The East Bay Islands National Park is found off the northeast coast of North Caicos and next to Bottle Creek, and is composed of the uninhabited wetlands islands of Bay Cay, East Bay Cay, and Major Hill Cay. The total area of this protected region, which includes water, is 8746 acres (3539 hectares). The national park has been given the (NP5) code designation by the Turks and Caicos government.
The Sights and Scenery
The north and northeast coasts of Bay Cay and East Bay Cay offer excellent casuarina tree lined beaches. The south-eastern section of the beach on East Bay is spectacular, and comparable to many of the top beaches in the country.
The southern sides of these cays consist of sheltered mangrove wetlands and interior landlocked ponds. An abundance of bird life and other wildlife can be found in these areas.
Nearly the entirety of the dry ground on these islands is low-elevation sandy coastal vegetation terrain. This landscape supports a beautiful array of salt-resistant plants, including sea grapes, thatch palms, joe wood trees, and sapodillas.
The unique and interesting Highas Cay is located near the national park. Although not in the park this scenic and uninhabited island is worth a visit when in the area.
How to Visit the National Park
North Caicos and Middle Caicos comparatively do not have an extensive tourism industry, and consequently, the charter and excursion options to visit the East Bay Islands National Park are limited.
All boat charters that operate from North Caicos offer custom adventures, so tours of the national park are an option. Due to the shallow depths that surround the area, a shallow draft vessel such as a flats fishing boat is necessary.
Big Blue Collective, the largest eco-tour operator in the Turks and Caicos, maintains a fleet of kayaks and paddleboards on North Caicos, and is able to arrange bespoke adventures.
As in all protected areas in the Turks and Caicos, certain rules and regulations apply.
- It is illegal to take or harm any animal, plant, natural item, or historical artifact. This includes seashells, animals, plants and flowers, coral, and sand.
- Littering and vandalism are against the law and punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.
- Open fires are not permitted.
- Fishing (with the sole exception of lionfish) and the collection of conch, lobster, crab, and shellfish are illegal.