Governor's Beach is the finest beach on Grand Turk.
Of the typical Caribbean cruise port stops, Grand Turk definitely offers a unique atmosphere, and is one of the best destinations for the
beach and exploring on your own. Cruise ships land directly off the beach, so you can be relaxing in pristine and crystal-clear ocean water as soon as you step off the pier.
The cruise center is owned and operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, which also operates the majority of cruises to Grand Turk. However, several other companies also operate routes here, including Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Windstar Cruises, Costa Cruises and Crystal Cruises.
It varies a bit according to each ship’s schedule, yet cruise ship guests unfortunately don’t have a lot of time on Grand Turk. Ships typically land mid to late morning, and depart in the afternoon. To get the most out of your visit, it makes sense to plan your day before disembarking.
One of our top recommended ways to spend your day is to explore Grand Turk on your own. The island is easy to navigate, and it’s simple to
book your transport. Car and vehicle rentals are typically picked up and dropped off right outside the entrance to the Grand Turk Cruise Center. With your own rental, you’ll be able to discover the beaches and sights at your own pace, and you’ll be able to escape the crowds too.
If you'd prefer not to drive,
taxis are readily available from the cruise center.
All beaches and coasts in the Turks and Caicos up to the high tide mark are public and free-to-access. You don’t have to pay up to enjoy a non-existent “private beach”.
Many of the hotels and resorts in the Turks and Caicos maintain a fleet of non-powered water sports equipment for guest use, such as
paddle boards, and windsurfers.
Bohio Dive Resort on Pillory Beach is the largest resort on Grand Turk and has the widest selection of such amenities.
Grand Turk is a world-renowned scuba diving destination. Abrupt and sheer wall sites, where the
depths drop from around 40 feet (12m) into the thousands, offer vibrant coral and varying marine life. You won’t waste time on long boat rides either, as many of the best dive sites are only minutes from shore.
Snorkeling is a bit of a mixed situation. There are definitely spectacular sites to be found, but most are too far off the coast to swim out to. A
boat snorkeling cruise can get you to some great sights, or check out our snorkeling page for details on what can be seen from the beach.
The quantity and variety of marine life thriving at the reefs of Grand Turk is astounding. There’s colorful reef fish, lobsters, ells, turtles, stingrays, eagle rays, small
sharks, vibrant coral, sea fans, and sponges.
Snorkel and dive excursions can be arranged through your cruise line, or private charters can be booked directly with local tour businesses.
Guided tours are one of the top things to do in Grand Turk.
More so than the other islands in the country, many of Grand Turk’s attractions are of historical interest. The
Grand Turk Lighthouse,
Turks and Caicos National Museum, and old
Her Majesty's Prison are great places to visit, and the oceanfront and historical
Cockburn Town offers remnants of British-Bermudian Colonial architecture. Cockburn Town is also a great place to get some
food away from the crowds at the Cruise Center. The Museum has an exhibit on the Molasses Reef wreck, which is the oldest European shipwreck in the Americas to have been excavated.
Another fascinating sight are the
old salinas from the bygone
sea salt industry. The features near town still exhibit the brine gates and windmill pumps, in contrast to
Hawkes Nest Salina near the cruise port, which has essentially become an extensive salt flat.
One of the many stingrays at the shallow waters of Gibbs Cay.
Found off the east coast of Grand Turk, the small and scenic Gibbs Cay stingray encounter is another highlight of the area. At this small and uninhabited sea oat-covered island, friendly wild stingrays swim up to meet visitors. Discovering this island is a fun family vacation activity.
You’ll be able to snorkel with these majestic sea creatures in their natural environment, an all-too-rare encounter with wild animals. For those who may be unsure in the water, the white sands of the beach here and the views from the bluffs are also draws.
Although only a winter season activity, humpback whale watching is another interesting activity. The southern-most migration point for many western Atlantic humpbacks, the whales journey to banks around the Turks and Caicos and Dominican Republic to mate and give birth.
It’s not predictable, however the opportunity to snorkel with these giant marine mammals may present itself. Swimming in the spectacularly blue ocean with whales is an unforgettable experience.
The historical oceanfront district of Cockburn Town.
There’s a wide selection of boat cruise and fishing tours for those who’d like to get out on the turquoise and blue ocean.
Choose from a private tour or shared excursion.
A day trip on the water to explore our uninhabited cays is an amazing experience. There are quite a few little islands located within boating distance of Grand Turk, including
Long Cay, and
Martin Alonzo Pinzon Cay, the eastern most land in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Exploring and Island Tours
Last but definitely not least is simply getting out and exploring on your own, one of our top recommended activates.
Grand Turk is an excellent place to discover by
rental car, golf car or scooter. The island is small, it’s almost impossible to get lost, there are no dangerous areas, and there are many interesting sights and beaches to find.
If you’d rather have a guide, there are several organized
island tours to choose from, including open-air truck tours, and led
dune buggy adventures.
fishing charters operate from Cockburn Town with reef and deep sea sport fishing. However, be advised that due to the time constraints of cruise visitors, these types of tourists may find they don't have enough time.
For shore fisherman, remember that all fishing requires a license and fishing in National Parks is prohibited. The
Columbus Landfall National Park (named after Christopher Columbus' presumed new world landfall in Grand Turk) covers much of the western coast, starting from near the Carnival managed Cruise Center.