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Grand Turk

Photo © jamesd1967

Travel Guide Caribbean Turks and Caicos Islands Grand Turk

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Introduction

Supreme Court Building (still unsafe for habitation)

Supreme Court Building (still unsafe for habitation)

© All Rights Reserved greatgrandmaR

Grand Turk is the western most island of the Turks and Caicos Islands and with a total population of about 5,500 is the largest of the Turks islands (Middle Caicos is the largest of the Caicos Islands). The island functions as the historical, cultural, administrative and economical hart of the country and has good facilities for travellers, both regarding transport (by boat and plane) as well as a wide range of hotels and restaurants. The beaches are probably its main feature though.

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Cities/Towns

  • Cockburn Town - the capital of Grand Turk as well as the Turks and Caicos Islands

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Sights and Activities

National Museum

Cockburn Town is home to the Turks & Caicos National Museum, which is housed in the colonial-era Guinep House, on Front Street. The house is believed to be over 180 years old and much of its structural material came from local shipwrecks, including a ship's mast, which is one of the building's main supports. The site was donated to the Museum in 1990. Among the National Museum's collections is an exhibit of shipwrecks, including the oldest known European shipwreck in the Americas, the Molasses Reef Wreck, dated 1505. Other exhibits detail the history of the Lucayans, the Space Race, Turks and Caicos postage stamps, slavery and the history of the slave trade, the sisal and salt industries, royal events, as well as a general history of the islands. The museum also maintains a garden, which is adjacent to the Guinep House. Also of interest are the museum's research projects, including its Message in a Bottle Project, recording nearly 40 years' worth of messages to wash upon the shores of Grand Turk.

Other Sights and Activities

  • The lighthouse is Grand Turk's most famous attraction. At this site, you will find the lighthouse keeper's residence, as well as the kerosene storage building, built of local limestone blocks. At night, the lighthouse was often the only guidepost mariners had to steer them away from the treacherous Northeast reef, which extends eastward far out to sea and was responsible for an untold number of shipwrecks.
  • H.M. Prison - Tours of the old prison on Front Street.
  • Watch the sunset - There is nothing like a Grand Turk sunset. Watch for the green flash while sipping a cold drink. Locals will tell you it's not so elusive at all.
  • Spaceship landing - one of the American space capsules came back to Earth near Grand Turk. At the cruise line terminal, there is a small celebration of that feat, with models of the ship and an astronaut.
  • Scuba Diving - Grand Turk has one of the most lush wall systems in the entire world. Healthy corals, diverse marine life and visibility that exceeds 100 feet often calls divers from around the world. The wall is a 10 minute ride from the beach, where your dive shop will conveniently pick you up. You can also take a day trip to dive or snorkel at Salt Cay.

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Events and Festivals

Salt Cay Day

This traditional Caribbean island festival has a peculiarly British feel in Turks and Caicos, thanks to the country’s status as an external territory of the United Kingdom. The events take place over three days, and include pageants, kite flying, bicycle races, maypole dancing, and a great deal of music, food and drink. It is held at the end of April as a traditional spring fete on the undisturbed islet of Salt Cay, near the capital island of Grand Turk.

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Weather

Grand Turk has a very pleasant and tropical climate with generally warm and humid weather. The seabreeze makes things relatively mild though and water is never far away. Temperatures generally average around 30 °C during the day yearround and 23 °C at night. December to May is the dry season, where July to October is the rainy season, but this generally means some showers at the end of the day instead of days of rain on end. Hurricanes are possible though from August to October.

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Getting There

By Plane

JAGS McCartney International Airport (GDT) on Grand Turk is the main airport and there are only domestic flights with interCaribbean and Caicos Express to Providenciales, South Caicos and Salt Cay.

Mostly planes go to Providenciales. A domestic flight from there to Grand Turk will probably be about $150 per round-trip.
Spirit Airlines offers direct service between Ft. Lauderdale and Grand Turk. American Airlineshas three trips daily between Miami, Florida and Providenciales (Provo) in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Turks and Caicos Airlines meets all incoming Provo flights to take passengers to Grand Turk. Other local airlines also offers flights between Provo and Grand Turk.

Ironically, the airport was named for James Alexander George Smith McCartney who was was the island territory's first Chief Minister until 9 May 1980, when he died in a plane crash over New Jersey.

By Boat

The Buccaneer is a ferry between Grand Turk and Salt Cay. It is passenger only and it takes about 30 to 45 minutes. Travelling is one Wednesdays and Fridays only and it departs Salt Cay at 7:00am and Grand Turk at 2:30pm.

Grand Turk is rapidly becoming a popular cruise destination. Carnival Cruise lines has built a port at Grand Turk. It is almost like a Private Island for all of the Carnival family of cruise ships (which includes Princess, Holland American, Cunard, Costa and some others). It is different from the other "private islands" because Grand Turk was an actual community before the cruise line built the pier and the cruise center.

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Getting Around

The original mode of transportation on the island - the horse - has resulted in semi-wild horses and donkeys who roam freely about the island. The horses are reported to be descendants of the original Spanish Conquistador horses.

By Car

There is a car rental place in the cruise center, and probably also at the airport. You will need a valid driver's license.

Taxis are available at the cruise center. There is a posted list at the taxi dispatch point (marked T on the map) as to what the prices are. There are four zones. The rates are one way per person.

  • Zone A - where the cruise center is at the southern end of the Island $4.
  • Zone B - Cockburn Town $5.
  • Zone C - Pillory Beach (one of the premier snorkeling and diving beaches) $8.
  • Zone D - The Lighthouse $9.

By Public Transport

There is no public transport on Grand Turk (or anywhere else in the Turks and Caicos Islands). There has in the past been a shuttle from the cruise ship port into town.

By Foot

You can walk from the cruise center into town, but there is no shade along the way.

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Eat

  • Barbie's Bar & Restaurant - Address: Front Street|Churchill Building, , Phone: +1 561-386-2331
  • Margaritaville - Address: Carnival Cruise Center
  • Birdcage Bar and Restaurant at Osprey Beach Hotel Lunch and dinner poolside dining. BBQ served twice weekly. Live entertainment by Mitch and The High Tide Band. Phone: 649-946-2260.

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Sleep

  • Osprey Beach Hotel, ☎ +1 649-946-2666, fax: +1 649-946-2817. 27 beachfront rooms, located on Grand Turk Island.
  • Crabtree Apartments, ☎ +1 978-270-1698. 3 charming beachfront 2 bedroom vacation rental units on Grand Turk Island.
  • Bohio Dive Resort (Turks and Caicos Resort), ☎ +1 649 946 2135. The twelve standard rooms and four deluxe suites, excellent ocean views and are just a few steps away from the beautiful beach.

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Keep Connected

Internet

LIME offers telecommunication including internet, cellular and long distance to all the Turks and Caicos islands.

The address is Cockburn Town TKCA 1ZZ, and their website is here.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Digicel offers mobile telephone services.

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Contributors

as well as moreandmore (7%)

Grand Turk Travel Helpers

This is version 21. Last edited at 13:43 on May 9, 17 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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