Cockburn Town Turks and Caicos

Cockburn Town Turks and Caicos—pronounced KO-burn—is also known as Grand Turk, which is the name of the island where it is located. This is one of the larger of the Turks and Caicos Islands (the largest of the Turks archipelago) and part of the smaller of the two archipelagos that make up the little island nation. Travel to Cockburn Town can be on flights from one of the other islands or by boat. There are only and handful of Cockburn Town hotels right in this relatively small town, but the island is small (only a mile wide and seven miles long). Wherever you stay, you will be quite close to the town.

Cockburn Town Turks and Caicos has been the government center of the two archipelagos since 1766. It was established by salt rakers from Bermuda, and this is the reason the town's architecture is decidedly Bermudian, with many charming eighteenth- and nineteenth-century colonial buildings. Donkeys and horses were the primary means of transportation for these salt miners, and there are still wild donkeys on the island, often seen strolling casually through town. Sea travel to Cockburn Town throughout the centuries is displayed in the National Museum, one of the oldest buildings on the island, and constructed largely from the flotsam and jetsam of early shipwrecks. Inside are exhibits of other shipwrecks. There are also exhibits chronicling the former sisal plantations and salt farming.

Cockburn Town Turks and Caicos is located on the western side of the island, and stretches for about two miles along the coast. This is the location of one of the finest beaches on the island, Pillory Beach. This is the also the place to find some of the island's best scuba diving and snorkeling. Because the water along the beach is quite shallow for a good distance out, the snorkeling is excellent. Then the shelf drops steeply to about 7,000 feet, making for superb diving. Here, you will find one of the island's only dive resorts, the Bohio Dive Resort, located right on the beach. It offers a good restaurant, bar, swimming pool, onsite PADI certified dive operation, and charming beachfront rooms.

There are, actually, very few hotels at all on the island. While the island is the seat of government, it was left behind in the development department when the first of the resorts was built on Providenciales in the 1980s. This has changed some since the development of the multimillion dollar cruise port at the southern end of the island. Nonetheless, there are several Cockburn Town hotels and small inns and guesthouses. Try the Salt Raker Inn, located across the street from the beach. It is one of the most historic buildings in town, built during the early 1880s, and boasts a good restaurant. Ask for the upstairs rooms to catch the sea breeze and enjoy a hammock on your balcony.

Many of the visitors do not stay in Grand Turk or Cockburn Town hotels at all. The largest percentage of visitors travel to Cockburn Town and Grand Turk Island on large ships that make port stops here during Caribbean cruises that stop at other islands. They stay in their "floating resorts" for the one or two nights the ship is in port and explore the island on organized shore excursions or on independent tours. There are taxis at the cruise port, as well as car rentals and motor scooter rentals. These rentals are also available at the airport in case you arrive by air.

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