Turks & Caicos - Profile
- The British territory of Turks and Caicos consists of about 40 low-lying cays and islands south-east of the Bahamas and on the direct cruising route between the Bahamas and Hispaniola (Dominican republic). Not all islands are inhabited with most inhabitants living on the principal island, Grand Turk.
- The largest islands (from west to east) being West Caicos, Providenciales (generally known as Provo), North, Middle and East Caicos, and Grand Turk. The Columbus Passage separates the Turks from Caicos.
- The Isle of West Caicos is a marine reserve and was previously uninhabited. A marina is now being built there, on the west side of the island.
- Situated halfway between Florida and the Virgins, the Turks and Caicos Islands provide a convenient resting place en route to or from the Eastern Caribbean, and can now be considered as a cruising distination in their own right with several cruiser friendly marinas, good anchorages and are well charted with cruising routes, landmarks and hazards clearly marked. The best charts for the Turks and Caicos are the Wavy Line charts available from Blue Water Books and others.
- The islands are home to a number of extremely upscale resort operations, some of which have their own marinas. Grace Bay, on the north side of Providenciales, is held to be one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the world.
- The capital city, Cockburn Town, is situated on Grand Turk, which is also a port of call for cruise liners. The most developed island is Providenciales, which has excellent shopping facilites.
- The clear unpolluted waters surrouding the islands have made Turks and Caicos a favourite diving destination, with fully qualified dive companies operating from several bases, mostly on Providenciales. The reef surrounding the islands is reputed to be one of the best in the world, bettered only by the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Reef. Underwater scenery of rare beauty and also the possibility of diving on some historic wrecks.
- Should you sail north in late January, February or March, consider yourself unlucky if you miss seeing pods of humpback whales on their way south to breeding grounds on the Mouchoir Bank and Silver Bank between Grand Turk and the Dominican Republic.
- Navigation is difficult among the reefs, sand banks and coral heads, with few navigation aids and those that are in place unreliable. (In 1989 the government began changing the buoyage system to red right returning (IALA B), replacing the red left returning system.)
- Water has to be conserved on all the islands, each of which has a "Water Lady" who (literally) holds the key to the supply.
The overall crime rate in the Turks and Caicos Islands is relatively low. Crimes typically involve opportunistic petty theft. However, more serious robberies have been reported recently, including vacation home invasions, armed robberies, assaults and boat thefts. See OSAC Report March 2014.
Based on reports to noonsite from cruisers, petty theft from yachts is on the rise in the Caribbean in general. Cruisers should take basic safety precautions and use common sense when leaving the boat or going ashore at night. Dinghy thieves operate throughout the Caribbean and best advice is to place your dinghy on deck and chain it overnight.
Free Cruising Guides have completed the Caribbean Security Index (CSI) review of 2013 and updated the country ratings. The latest update of the CSI contains new information that may be important to you to “route around crime.”
See this report at http://www.noonsite.com/General/Piracy/caribbean-crime-caribbean-security-index-csi-review-of-2013
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (firstname.lastname@example.org) provides information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have suffered a boarding, robbery or attack on your yacht or have information about a yachting-related security incident, go to the CSSN homepage and click on the "Report an Incident" icon. The associated form is quick and simple to complete and ensures that all the necessary details are reported. The CSSN is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors. Remember, it is every cruiser's responsibility to ensure that incidents are reported. Also cruisers can subscribe to e-mail alerts, follow on facebook and twitter and listen to the SSB Voice Service.
The Caribbean Security Index (CSI) is a a tool to assist cruisers in assessing the probability of crime at ports and anchorages throughout the Caribbean. The CSI provides a means of assessing risk in a given area.
Also be sure to check the Noonsite Piracy & Safety Pages
Last updated October 2015.
The islands are hot, with temperatures in the mid nineties in the summer months, but made more pleasant by the steady easterly trade winds. As in most of the Caribbean, the high tourist season is from November to June. The official hurricane season is from June to November. The most active months being August and September. Rain is more frequent on the west coast.
For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.