How to Plan an Unforgettable Trip to Turks and Caicos, Including Where to Stay, What to Eat, and Things to Do

Discover the best hotels, restaurants and things to do with this travel editor–curated Turks and Caicos guide.

Drone photo of pier in Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Photo: JoaoBarcelos/Getty Images

Turks and Caicos is home to some of the most mind-blowingly beautiful beaches in the world, with sand so white it practically glows. It's an archipelago of 40 islands and cays, but there are eight main, inhabited islands. They're separated into two groups: the Turks Islands (Grand Turk and Salt Cay) to the east of the Turks Island Passage and the Caicos Islands (South Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales, Pine Cay, and Parrot Cay) to the west.

There's no shortage of luxury hotels here. Rock House scored a spot in Travel + Leisure's 2023 It List lineup as one of the best new hotels in the world. In the 2022 World's Best Awards survey, T+L readers chose three Turks and Caicos properties to land among the best resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.

The full name of the country is "the Turks and Caicos Islands," though most people shorten it to "Turks and Caicos" or "TCI." However, referring to the island chain as just "Turks" or "Caicos" is incorrect.

When visiting, plan on spending lots of time at the beach and in the water. Unlike more developed Caribbean islands, shopping and city tours take a backseat to the great outdoors here. The main activities are snorkeling, scuba diving, boating, and soaking up the sun.

Best Hotels

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Ambergris Cay

Ambergris Cay is a 1,100-acre private island with 10 one-bedroom beachfront bungalows and eight three- to six-bedroom villas. The all-inclusive resort offers guests 24-hour room service, a private chef to prepare their meals, and activities like yoga classes and guided nature walks. T+L associate editorial director Alisha Prakash reported, "Ambergris Cay defies the typical one-size-fits-all approach of lackluster all-inclusive resorts — there are no crowded pools, cheesy activities, basic buffets, or watered-down cocktails here. Instead, it remakes the genre, with private butlers and over-the-top villas and even round-trip air transfers to the island included in the rate."

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Rock House

Rock House is the latest addition to Grace Bay Resorts’ portfolio and was named one of the best new hotels of 2023 by T+L editors. The Mediterranean-inspired property has 46 accommodations from studios to two-bedroom villas — some villas even come with private pools. Its most notable feature is the 130-foot jetty that leads into the ocean.

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The Shore Club Turks & Caicos

Opened in the mid-2010s, The Shore Club Turks & Caicos is one of the newer hotels in Providenciales and was the first resort on Long Bay Beach. It features four pools, three restaurants, three bars, the Dune Spa, shopping, free use of non-motorized water sports equipment, a kids' club, and more. And the hotel was voted one of the best resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas by T+L readers.

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The Palms Turks and Caicos

The Palms Turks and Caicos has a large infinity pool, a dedicated kids' club, an acclaimed spa, and alfresco dinners at the popular Parallel23 restaurant. The 72-suite property was also voted a top resort in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas by T+L readers.

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Beach Enclave Turks & Caicos

Beach Enclave Turks & Caicos has three locations: Grace Bay, North Shore, and Long Bay. The one commonality across the three properties is that you'll be treated to full-time butler service and meals prepared by a private chef. (Even the daily continental breakfast is delivered to the villa every morning.) This award-winning property has four- to seven-bedroom beachfront and hilltop villas that are anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet.

Best Restaurants

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Da Conch Shack

Entrance to da Conch Shack
Courtesy of da Conch Shack

Perhaps the most well-known restaurant on the islands, Da Conch Shack is a Turks and Caicos staple. Located on Blue Hills Beach, guests dine with their toes in the sand as they enjoy live music, island flavors, and all things conch — from fritters to chowder to salad. Reservations recommended.

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Bugaloo's Conch Crawl

Bugaloo's Conch Crawl is a must on any visit to Turks and Caicos: you can dine on the beach beneath the shade of coconut trees or in the ocean (swimming and beach attire are encouraged), listen to live music and entertainment, and sip endless rum punch. Reservations recommended.

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Grace's Cottage

Located at Point Grace Resort, Grace's Cottage is considered one of the top fine-dining restaurant in Providenciales. Open for dinner only, this French-inspired spot offers both indoor and outdoor dining in a beautifully designed space. Reservations recommended.

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Bay Bistro

The Sibonné Beach Hotel is one of the oldest on the island — and it still feels like a charming, old-school Caribbean inn. Their on-site restaurant, Bay Bistro, is no different, promising "good food without an attitude." Expect freshly caught seafood and house-made desserts. Dining room, patio, and beachfront seating are available. Reservations recommended.

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Barbie's Bar & Restaurant

Head to Barbie's on historic Front Street for conch fritters, cracked conch, fish sandwiches, and peas and rice. No reservations are required.

Things to Do

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Scuba Diving

Diver at Northwest Point Wall of Providenciales, TCI
Underwater Outdoors Photography/Jason Sawicki/Getty Images

Some of the most vibrant reefs for scuba diving are found in the West Caicos Marine National Park, at Northwest Point, in the Princess Alexandra National Park, and at the remote French Cay. Book a dive excursion with any number of outfitters on the islands — like this well-rated seven-hour scuba tour on Viator.

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Conch Bar Caves

The Conch Bar Caves, located near the village of Conch Bar, is one of the largest non-submerged cave systems in the Caribbean. These limestone caves are home to a variety of rare wildlife, including bats and crustaceans. A guide is required to escort all visitors; visits can be arranged through Big Blue Collective.

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Turks and Caicos National Museum

Exterior of National Museum in the British West Indies
Peter Gridley/Getty Images

Visit the islands' national museum, which features exhibits breaking down Turks and Caicos' history, starting from the ancient Lucayan people who first called these islands home.

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Potcake Place K9 Rescue

If you love dogs, head to this dog rescue that helps local stray dogs find loving homes throughout North America. Visitors can stop by to take dogs for a walk or even volunteer to facilitate an adoption in the U.S.

Best Shopping

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Saltmills Plaza, Regent Village Plaza, Grace Bay Plaza, and Le Vele Plaza

The complex comprised of Saltmills Plaza, Regent Village Plaza, Grace Bay Plaza, and Le Vele Plaza makes up the central shopping district of Providenciales. Here, you'll find gift shops, jewelry stores, clothing boutiques, and art galleries. At the Saltmills Plaza, make sure to pay a visit to The Wellington Collection, which features handmade jewelry and art made from conch shells and local sand.

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Conch Bar Artisans Studio (Middle Caicos Co-op)

Interior of Conch Bar Artisans Studio
Courtesy of Visit Turks and Caicos Islands

The Middle Caicos Co-op represents more than 60 local artisans who produce baskets, hats, bags, paintings, model sailboats, conch shell art, and other souvenirs, all crafted by hand from natural materials.

Best Time to Visit

Tourism peaks in December, January, March, and April. During these months, the prices are higher and the islands are more crowded, but the weather is especially pleasant.

The weather in Turks and Caicos is generally hot and dry, with 350 days of sunshine in an average year. The days are hottest (and the water is warmest) in the summer, while November through May is milder. Hurricanes are possible between June and November during the Atlantic hurricane season.

Still, many consider springtime (February through April) the best time to visit Turks and Caicos because visitors are met with the ideal combination of good weather, lower prices, and plenty of availability. Steer clear of holiday weekends to find the best deals.

The Big South Regatta, which takes place every last weekend in May, is one of the islands' biggest annual events. It's a traditional yacht regatta on South Caicos with plenty of entertainment planned around the islands for participants and spectators alike. The Conch Festival, held annually on the last weekend of November on Providenciales, is another major annual event.

How to Get There

International flights arrive in Turks and Caicos from 11 countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Antigua, Puerto Rico, and the British Virgin Islands. From the U.S., there are direct flights from cities like Washington, D.C., New York, Miami, and Toronto.

All flights arrive at the Providenciales International Airport (PLS). From there, visitors can fly Caicos Express or InterCaribbean for inter-island travel. Both offer daily flights.

Many visitors arrive via cruise ships, which dock at the islands' only cruise ship terminal, the Grand Turk Cruise Center at the southern end of Grand Turk. Inter-island travel is also possible by boat.

Neighborhoods to Visit

Providenciales: Locally known as "Provo," 38-square-mile Providenciales is the most developed and populated of the islands and is the hub of tourism and hotels. It's home to Grace Bay Beach, which has been named "the world's best beach," and Providenciales International Airport (PLS). Grace Bay is one of the most central and commercialized areas of the islands.

North Caicos: Half of the "twin islands" of North and Middle Caicos (connected to Middle Caicos by a causeway, so the two pretty much function as one), North Caicos is the country's second-largest island. It's a 30-minute ferry ride from Providenciales, making it popular for day trips. The only hotel on North Caicos is the family-owned boutique Pelican Beach Hotel.

Middle Caicos: Middle Caicos makes up the other half of the "twin islands" and is the largest island in Turks and Caicos, but is sparsely populated, with only about 275 residents. Visitors go to Middle Caicos to check out Indian Cave and Conch Bar Cave. Dragon Cay Resort, which has five Caribbean-style cottages, three villas, and an on-site restaurant overlooking the Mudjin Harbor, is the only resort-style accommodation option on Middle Caicos.

South Caicos: Located a 90-minute ferry ride or 20-minute flight from Providenciales, South Caicos is 18 square miles and is known for its great fishing, birdwatching, snorkeling, and scuba diving. There are some luxury stays available on South Caicos, but it is one of the less commercialized islands, with lots of untouched land and wildlife.

Grand Turk: Grand Turk is home to the capital of Turks and Caicos, Cockburn Town, and is the second most populous island in the chain. Visitors love Grand Turk for its heritage, culture, and rustic charm as well as its diving. Founded by settlers in the late 1600s, Cockburn Town was the historic center of the island, though now most of the government and commerce activities take place in Providenciales.

Salt Cay: For a rugged experience off the beaten path, Salt Cay is the answer: there are no paved roads and only 80 residents call this tiny island home (it clocks in at just under three square miles). People get around via golf cart and there are remnants of the island's salt-industry past all over. It's also the best place for whale watching in the Turks and Caicos islands.

Pine Cay: Pine Cay is a tiny 800-acre island between North Caicos and Providenciales. Like Salt Cay, there are no cars on Pine Cay. It's home to two miles of untouched beaches, a few private homes, and The Meridian Club, a luxury private island resort with just 13 rooms.

Parrot Cay: Parrot Cay is a private island resort, home to COMO Parrot Cay, and spans 1,000 acres with more than four miles of beach. Visitors get there via a 25-minute boat ride from Providenciales.

How to Get Around

There is no public transportation on the islands but you can easily get around by taxi, car service, or renting a car.

Taxis: Taxis — available on Providenciales, Grand Turk, and North and Middle Caicos — are typically quite expensive. Most are large vans that operate on a shared basis with other travelers going in the same direction, though private taxis are available at a higher rate. The tourism board recommends Sea Breeze Taxi and Tours and Liv Transport, as other companies have been known to overcharge tourists. Conch Cab is another popular taxi service that can be booked by app — it is similar to Uber but only operates on Providenciales.

Car service: If you want private transportation, then Fast Track TCI is the way to go. With larger groups, it can be more affordable than taxis.

Car or scooter rental: If you want transportation at your fingertips, consider renting a scooter or car. Just remember that motorists drive on the left, there are no stop lights anywhere in the country (roundabouts are used instead), and the speed limit is 40 mph on highways and 20 mph through settlements. Most car rental brands (think Avis, Hertz, Enterprise, Dollar, and Payless) have a presence on the islands, and the tourism board recommends Scooter Bob's or Avis Turks & Caicos for renting scooters.

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