About 550 miles from Miami, you’ll find the breathtaking Turks and Caicos Islands. Before Christopher Columbus came across the capital island of Grand Turk during his 1492 voyage, Taino and Lucayan Indians inhabited the islands and created a culture that helps give this destination its colorful flair and rich traditions of today. The Turks and Caicos Islands are made up of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited by approximately 30,000 full-time residents. Each year, more than 200,000 tourists visit this British territory, enjoying activities and relaxing amongst incomparable natural beauty.
A stay at The Somerset on Grace Bay is an experience to remember. Recommended by Condé Nast Johansens’
luxury hotel guide and a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, this resort pampers guests with countless amenities and five-star dining options. The Somerset offers direct access to a pristine, white sand beach, a regulation croquet lawn and in-suite spa services. Reserve an Estate Villa and enjoy a Jacuzzi on the terrace, or book the Stirling House if you’re the type to take advantage of a gourmet kitchen. After working out at the Fitness Center, indulge in a meal at O’Soleil; the menu includes both island and international favorites like Caicos Bank Red Snapper, Curried Grouper and Australian Rack of Lamb. Learn more and check availability at www.thesomerset.com.
Turks and Caicos boasts one of the largest coral reef systems in the world, at 65 miles across and 200 miles long. Scuba divers and snorkelers will find themselves in heaven, since the clear waters provide excellent visibility and exotic marine life is plentiful. For the truly adventurous scuba diver, old and more recent shipwrecks offer hours of fascinating exploration. Some of the best diving sites include French Cay, North Caicos, Grand Turk and Providenciales Princess Alexandra National Park.
Those who prefer land activities can head to Provo Golf Club where the course is just as challenging as it is beautiful. The Club has been voted one of the Caribbean’s best golf courses and was host of the 2009 Caribbean Amateur Golf Championship. For hours and rates, check out www.provogolfclub.com.
Visitors arriving from November to May can expect temperatures in the 80 to 84 degree F range while June through October gets a little warmer at 85 to 90 degrees. The constant trade wind keeps the air comfortable, and the water temperature averages between 74 and 78 degrees in the winter and between 82 and 84 degrees in the summer. Keep in mind that hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.
Interestingly, the Turks and Caicos Islands are considered part of the Caribbean, yet they are technically located in the Atlantic Ocean – not the Caribbean Sea. The population includes a diverse mix of ethnicities and some residents speak Turks and Caicos Islands Creole. Fortunately, for U.S. visitors, however, the official language is English. The U.S. dollar is the official currency, and tipping is customary for waiters, taxi drivers, maids and porters at 15 percent.
The islands of Turks and Caicos are natural wonders that welcome visitors with open arms. Whether you’re looking for a sense of renewed energy or simply need to relax, these islands are truly heaven on earth. Find more information at www.turksandcaicostourism.com.