Many of the Turks and Caicos Islands are uninhabited, and the others have economies that rely in large part on attracting visitors to enjoy their natural beauty. Thus, it's not surprising that nature and its preservation are important to the country.
There are some natural sites that can be seen regardless of which island and when you visit. For example, between the months of December and April, thousands of birds can be seen in the waters surrounding Turks and Caicos as they follow their annual migratory path. The salt ponds and marshes found on these islands are great for birdwatchers and photographers, who can view such birds as ospreys, pelicans, flamingos, and great blue herons.
If you are lucky, you may come across JoJo the Dolphin. JoJo is an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin that swims in the waters surrounding Turks and Caicos, and voluntarily interacts with humans. JoJo is so important to the islands that he has been appointed his own warden to ensure that he remains protected, and proclaimed a natural symbol.
Should you visit the islands between the third and sixth day after the full moon, make sure to look out across the sea towards the Caicos Banks at sundown. When you do, here is a slim chance that you will see a magical phenomenon known as the "Green Flash." This is when the female "glow worm" is triggered by the waning light of the moon to release her egg. As the male glow worm fertilizes the egg, a fluorescent green color is emitted across the water. It is a unique spectacle of nature that many couples find to be a romantic sight to see.
Turks and Caicos has marked 33 natural habitats as protected areas since 1992. Spread out over the islands, these protected areas include reefs, mangrove swamps, wetlands, and breeding grounds for protected animals.
You'll find a comprehensive list of these site here:
|Southwestern part of Providenciales|
|Northwest Point National Park||5.2 mi. (8.4 km) Northwest of Blue Hills|
One great way to experience the natural side of Turks and Caicos in a controlled environment is by visiting a park or botanical garden. Find them here:
|Readymoney Gardens||0.3 mi. (0.5 km) East of Readymoney|
Caves carved into the sides of mountains, hidden in forests, and even under water are without a doubt some of the most majestic natural attractions you'll come across. Walking into and sometimes through natural caves can give you a real glimpse of just what Mother Nature is truly capable of.
Caves can be hard to find. That's why we have provided you the location of each cave on the chart below.
|Conch Bar Caves||0.4 mi. (0.6 km) West of Conch Bar||Middle Caicos|
|The Hole||Western part of Bringamosa||Providenciales|
Other interesting natural attractions can be found below:
|Caicos Conch Farm||Zoo||2.5 mi. (4.1 km) East-Northeast of Grace Bay||Providenciales|
|Flamingo Pond||Pond||16.2 mi. (26.0 km) Northeast of Grace Bay||North Caicos|
|Hawkes Nest Salina||Pond||1.9 mi. (3.1 km) South-Southeast of Cockburn Town||Grand Turk|
|North West Point||Point||Providenciales||Providenciales|
|Sapodilla Hill Point||Point||Providenciales||Providenciales|
The lush greenery of North Caicos is what draws nature lovers to this island. North Caicos sees the most rain of all the Turks and Caicos Islands, which allows flora to flourish. Flamingos have a large presence here, and there are a number of bonefish-filled shallow creeks.
Middle Caicos is the least developed of the Turks and Caicos Islands with settlements, so exploring Middle Caicos is the closest you'll get to discovering what life was like before human hands touched the soil – while still having some modern amenities nearby. There are trails along the coast that are maintained by the National Trust, as well as an extensive cave system further inland. The Conch Bar Caves are limestone formations filled with stalactites and stalagmites surrounded by underground lakes where Lucayan Indian artifacts were discovered by archaeologists.
...sightings of migrating humpback whales...
The secluded island of Salt Cay is perfect for those who enjoy diving, kayaking, or just lackadaisical beach days strolling the white-sand shores. Known for its sightings of migrating humpback whales, between December and April these are a primary draw -- along with the spectacular reefs offshore, which attract divers year round. Local guides with boats are available, but whales are sometimes seen from the beach, balconies and decks.
Birdwatching also abounds on the island; photographers find flamingos, various species of migratory herons, kingfishers and oystercatchers, just to name a few. Travel back in time to explore the ruins and historical buildings which date back to the 17th century. Oftentimes, amicable locals enjoy sharing history lessons of when the salt industry flourished in the 1900's. The lack of city lights makes for celestial stargazing opportunities.
Salt flats, bays, and are the largest attractions on South Caicos. Divers will particularly enjoy a trip to South Caicos, where the reef and walls surrounding the island are a site to be seen.
Near Providenciales and North Cay is a small cay called Little Water Cay, or “Iguana Island.” This area is protected by the Turks and Caicos National Trust, functioning as a sanctuary for the endangered rock iguana. Boardwalks cover much of the 150 acres, and there are two natural trails, helping preserve the land in its natural state and enhancing convenience for visitors. In addition to the iguanas, several Ospreys make their home here, as well as a variety of other wildlife. The entire island is covered in mangroves and other natural plants, making it an ideal getaway for anyone seeking a genuine natural experience just a short boat ride away from Providenciales.
Unlike the other Turks and Caicos Islands, where nature is, well, natural, there are specific natural attractions set up for vacationers to visit. Adventurous travelers will want to head over to Long Bay to visit The Hole, a 40 foot limestone hole that is 80 feet deep where one can be lowered down by rope and swim in the swimming hole.
One of the notable attractions on Providenciales is the world's only commercial conch farm, the Caicos Conch Farm. Visitors learn about the process used to grow and harvest this popular shellfish. Once the meat is minced into small pieces and softened by being slowly cooked, it is used in many different recipes that are popular throughout the region, including the ubiquitous "conch fritters" and "conch chowder." In addition to being a popular food item, conchs are harvested for their beautiful pink tinged shells -- helping explain why som many visitors linger in the gift shop to make a few purchases at the end of their stay.
Pick and island, any island, and you'll find that an abundance of beautiful natural attractions await you.
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