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Caribbean The Turks and Caicos Islands

For the ultimate in luxury holiday destinations, few places could compare with the Caribbean. Images of pristine white sand and shimmering azure waters instantly spring to mind. If you had to pick the top 10 then the Turks and Caicos would surely be worthy of a place on the list. This stunning holiday destination encapsulates the best of the Caribbean.

 

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The Turks and Caicos is an archipelago of forty islands comprised of the larger Caicos Islands and the smaller Turks Islands. Located 575 miles south east of Miami in the Bahamas island chain on the world’s third largest coral reef system.

 

 

The most well known of the eight inhabited islands of the Turks and Caicos is Providenciales. This is the centre of the islands’ tourism offering a wide range of hotels, restaurants and facilities. The islands are unique and diverse and the only real way to experience the Turks and Caicos as a whole is to visit each island individually. You can travel quite easily to most of the islands by boat. There are also regular scheduled flights from Providenciales to Grand Turk, South Caicos and Salt Cay. North and Middle Caicos are very easy to travel to by ferry.

 

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Providenciales is home to the most beautiful beaches including the famous 12 mile Grace Bay and also Leeward, Bight and Taylor Bay beaches. The stunning lagoon of Chalk Sound National Park is also located here. For water sports the facilities on Providenciales are excellent. There are many dive operators here and its location with miles of barrier reefs and walls opens up a huge variety in the dive sites.

 

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The second most populated of the islands is Grand Turk and it is also the political and historical centre of the islands. Since 1766 Cockburn Town which is situated on Grand Turk has been the official capital. The Grand Turk Lighthouse is the most famous landmark in the Turks and Caicos. It is also home to the country’s only museum The Turks and Caicos National Museum whose main exhibit is the Molasses Reef Wreck, which is  the oldest wreck of a European ship to have been excavated in the Americas.

 

 

Like Providenciales, Grand Turk is also excellent for scuba diving and snorkelling and has wall sites which can drop in places from 30 feet to over 7000 feet. Some of its most beautiful beaches include Cockburn Town Beach, Governor’s Beach (which is considered by some to be the best of Grand Turks beaches) and the Cruise Center Beach which is by far the busiest.

North Caicos and Middle Caicos with its miles of secluded beaches and rugged cliffs make this an ideal location to visit. As with the other islands the beaches are magnificent with Mudjin Harbor beach being the most famous. Apart from water sports, hiking here is also excellent and the Crossing Place Trail is a great route to explore. It should take about 4 to 5 hours for a round trip and takes in some of the most amazing views of the island. The trail will take you along coastal headlands, beaches, and inland countryside. It is quite a strenuous hike but definitely worth the effort.

 

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South Caicos is sparsely populated with just over 1000 inhabitants. Historically this was the main salt exporting island and the remains of this industry are still evident. Tourists come here for the spectacular diving, excellent fishing and beautiful beaches. It also boasts the best natural harbour in the Turks and Caicos known as Cockburn Harbour.

Salt Cay is the smallest of the inhabited islands and was so named because of its salt producing trade. This tiny little island has been unspoilt by tourism and the offspring of the donkeys which were worked during its salt production days roam the island freely. This is a fabulous destination for whale watching and diving. The scenery here is amazing and North east Point is worth visiting for both its scenery and its snorkelling.

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