We just returned home to Prince Edward Island, after spending 4 months in the Caribbean between Cabarete, Dominican Republic and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. We spent the majority of our time in Turks, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here. If you want to read about our time in Cabarete, you can read about it by clicking this link.
In total, we spent about 3 months in Turks and Caicos. We rented a small bungalow apartment in Long Bay, just off the Leeward Highway. James was employed as a Kite Instructor for Long Bay Kiteboarding, and I was there as a visitor.
Here are 7 things I think you need to know if you plan on visiting Turks and Caicos.
1. Where to stay: Resort vs Air BnB/Villa
I’m going to try and keep this as short and sweet as possible.
If you’re planning on visiting Turks for a short-term stay, I’d recommend staying at a resort.
If you’re planning on visiting Turks and staying long-term, you should look at renting an apartment.
Why you should stay at a Resort:
Cheaper for the short-term traveller because...
Many resorts are in Grace Bay, which is an area you can walk to shops, cafes, beaches, and restaurants off the resort
You won’t need to rent a car for your vacation
The resorts are luxurious and many of them are located on the beach of beautiful Grace Bay.
Here are some things to consider if you plan on staying long-term:
It's probably worth your while to rent an apartment or villa. They are expensive, but less expensive than staying long-term at a resort
You will need a vehicle to get around
You will need to pay for utilities; electricity, water, internet
You will need to buy groceries
The best areas to stay (that I’m familiar with) would be Grace Bay area, Leeward Estates, and the Long Bay area.
Some rentals are fully or partially furnished. Others are not. Make sure you know what is included before you arrive, so you can pack accordingly.You might want to swap out that extra pair of sandals for a can opener. Just sayin’. I've included prices of household items in the next section.
2. Food: Groceries / Restaurants
Food is expensive. There is very little agriculture on the island, almost everything is shipped in. If you stay at a resort, you won’t have to worry about food. If you choose to stay somewhere else, obviously you will. There are a number of grocery stores you can shop at, depending on where you live, how far you want to drive, and how much you want to save. I’ll be writing another piece about living on the island, and what grocery stores you should go to for what, so stay tuned.
For now, let me give you some examples of prices of various grocery items (keep in mind prices did fluctuate, but these were some prices we encountered while living there):
- Cauliflower $17 USD
- Greek Yogurt $20 USD
- Bacon $20 USD
- 1lb Ground Beef $8 USD
- 1 head of Broccoli $8 USD
- Chocolate bar $3.49 USD
- Jar of Alfredo Sauce $6.49 USD - $15 USD
- Butter $12 USD
We also had to buy a few household items since we were staying for so long. Some of these items we purchased, others we did not... because... prices.
- bath towel $27 USD
- beach towel $15 USD (we got this one. It was literally the WORST. It actually repelled water).
- coffee maker $20 USD (STEAL OF A DEAL. We had one of those “start the car!” moments)
- face cloths $8 USD each
- beach chair $150+ USD
- yoga mat $30 USD (the ‘cheap’ ones that fall apart, you know what ones I mean)
There are so many delicious restaurants on Turks, I’ll be writing another blog on those too. They are also kind of pricey. Worth it? Yes, I dare say they are.
I don’t think I was ever really disappointed with my food while eating out. Well, there was that one time…but I’ll save it for the restaurant review blog. SUSPENSE.
3. Getting Around: Driving / Walking
You need a vehicle if you’re not staying at a resort. Plain and simple. It’s a tiny island, but it’s all highway. It just can’t be done.
They drive on the left hand side of the road in Turks. It’s a fast moving little island. And by that, I mean the people drive fast. There are only speed bumps and round-a-bouts to slow people down. There are a few stop signs, but I believe most people consider them optional and not mandatory.
For drivers at night, it’s either no lights, or bright lights baby. No regular lights.
There are also a lot of stray dogs called “Potcakes”on the island. Some of them are nice, some of them are not. The stray potcakes often travel in packs and they can be dangerous. So, walking isn’t really recommended.
However, if you stay at one of the many resorts in Grace Bay, you can leave and walk around. Take your time while visiting all the cute shops and restaurants Grace Bay has to offer. Many resorts offer bicycles to their guests, and you can rent bicycles in Grace Bay as well. Taxis are available, but they are expensive.
4. Things To Do
I’m going to list the first 10 things that come to mind:
Kiteboarding - on the shallow, flat & clear water of Long Bay
Boat Tours - take a tour around the island on one of the many charters available
Snorkelling - try snorkelling at Smith’s reef
Potcake Place - it’s like the humane society, and you can walk the dogs
Tattoos - get inked at the only tattoo shop on the island
Eco Tours - SUP tours through the mangroves, baby shark do-do-do-do-do
Fish Fry - an outdoor market, with live entertainment, local artists, food & drink
Coffee Shops - lots of good ones
Parasailing - wheeee! I haven't done it, but it looks like a TIME
Shipwreck - check out the shipwreck in Long Bay
Will I do a more detailed and comprehensive "Things To Do" list in another post? Of course I will.
If there is anything specific you want to know, make sure you let me know in the comments!
5. Illegal Things
Here are a few illegal things you may not have realized:
No alcohol can be sold on Sundays in shops and stores. You can still purchase drinks from bars and restaurants though.
Marijuana is illegal, even if you have a prescription for it (aka your prescription doesn’t make you exempt from this rule). It is considered a Class A substance, which means it’s one of the most controlled substances in the country. There is a penalty of $75,000 and 5 years in jail. Read article.
“Indecent or Obscene Materials” including sex toys. They are banned in Turks and Caicos and cannot be brought there (or bought there). If they happen to check your luggage at Customs, they’ll be confiscating your *ahem* personal massagers. Read article.
6. Currency & Language
US dollars are used on the island, even though it is a British Overseas Territory (hence the driving on the left side of the road). They speak English on Turks too.
7. Beautiful by Nature
It is home to some of the most incredible beaches I've ever seen. The clearest, turquoise-iest waters I've ever laid my peepers on. Pictures do not do it justice. Which is crazy right? Look at that picture! It's breathtaking in real life. Truly.
Obviously, I love Turks and Caicos. It's beautiful. It's small, quiet and perfect if you're looking to escape to a Caribbean island with beaches that will leave you speechless.
It is expensive, but if you plan ahead, and plan smart, you can definitely make it work.
Let me know what else you'd like to know about Turks and Caicos in the comments.
Thanks for reading!