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Turks and Caicos Islands
Turks and Caicos Islands
Found in the center of the Turks and Caicos archipelago, the verdant North Caicos and Middle Caicos are the Garden Islands of the country, and the perfect escape for the adventurous traveler.
With a combined population of less than three thousand, day to day life is laid-back and quiet. The two islands make up the majority of the land mass in the country, so the density of development is quite low. A road causeway connects North Caicos and Middle Caicos, and travel between the islands is easy. The route from Sandy Point Marina (western North Caicos) to Lorimers Landing (eastern Middle Caicos) is the longest drive in the country at 32 miles.
Arriving from Providenciales, and despite only being a short 30-minute ferry ride away, you'll instantly notice that North Caicos is lusher and greener. Due to the geography of the Caicos Islands archipelago, North Caicos captures a far greater share of the rainfall drifting in from the Atlantic.
Many of the nation’s finest natural tourist attractions are found on these two islands, including caves, blue holes, and the majestic limestone cliffs of Mudjin Harbour Beach. If you're staying on Providenciales, it's easy to take a day trip, and several companies offer tour packages to the sights and attractions of these twin islands.
North Caicos and Middle Caicos are great places to sample authentic Turks and Caicos cuisine. Several restaurants are found across the two islands, and these eateries feature dishes with freshly-caught seafood and locally-grown produce.
Whether you decide to book a lodging and spend your entire vacation on the islands, or simply make a day trip by ferry from Providenciales, there’s always a tranquil landscape awaiting on North Caicos and Middle Caicos.
The main draw of North and Middle Caicos are the pristine beaches, coastlines and wetlands. There’s a vast amount of unspoiled Caribbean wilderness to discover.
Both islands offer beautiful and varied sandy beaches, none of which have seen any large-scale development – a far cry from the world-famous Grace Bay Beach. From the sheltered white sands of Bambarra Beach to the remote Cedar Point, there’s always a beautiful location to discover. Where else could you spend days exploring untouched Caribbean sand and sea?
North Caicos and Middle Caicos are an amazing destination for outdoor photography. There are countless beaches, great sunset locations, and lush landscapes that shelter wildlife. Culture and lifestyle photos can be great too, as the quiet life in the islands offer interesting settlements, friendly community, and small-scale farming.
The high limestone cliffs, Dragon Cay, sea caves, and turquoise hues of the breath-taking Mudjin Harbour is considered to be one of the finest landscapes in the Turks and Caicos. Incredible at any time, the vistas here are especially impressive when the ocean swell is high.
Many visitors take a day trip from nearby Providenciales to Middle Caicos simply to experience this majestic coastline.
Dragon Cay Resort and the Mudjin Harbour Bar and Grill are located at this scenic and breath-taking Turks and Caicos coastline. There are also vacation rentals nearby at the quaint Conch Bar village.
To the west of Mudjin Harbour is the Crossing Place Trail coast, where the finest hiking path in the Turks and Caicos can be found. The route here travels over the high limestone cliffs, over the beach dunes, and through marine wetlands, all of it untouched and incredible. The hike will typically take a few hours, and is most impressive when there’s a high ocean swell, as huge waves will be seen breaking on the barrier reef and rocks.
Keeping with the quiet nature of the islands, North Caicos and Middle Caicos each offer a single small hotel and several rental villa and guest house accommodations. Unlike the neighboring and busy island of Provo, there are no large hotels, all-inclusive resorts, or spas.
Due to the limited tourism activity on the islands, vacation rental reservations are often made directly with the lodging’s owner. Booking in this manner brings the added benefit of cost savings.
Guest amenities can vary a bit. A few of the more-luxurious accommodations feature swimming pools and the complimentary use of water sports equipment, other lodgings, although comfortable, have a limited selection of extras.
One of the larger private vacation villas offers the perfect getaway for a family or large group. Such beachfront rentals are complete with a pool, outdoor amenities, and several bedrooms. Many of the boutique lodgings are found on secluded beaches that rarely see visitors, so you’ll likely have exclusive use of your own private beach.
If you’re looking to keep your vacation costs down, there are several budget-oriented options to choose from. A single bedroom at a local bed and breakfast, or inland suites can be booked at a great price.
The 35 minute TCI Ferry ride between Providenciales and North Caicos is an attraction in itself as the route journeys past several pristine cays, all of which feature incredibly-scenic beaches. The last cay you'll see before North Caicos is the luxury celebrity destination of Parrot Cay. If you’d rather travel by air, a short island hop from Providenciales International Airport can be arranged through a local airline.
If you’d rather let someone else do all the work, select from one of the organized tours offered from Providenciales, or take a guided excursion from a local taxi. Most trips include fascinating insider information and a stop at a great restaurant. Bicycle and ATV tours are also available to the adventurous.
A fun time to visit Middle Caicos is during the annual Valentine’s Day Cup holiday, which is a model sailboat race that takes place at the calm and beautiful Bambarra Beach. There are tiki huts here that offer shade, the little island of Pelican Cay can be seen in the bay, and the local food and music to enjoy.
If you’re looking for the perfect souvenir, browse a gift shop in one of the settlements. There’s the Middle Caicos Co-op in Conch Bar, the National Trust office in Kew, and several small stores in Bottle Creek and Whitby.
The Karst geological system of dissolution certainly left its mark on North and Middle Caicos in the way of caves, blue holes, and sinkholes.
Conch Bar Caves, the largest non-submerged caves system in the Bahamas – Turks and Caicos Islands archipelago, is found in central Middle Caicos.
Smaller yet nevertheless beautiful, the skylights and open galleries of Indian Cave (previously inhabited by the Tainos, a Lucayan group of people) is another great spot to visit. Papayas grow through the various openings and wild ficus tree roots drop down from the ceiling like vines.
On North Caicos, the Cottage Pond blue hole is a mysterious attraction. This perfectly round pond is over 250 feet deep, with complex cave systems branching off the bottom.
Perhaps the greatest Karst feature in the Turks and Caicos is the special Middle Caicos Ocean Hole, likely the widest blue hole on earth. This remote and colossal hole is hundreds of feet deep. Due to its isolation, the Ocean Holes is rarely featured as one of the country’s attractions or activities!
Another beautiful Karst feature is Juniper Hole, an open sea cave that’s found on the far western end of the Crossing Place Trail.
As the garden islands in the country, North Caicos and Middle Caicos were home to quite a few cotton and sisal plantations in previous centuries. Two such historical attractions are open for tourism.
After the American Revolution, displaced Loyalists, many of which were tobacco and cotton planters, were granted land in the budding Caicos Islands to compensate for losses sustained during the war. Once in the islands, they attempted to raise crops once more. Cotton was the usual choice, and the country’s Sea Island Cotton was well received abroad.
However, it wasn’t to last. In a few decades, hurricanes, soil erosion, and infestations brought an end to the industry. After the plantation days, the small villages of Kew, Whitby, Bottle Creek and Bambarra, supported by small-scale fishing and agricultural, replaced the organized cotton and sisal fields. Overgrown and forgotten plantation ruins can still be found in the wilds across the islands.
Wade’s Green Plantation near the settlement of Kew on North Caicos is the best-known and best-preserved example of a Caicos plantation in the country. Although overtaken by dense vegetation in places, much of the Great House, Overseer’s House, kitchens, slave quarters and field walls still remain, waiting to be explored.
The marine environment of North Caicos and Middle Caicos is undeniably beautiful. It’s tremendously varied as well. There’s the shallow mangrove channels teeming with wildlife, the amazingly turquoise Bottle Creek Lagoon, the rugged cliff coastlines, and spectacular beaches. In short, there’s always something to explore.
Due to the extensive wetlands, the kayaking and stand up paddle boarding on North and Middle Caicos is the finest in the country. These shallows and sounds also lend themselves well for bonefishing and kiteboarding. Underwater, there are many interesting snorkeling sites close off the beach.
If getting away from it all and submerging yourselves in nature is your idea of the perfect vacation, the tranquil islands of North Caicos and Middle Caicos are the ideal destination for you.
Another way to enjoy the natural beauty is to take a boat charter to the untouched cays between North and Middle Caicos. The views of Bottle Creek Lagoon and the East Bay Islands National Park are unparalleled. Due to the island’s limited number of visitors, all tours are a custom charters, and there are no crowds in sight.
North and Middle Caicos are a great destination to explore by car. As relatively small islands, it’s difficult to get lost, yet the surrounding wilderness offers a fun sense of adventure. The islands have some of the friendliest people in the country, so you won’t have to look far for directions.
A paved road causeway connects North Caicos and Middle Caicos, so getting around is easy.
It’s a breeze to plan your adventure, and navigation is simple. Review our sights, beaches, and attractions, check the maps, book a car rental, and experience the natural splendor of the Garden Islands.
The birdwatching on North Caicos and Middle Caicos is excellent. All of the Caicos Islands feature marine wetlands, however the vast majority of the wildlife-sheltering red mangrove population in the Turks and Caicos are located on North Caicos and Middle Caicos. Almost 150,000 acres of protected national park and nature reserve surround the two islands.
Flamingo Pond on North Caicos, a short stop near the ferry port, is seasonally home to hundreds of pink West Indian flamingos. Throughout the island, you'll see flocks of other wild birds, including our national bird, the brown pelican.
The complex wetland ecosystems supports great diversity of life, and you’ll see sharks, turtles, conch, fish, land crabs, herons, egrets, pelicans, ducks, and more.
Although designated viewing areas and hiking trails are almost non-existent, roads lead past countless scenic ponds, coasts and wetlands, so access is simple.