Grand Turk and Caicos
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides and just 45 kilometres south of the Bahamas, the British overseas territory of Turks and Caicos has only started to be on the radar of travellers in the last decade, when many cruise liners made Grand Turk a port of call after a cruise centre was opened in 2006.
With a small population of approximately 30,000 people, this archipelago, made up of 40 islands, is a little piece of secluded paradise. There are no chain hotels, no fast food outlets, and none of the many usual tourist traps you might associate with other Caribbean ports of call.
What you can enjoy, however, is unspoiled beaches, a laid-back lifestyle and a diverse array of water sports, including the chance to dive on the world’s third largest coral reef. The hundreds of thousands of passengers arriving by cruise in Turks and Caicos every year dock in Grand Turk, the largest in the Turk Islands chain.
At 18 square kilometres, even though Grand Turk is small, it’s the largest of the Turk Island archipelago. The newly completed cruise centre is located along a 1,000-foot long pier, on the south-western side of the island. After their ship has berthed in the port, passengers will need to walk approximately 390 feet to get to the centre. Popular cruise ships that dock at Grand Turk include Carnival, Princess Cruises and Holland America.
Visitors are blessed with a purpose built playground to meet their every need at the Grand Turk Cruise Centre, nestled among 18 acres of landscaped grounds and considered one of the Caribbean’s best cruise port complexes.
- 45,000 square foot shopping centre with duty free options, jewellery stores, souvenirs and other gifts
- Restaurants and bars
- Swimming pool
- Spa treatment facilities
- Rental kiosk offering floats and snorkelling equipment
- The Flow rider man-made wave surfing attraction, for body boarding and stand up surfing.
The cruise centre and adjacent beaches are a major attraction on Grand Turk, and are open to the public for free.
How to Get Around
Visitors can get around Grand Turk via rental car, taxi, golf car and scooter. Most streets in Cockburn Town are narrow with 20mph speed limits, making golf car or scooter one of the best ways to navigate around built-up areas. Rental cars, scooters, golf cars and taxis are available to hire from the cruise centre. Motorists in Grand Turk and Caicos drive on the left.
The capital, Cockburn Town, is around 6 kilometres from the cruise centre. Since there are no footpaths, some form of transport is recommended to get into town.
Travel times from the port:
- It is a 1 hour and 7 minute walk to Cockburn Town
- It is a 2 minute walk to the Grand Turk Cruise Centre and recreational facilities
- It is a 28 minute walk to Governor’s Beach.
- It is a 7 minute journey to Grand Turk JAGS McCartney International Airport by car
- It is a 9 minute journey to Cockburn Town by car.
- Currency - Turk and Caicos Islands use the US dollar, available in 1, 5, 10 and 25 cent coins and $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100 coin and bank note denominations.
- Time Zone - Grand Turk is on Eastern Standard Time (EST), which is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight savings time is in effect from April to October.
- Weather - Thanks to a constant trade wind, temperatures in Grand Turk are warm, without ever getting too hot. The average year round temperature ranges between, 29-32 degrees Celsius. Grand Turk experiences an average of 350 days of sunshine per year.
- The Cruise Centre - Enjoy all the recreation and leisure facilities in and around the cruise centre. Choose between shopping, dining, a massive lagoon size pool, water sports and idyllic white sand beaches. Entrance to the cruise centre is free.
- Dive or snorkel - See a unique marine world below the water line, enjoying the world’s third largest barrier reef system. Most snorkelling tours are approximately USD$50 for a 2 hour tour.
- Turks and Caicos National Museum - Admire the coloured Bermudan style colonial buildings in Cockburn Town before visiting the Turks and Caicos National museum, named the best little museum in the Caribbean. Filled with shipwreck relics dating back to 1513, the admission price for cruise visitors is USD$5.
- Beach Horse Back Rides - Ride along the pristine beaches, taking in the colourful oceanfront and reef, and then enjoy a swim in the ocean while still riding your horse. The duration for this activity is approximately 2.15 hours.