The best Turks and Caicos beaches and where to stay

Sail far off into the Caribbean Sea, to the south of the Bahamian Archipelago, and eventually, the ocean Gods will see to it that you meet the Turks and Caicos Islands. A British Overseas territory set amongst the vibrant blue seas and pastel cliffs common to the West Indies, Turks and Caicos layers on the culture, by way of colonial vestiges and traditional festivals enjoyed by laid-back locals. Beyond the obligatory island-hopping boat trip, visitors to the islands can enjoy spectacular diving and snorkelling adventures (and perhaps even humpback whale spotting) at thousands of beaches across the territory. Find which Turks and Caicos beaches make our cut below.

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Regardless of where you stay, you’ll be struck by stunning ocean views, windswept beaches and a climate that stays warm the year through

The Turks and Caicos

Only 9 out of the 40 islands that make up Turks and Caicos are inhabited and the tourist centre of Providenciales is the most populated of them all with the widest selection of luxury resorts and seaside bars. For quieter vacations, the islands of North and Middle Caicos can provide, with extra history over on Grand Turk. A number of the uninhabited islands – namely Ambergris Cay, Parrot Cay, Pine Cay and Little Iguana – are also set for day trips and desert island playlists. Catch the ferry from Providenciales to the north and south islands, or catch a short flight from Provo International Airport. Regardless of where you stay, you’ll be struck by stunning ocean views, windswept beaches and a climate that stays warm the year through.

Photo: Trace Hudson

Photo: Alex Azabache

1. Grace Bay Beach

No stranger among lists of the world’s top beaches, Grace Bay Beach easily takes our top spot. You’ll find her on the north coast of Providenciales which just happens to be the site of many world-class resorts. As part of the Princess Alexandra National Park, Grace Bay and its offshore barrier reefs come completely protected, safeguarding its outstanding reputation among scuba divers. The award-winning beach itself stretches for 19 kilometres, along which resorts and condos take advantage of the view. Move west and you’ll eventually meet Bight Beach, where snorkelers congregate to explore the nearby Bight Reef and Smith’s Reef, while eastwards you’ll meet Leeward Beach, a peaceful oasis offering calm waters for wakeboarding, kayaking and SUP.

Where to stay: Of the best Grace Bay Beach hotels, we’ve gone for Grace Bay Club, The Tuscany on Grace Bay and The Venetian on Grace Bay. All three come kitted out with luxury facilities, including pool, full-service spa and restaurants either on site or nearby.

Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos Islands | Photo: Paola Galimberti

2. Providenciales

While everyone is talking about Grace Bay Beach Turks and Caicos proves to be more than just a one-trick pony, hosting hundreds more impeccable beaches on Providenciales alone. Malcolm Beach is one such beauty, accessible by car along the winding (and bumpy) Malcolm Roads, via tour boat or with direct access from Amanyara Resort. The waters here come deeper and more vivid blue than elsewhere, being so close to the edge of the Caicos Islands plateau, but those looking for shallower and calmer bays can head to Sapodilla Bay and Taylor Bay within Chalk Sound National Park. If venturing to Sapodilla, be sure to climb the hill beside the beach where the rocks come inscribed with history and the views are paramount, jet skiing across to Taylor Bay if the impulse takes you.

3. Long Bay

While most Turks and Caicos boutique hotels come centred on Providenciales, it’s South Caicos that can bring us back down to earth for more low-key vacations. The shores of Long Bay Beach on the island’s east coast are empty apart from the sophisticated Sailrock Resort – leaving your eyes free to focus on the 2-kilometre stretch of powder-white sands and jungle greenery. The wind conditions and shallow waters at Long Bay are just perfect for kiteboarding, though those wishing to stick to terra firma can go horseback riding along the beach, looking out for La Famille Express shipwreck on the horizon.

Where to stay: When we said South Caicos was low-key, we forgot that The Shore Club is that little bit extra. A nine-acre property with a private beachfront, The Shore Club also comes with a gym, full-service spa, kid’s club and on-site shopping, keeping guests wined and dined across its three restaurants and bars. H2O LifeStyle Resort meanwhile features a pool, fitness centre and garden, just moments from Long Bay Beach.

Photo: Alex Azabache

Photo: Marvin Meyer

4. Half Moon Bay

Venturing into uninhabited territories, Half Moon Bay is as close as we’ll get to a desert island escape, in the area between Water Cay and Little Water Cay. Both cays are undeveloped meaning that you’ll have to hop on a boat cruise, charter a yacht or kayak from Providenciales to reach the spot. Despite the effort, it’ll be worth it on sight of the idyllic beach and sand bar lagoon. In amongst the tropical vistas, find indigenous iguanas in the dunes and baby-sized lemon sharks in the lagoon, all framed by the thatch palm trees that edge the bay.

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Pine Cay is another top option for exclusive escapes in the Caicos Cays, made famous for its stunning north coast beach and no-car policy

5. Caicos Cays

Of the multitude of cays between Providenciales and North Caicos, a few come privately owned, exclusive and downright blissful. The smallest of which is Parrot Cay, a tropical landmass spanning 4 square kilometres with very little development apart from the COMO Parrot Cay Resort. Besides luxury lounging on the shorefront, Parrot Cay also hosts mangrove forests on marine wetlands to the south. Pine Cay is another top option for exclusive escapes in the Caicos Cays, made famous for its stunning north coast beach and no-car policy. Instead, guests of the Meridian Club or any of Pine Cay’s 40 island residences can travel via golf buggy or bicycle, moving from the beach to the pine forests and back, switching gears to hiking and snorkelling excursions should you wish.

Where to stay: The aforementioned COMO Parrot Cay Island is one of the most extravagant Turks and Caicos luxury hotels, fitted with an infinity pool, half spa and wellness centre alongside gourmet restaurant Terrace and a diving school.

Then there’s The Meridian Club on Pine Cay, remarkably easy to reach from Providenciales (15 minutes by taxi and 15 more by boat), offering a spa, on-site bistro restaurant, and water sports facilities including kayaks, SUPs and Hobie cat sailboats.

Photo: Gokhan Kara

6. Sandy Point Beach

Then on North Caicos, a stone’s throw and a series of sandbars from Parrot Cay, there’s Sandy Point Beach, running 3 kilometres on the northwest of the island, beside the ferry port linked to Providenciales. As well as being in a convenient spot, Sandy Point Beach is known for its unique landscapes particularly at its secluded eastern end where palms top the dune cliffs above. Also on North Caicos, Whitby Beach, Hollywood Beach and Pumpkin Bluff Beach are preferred among swimmers.

7. Mudjin Harbour

Goldilocks travellers meanwhile might find their ideal vacation on Middle Caicos, where Mudjin Harbour sits regally on a carpet of white sand backed by high cliffs and caves. Also in the area, you’ll find Conch Bar Cave, the largest dry cave system in the Bahamas, as well as the hidden Bambarra Beach. Middle Caicos is connected to North Caicos by causeway making road trips between the two islands possible. Other activities worth pursuing include island-hopping tours to Dragon Cay and tandem kayak fishing off the coast. The island’s diverse population is spread across three main settlements, one of which – Bambarra – was formed by survivors of a Spanish slave ship that sank near the north shore back in 1842.

Photo: Dylan Alcock

Photo: Romello Williams

8. Wild Cow Run Beach

Also on Middle Caicos is Wild Cow Run Beach, offering some of the bluest waters you’ve ever seen lit from below by the shallow sand bars and channels just offshore. There is a catch however as reaching Wild Cow Run Beach is not easy, requiring a 4X4 just to tackle the unpaved route to both Cow Run and Cedar Point. Once there, you’ll be able to see a collection of cays alongside stunning sandbars from the shade of Casuarina trees, undertaking kiteboarding, snorkelling or flotsam beachcombing to stay amused. If travelling at the right time, be sure to note the Middle Caicos Day August beach party or the Valentine’s Day model sailboat race day.

9. South Caicos

Now on to South Caicos, the smallest on the main archipelago, we come to an undeveloped spot perfect for those looking for a bit of adventure. While tourism remains low-key on the island, South Caicos is home to a number of paradise beaches, namely Cove Beach on the west coast which is less wild and overgrown than some. Though you won’t find many facilities or water sports rentals, swimming and snorkelling are top activities when the weather is calm. Shark Bay, Highlands Bay and Long Beach are also great for snorkelling while East Bay is a prime jumping-off point for divers with all the seclusion and white sand you’d expect from this Old Caribbean secret.

Where to stay: Sailrock Resort is known to be one of the best Turks and Caicos resorts thanks to its hillside position overlooking both the Atlantic Ocean and the Bell Sound lagoon. Besides the resort’s Na Spa and Caribbean restaurant, there’s also Long Beach just moments away with water sports equipment and tours available. East Bay Resort meanwhile is the only property on Long Beach, set on 480 acres and offering luxury amenities across its grill restaurant, spa and fitness centre.

Photo: Visal SB

10. Governor's Beach

Our final stop lies now on Grand Turk, where more of the same tropical shores await. Governor’s Beach in particular is one to search for along the west coast, to sample the clearest waters and whitest sands of any. The water here is shallow enough for safety and the area sheltered enough for bathing the day away. Peer through the Casuarina trees and you’ll also see the Governor’s mansion a short distance away, all set within Columbus Landfall National Park. As well as Governor’s beach, the sands fronting the Grand Turk Cruise Centre and Cockburn Town are just as noteworthy, primed for snorkelling and flanked by top-notch Turks and Caicos restaurants. For utmost seclusion and beachcombing adventures, try the wild sites of East Side Beach and White Sands Beach.

Where to stay: The historic Turks Head Inne lies central in Cockburn Town, built 185 years ago with luxury rooms featuring both terrace and balcony areas. Alternatively, Reef House South comes all the more modern across two 750-square-metre suites based directly on Pillory Beach, both complete with kitchen, open concept living areas and a veranda looking out over the Caribbean Sea.

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Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos Islands | Photo: Keaton Nye

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