Turks and Caicos
Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996
Turks and Caicos
Technically part of the Bahamas chain some 30 miles to the northwest, the Turks and Caicos are 30 dry, scrubby islands and keys scored by salt flats and arranged in the shape of a slightly distorted clock. Though Providenciales (known locally as Provo) is still a one-stoplight island, it’s Miamilike compared with the rest of the group, with plenty of hotels, shops, and
Off Grace Bay, on the island’s north shore, check out the spur and groove formations at Graceland, Aquarium, and other dive sites in Alexandra National Park. And just outside the north-shore reef, the wreck of a huge freighter called the W.E. rests between 95 and 165 feet, the home of tigerfish, eels, lobsters, and mobs of milling tropicals. Provo Turtle Divers (two-tank dive,
A sea kayak is the best way to hit the snorkeling sites, tool between beaches, or explore the mangroves and estuaries in Chalk Sound Marine Preserve, an inland saltwater lake in the less-developed southwestern corner of Provo that contains about 365 tiny cays. Rent your gear at Windsurfing Provo (single kayaks, $10 per hour; doubles, $15; 809-946-5040), located at the Turquoise
Fishing around Provo runs a close second to diving; use heavy tackle from a fighting chair to wrestle with marlin, tuna, and wahoo, or light tackle to spin-cast for bonefish. Book your trip with Bob Collins of Sakitumi Charters (half-day trips, around $400 for up to six people; full days, around $700; 809-946-4203) in Turtle Cove Marina.
The north shore’s newest hotel is the Royal Bay Resort & Villas (doubles, $145-$295; 800-822-3900), scheduled as of press time to be open by October 1995, with dive and water-sport packages using the on-site Provo Aquatic Adventures. Guests arriving between October 1 and December 21 are charged the introductory rate of $99 per night.
If Provo isn’t quiet enough, base yourself on Grand Turk, 75 miles to the east across the open-water Turks Island Passage. Donkeys and chickens wander the sleepy streets of the main village, Cockburn Town, and tiny restaurants operate out of boathouses along the water’s edge. A quarter-mile offshore, a vertical reef wall begins in 35 feet of water and drops 7,000 feet into
Even more remote is Pine Cay, a private island just north of Provo that’s run as a nature preserve. The sole hotel is the environmentally sensitive Meridian Club (doubles, $425- $625, all inclusive; 800-331-9154), with 12 suites on a two-mile beach surrounded by nine miles of nature trails. Rates include all meals, use of sailboats, bicycles, and snorkeling gear, as well as