Grand Turk: A Desert Island, Fittingly, Named for a Cactus

Beautiful waters surround Grand Turk.

Beautiful waters surround Grand Turk.

Dune buggys!

Dune buggys!

Reminiscent of Aruba, Grand Turk shares the same arid climate, sand and wild donkeys.  On Grand Turk there were also lots of cute wild horses, a vividly gorgeous Atlantic coast, and thankfully, not so much wind.  OK, so maybe it’s just the desert climate and wild donkeys the two islands have in common.

We decided to take a dune buggy ride, and it was a good choice.  With lots of sand and roads full of potholes it made for a bumpy, energetic, fun ride all around the island. We were off-road much of the time, so the left-lane driving was no factor. In our two-hour journey, we visited Gun Hill, saw many of the lakes formerly used to harvest salt, and passed the possible (NOT) Columbus Landfall Marine National Park, on the way to the lighthouse at North East Point. The famous wild pink Flamingos were nowhere to be seen.

All along the stunning coastline, we saw the incredibly beautiful, brilliant, turquoise water that turns a deep, dark blue, at the “wall” where the depth drops dramatically to 7,000 feet. A good combo for divers and snorkelers.

A British Territory, Grand Turk is the capital of the 40 island archipelago known as Turks & Caicos; about 7 miles long and a mile wide, there are less than 5,000 residents.  We visited while on a short Princess Cruise from Ft. Lauderdale, a nice and easy four-night getaway.

After we returned to the cruise company-built, port area, we grabbed a cab for the $5 per person ride back three miles into Cockburn Town. A once-thriving salt-trade community, this sleepy little village features narrow one-lane roads built for horse traffic, and colorful, Bermudan-style buildings.  Unlike most colonial-era towns with a central plaza, this community was built strewn along the coast and former salt flats (Salinas), located through the middle of the island.

We had some terrific fresh fried grouper and conch fritters before taking a brief walk around the area.  It is definitely laid-back and unpretentious. No big resorts, or celebrities here; head 25 miles across north Atlantic waters, to the neighboring Caicos Islands for that scene.

Grand Turk is just sun, sand, crystal clear water, wild donkeys and friendly faces.

Locals of proud of this replica of the Friendship space capsule that splashed downwith John Glenn in 1962.

Locals are proud of this replica of the Friendship 7 space capsule that splashed down with John Glenn, in 1962.

Built in London and erected in Grand Turk in 1852, the 60' high lighthouse protected ships in the salt trade from the island's surrounding reefs.

Built in London and erected on Grand Turk in 1852, the 60′ high lighthouse protected ships in the salt trade from the island’s surrounding reefs.

Posted on March 2, 2015, in Caribbean, Cruising and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Karen- did you and Ashley go to Grand Turk for her birthday? I love reading these posts. Always so interesting!

    Susan Elliott 305-803-1452 susaneinmiami@gmail.com Sent from my iPhone

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