Long Cay is an exquisite uninhabited island located a short boat trip from Cockburn Harbour on South Caicos. As its name suggests, the island is narrow and very long, for a continuous 3 miles (4.8 km). In many places, the width is less than 100 feet (30 m) across. The island has a total landmass of about 256 acres (1 sq km).
The Turks and Caicos features more than 100 named islands and cays, and Long Cay certainly ranks as one of the most scenic. To the east of the island is the deep blue of the Turks Islands Passage, which has depths greater than 5000 feet (1.5 km), and to the west side of the cay and in stark contrast is the shallow and pastel Caicos Banks, with depths of only a few feet. The Turks Islands Passage brings in clean and clear water, so visibility is amazing on both sides of the island.
It’s difficult to find a more perfect place to spend a few hours. The eastern coastline of the island consists of white crumbling cliffs and bluffs, and the sheltered west side is largely small pristine and calm beaches interspersed between low cliffs. Wildlife abounds.
The water surrounding Long Cay is often crystal-clear, and it’s common to spot barracudas, small sharks, turtles, stingrays, eagle rays, and occasionally manta rays in the incredible shallows off the cay.
Fascinating snorkeling is also found on the fringes of Long Cay. The west coast shelters an array of small creatures in the many coves, and during calm conditions, the windward east side offers deeper and more complex reef systems.
It’s important to be aware of the rapidly evolving geology of Long Cay. Much of the island consists of semi-lithified soft limestone dune, and nearly all of the cliffs are soft and crumbling. It’s important to keep a safe distance from the sheer edges, as rocks can break loose with little warning.
Long Cay is part of the Admiral Cockburn Land and Sea National Park, an extensive protected area that includes the islands of Long Cay, Middleton Cay, and Six Hills Cays, as well as the water surrounding the islands.
In addition to the marine life in the water, bird life is abundant, and sightings typically include ospreys, brown pelicans, frigatebirds (there’s a rookery on the nearby Moxy Bush cay), long-tailed tropic birds, egrets, herons, and several varieties of terns.
Turks and Caicos Islands Rock Iguanas
Long Cay is also home to a significant population of Turks and Caicos Islands Rock Iguanas, which can be seen scurrying in the underbrush. When exploring the cay, it’s very important to watch for and steer clear of the iguana burrows in the hillside, as an inadvertent step can crush an iguana home.
Getting to Long Cay
As a newcomer to the luxury tourism industry, South Caicos currently doesn’t support a great number of tour and charter businesses. No excursions are regularly scheduled, yet it’s easy to arrange transport with a local fisherman or bonefishing charter.
Great cell phone reception is had from the bluffs at long cay, so it’s always possible to make a call if necessary.
When visiting Long Cay, we advise bringing umbrellas for shade, as well as plenty of water and drinks.