Turks and Caicos Islands Travel Guide

The Turks and Caicos Islands may not be as popular as other destinations in the Caribbean, but they have quietly become luxury getaways for those in the know. Gloriously beautiful and blissfully laidback, they lie at the end of the Bahamas chain, around 575 miles (925km) southeast of Miami, Florida. The Turks, with their dry and scrubby landscape, are divided from the more lush Caicos by the Columbus Passage.

Pristine white beaches and crystal-clear warm waters surround this set of eight inhabited islands, making them perfect for travellers who ache for dreamy days in an unspoilt tropical paradise. Visitors who arrive by cruise ship will receive the warm welcome of friendly locals; divers can explore the third most extensive coral reef in the world.

The reef wall around the southern edge of South Caicos Island is said to provide the finest diving in the archipelago, while the shallow reefs close to the shore have visibility up to 200ft (61m), and are excellent for snorkellers. Humpback whales, dolphins and rays are common sightings in the deep Columbus Passage that separates the Turks Islands from the Caicos Islands, as it's a major route for them.

The two most popular islands for holidaymakers are Grand Turk, which is the site of the quaint capital, Cockburn Town, and Providenciales. Both are well equipped with luxurious hotel, condominium and spa complexes that offer every tourist amenity. The other islands offer more rustic accommodation suited to romantics and nature-lovers who want to unplug from the real world for a while. Clocks, televisions and radios are hard to find on the laid-back cayes, and the nightlife mostly consists of sundowners and stargazing.