The Turks and Caicos is an incredible vacation destination and one of the leading tropical destinations in the world. Our archipelago offers brilliant turquoise ocean water, a pristine marine environment, and Grace Bay Beach, the best beach in the world!
Here’s our list of 15 things visitors to the Turks and Caicos should know before they arrive! You may also be interested in Turks and Caicos Travel FAQ, Interesting Facts, and Top 10 Beaches in the Turks and Caicos.
Although the Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory, we’re a very convenient place for American visitors. English is our official language, the US Dollar is the only accepted currency, and we use US style electrical plugs and voltages.
One of the greatest quirks American guests will notice here is that we drive on the left! See Driving in the Turks and Caicos.
Grace Bay Beach and the island of Providenciales welcomes by far the greatest number of guests and has the best global recognition, yet our less-populated islands hide some incredible beaches and also have a lot to offer.
North Caicos and Middle Caicos are connected by a road causeway and feature deserted beaches, natural sights, and the one of the largest dry cave systems in the Caribbean. These two garden islands are a favourite destination for a day trip from Providenciales.
Grand Turk is home to the capital city of Cockburn Town and was also once the centre of activity in the Turks and Caicos. Today, the island offer some great beaches and fascinating historical sights. The country’s only cruise ship port is located on Grand Turk.
The quiet islands of Salt Cay and South Caicos are perfect for travellers looking for a laid-back and authentic experiences. These islands were once major sea salt producers, but now support limited boutique tourism and small scale commercial fishing.
There are no private beaches in the Turks and Caicos. All of the beaches in the Turks and Caicos are free to access, up to the high tide point. This doesn’t guarantee access or parking on private land, but you never have to pay to enjoy the sand, clear water, and sun.
Resort concierges and taxi drivers often get commissions on the business they refer to water sports operators and restaurants, which can be significant. In most cases the recommended business is excellent and a great choice, but it’s best to be aware of the situation.
The weekend tends to have the longest waits and lines for arrivals at the Providenciales International Airport as there can be many planes arriving is a short time span. This spike in arrivals may increase the lines through immigration and customs, and also affects taxis and car rentals pickups a bit. The week days usually have much shorter waits.
A fast track service is now available through the VIP Flyers Club at the Providenciales Airport, which by passes the lines and expedites flight check-in and arrival processing through immigration and customs.
Taxis are can be expensive, and a bit higher than what’s common in the USA. Rates are also typically per person rather than per trip. This can add up quickly, so we advise that most guests rent a car for their stay. Rental cars start at around $40 per day and make it easy to get to the best beaches, sights, and restaurants. There’s no public transport in the Turks and Caicos.
With the exception of at the Providenciales Airport, parking is free and generally available throughout the Turks and Caicos.
Three popular and locally caught seafoods, conch, lobster, and Nassau grouper, each have seasons and there are times of the year when it’s not possible to catch them or serve them in restaurants.
The conch season is open from mid-October to mid-July, the lobster season is open from mid-August to April, and the Nassau grouper season is typically open from March to November.
There’s no way around it. The Turks and Caicos is an expensive destination. We don’t produce much food here, we don’t have any significant fresh water sources so our water is created by reverse osmosis, most of our electricity is produced by diesel generators, and there’s no deep water port for efficient cargo importation, all of which results in high prices.
A good way to save on vacation expenses is to check in some food and snacks when you fly down. See Importing Food.
Many amazing tourism destinations around the world have certain time windows when it’s best to visit. The Turks and Caicos is great throughout the year. Average ambient temperature ranges from 75° F to 95° (24° C to 35° C), but is usually around 85° (29° C). Water temperature is a little more consistent, with a low of 75° (24° C) in winter to 85° (29° C) in early autumn.
We do definitely have peak tourism seasons, which are the December-January holidays, and the March-April Easter and spring break times. Prices are consequently highest at these times, and availability for popular accommodations and activities can be limited.
September and October are the only months which you may want to avoid, as they are the height of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. Chances are very low that a storm will hit at the time and the ocean is usually calmest at this time, but it can be very inconvenient to change travel plans for a major storm.
Many of the larger grocery stores and supermarkets offer a selection of beer, wine, and spirit, however, the sale of alcohol is shops is prohibited on Sunday and on Easter Friday. Restaurants and bars may still serve drinks on Sunday. The minimum drinking age in the Turks and Caicos is 18.
There are direct flights to the Turks and Caicos from several major US airports and cities, including Miami, New York, Dallas, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.
There are also direct flights from Canada, including from Toronto and Montreal.
Passport holders and legal residents of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada do not need to obtain a visa to visit the Turks and Caicos.
Likewise, other nationalities who have a current and valid tourist visa for the United States, United Kingdom or Canada also do not need a visa to visit.
All scheduled international flights that land in the Turks and Caicos arrive at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS).
Providenciales is the destination for most overnight guests in the country, but some of our smaller islands welcome visitors too. In most cases, the accommodations on our smaller islands will clarify the transport situation before booking, but it may be overlooked at times, or when reservations are made online.
Domestic flights and small passenger ferries provide transport between our islands, but it’s important to be aware of vessel schedules. Sometimes, a convenient and timely connection from Providenciales to a smaller island cannot be made in conjunction with an international flight.
Bring less clothes, more sun screen (reef safe please!), insect repellent, and more cash. See What to Bring to the Turks and Caicos.
Don’t make the mistake of closely following the weather forecast for your upcoming trip, and becoming dismayed when there’s a prediction for rain and clouds.
The weather is often better than the forecast, and bad conditions tend to pass quickly. The Turks and Caicos simply doesn’t get much rain, which is bad for farming but great for the beach.
Spectacular beaches surround Providenciales and if a day is particularly windy, the sheltered side of the island will usually have a calm and inviting coast.
Several times per year, the Turks and Caicos experiences cloudy and overcast periods for a few days, but these conditions are the exception rather than the norm. Unless a hurricane is coming, don’t worry.