When I am working on my books, my research often takes me to island paradises all over the world. Okay, maybe some of the places are only virtually, but it is no less intoxicating! When researching for setting locations, I often find myself lost in the salt air, the lapping of the waves, the smell of coconut tanning oil and the taste of tropical drinks.
Thanks to the amazing Internet and photographers who know how to capture the essence of a place, I visited the beautiful islands of Turks and Caicos. Let me show you around a little!
Turks and Caicos is a group of 40 coral islands that lie southeast of the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands are a British Overseas Territory with about 30,000 people spread over nine of the islands in the chain. English is the official language of the islands, and you can use US Dollars everywhere on the islands, too, making it an easy place to visit for Americans and Brits. Tourism is a primary income source for the islands, as is offshore banking. Not surprisingly, the residents are very friendly to their visitors.
The Turks and Caicos island of Providenciales, nicknamed Provo, dotted with luxury resorts, specialty boutiques and restaurants of all types for well-heeled travelers. Beach lovers will delight in weather that averages in the 80s and sunny all year long. Scuba divers love the islands for their diving sites, including a 14-mile barrier reef, a stunning underwater wall that is 1.3 miles long, and the only conch farm in the world.
Turks and Caicos are perfect for paddle boarding and kayaking, with miles of mangrove channels to explore. Another big draw is sport fishing, with lots of tournaments taking place annually, and island residents boasting that the bone fishing is unparalleled anywhere in the world.
What kind of accommodations do you like when you travel? I gravitate between dynamic, all-inclusive resorts and quiet rental villas in hidden coves, and lucky for me, Turks and Caicos has lots of both types.
These islands were sleepy little places, farming cotton and then sisal, for many years until the demand fell. Around the same time, in the 1960s, tourism development began, for the high-end tourist with luxury resorts and accommodations. In 2015, 1.3 million people visited the islands, visiting Club Med Turkoise, Beaches Resorts, Grace Bay Club, and the Seven Stars Resort. You might run into some very famous people on these islands, as Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Eva Longoria and Tony Parker are known to frequent them for rest and relaxation.
Many visitors to the islands arrive via cruise ship, and it is quickly becoming one of the most popular destinations for ships in the Caribbean. The Grand Turk Cruise Center and a newer yet recreation center have recently been built to welcome hundreds of thousands of cruise ship visitors annually.
During the low season, the islands offer the Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival that lasts a week and features internationally known music artists and more than 10,000 people attend annually. Over the last couple of years, Anita Baker, Lionel Richie, Michael Bolton, John Legend and Kenny Rogers have been part of the festival. I wonder if Jimmy Buffett will be playing there soon? That would be a dream concert, parrotheads on the sandy beaches and reflected in the clear blue-green waters.
Would you like to visit Turks and Caicos? What would you like to do while on these beautiful islands?