Inspiring Landscapes and the Old Salt Industry
South Caicos offers a perfect blend of pristine beaches, secluded landscapes, and minor historical sights. The outstanding element of South Caicos is its laid-back atmosphere—the island simply doesn’t feel like many other popular Caribbean destinations. There’s an unforgettable Hemingwayesque ambiance to discover.
The Salt Industry
Nearly all of the historical sights and old infrastructure on South Caicos have been closely tied to the sea salt industry.
The salt industry was the foremost source of income to the Turks and Caicos, and starting in the latter 1600s, Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos experienced the development of their natural saline ponds into efficient seawater evaporation salinas.
South Caicos became the largest producer of salt in the Turks and Caicos, exporting nearly a million bushels per year at the height of the industry. The inevitable decline and demise of salt raking in the Turks and Caicos started in the early 1950s, and almost all of the infrastructure on South Caicos has been unused since then.
Today, the sights of the salt industry are the miles of salina walls that still stand in the central marine ponds, the Boiling Hole tidal underwater cave that fed much of the salinas, a few weathered windmill pumps, and the empty shells of the warehouses and administration buildings.
In the mid-1950s, the US Government took a new interest in South Caicos and the US Coast Guard built a LORAN-A station, which was part of their global radio navigation system. This site operated for more than two decades, and also brought the development of the South Caicos Airport.
South Caicos is an incredible place for hiking and nature photography. The island features a fascinating blend of wetland environments, coastal bluffs, secluded beaches, and brilliant marine channels.
As South Caicos is situated on the far eastern edge of the Caicos archipelago plateau, the island is exposed to the constant action of the south-eastern trade winds, which has carved and formed the bluffs and bays into rugged and majestic coastlines.
The coasts of South Caicos offer a beautiful contrast. The east side with its semi-lithified soft limestone dunes faces the open deep blue Atlantic, and there’s often an impressive swell breaking. A short distance away on the west side is the calm, shallow, and brilliantly turquoise waters of Bell Sound and the expansive Caicos Banks.
Although too shallow for most vessels, the sounds to the west of South Caicos hide many incredible sights, including crystal-clear tidal channels, a sunken sailboat wreck, a wrecked Curtiss C-46 Commando aircraft, and abandoned plantation ruins on the uninhabited cays surrounding the sound.
The deserted beaches bordering South Caicos are excellent for seashell and flotsam beachcombing. You’ll never know what you may find. It’s fairly common to spot the classic message in a bottle, vintage glass ball floats, beautiful triton and cowrie shells, and of course conchs.
One of the most scenic landscapes in the Turks and Caicos is the Plandon Cay Cut region near the old LORAN station on the north point of the island. The bluff here overlooks the string of cays between South Caicos and East Caicos, and features some of the most impressive water hues to be seen in the country. For the best effect, it’s best to visit before later afternoon so the scene is front lit by the sun.