The 24-Hour Guide To Grand Turk
Although I only spent one night here, Grand Turk was probably my favorite island of the three I visited during my island hopping adventure in the Turks and Caicos. Despite being home to a major cruise ship terminal, Grand Turk was much less commercialized than Providenciales. It still felt more lively than South Caicos, and I was able to stay in a really amazing Airbnb with a great host.
For better or for worse, I don’t have a true list of attractions to recommend for Grand Turk. There were a number of things I wanted to see, such as the highly recommended Turks and Caicos National Museum, Her Majesty’s Prison, and the Historic Lighthouse. For various reasons, I didn’t make it to any of these, but I still really enjoyed the time I spent exploring the island.
Instead, I spent most of my time driving around the island in a golf cart and enjoying the amazing beaches and natural beauty of the island. In this short post, I’ll mention the areas of Grand Turk I explored as well as the things I missed this trip.
Things I Saw in 24 Hours
It should come as no surprise that Grand Turk is home to some incredibly beautiful beaches. I found the water here much prettier than Grace Bay on Provo. What’s even better is that all of the ones I saw were completely undeveloped. The easiest beaches to access for visitors are the ones on the western shore of the island.
Grand Turk's Northwestern Peninsula
If you take a look at the map of Grand Turk, you’ll notice that the northern half of the island is divided into two peninsulas by a body of water called North Creek that’s connected to the ocean. The western one is home to a lot of wilderness, which was interesting to explore via the golf cart I rented.
At its northern end is a nice beach that I had all to myself. When I was there, I spotted some fun pirate decorations, but I’m not sure if they’re permanent installments.
In the island’s town center, Front Street is the main thoroughfare that offers ocean views. Check out the distinctive pastel-colored souvenir shops, or read some of the many signs that explain the historical significance of the older buildings located here.
Since I only spent a day on Grand Turk, I basically only got to try two restaurants. For lunch, I went to the Salt Raker Inn and enjoyed the cracked conch I got there.
For dinner, I tried Barbie’s Bar & Restaurant on Front Street. I had a small dinner of conch salad and rum punch, which cost $10 in total.
Like South Caicos, Grand Turk is home to quite a few salinas, which are man-made structures used to extract salt from the ocean. They look like shallow ponds and often appear in a grid-like structure. I personally found them to be prettier on South Caicos, but they’re still interesting to see on Grand Turk as well.
Things I Missed
Turks and Caicos National Museum
Grand Turk is actually home to the capital ‘city’ of the Turks and Caicos Islands, known as Cockburn Town. It’s a little unexpected because the settlement is so small, but this is probably the reason why the Turks and Caicos National Museum is housed here on Grand Turk. Almost all reviews of the museum online are glowing, so I was disappointed to find that it was closed for hurricane repairs when I was there. If it’s open while you’re on Grand Turk, be sure to go and leave a comment below letting me know how it is!
Her Majesty's Prison Museum
The prison is another historical relic that can be found in the center of Cockburn Town. If it’s open, it might be worth checking out.
Grand Turk Lighthouse
I’m a bit of a lighthouse fan (as random as that may be), so I was excited to go check out the Grand Turk Lighthouse even though visitors aren’t allowed to go inside or climb it. Unfortunately, my golf cart started experiencing technical difficulties on the way from Cockburn Town, so I lost an hour or two of exploring time and never got to see the lighthouse up close. I did however, see it from a distance when I was exploring the northwestern peninsula. It’s peeking out above the trees in the upper-right corner of the (admittedly out-of-focus) image below.
Grand Turk Cruise Center
I was also interested in checking out the cruise terminal, but I drove up to what looked like a security gate at some point on the main road heading there. I didn’t get out and ask if I could drive my golf cart through, but I suspect that it might be off-limits to non-cruise visitors.
One of the highlights of my short stay was the Airbnb I found. Faith Anne and Ed were such welcoming hosts, and the studio above their home they rent out is beautiful. To see the listing on Airbnb, click here.
A Short yet Picturesque Flight
As I mentioned in my general Turks and Caicos island hopping guide, the domestic flights from Providenciales to the other islands are incredibly beautiful. On the way there, be sure to sit in a window seat on the left side of the plane for the best views!
Getting Around by Golf Cart
Most tourists here rent golf carts since the island is only 7 miles from north to south and 2 miles wide. Golf carts won’t protect against rain and I experienced some technical difficulties with mine (I was given a partial refund for the trouble). I booked through my Airbnb host and was told the standard rate on the island is about $80 per day. I highly recommend paying for roaming data in case you get stranded on one of the island’s further corners and need to call someone to pick you up.
I’m hoping this post has convinced you that you should consider visiting Grand Turk if you’re heading to the Turks and Caicos! The island does receive visitors, but most probably only stay for a few hours while their cruise ship is docked for the day. If you can spend a full day or two on Grand Turk, you’ll get a more complete picture of this small yet beautiful island.