This little island is what started my lust to become an expat. I was lucky enough to get to live there for three months in 2009 while volunteering at the only museum in the country. During that time, I met other expats and I knew that I wanted to live abroad. However, Grand Turk is my favorite island getaway! Since living there, I have visited twice.
Grand Turk is the perfect place to have a do nothing, beach vacation. The beaches are pristine with almost no other people on them, although you will occasionally meet a cow or a donkey. My favorite beach on the island is the beach at the Bohio Resort, technically called Pillory Beach. The sand is soft here and the water is deep enough to swim even during low tide. The resort doesn’t mind if you use the beach either, although you might order a drink or have lunch there. They do have the best rum punch on the island! I also like to walk the beach and this is a good beach to walk from. The beach landscape changes as you head north and you will find shells and usually see some birds, such as cranes or blue herons, on the walk.
Of course, there are things to do on the island besides swim and tan. You can head over to the Turks and Caicos National Museum to see the oldest shipwreck ever found in the western hemisphere. They are usually only open on days there is a cruise ship in, so check their website for the current schedule. Upstairs they have a short history of the islands and a lighthouse lens. You can also get an amazing view of the Caribbean from up there as the museum faces the ocean!
Grand Turk is well known in the diving community as one of the best coral reef systems. It is the third largest in the world after the Great Barrier Reef and Belize reefs. So if you dive, you can experience the beauty of the reefs. There are many dive shops on the island and many divers go twice a day (I hear there is even night diving)! If you don’t dive, don’t worry; you can see plenty from snorkeling because the water is so clear. Once a barracuda decided to follow me to see if was a good snack or not! I think he decided I was too big of a snack and he left me alone. The dive boats will take snorkelers on the dive trips and it is also fun to watch the divers go off and come back.
The surrounding waters attract a wide variety of larger animal life than simply barracudas and reef fish. You can take a boat to Gibbs Cay, which is about a 30-minute boat ride, to feed stingrays. These stingrays know the sound of boats means food, unfortunately. They will come right up to you. I fed them conch from my hand! They brush up against you and the sensation is weird. They feel slimy and soft at the same time. I was scared at first, but as long as you don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises, there is nothing to be concerned about. The other thing I highly recommend is to go on a whale watching boat. In January and February, Humpback Whales come to Grand Turk to give birth. They then stay in the shallow waters till the babies are big and strong enough to swim long distances. On the tour I went on, the whales found us and were very playful! There were four females and one baby. Many people from the tour got in the water and swam with them. It was an amazing experience to see these gentle giants up close.
Whilst there are not a ton of places to stay on Grand Turk, there are a few I recommend depending on what you are looking for! If you want a resort feel, then I suggest the Bohio Dive Resort. Bohio has different kinds of rooms to choose from and all have an ocean view from a balcony or terrace. The rooms are less than a minute walk to the beach. Bohio also has a pool and a restaurant. If you want a more apartment like option, you can stay at the Manta Beach House. It is right on the water and two apartments have kitchens. The advantage to this location is that it is in town and you could walk to the grocery store and there is a small beach across the street. My other recommendation is the Osprey Beach Hotel. It is also located right on the beach and has a pool and a restaurant. Some rooms do have a kitchen. A few rooms are across the street from the hotel in “The Atrium” upstairs. These are more private than the hotel, which might be good for couples. Each of these locations either has dive facilities or is down the street from a dive shop.
Because Grand Turk is so small, the three places I recommend eating are all located at the places to stay! Bohio has an excellent restaurant, Guanahani with an amazing chef! On Thursday nights, there is an international night with dishes from around the world. Make sure to make reservations to get a table on the deck by the beach. At the Manta Beach House is the Sand Bar, the ultimate beach shack! They have the best cheeseburger on the island. While the food is good, this is a bar first and foremost. It is located right on the water and is the perfect place to go to have a cold beer and watch the beautiful sunset. The Osprey Beach Hotel has BBQ nights on Sunday and Wednesday and offers views of the ocean by their beautiful pool. There is usually live music on those nights as well.
Getting to Grand Turk is easy. Fly to the large of Providenciales from the United States or Canada (most flights are from Dallas, Miami, New York City or Toronto). Then take a small plane that takes about 25 minutes from Providenciales to Grand Turk. There are two airlines that fly there, which are Caicos Express and Intercaribbean. I’m not able to recommend either as they were not in operation when I have been, but I am sure that either would be a good choice.
I hope you love Grand Turk as much as I do. If you get a chance, you can hop over to some other islands while there, such as Salt Cay or Providenciales. I can’t wait to visit again!