The paradise archipelago of 40 islands that make up Turks & Caicos sits in the Caribbean to the south east of the Bahamas.
The first cars appeared on Providenciales in 1964, getting about by donkey isn’t uncommon on Grand Turk and apart from these two holiday isles, the rest of this lovely country is undeveloped and wonderfully unspoiled – avoid the cruise ship side of Grand Turk and you could easily still be in the early 19th century.
You won’t find theme parks to fill a family holiday here, but wild adventure and the world’s most beautiful beaches more than compensate.
Grace Bay is officially the world’s best beach and you’ll find it on Providenciales.
A dry, tropical climate with year-round sunshine and temperatures in December and January between 22 and 27˚C rising to 33˚C in hot, hot July.
Providenciales has 17 official beaches ranging from the powdery white sands of Grace Bay to pelican-friendly, West Harbour Bluff – good for caves and rock carvings too.
There are three national parks on Providenciales: Princess Alexandra – best for beaches; Chalk Sound – beautiful lagoons and tiny islets to explore; Northwest Point – wild seas, rugged cliffs and fantastic bird watching.
Provo Golf Club’s 18-hole course ranks in the Caribbean’s top 10.
Turks & Caicos has over 110km of coral reef barrier and is considered to be one of the world’s best diving destinations.
Providenciales specialises in all-inclusive family beach resorts and Grand Turk is the island for charming Colonial hotels and beachy self-catering.
Where to go
The holiday capital of Turks & Caicos, Providenciales is the place for big beaches and luxurious family resorts. With three national parks, several marine and nature reserves, hectares of coast and a laid-back, beachy atmosphere it’s the perfect island for adventurous kids. Award winning dive schools teach children as young as six. Horse riding on the beach, dolphin spotting and snorkelling are much more fun than white-knuckle action. Kids can try all sorts of water sports for the first time in safe, calm waters. Then there are days out eco-touring, island hopping, caving, iguana watching and exploring – very little is off-limits to kids.
Many family resorts have their own waterparks and a wide choice of kids-only activities.
Providenciales is only 62km² but has everything from limestone cliffs to lagoons for adventuring around.
The island’s main industry is tourism and high quality local operators offer everything from paddle boarding tours to boat charters.
Providenciales International is Turks & Caicos’ main airport and where most visitors arrive.
Don’t miss: Grace Bay, Cheshire Hall Cotton Plantation, Caicos Conch Farm (the only one in the world), Sapodilla Bay rock carvings and Iguana Island.
Protected by a barrier reef just over a kilometre offshore and covered in powdery fine seashell-sand, Grace Bay has been voted World’s Best Beach many times over. It’s on the north east coast of Providenciales, beautifully sheltered and stretches to between 5km and 12km (depending on which local you believe).
Technically 5km long, Grace Bay seamlessly joins several other equally lovely beaches and covers about 12km in total.
Part of the Princess Alexandra National Park.
Not the island’s best snorkelling beach but great for water sports, sails to the reef and safe swimming.
The capital of Turks & Caicos is a mecca for divers and a brief stop for most Caribbean cruises. Apart from that small flurry of activity this is a gorgeously sleepy island known best for serene beaches, lovely Colonial architecture, free-roaming donkeys and Creole traditions.
Best for experienced divers, young children and independent travelling families.
Pretty 19th century hotels, beachfront guesthouses and cute self-catering are Grand Turk specialities.
Don’t miss: the Turks & Caicos National Museum, delightful Cockburn Town, Governor’s Beach, Gibbs Cay for the stingrays, North Creek marine reserve and Grand Turk lighthouse.
Fantastic island for complete beginners to try reef diving.
Winter whale spotting off the coast of Grand Turk is the best in the country.
What to do
Eco Adventures, Providenciales From paddle-boarding tours round the cays to national park adventures, eco-tours in and around Turks & Caicos are better than theme parks any day.
Princess Alexandra National Park, Providenciales Providenciales is well protected with three national parks. This is the largest, home to Grace Bay and a wonderland for nature loving kids.
Chalk Sound National Park, Providenciales Beautiful lagoon studded with tiny green islets to the south west of the island, great for kayaking.
Simth’s Reef Snorkelling, Providenciales Fascinating sea creatures and warm, transparent Caribbean waters make Providenciales a natural for young snorkelers. This is one of the most rewarding areas.
Little Water Cay Iguana Sanctuary, Providenciales Iguanas were once all over Turks & Caicos now they’re rare and well-protected on Little Water Cay, known as Iguana Island.
Provo Ponies Providenciales Horse riding on pure white sands and all the way into the water is unforgettable for kids and a Providenciales holiday must-do.
Coral Reef Tours Providenciales Providenciales is famous for the pristine coral reef just about a kilometre off-shore. Glass-bottom boat tours are magical for children.
Whale Watching, Grand Turk You can only see whales in winter off Grand Turk, but that’s the best time to visit the Caribbean anyway so you’re in luck.
Diving, Grand Turk Turk & Caicos is a legend with serious divers, rated in the world’s top ten for sites and amazingly rewarding, even for beginners.
Day Trip to North and Middle Caicos, Providenciales
Only Providenciales and Grand Turk are holiday islands but visiting the other, wilder and very exciting parts of this wonderful archipelago is unforgettable and very easy.
Educational value for kids
Providenciales is water sport heaven and kids can learn everything from paddle boarding to diving here.
Tours and day trips to nature reserves and national parks are very child-friendly in Providenciales.
Some of the Caribbean’s most pristine coral reefs surround Turks & Caicos and they’re easy to enjoy on short sails from Providenciales.
From iguanas to clams, there are small, friendly and fascinating nature conservancies all over Providenciales aimed at teaching kids about conservation.
Turks & Caicos is renowned for incredible caves and tours are the greatest adventure with older children.
Donkeys are more common than cars on Grand Turk and traditional Caribbean culture is very much alive across other islands too.
From salt cays and windmills to plantations and lighthouses, historic Turks & Caicos is accessible and engaging for kids of all ages.
Getting around with kids in Turks and Caicos
There’s very little public transport on Providenciales or Grand Turk and taxis are expensive. Hiring a car is the best option if you want to see more than just your beach and resort. Bikes are another good way to get about and most island roads are quiet enough to cycle safely. Almost all hotels will arrange transport for day trips and island hopping. Ferries run from Providenciales to Middle and North Caicos and there are flights from Providenciales to Grand Turk.