Sailing and Boating Near Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos welcome visitors sailing in on their own boats as well as travelers arriving by plane

Photo credit: © Phil of Ottawa

Turks and Caicos lie in the Caribbean Sea, one of the world's most popular sailing and yachting destinations. Whether visiting for annual races or simply the sailing season, you'll find there are plenty of reasons to sail these waters. Travelers stop into Turks and Caicos Islands for a break between Florida and the Virgin Islands, and sometimes just to visit.

Before you set sail, be aware of safety issues. Turks and Caicos are edged by a famous reef, but this can be as hazardous as it is beautiful, and the trade winds can pose a hazard as well.

Other safety considerations include:

  • Currents and waves - Travelers will find the stronger oceanic pressures on the northeastern (Atlantic) sides of the islands, rather than the southwestern (Caribbean) sides.
  • Season - The most popular season to sail in is also the most popular time to visit the Caribbean in general - January through March. Because of this, prices may be higher throughout the islands. In the summer both rains and hurricane season tend to dissuade sailors.

If you are just wanting to spend some time on the water, without the complications and cost associated with renting a boat you can take an excursion. Want to know more about taking a boat ride? Check out the table below to find contact information for area excursion services.

Boat Excursions
Name Phone Location Island
Barefoot Custom Charters (649) 232-7447 36 Blue Water Road -
Crystal Seas Adventures (649) 946-6977 Salt Cay Salt Cay
Kenard Cruises (649) 332-3866 Five Cays Settlements Providenciales
Ocean Outback (649) 231-0824

Boat Rentals and Charters

Charter Companies

You'll find charter companies of all kinds in the Caribbean, but the two main ways of dividing these companies are by size and by tier.

Larger companies are highly recommended for first-time charterers. Smaller companies may offer excellent service and have great reputations, but their small size means they can offer fewer guarantees on boat availability. If you've chartered a boat and it becomes unavailable for whatever reason, larger companies will have a larger fleet from which to offer a replacement - usually at no extra cost, even for upgrades.

Tiers are neither quality nor service related rankings. Instead it is a ranking by age. Yachts rented by first tier companies are no older than four or five years, while second tier companies often pick up their yachts from first tier companies when they've reached that age. Boats in the first tier companies also include plenty of automated and electronic extras, from GPS and cell phones to stereos, and even auto-pilot. Second tier companies may not offer all of these amenities, but they do offer a lower price tag.

The most popular large yacht charter companies currently serving the Caribbean region are The Moorings and Sunsail.

Considering the option of chartering a yacht or boat? The following chart indicates how to get a hold of charter services that operating in this area.

Charter and Rental Services
Name Phone Location Island
Beyond The Blue (649) 231-1703 South Caicos South Caicos
Catch The Wave Charters (649) 941-3037 Leeward Marina - Five Cays Settlements Providenciales
Silver Deep Charters & Boutique (649) 946-5612 Shops of Ports of Call - Five Cays Settlements Providenciales
U S C Ltd The Yacht Club (649) 941-7725 Leeward Sub- Division - Five Cays Settlements Providenciales

Charter Brokers

Yacht brokers act as travel agents for both yacht owners and those looking to vacation in a yacht. The two main yacht charter broker trade organizations are the American Yacht Charter Association (AYCA) and Charter Yacht Broker's Association (CYBA).

When selecting a crewed charter, brokers often provide help to find a crew that is compatible with you. Travelers find quotes from several different companies, and, notably, the boat owner pays for broker services, not you.

Members of the AYCA and/or the CYBA include the following outfits:

In the Caribbean:

Charter BrokerTelephone Number
Crewed Charters 
(U.S. Virgin Islands)
Nicholson Yachts Worldwide 
Paradise Connections 
(U.S. Virgin Islands)
Regency Yacht Vacations 
(U.S. Virgin Islands)
284-495-1970 (BVIs)
Stewart Yacht Charters 
(U.S. Virgin Islands)
Yates Yachts 
(U.S. Virgin Islands)

In Florida:

Charter BrokerTelephone Number
Broward Yacht Sales Charter Division 954-763-8201
Charter Specialists 800-479-9054
Fraser Yachts Worldwide 954-463-0640
June Montagne Yacht Charters 954-217-2992
Marine Group of Palm Beach, Inc. 561-627-9500
Nicely-Dunn Yacht Charters 800-874-0724
Paradise Yacht Charters 954-462-0091
Rikki Davis, Inc. 954-761-3237
RNR Yacht Charters 800-525-2526
DTom Collins Yachts Worldwide 800-637-5407
Whitney Yacht Charters, Inc. 800-223-1426
Yachtstore, Ltd. 888-376-5198

Choosing a Yacht

While many sailors in Turks and Caicos are just passing through, budgeting can still be an important part of any charter. Consider everything from the type of ship to the optional extras you may wish to enjoy.

Choosing a ship is more than just a matter of budget, it's also a matter of comfort. While larger ships will always come at a higher cost, this cost can be worthwhile. It's suggested that vacationers select a charter with one more cabin than they expect to use, especially when traveling with a group or family.

Often times two couples may split a three cabin, two bath monohull ship. These range in size from 36 to 50 feet long. However, remember that skill is an important consideration in size as well. Families may want to consider that monohull boats are designed with thin, plywood walls that tend to allow most sounds, including conversations, through. Therefore, vacationers looking for the utmost in privacy may want to look elsewhere.

Catamarans provide a great option for families, first time sailors, and even travelers prone to seasickness. These yachts will experience less roll in port and are considered to have more comfortable cabins. Though these are not for travelers looking to strike out on an oceanic adventure, their smooth sailing style may be perfect for vacationers nervous about longer journeys.

Experienced sailors will find there are a few pieces of equipment they just don't want to leave port without. Some enjoy the help of a power windlass for anchoring, while some need a canvas top for the cockpit as additional sun protection. Kayaks, windsurfs, and snorkeling equipment are other vacation essentials that may not be included in the ticket price of the charter. Even GPS and CD players may be additional. Don't forget to ask about these additions, and their cost, if they aren't included.

Choosing a Charter

Travelers unfamiliar with sailing and the Caribbean will most often find themselves choosing a crewed charter, while those who can sail might charter a yacht with a skipper for guidance. The most experienced travelers may find themselves sailing their own "bareboat" charter.

Crewed charters are those where travelers sail with a captain and crew, including a cook. These adventures are great for inexperienced sailors who simply wish to get a taste of the high seas. However, remember that the captain is in charge on these journeys. While it might be unpleasant, he or she will make any necessary changes to the itinerary should travel be effected by storms or other inclement weather. The crew can make suggestions for alternate locations to visit should this happen.

Bareboat charters are simply a boat - you are the captain and crew. Bareboat renters will need to prove their experience with any company they intend to charter through. However, companies will usually include a tutorial of safe harbors and coral reefs in the regions you plan to sail.

Sometimes charter companies insist that travelers also hire a captain for their yacht. At times it will only be for the first few days of a journey, however, this is simply to ensure the safety of the travelers. Skippers are not included in the price of a charter, and vacationers are responsible for the additional cost. Skippers are paid by the day.


Travelers choosing to sail into the Turks and Caicos Islands have relatively few rules to follow. But because there are so many islands, it's important to enter at an authorized port of entry and go through customs. These ports are:


  • South Dock - Large yachts and freighters, south side
  • Caicos Marina & Shipyard - Yachts, Long Bay
  • Sapodilla Bay - Yachts, south side
  • Turtle Cove Marina - Yachts, north shore
  • Leeward Marina - Yachts, Leeward

Other Islands:

  • Government Dock (Conch Ground Dock), South Caicos Island
  • Freighter Dock and Anchorage - Government wharf, Grand Turk Island

When approaching a port in Turks and Caicos, it is important to contact customs on channel 16 or, when entrances are hazardous, channels 16 or 68. Passports and/or visas are required of all visitors and are valid for 30 days.

When entering, it should be noted that travelers may not carry firearms onto the islands, and all pets must stay aboard the ship. You will need to get a cruising permit to visit the other islands in the chain.

Considering the option of sailing to Turks and Caicos using your own vessel, or one you charter in a different location? See the table below for basic information for nearby marinas.

Name Phone Location Island
Blue Haven Marina (649) 946-9910 Blue Haven Resort - 2.3 mi. (3.8 km) Northeast of Grace Bay Providenciales
Caicos Marina & Shipyard (649) 231-2822 Five Cays Settlements Providenciales
Government Wharf -- 0.8 mi. (1.3 km) North of Cockburn Town Grand Turk
Harbour Club Marina (649) 946-4200 Harbour Club - 2.4 mi. (3.8 km) East of Five Cays Providenciales
Heaving Down Rock Marina -- Leeward Highway - 2.6 mi. (4.2 km) East-Northeast of Grace Bay Providenciales
Sandy Point Marina -- Sandy Point Parrot Cay
Seaview Marina (649) 946-3508 Cockburn Harbor South Caicos
Turtle Cove Marina (649) 941-3781 2.5 mi. (4.0 km) Northeast of Five Cays Providenciales
Walkin Marine & Sons (649) 941-5979 Blue Hills Road - Five Cays Settlements Providenciales
West Caicos Marina -- West Caicos West Caicos

Costs and Paperwork

Travelers looking to budget for their trip will need to start out with the cost of their charter, which can vary greatly depending on the length of the charter, the company used, any extras, and even the time of year. However, there are plenty of other costs it's best not to forget.

Chartering a crewed yacht will be more expensive than a bareboat, but that isn't the only cost. Charter crews are tipped at a rate of 10 to 15 percent of the charter's total cost. These tips make up a large portion (usually between 30 and 50 percent) of the crew's income, so they are not to be regarded lightly. However, crewed charters often come with more extras, like kayaks and scuba equipment, at no additional cost. Further, they tend to be more spacious than a bareboat, and a chef will prepare all the onboard meals.

Bareboats are the least expensive way to charter, but when you add in the cost of a skipper they can rise steeply. Each skipper will have his or her own fee, but they generally range from $80(USD) to $120(USD) per day.

Remember that, no matter what kind of charter you choose, you'll need to buy food for the journey. When chartering remember that you'll be feeding everyone onboard. Some companies offer to supply your ship with food and beverages, but this can be expensive. Still, sometimes the expense can seem more worthwhile than the trouble of shopping on-island before you leave. Fresh fruit and vegetables must be purchased on-island before you depart.

Time of year plays an additional part in the cost of your charter. High season prices are higher throughout the islands, and this includes yacht charter locations. Travelers will also need to account for airfare, which will also be more costly in high season, when picking up a yacht in the islands. Items like customs duties and luggage fees should also be considered, though they may not always be charged.

When looking at paperwork, don't forget to read the fine print. Check for deposit and insurance fees, which may be added to the cost of the charter. Credit cards are suggested to travelers for these charges in case of mistakes and problems. One final tip: Look up the company's cancellation policy. Most charters do not refund travelers within 60 days of the date of departure.

Those interested in sailing to and around the Turks and Caicos Islands can find their perfect choice in charter yachts available throughout the region.

The specifics of sailing to the Turks and Caicos can vary depending on which island is your final destination. Once you have a better idea of which island you want to sail to, read our local area guides that contain area-specific information, including charters, marinas, and other important information.

Sailing in Specific Areas
Guide to Middle Caicos Rental Cars
Guide to North Caicos Rental Cars
Guide to Providenciales Rental Cars
Guide to Salt Cay Rental Cars
Guide to South Caicos Rental Cars

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