Dreaming of Travel: Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is a British territory located about 575 miles southeast of Miami. Turks and Caicos consist of 40 islands, 12 of which are inhabited. It is known for its incredible white sand beaches and beautiful water. The largest island in Turks and Caicos is Grand Turk, though it is only seven square miles!
Grand Turk isn't just beautiful; it's also full of history! Salt used to be a major industry here, and throughout the island, you can still find many salina remnants. Grand Turk is also one of the islands thought to be the original landing place of Christopher Columbus! John Glenn, the first American to orbit the earth, splashed down off the coast of Grand Turk in his Friendship 7 Mercury space capsule in February 1962, and then a few months later, another American, Scott Carpenter, also landed his shuttle off Grand Turk. There are monuments to these events throughout the island, and even a street named after John Glenn.
Grand Turk may be tiny, but there are big adventures to be had!
How to get to Grand Turk
The most popular way to get to Grand Turk is by taking a cruise. This tiny island paradise is such a fun port to experience while on your cruise! If you prefer to fly, you won't be able to fly directly into Grand Turk from an international flight. Instead, you'll need to fly into Providenciales or South Caicos and take a domestic flight from there.
Where to Stay in Grand Turk
There aren't many resorts on Grand Turk due to its size, 11 to be exact! You will find these resorts located on the west side of the island on one of its gorgeous beaches. A few of the popular hotels are Osprey Beach Hotel and Bohio Dive Resort.
Where to Play on Grand Turk
I've been here several times and have never done the same thing twice, despite its small size!
The Turks and Caicos Barrier Reef is one of the best reefs in the world! You will find world-class diving and snorkeling just offshore. The water is calm, clear, and warm. You'll find no shortage of tour companies offering snorkeling excursions for every skill and comfort level.
Conch (say it like CONK) is a large marine mammal that is an island staple on Grand Turk. You can take excursions with locals who will show you how to dive for it, clean, prepare and eat it. This is a fun way to get a little local culture and a delicious meal. Conch is usually prepared in a salad (raw) or fritters (fried and oh so delicious). Try it while you are there!!
If you arrive by cruise, the water near the port is calm enough to just stay in this area and wade and play in the water. There are chairs and umbrellas available right off the pier. This is a great place for all age levels. Bring some floats and sand toys, and you can have a great day without ever leaving the pier!
The beaches in Grand Turk are perfect. PERFECT. Soft white sand, beautiful clear water, what else could you ask for? Oh yeah, they are all public and free too! These are the best beaches in Grand Turk:
- Governor's beach, located a short distance from the cruise port, is the best beach on the island, hands down.
- English Point Beach is a bit rockier than Governors but still fantastic
- Cockburn Town
- Pillory Beach both of these beaches are located in the capital "city" of Cockburn Town. There is shopping and restaurants located right here too.
You can also spend your day beachcombing. The beaches on the east side of the island aren't great for swimming due to constant winds that bring seaweed in, but you can still enjoy the sand. A short walk from the cruise port center is a beach known as the "conch graveyard," where large amounts of conch shells are located. I really want to make it here one day, but we always run out of time!
Other activities on Grand Turk
- Check out the John Glenn Memorial.
- Search for donkeys. Yes, donkeys! They are everywhere on Turks and Caicos, and they just wander around wherever they want. I don't know why they are there, but I'm sure glad they are...they are so cute!
- Head up to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1852 and is 60 feet tall. There is a gift shop here where you can pick up a souvenir and snacks, and there are beautiful ocean views from the grounds of the lighthouse.
- Zipline and ropes course. This is located in the same area as the lighthouse and is a great adrenaline rush if you are feeling adventurous.
- Shop til you drop. You can shop right in the cruise port if you want, but if you want a little more local flavor, head to Cockburn Town. It has little open-air booths right next to the beach.
- Margaritaville. It is located at the port and includes a Flo rider (surf simulator), a huge pool, cabanas with food and drinks.
- EAT! The most fun place to eat on Grand Turk is Jacks Shack. It's located just a short walk along the beach from the port and has incredible food and drinks. You eat right on the beach and can play volleyball, people watch, and swim. It's a super fun environment, and the food is delicious. One of our other favorite places to eat is Barbies Bar and Grill in Cockburn Town.
Getting around Grand Turk
If you want to spend your days lazing by the beach and relaxing, you will be able to walk to the best beaches. They all will be within walking distance of your cruise port or hotel! My favorite way to get around, however, is to rent a golf cart. You can drive it on the main roads and go anywhere easily with it. Just remember, drive on the LEFT!!
Have you been to Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos? What are your favorite activities!? Let us know in the comments or tag us on Instagram @gethappyly with all your family adventures!
Looking for a vacation destination but haven't decided where to go yet? Check out a few of our other Dreaming of Travel articles such as Maui, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Cumberland Island, Zion National Park, or Nantucket!
If summer travel plans have already hit your radar, read up on our "Value of a Summer Bucket List" article. And of course, don't forget to download the happyly app and have access to the best ambassador-recommended destinations right at your fingertips! It's the country's only mobile-first family activity planning app for fast access to all of our blog content, favorite activities, and expertly curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.