A Turks and Caicos Primer
Caribbean holidays don't get any better than on these idyllic isles
People in search of Caribbean holidays at Caribbean hotels don’t look long before they find the Turks and Caicos Islands. This sublime archipelago, strewn among the warm turquoise waves of the Atlantic, is home to some of the greatest Caribbean hotels. And none will take your breath away like La Vista Azul, perched high upon a hill, overlooking the world’s greatest beach, Grace Bay, and offering panoramic vistas in all directions that go on for forever. When people dream about Caribbean holidays at Caribbean hotels, this is where they wake up.
So come see us on Turks and Caicos. And here are a few practical facts that might help you when you arrive.
The Turks and Caicos Islands consist of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited. The islands are located 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida, just below the Bahamas chain and just to the east of Cuba and the island of Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti.) Technically, the Turks and Caicos are located in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.
The islands are home to roughly 30,000 full time residents, and welcome more than 200,000 tourist annually.
– The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques, which can be cashed at local banks. Most credit cards are accepted and banks offer ATM’s as well as cash advances on credit cards.
– Normally paid to waiters, taxi drivers, maids and porters at 15%.
– Atlantic Standard Time (AST) is the year round time observed in Turks and Caicos.
– 110 volt/60 cycle, suitable for U.S. appliances.
– The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees (29-32 degrees celsius) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s (35 degrees celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29 degrees celsius). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees celsius) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees celsius). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level.
There is an annual rainfall of 21 inches on Grand Turk and South Caicos, but as you go further west the average rainfall could increase to 40 inches. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30th.
– Turks & Caicos Islanders are mostly descendants of Africans who were brought in to work the salt pans or the cotton plantations. The expatriate population consists of British, Canadians, Americans, French, Bahamians, people from Hispaniola and virtually everywhere in the world.
– The economy of the TCI relies on the tourism industry, real estate development and the exportation of seafood. A wide variety of financial services are available, including company formation, offshore insurance, banking, trusts, limited partnerships and limited life companies. The Financial Services Commission regulates, develops and promotes the industry in major world markets.
– The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Crown Colony. A Governor is appointed by the Queen and presides over an Executive Council formed by an elected local self-government. Government offices are located in Grand Turk, with branches on other Islands as needed. The legal system is based on English Common Law.
– Daily delivery service is provided by FedEx, with offices on Provo and Grand Turk. Service is also provided by DHL and UPS.
– Satellite television service is provided throughout the islands, with most major American networks available.
– As on many Islands, our fresh water is precious, we depend upon rainfall or desalinated water produced by reverse osmosis for the supply. Please be conservative in using water.
– Local and international service is provided by Cable & Wireless and Digicel (wireless only). Telex, facsimile, internet and cellular phone services are provided. You may use your credit card or a debit PhoneCard at public phone booths.
Country code is 649. Network is through Flow. Pay phones, calling cards, facsimile, Internet, cell phones for rent at various locations.
If you have cell service in the USA please bring your phone with you because if you have International Roaming service with a cellular carrier that has a roaming agreement in the Caribbean then your phone will be able to make and receive calls whilst in the Turks and Caicos. If you do not have roaming then you will be able to make calls using the credit card platform.
– Post Offices are located on all inhabited islands. All mail is transported by air. There are many different issues and denominations of stamps for enthusiasts to collect. Philatelic Bureaus are located on both Provo and Grand Turk.
Driving License Requirements
– Visitors from the British Commonwealth Countries, The United States of America, Canada and holders of International drivers license are permitted to drive for 30 days on their respective license.
Visitors from all other countries are required to posses a Visitors Permit, which can be obtained at the Road Safety Department, located on Good Street, Grand Turk and at the office on the Old Airport Road, Providenciales.
– These Islands boast one of the lowest crime rates and highest crime-solved rates in the Caribbean. We cannot, however, let down the guard against opportunist-type theft. Do not leave valuables unattended. Lock doors and windows. Use the hotel safe for storage of valuables. These simple precautions should prevent the loss of cash, jewelry and identification. Confrontation and violent crimes are extremely rare. Any problems should be reported immediately to the Royal Turks and Caicos Police.
– Shorts are worn in town as well as the beach during the day, it is advisable to also wear sunhats and sunscreen. In the evenings, light sweaters and jackets may be occasionally needed in the winter. Dinner is usually not formal, most restaurants accept dress shorts while others require pants with a collared shirt for gentlemen and dress slacks or dresses for the ladies.
Public Nudity is illegal throughout the islands.
Customs and Immigration
– Duty free goods that may be brought in to the Islands include: 50 cigars, 200 cigarettes, 1.136 liters of spirits or wine and perfume for personal use.
There are no restrictions for travellers on the import of cameras, film or sports equipment, except spear guns and Hawaiian slings.
To bring in firearms of any type (including spear guns and Hawaiian slings), you must have written approval from the Commissioner of Police. Controlled drugs and pornography are illegal.
Effective January 8, 2007 all US Citizens traveling by air to the Turks & Caicos Islands will be required by the US Government to have a valid US passport. Cruise ship passengers have until June 1, 2009 to meet the requirement. Visitors from other countries do require passports, but no visas are necessary except from countries of the former Eastern Bloc. They are advised to contact the nearest British Consulate Office.
- All visitors must hold a round trip ticket.
- Visitors are allowed to stay for 90 days.
- For luggage restriction, individual airlines should be consulted.
– In April 2010, two new state of the art world-class hospitals managed by Interhealth Canada opened; one in Providenciales and the other in the capital Grand Turk. There are a number of private practitioners and medical centers on Providenciales and community health centers in the other islands.