Her Majesty's Prison

Grand Turk has long been the Capital of the Turks and Caicos. Because of this both the Government Officials, documents and the prison for the country reside on the small island. Her Majesty's prison was built in the 1830's and remained operational until 1994. 

It still stands today though inmates are held in a newer, larger building located away from the center of town. Self- guided tours of Her Majesty's Prison are offered daily for $7.

At its inception, the prison was mainly used to house wayward slaves. There was room for between 2 and 6 prisoners. After the abolishment of slavery in 1834, it was often filled with people who were incarcerated for being drunk. By the time it shut its doors in 1994, occupancy was up to over 50 people.

The prison began housing bigger time criminals- including drug runners. Turks and Caicos lie about halfway from Columbia to Florida so in the 60's and 70's, it became a popular spot to refuel. There were several expansions made over the years as the average number of prisoners continued to rise.

The prison housed both men and women, separated into different wings. Prisoners were given the chance to go home and prepare for natural disasters- especially the large hurricane of 1866. This Hurricane was devastating to around 200 homes on GT and tore the roof off the prison itself.

These days it makes for a lovely tour with a lot of history.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Turks and Caicos in the Summer

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Turks and Caicos in the Summer

When the winter weather finally starts to break, many people shift their focus from taking an exotic vacation to summering at home. But that does not mean that it isn’t the best time to hit up a tropical paradise. Check out our top 5 reasons to visit Turks and Caicos in the summer.

Best Snorkel Spots on Grand Turk

While there are miles and miles of white sand beaches surrounding the islands they are not all created equal. One side of the island is a marine preserve area. No fishing allowed! The animals and corals are protected and recognized as being very important to the Grand Turk economy. The windward side of the island is not protected and this is where the fisherman go on their daily hunts for sustenance. 

Because of this the leeward side is full of curious and calm fish while the animals on the windward side no to avoid humans in order to avoid becoming someone's dinner. Not to mention that the windward side of the island gets its name for being, you guessed it, a lot windier. This results in a lot of chop on the waters surface and a less pleasurable snorkeling experience overall.

The leeward side in contrast has almost no waves making it ideal for begginers and veterans alike. The abundance of life in the water is incredibly colorful and can be seen fairly close to shore. The beach next to the Sandbar offers the best snorkling on the island. There are corals scattered where fish congregate and it's delightful to float above and watch their world. 

The beach in front of Seasongs makes for some beautiful sunsets but it has a fairly large population of urchins so it is a lot less pleasurable to wade through the water.

For small children nothing beats the beach in front of Bohio. Calm water, long stretch of beach and a shallow sandy bottom are great for wading. You can snorkle here but you have to swim a little further out. There is an abundance of turtle grass closer to shore making it less ideal for fish.

You can also explore the almost always empty beaches closer to but not in the cruise center. There are natural rock formations that make excellent tide pools! 

When you are through snorkling, go for a long walk on the windward side. You can walk almost the entire length of the island without seeing a single soul. It's pretty amazing. 

Animal Spotlight: Sea Turtles

When scuba diving around Grand Turk it is not unusual to spot turtles Hawksbill, loggerhead and green sea turtles can all be found nesting, feeding and living around the islands.

Turtles in History

Traditionally, sea turtles provided an important source of meat for native islanders. With the tourist population soaring and the conservation concerns surrounding the turtle population, this has ceased to be an issue. Turtles are protected in TCI and seen as an important draw for tourists.

Life Cycle

Turtles come to shore to nest, returning to the places that they were born to bury dozens of eggs before returning to the sea. The baby turtles hatch 6-10 weeks later and must dig themselves out which may take a few days. At which point (preferably at night) they make a mad dash to the sea trying to avoid any predators on their way. They instinctively swim against the current non-stop for up to 24 hours.

The turtles rarely lay on the more populated islands in TCI and much prefer the isolation and anonymity of the tiny surrounding islands. Juvenile turtles travel back to the shallows of TCI reefs to feed on coral and seagrass beds. They move on to greater pastures when they are large enough and return only to lay eggs. The adult breeding grounds can be located thousands of miles from the nesting area so adults do not necessarily migrate every year.

Turtles Today

Turtles are on the endangered species list. They suffer directly from human consumption. Turtles at sea become tangled in old fishing nets, plastic can connectors and have been found with garbage in their stomachs. Turtles eat jellyfish and sometimes mistake plastic bags for a tasty treat. They also have been found with plastic straws logged in their noses. This causes massive discomfort, infection and potentially death. You can help by saying no to plastic bags- bring your reusables! They come small enough to fit in your purse or pocket and you never know when you will need it. Also, say no to plastic straws. If you are a straw person, carry your own glass or metal one, if you aren't- enjoy your drinks right from the glass.

Sea turtles are a magical site while scuba diving on the wall. Hopefully, you will be lucky enough to see one on your trip. And we can all do our part to protect them for future generations to come.

Avoiding the Cruise Center

While cruises are a great, affordable way to see a lot of places, they are a different type of tourist than the guests that stay put longer. Cruise ships are full of entertainment, food, and luxury all day long and they center in Grand Turk is no different.

There are jewelry stores, trinket shops, restaurants, pools and even a faux surf wave! There’s a huge crowd of people when the ship is in and when it pulls out in the afternoon, the cruise center closes. You can see the changes elsewhere on the island too. Segway and ATV tours hum down the street and small pop-up shops open exclusively for the cruise ships as they meander down the main street.

But what if you are looking for a different type of vacation? Grand Turk is a small island, referred to by the locals on Provo as “the country”. So if you spend time away from the cruise center you will experience a laid back attitude. Service is slower, time slows down and people even travel from place to place slower.

When you come to Seasongs, we are guessing that you are taking a break from your fast paced, deadline driven day to day. The hustle and bustle of a massive ship full of tourists pulling in and docking daily might not be your idea of a relaxing time.

But fear not! You can get an authentic island experience and politely avoid ever having to go to the cruise center.

Charter your own island tour:
Take our bikes, rent a golf cart or hire a taxi for the day and explore the island on your own. Check out the lighthouse, visit beaches on both sides of the island and save money with your savvy ways.

There are plenty of places to eat on the island that aren’t at the cruise center. Check out our article on where to eat for suggestions.

Book with locals.
We love Grand Turk Diving! They have both Naui and Padi certified master divers and they are incredibly knowledgeable. Whether you are a multi-day dive expert, or just want to test the waters you are in good hands with them. They have a small boat and I have never dove with more than 4 people. The smaller size mean more attention is on each guest. They will point out wildlife, corral and make sure that you are safe while in the water.

The beaches across the street from Seasongs, in front of Bohio and next to the Sandbar, are all great. Next, to Sandbar has the best just off shore snorkeling. In front of Seasongs is private and great for sunsets but tends to be populated with a ton of urchins. Bohio boasts sandy, shallow waters great for long walks or frolicking little ones.

Getting Around Grand Turk

Getting Around Grand Turk

It takes at least two planes, and perhaps a few car trips to get to Grand Turk Island. When you finally land, feel the warm humid breeze on your skin and let your travel stress start to melt there’s one more thing to consider- travel on the island.

Turks and Caicos Wildlife Spotlight: SEAHORSES

Turks and Caicos Wildlife Spotlight: SEAHORSES

The western Atlantic Ocean off Grand Turk may be home for three different seahorse species, the dwarf, the long snout and the white lined seahorse. Here is are photos of a pair of White Lined Seahorses I took in about 30 feet of water off English Point last year. Its mate is pictured below.

Where to Eat on Grand Turk

Where to Eat on Grand Turk

While the island is small, and does not boast the culinary prowess of Providenciales, Grand Turk is home to some delicious food. The island feels a lot homier than the relative hustle and bustle of Provo and I had a cab driver once describe it as “the country”. The food feels this way too, authentic dishes cooked with love.