramic Taino artefacts found in the Turks and Caicos have been recovered from caves, most important discoveries were made when the Caicos island’s caves and sinkholes were mined for guano (used for fertilizer). As might be expected, many items found were subsequently lost or sold. The work of famous Dutch anthropologist
Theodore de Booy was the primary initial source of information from this pre-Columbian period.
After Grand Turk and Salt Cay saw an increase in
sea salt production and export, a trickle of inhabitants, consisting mainly of those escaping the hardships of work in the salt salinas and ne’er-do-wells, settled on Providenciales. These early settlers eked out a harsh existence farming, fishing and salvaging shipwrecks.
At the end of the 1700s, the
Loyalist plantation era began in the Caicos Islands. After the initial success of the North Caicos and Middle Caicos cotton plantations, Providenciales saw the construction of several agricultural attempts.
Cotton was the main initial crop raised on the island, yet sisal came to become the primary export later on. As was the case throughout the country, export agriculture largely died out in the mid-1800s due to pests, drought and
After the plantation days ended, Providenciales saw some dark times and much of the population migrated to either the salt producing islands, or to the Bahamas. The three small settlements of
Five Cays and
The Bight supported small subsistence fishing and farming communities, but most of the outside income to the island came from the meagre ship salvaging operations of
Five Cays, and Birch’s Lookout, near
After the turn of the century, marine exports began to increase, mainly in the form of sea sponges, canned turtle, and dried conch. The
Chalk Sound and Five Cays region was the centre of these activities.
A little-known fact is that sponge farming took place on Providenciales. Along with operating the cannery, Irishman entrepreneur George Silly oversaw the grafting of sponge pieces onto rock bases in what is now
Chalk Sound National Park. The outlook and yields were initially promising, however, as had happened with the cotton plantations, a blight destroyed the industry.
A cannon at the ruins of Cheshire Hall Plantation, Providenciales.
In 1967, the direction of Providenciales drastically changed. Provident Limited, a development company headed by Fritz Ludington, recognized the tourism potential of the island’s exceptional beaches and marine environment. An agreement was reached with the Turks and Caicos Government wherein Provident Limited would construct an airstrip (which was located in the centre of the island and in a different location from the current airport), roads, a port, and a hotel. By 1970, this infrastructure was largely operational and the Third Turtle Inn and adjacent
Turtle Cove Marina became the first hotel on the island.
1984 saw more advances.
Club Med opened on Grace Bay Beach, the industrial port of
South Dock (formerly named Gussy Cove) was converted from a small natural harbour to a port capable of handling shipping containers, and the current and paved
Providenciales International Airport was built.
Providenciales has definitely seen up and downs in the recent economy, yet the vast majority of buildings, infrastructure and bustle is only a couple of decades old.