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Island Hopping the Caicos Bank

The Turks and Caicos Islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean to the east of the Bahamas, and about forty minutes by plane from Miami and the North American mainland.

The archipelago of 40 cays and islets sits on a sea mount called the Caicos Bank, which rises up from the Atlantic Ocean. Each cay is unique and provides a glimpse of life in the Caribbean in times gone by. And all around is a spectacular shallow turquoise sea of the Caicos Bank.

Turks and Caicos Map

By Flickr user Rian Castillo. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A String of 40 Islands and Cays

The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays (pronounced keys) that rise above the submerged Caicos Bank, including our own island of Providenciales, or Provo. Provo is one of the Caicos islands. Middle and East Caicos can be reached fairly easily from Providenciales. Salt Cay, in the southeast corner of the Caicos Bank, is harder to reach. To the east of the Caicos Islands, across the Caicos Channel,  lies island of Grand Turk.

Exploring the Caicos Islands Chain

While Grand Turk is an interesting place, if you’re staying on Providenciales it’s easiest to plan an adventure to isolated spots on the Caicos Bank, to visit the Caicos Islands.

The Caicos islands are:

  • Providenciales
  • Middle Caicos
  • North Caicos
  • South Caicos
  • East Caicos
  • West Caicos

Each has its own unique character, and provides a glimpse of the Caribbean of days gone by.

Providenciales

The Sands at Grace Bay is located on the calmer, leeward side of Providenciales. Grace Bay Beach is protected from strong trade winds that power the large breakers which are very popular with surfers and kiteboarders on other parts of the island.

Island tours can be arranged from Providenciales, typically by ferry or by plane. The ferry to Middle Caicos leaves from Blue Haven Marina on Leeward, while flights to other cays depart from Providenciales Airport.

North Caicos

After landing on North Caicos you will set off to explore the conch bar caves and venture deep inside the earth with your native guide to view stalactites and stalagmites, bats, white owls and incredible limestone formations.

Middle Caicos

However, now that you’re on North Caicos, continuing to travel on to Middle Caicos is well-worth the effort. A narrow sandy causeway connects the two islands. While it is possible to walk the trail to reach Middle Caicos, it would take far too long.

Caving on Middle Caicos

This adventure begins with a scenic boat ride from Provo to North Caicos—you can most easily get to the caves of Middle Caicos from North Caicos—where you’ll stop along the way to snorkel on the barrier reef.

Middle Caicos itself is home to just 300 full-time residents. It’s a wonderful day trip by boat from Provo.

East Caicos

East Caicos is an uninhabited island but is large in size being 18 square miles. Swamps and mangroves inundate a majority of the island, you can find the highest point of the islands here. There is a splendid 17 mile beach on the northcoast of the island, this is usually only used by sea turtles to lay their eggs because of the large mosquito population.

South Caicos

Located to the southeast of Middle Caicos, South Caicos is not a day trip. Instead South Caicos is a destination in its own right. It can be accessed by water taxi, but it’s far easier to fly there.

Island Hopping in the Turks and Caicos

Full Day Caicos Bank Cruise (Dream Day Getaway)

If you want to truly experience the wild, natural beauty of the Turks and Caicos, a full-day trip up the Caicos Bank to the east of Grace Bay and the Leeward side of Providenciales is the way to do it.

As its name suggests, Caicos Bank is notable for its shallow, crystal-clear water and white sands.

The full day excursion makes a stop at Leeward Reef for snorkeling right from the boat. Leeward reef is located off the northeastern, leeward tip of Providenciales and has been left relatively untouched by development.

The tour also explores some of the more remote cays that most visitors never get to see. One of these small islands is Fort George Cay, less than an hour by boat to the east of our resort.

Fort George Cay is an uninhabited island that once was home to a small fort that protected the Caicos islands from pirates. Some of the gun emplacements still remain, which makes for an incredible beachcombing experience.

As part of its full-day excursion, Caicos Dream Tours provides a delicious BBQ feast.

After lunch the tour resumes with snorkeling at the spectacular coral beds off Pine Cay and exploration stop at Half Moon Bay.

Private Tours to North and Middle Caicos

North and Middle Caicos are the two largest islands in the country. They lie to the east of Providenciales and are connected by a sandbar. Few people live on these islands, and they offer a chance to get a glimpse of the Caribbean of the past.

Both cays feature some fantastic scenery and equally fantastic beaches. Middle Caicos is famous for Mudjin Harbour’s beautiful beach, located on the northern shore of the island and the spectacular Conch Bar Caves.

Plan Your Excursion

The excursions may be conveniently booked by guests of The Sands at Grace Bay at our Tour Desk, located by our main swimming pool. Learn more here.

 

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