Although a very small island, Salt Cay has three residential regions.
Balfour Town and North District are adjacent to each other and it’s difficult to tell exactly where one end and the other begins. Much of the development and residences on Salt Cay are found in this area.
The largely residential South District is found about .6 of a mile (I km) south of the two other settlements.
When arriving by plane on Salt Cay, it’s quite impressive how small the island actually is. Although an arid cay and offering only a fraction of the land that the other main islands in the country do, Salt Cay actually was the first island in the Turks and Caicos to see permanent inhabitants.
At the time of the initial settlement, circa late 1600s, salt was an invaluable commodity utilised in food preservation. Natural marine salt marshes in the limestone bedding were valued higher than fertile soil, fresh water sources and abundant fishing grounds of the Caicos Islands.
When the salt industry was thriving, the island was a bustling place, supporting about 1000 inhabitants at the height of the era. Today, that number is well under 200.
As a low-elevation island with no sheltering hills, Salt Cay is highly-susceptible to hurricanes. Past records and modern storms prove the same story; Salt Cay is typically harder hit than any other island in the county.
Nearly all of the older and British Colonial buildings bear evidence of hurricane damage. Although once home to stone buildings, the long-abandoned Taylor Hill and Whale House Bay ruins have almost completely disintegrated.