Highlands BaySouth Caicos
Highlands Bay is a rugged hard sand dune and limestone bluff coastline found on the southeast side of South Caicos.
The ocean here isn’t really great for either swimming or snorkeling. Due to the eastern trade winds, the water is typically choppy, and the ocean floor is a combination of seaweed and rock.
The small coves and beaches here collect flotsam and seaweed. It’s often surprising what can be discovered.
Standing lonely on a hill are the ruins of Highland Estate and Highlands House. Formerly the residence of one of the country’s salt proprietors, this decaying mansion displays the unique tropical architecture that defines many of the circa 1800s buildings on the salt-producing islands.
Precisely-cut limestone blocks were mortared together and stuccoed over with a smooth “plaster” finish to protect against erosion. Wood stairs and ceiling paneling also remain, and reflect the skilled labor that built many of the colonial buildings and salt works in the Turks and Caicos.
Highlands House was refurbished a few times during its history. The complex definitely deserves recognition as a protected historical site.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma (and then Maria shortly after) severely damaged the house.
As is the case with many of the beautiful coasts and beaches on South Caicos, there is no dedicated or “official” beach access for Highlands Bay.
An unpaved loop road circles the main central salina, and the eastern portion of this road leads near the Highlands area.
When driving from the main settlement of Cockburn Harbour, it’s easiest to travel on the southern route of the loop road. After leaving the paved roads of town (near the clinic), you should quickly pass the new East Bay Resort. Continue until you cross the culvert for the small inlet canal into the salinas and then keep left. After 0.8 miles (1.3 km) the rough track to Highlands Bay can be found on the right.