Warm, white beaches; warm, clear waters in a dozen shades of turquoise; and a balmy breeze all characterize the paradise that is the Turks and Caicos Islands. With direct flights from many U.S. cities, this Caribbean gem promises the vacation of a lifetime.
If you’re planning Turks and Caicos travel in the coming months, be sure to take advantage of these insider’s tips, traveling guidelines, and other essential information as you plan to visit Heaven-on-Earth.
Airports and Airlines
The Turks and Caicos Islands offer three airports with international service on Grand Turk, Providenciales, and South Caicos. Providenciales International Airport is the most popular, receiving the majority of international flights and visitors.
You have a number of airline options, including American Airlines, Bahamas Air, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Spirit Air, and US Airways. All operate flights into and out of the islands. To travel to other Caribbean destinations from Turks and Caicos, however, you must first lay over in Florida-most often, Miami.
Customs and Immigration
The islands require all U.S. visitors to bring a valid passport. If you’re from Canada, an original or notarized copy of your birth certificate and a photo I.D are sufficient to gain entry. You visit may extend your visit to 30 days with a one-time-only renewal. All visitors to the island must present evidence of a round-trip ticket.
Most visitors, including those from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom, don’t need a visa, but some other international visitors are required to obtain visas. Be sure to double-check your country’s requirements and to give yourself plenty of time to obtain any mandatory documentation.
For more specific questions on immigration and visiting guidelines, you may contact the Turks and Caicos Immigration Department directly by phone at (649) 946-4233 or by fax at (649) 941-5696.
Customs in Turks and Caicos permits typical tourist items, such as cameras, sports equipment like fishing rods, golf clubs, and tennis rackets, and even certain types of food. Pornography and controlled drugs are illegal, and visitors may only bring firearms with the written consent of the Commissioner of Police.
All the resorts and hotels on the islands will welcome you with arms wide open, and some will charge you an arm and a leg for their world-class amenities and services. The islands offer a wide spectrum of accommodations for every taste and budget.
One excellent resource for researching different hotels and resorts is TripAdvisor. Guests leave feedback about their experiences and give the properties a star rating. TripAdvisor also offers ratings for Bed-and-Breakfasts.
The average year-round temperature in Turks and Caicos is 77 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The islands’ average annual rainfall amounts to only 21″.
With a mostly sunny climate, be sure to bring extra sunscreen, a hat, and a long-sleeved shirt or two for additional sunblock.
Pack mostly leisure clothing. The islands’ dress code is decidedly casual, though a few of the nicer restaurants do require close-toed shoes and a collared shirt. Foodies should bring a decent set of clothes, just in case. Bathing suits worn away from the beach or pool are generally frowned upon.
The official currency of the islands is the U.S. Dollar, and the islands impose no restrictions on the amount of money brought to the island.
Traveler’s checks are accepted on the island, though some businesses may charge a 5% transaction fee for traveler’s checks.
Credit Cards are generally accepted
In tourist hot spots such as Providenciales and Grand Turk, you’ll have no problem using your credit card. Remember to alert your credit card company about international transaction to avoid having your card “frozen,” and if you plan on visiting some of the less travelled islands, keep a stash of cash.
At restaurants, a 15% tip is customary, the same as in the U.S. Don’t be surprised, however, if some restaurants include a 10% service charge in the bill. Tipping personal services and taxis is also a generally accepted practice.
All pets brought to island require a certification of rabies vaccination. Be prepared for a public health inspector to examine your pet upon arrival. Double-check with your hotel to ensure that it-and its staff-welcomes pets.
Although planning an international trip always presents a few challenges, the 12 miles of Grace Bay Beach offer ample reward for Turks and Caicos travel. The hardest part will be leaving.
Just fifteen minutes from Providenciales International Airport, the Tuscany on Grace Bay (http://thetuscanyresort.com/caicos.html) sits on a secluded stretch of Grace Bay Beach on the northeastern coast of Providenciales. Are you ready for a vacation that you’ll remember the rest of your life?