A British Overseas Territory, the Turks and Caicos lie between the southernmost Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, a 90-minute flight southeast of Miami. Home to some of the most captivating white-sand beaches and pristine shallow-water coral reefs in the Americas, the archipelago consists of eight inhabited islands and several dozen deserted cays. Tourism and offshore banking are the key sources of revenue, there being no income, capital gains or inheritance taxes levied on the islands’ 49,000 inhabitants.
Snorkeling and Wall Diving
Home to the world’s third-largest barrier reef system and miles of 6,000-foot vertical drop-offs, Turks and Caicos is a must-visit destination for snorkeling and wall-diving enthusiasts. This area is enhanced by Princess Alexandra National Park, whose boundaries include large sections of marine territory in which all fishing, commercial and sport, is banned. For snorkelers in particular, Provo has two clearly delineated trails, one at Smith’s Reef, the other at Bight Reef — both easily accessible — that take you through a fairyland of reef formations that are very close to the surface and abound in brilliantly colored fish. For divers, the must-see sight is the great wall off Grand Turk Island.
One of my favorite beaches in the Caribbean is Mudjin Harbor. A hidden gem on Middle Caicos, this 3-mile-long stretch of sand is blessed with turquoise waters and minimal crowds. Though the ocean can sometimes be too rough for snorkeling and swimming, there are excellent hiking trails as well as two large sea caves that can be accessed from the beach.
Considered a local delicacy, conch is the seafood of choice in Turks and Caicos, which is home to the world’s only conch farm. Its rich island history makes it a must-try food. There are several ways that the mollusk is served, my favorites being thinly sliced raw conch in a tangy ceviche.
To phone hotels in Turks and Caicos, dial 1 +649 (Turks and Caicos code) + local numbers in listings.
The U.S. dollar is the officially recognized currency.
None. There is a U.S. consular agency, Tel. (649) 232-5713. U.S. Embassy is located in the Bahamas, Tel. (242) 322-1181.