The islands' beaches give us the blues—in the best way.
The Turks and Caicos island chain boasts some of the most spectacular stretches of sand found anywhere in the world. While some are lined with resorts and bustle with action, there are opportunities throughout the islands to put the first (and likely only) footprints on a beach.
One of the most spectacular (and unique) beaches in all of the Turks and Caicos, Mudjin Harbour is accessed by climbing down a hidden staircase to the sand from the Dragon Cay Resort in Middle Caicos. The beach is miles long, but the cliffs and rock formations right along the resort are the most stunning. You can swim across to the rocks just offshore and hang a hammock, where you can nap in the shade of the cavelike formation. This spot is great for strolling, finding sea glass at low tide, or even bodysurfing on the waves that break right at the shoreline.
Grace Bay is the reason many people visit the Turks and Caicos. The award winning 3-mile stretch of powder-white sand is part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, so despite the activity brought about by the many resorts that line this beach, it is protected from development. It is also protected from storms and ocean swells by the barrier reef a mile from shore. The same sandy bottom that gives this beach its consistent beauty means there’s not much to see underwater with a mask. Grace Bay is best for strolling, shelling, floating, and sipping drinks.
Half Moon Bay
You’ll have to take a boat (or if you’re up for it, a kayak) to get to this unspoiled beach, but those who have been to Half Moon Bay say it’s well worth the effort. There are no resorts, no restaurants, and few people. There are, however, a lot of iguanas. Water Cay, the island this beach is on, is small but great for exploring. Just take shoes so you can climb over rocks and avoid the spiky shells that hide in the sea grasses. Many folks stop off as part of a snorkeling excursion, but you can also plan to pack lunch and spend an entire day here.
Lower Bight Beach
It’s hard to know exactly where Grace Bay beach ends and Lower Bight Beach begins. The two meld together into a miles-long stretch of sand along the northern coast of Providenciales. Your best clue to being on Bight Beach lies underwater. The sandy bottoms give way to seagrass and a few small but vibrant coral reefs. The best snorkeling in the area lies here at the Bight Reef right outside the Coral Gardens hotel. The area is cordoned off to protect it from speed boats and is not far from the shore. You’ll see a variety of fish, a healthy reef system, and if you’re lucky, a turtle or even a nurse shark.
Malcolm’s Road Beach
Few make it out to Malcolm’s Road Beach on the west coast of Providenciales—the only resort out here is the ultraexclusive, swanky Amanyara on the southern end of the coast—but those who do are rewarded with great snorkeling and diving sites. Just offshore, the wall drops from a depth of about 50 feet to more than 7,000 feet. However, there are strong currents and winds out this way, so only experienced divers should attempt to access the wall from the shore. There is a large number of concrete reef balls on one part of the beach that you can easily swim to. The coral hasn’t really developed yet, but you will likely find lots of fish hanging around. There are no amenities (other than Amanyara) out this way, so be sure to bring ample food and water with you.
The popular Grace Bay Beach transitions into Pelican Beach as you head east toward Leeward. Although not as well known and certainly nowhere near as busy, this stretch of white sand and aquamarine water is just as gorgeous. The barrier reef running parallel to the shore means no waves, and there are some great snorkeling spots. You’re also likely to see some—you guessed it—pelicans sunning on the rocks. Take a stroll and look for shells, as many make it ashore unbroken.
Sapodilla Bay is ideal for families traveling with young children as the calm waters are shallow. The sheltered beach is not long when compared with some of the other hot spots (just 900 feet long), so it doesn’t take many people to make it feel crowded. Shallow and sheltered also means that the water here will be warmer than on other beaches—a great spot in the popular winter season. You’ll likely notice that the sand here is finer than on other beaches. That’s because it’s had to travel a lot farther to end up here. This is more of a splashing around and chilling out kind of beach than a snorkeling spot, though you may see some conch and starfish in the patches of seagrass.
Always calm and clear, the shallow water of Taylor Bay is another family favorite, located on the southern coast of Provo near Chalk Sound. It’s also a small beach—only about 2,000 feet long—so despite its remote setting, it can feel like a full house. Time your visit at low tide when the ocean retreats and leaves behind spectacular rippled patches of sand. Because it is sheltered from the wind, the water is usually calm. It also means you’re likely to be bothered by sand fleas, so be sure to pack some insect repellent, especially if you’re planning to visit early morning or late afternoon.
West Harbour Bluff
West Harbour Bluff is part of the Frenchman’s Creek Nature Reserve, so like many of the other beautiful beaches in the country, it’s protected. In addition to stunning cliffs and an open-faced cave, you can spot birds including the white-tailed tropic birds, ospreys, and green herons, as well as the national bird of the Turks and Caicos, the brown pelican. In the water, you’ll likely see conch, starfish, and stingrays.
Grand Turk’s Governor’s Beach separates the cruise center and historic Cockburn Town along the west coast and is the best the small island has to offer. So spectacular is the setting that the historic governor’s mansion, Waterloo, was built a short distance away overlooking the beach. One of the most photographed sites along the beach has been the rusting shipwreck just offshore, which will be used as a dive site in the near future. When cruise ship passengers arrive here, the beach can get busy and vendors line up selling their wares. Otherwise, you’re likely to have it all to yourself.