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Port Highlight: Grand Turk

Grand Turk is a beautiful island that is relatively new to cruise ships. The port facility was completed in 2006 and it is one of the newest and most impressive anywhere in the Caribbean.

A small island in the British West Indies, it is a part of the commonwealth that is known as the Turks and Caicos. Only 7 by 1.5 miles in dimension, it can easily be fully seen during the course of a call. Because of the remoteness, Grand Turk remains very much a natural place. Owing to this value, the entire perimeter of the island is protected by a national marine park which celebrates the unparalleled marine life of this special island.

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Guests who choose to explore Grand Turk and would like to see the major features of the entire island at their own pace can take a ‘hop on, hop off’ bus to the various sites. There are four different places where these buses stop and guests can choose where to get off or stay on. The buses have two stops around Cockburn town and a stop at the historic lighthouse on the northern tip of the island.

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This is an unusual lighthouse, as it was shipped over from England and assembled on the island. While most lighthouses are made of brick, this one is crafted from metal.

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Equally charming is the opportunity to do what has been seen in countless movies depicting tropical romances … ride a horse through the surf! The ride begins not far from the North Point Lighthouse and climbs along the hills that overlook the sea. The adventure ends with guests taking their horses down to the sea and having a walk through the surf.

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Guests looking for a slightly more adventurous way of seeing Grand Turk can drive a dune buggy-type of vehicle off the beaten path and cover a good deal of the island.

What ground the off-road buggies do not cover is water, and the underwater world of Grand Turk is its calling card. The island is rimmed with coral reefs beyond comparison. For those not wanting to get too wet, deep-sea fishing provides and excellent way to see much of the coast line of the island while trying to land that “big one.”

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Guests who want a bit more of an intimate experience can find no better way than in a glass-bottomed kayak. Slowly and quietly paddling through mangroves, guides lead the way into a peaceful world of exotic beauty. The guides will show off the natural vibrant scarlet mangrove crabs, tropical birds and upside-down jelly fish that live in these mangrove inlets.

But it is under the sea where Grand Turk really excels. Take a boat ride over to Gibb’s Cay to interact with wild stingrays. The guides throw out slices of bait fish to entice the peaceful and graceful fish to approach. Many guests choose to feed these animals and find delight in the suction-like mouth on the underside of their flattened bodies.

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There are several snorkeling options and snorkeling additions to the tours. The coral reefs are beautiful here, owing to the protective measures of the national park and the limited amount of activity this island has experienced in comparison to others in the Caribbean.

Scuba diving, of course, represents the ultimate experience in the underwater world. Any experienced diver will have heard of this little marine gem, for it has a certain characteristic that draws scuba divers from around the world. That characteristic is known locally as “the wall.”

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In the marine world a “wall” is term used to describe a vertical drop or a submerged cliff. Here in Grand Turk, there is one of the greatest and highest walls on earth and it lies just 300-400 yards from shore. Guests can see where it is because the color of the water changes from light to dark, but what you cannot see from the surface is the significance of this drop off. The wall runs all along the western shore of Grand Turk and the depth of the water drops from about 40 feet, straight down to 4,000 feet. It is one of the geological wonders of the undersea world and the wall has made Grand Turk world-famous.

Whether guests experience the “wall” first-hand, feed wild stingrays or tour about this quaint little island, the genuine charm and authenticity of Grand Turk provides an unspoiled view of life in the Caribbean.

3 Comments
  • Lou Wright

    Grand Turks is on my bucket list…. one day. We’ve been to so many others that are beautiful but there are several others we really want to visit.

  • Karen McCarter

    I’ll be in Grand Turk for my second time in December. I’ve done the jump on, jump off tour, it was great. This will be my boyfriends first trip to the island … we LOVE to snorkel and I know there are several options. What would be the best for us, in your opinion, of course. Thank you, HAL Staff

  • Kerry & Judy Foster

    Peaceful looking place. Nice to have a different island to explore. Hop on-off vehicles are such a great way to personally explore at your own pace. Wish more Caribbean islands used this approach.

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