Turks and Caicos

5 Things You Need to Know About Getting Around In Turks and Caicos

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1.       Cash (in USD) is Queen.


The country may be a British territory, but retailers take cold hard US dollars. Most places on the smaller islands are cash only- especially cabs

2.       Cabs are priced By Person


Since most of the islands are fairly small, the prices for transportation are charged to each individual in the car.

3.       You can drive from one island to another!


There is a small causeway from North to Middle Caicos.

4.       Drive on the left side of the road


Because of their British roots, the cars travel on the left.

5.       Not all roads are created equal


The roads are in varying states of drivability depending on the island and last date of repair. They range from paved to potholes and dirt to golf-cart-only (Salt Cay). On the smaller islands, the rental companies will meet you wherever you are staying and some will even allow you to drive yourself to the airport when you’re through… Just leave the keys in the car!

Animal Spotlight: Sea Urchins

 

These cute little creatures are abundant on some of the beaches in Grand Turk. We all know you should look with your eyes and not your hands and urchins make that even more clear- they have a body made up of barbed and sometimes poisonous spines. Yikes! 

These little sea hedgehogs feed primarily on algae and have to watch out for starfish, otters, eels, and triggerfish lest they become lunch. Sea urchins move along slowly using their five tube feet. Urchins belong to the same family as sand dollars, sea cucumbers and sea stars which all boast five-fold symmetry.

There are separate male and female species but it is incredibly difficult to tell them apart. Males tend to hang out on higher, more open ground and females prefer to hunker down in crevices and on the sea floor.

If an urchin has intact spines it is nearly impervious to most predators but when the spines are damaged they become a slow-moving feast for many fish and crustaceans. They do not have any eyes but or central nervous system but can sense touch light and chemicals with either their eye spots or the entire body. Their mouths are located on the bottom and their anus on the top.

The urchins in Grand Turk have mostly black spines so they are fairly easy to spot through the clear water against the white sand. So watch your step and enjoy watching them with your snorkel mask on.

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.

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.