Turks and Caicos Islands are a territory of Britain, and are comprised of two island groups. The Caicos Islands comprise the larger archipelago, and the Turks Islands are the smaller. In addition to attractions that draw tourists (including numerous celebrities), the islands are known as a center for offshore finance. They are located north of Hispaniola Island (home of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), east of Cuba, and southeast of the Bahamas. Called "TCI" by those familiar with the islands, they are noted for their laid back and peaceful atmosphere. You can find world-class resorts, an 18-hole golf course, and even a casino (on Providenciales Island). But the majority of accommodations are intimate inns and guesthouses, small hotels, a few smallish dive resorts, and villas and other vacation rentals. There are eight main islands and 299 smaller islands, many of which are completely uninhabited.
This is one of the uninhabited Turks & Caicos Islands and is fairly large at eighteen square miles. It is known for its mangrove swamps, beaches where sea turtles lay their eggs, and caves that were once used for guano mining and where there are petrogylphs. In colonial times, the island was a huge sisal plantation, and one of the things to do here is explore the ruins of what was once the plantation town of Jacksonville.
Middle Caicos spreads over 48 square miles and boasts three very small towns. Its coastline is fairly dramatic compared to the other islands because of its limestone cliffs overlooking long beaches on the north end. There is a very large network of caves and a picturesque crescent lagoon. There are plantation ruins to explore, as well as excavated Lucayan Indian settlements. This is a great island for birding tours, with a frigate bird colony, flamingos, egrets, sand pipers, and other waterfowl. There is only one true hotel here, but a number of villas and other vacation rentals.
This is a tiny (1,000 acres) private island and is known for the number of celebrities and movie stars who come here. Here is the most luxurious accommodation in all of the Turks & Caicos Islands—the ultra exclusive Parrot Cay Resort. Some well-known celebrities have built private homes here, including Bruce Willis and Keith Richards. The rich and famous have exclusive use of a mile-long pristine beach, luxuriant full-service spa, and gourmet dining.
Here is another small (800 acres) private island with only one exclusive resort, the Meridian Club. This resort boasts a private beach that stretches for two miles, and is considered the finest of the beaches in the islands. There are only twelve luxurious beachfront cottages and a gourmet restaurant, and the resort offers numerous activities. Additionally, another of the islands' spas is here, and you can have a massage specialist visit you in your cottage. Epitomizing the casual atmosphere of the Turks and Caicos Islands is the club's "shoes optional policy" (even for evening dining), and there are no phones or televisions in the rooms. Children are only allowed during June and July.
UNESCO has recommended this beautiful 2.5-square-mile island as a World Heritage Site, and it's easy to see why. This is a wonderful place for deep sea fishing, humpback whale watching, and scuba diving and snorkeling. Here you will find hawksbill turtles. sharks, giant sting rays, and beautiful coral formations. Accommodations consist of a handful of small inns and guesthouse and some vacation rentals. Many tourists staying on other Turks and Caicos Islands will come here for day trips and picnics (there are a couple stores to buy supplies), and many diving and snorkeling excursions will spend time here.
Sometimes called The Big South, this island is 8.5 square miles in size. Some of the best fishing in the Turks & Caicos Islands is found in the waters around this island. The largest settlement is Cockburn Harbour (not to be confused with Cockburn Town on Grand Turk Island), and this is the center of the fishing industry, with several processors of lobster, conch, and fish. There are large salt pans here, which drew the Bermuda salt rakers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These pans have become habitat for a variety of birdlife. There is a new resort here, the South Caicos Beach Resort, with 24 rooms, all with sea view.
More superb scuba diving is available off this uninhabited island. There are currently no overnight accommodations, but there are plans for an upscale and exclusive Ritz Carlton hideaway, sure to be one of the finest of the Turks & Caicos Islands luxury hotels.
This is the greenest and lushest of the Turks & Caicos Islands because of unusually abundant rainy weather. There are daily flights from Providenciales, and you can charter boats for cruises here. There is a large flock of flamingos here, plantation and salt mine ruins and Lucuyan Indian artifacts.