This British Crown Colony of 40 islands and small cays (of which only eight are inhabited) is a gem that offers stretches of sands and offshore reefs that are rich in marine life. Pristine beaches and blue waters await you.

Culture and History

Legend has it that these islands were named by early settlers who thought the scarlet blossoms on the local cactus resembled the Turkish fez. It is a matter of dispute whether Christopher Columbus or Ponce de Leon was the first European to sight the islands but there is no doubt that both men did visit. Lucayan tribes who supplanted Taino communities sometime in the 16th century were thriving at the time. France and Spain fought to control the islands for a few centuries but Britain ultimately ruled. As colonists gradually moved across the tiny archipelagos, populations were displaced, enslaved or mainly died from European disease. Those who did survive blended eventually with the new society.

Grand Turk

Grand Turk is the capital and seat of Government of Salt Cay with a population of about 200. The island is small, only just over seven square miles, with few roads. Natural fauna and native flora add to the natural beauty of the islands.

In the capital you find narrow streets lined with low stone walls and old street lamps now powered by electricity, and Bermudian style architecture. One of the oldest stone buildings on the island is the Turks & Caicos National Museum which houses the Molasses Reef wreck, the earliest shipwreck, dating to the early 1500s, discovered on the Americas. Natural History exhibits include artifacts left by Taino, African, North American, Bermudian, French, and Latin American settlers. You also learn how the island entered the space age when John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth splashed down just a mile off Grand Turk. In the north of the island is the 150 year old Turk lighthouse built in the UK and transported piece by piece to the island to protect ships from the Northern Reefs. The lighthouse went electric in 1971; the old lens is now in the museum. Low cliffed Bluff Point Beach is located just west of the lighthouse, in spring and summer you may spot a Flamingo. The lighthouse is also a good starting point for breezy cliff top walks.

You are spoilt for choice with beaches on the island, with half a dozen choices.

Cruise ships dock at the southern end of the island, near the former U.S. Air Force base south of the airport. The Cruise Complex which opened in 2006 is 3 miles from the small peaceful capital town of Cockburn. Pristine beaches and blue waters await you.

You are spoilt for choice with beaches on the island, with half a dozen choices.

Click for Grand Turk Map

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Photo: Lighthouse Grand Turk (RG) 91


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