Recently I just had my first trip out of the country to Turks and Caicos an island in the Caribbean, not too far from Cuba. If you’re planning a trip here, there are a few things you need to know first.
- Everyone drives on the opposite side of the road. Before you decide if you want to rent a car or walk everywhere, try to figure out if you would be comfortable driving on the opposite side of the street. There are also no stoplights or stop signs, and lots of roundabouts, so keep that in mind when making your decision.
- The prices here are much higher than they are in the U.S. Be ready to pay more than you usually would for basically everything, especially food. It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of cash, since most people working on the island expect to be tipped.
- The most popular island to travel to is Providenciales. This is where my family and I stayed. We stayed at the Royal West Indies hotel on Grace Bay Beach. Grace Bay is very clean and there are plenty of resorts to stay at, as well as restaurants and shops within walking distance.
- It’s really hot. The heat is intense the whole entire day, even in the morning. Whenever I went running, I went slower than usual and tried not to travel too many miles since the heat could become dangerous if you exercise too much. The UV rays are more damaging than you’ll probably be used to as well. You will need sunscreen.
- They use American currency and speak English. You won’t have to worry about trying to interpret what someone else is saying, or about a different money system because much of TCI is Americanized.
- Taxis are expensive, so most tourists walk everywhere. My family didn’t rent a car and we got around just fine. We only used a taxi twice, to get to the hotel from the airport, and to go back to the airport. Taxis charge per person, so it can get expensive.
- Grocery stores have basically all the same food you would find in the U.S. Everything is in English too, so it’s easy to find what you need.
- You can go snorkeling in the world’s third largest barrier reef here. I went on a boat tour with my family on our last full day, and it was amazing. It does take time to get used to. Before I went to TCI, I had never gone snorkeling so it was a bit of an adjustment for me. But it was a blast all the same.
- You’ll hear a lot about conch. Conch is a staple in TCI and it’s good. It’s hard to find elsewhere, so give it a try if you can before you leave.
- Lobster season is August through March. Even though I was there during lobster season, I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try it. But I’ve heard good things about it.
- Most hotels offer free water sports. The hotel I stayed at offered the use of kayaks, life jackets, paddles, Hobies, and snorkeling gear for free. Many other hotels offer the same thing.
Turks and Caicos was the best vacation I’ve been on, and I would definitely recommend it. It’s beautiful, the people are nice, and the water is very clear.