5 Things to Know Before Visiting Turks and Caicos

Before I travel to a place, I like to know the basics about the location. Some things like the language or currency are absolutely vital to traveling, lest you find you don’t know how to ask for the bathroom or find you can’t pay for anything. Other things, however, are not completely necessary to know, but can only enhance your experience. I’m convinced that by knowing some interesting facts you will be able to get more out of a trip by knowing more about the culture. You might also be able to find something interesting to explore that you hadn’t considered before, something I found to be the case when I visited Turks and Caicos.

Turks and Caicos Island Shot

1. Lehman Brothers Investment

Being a business major I have heard of the investment banking company Lehman Brothers. They were a well established company, a company with a significant amount of money. They had a large amount of investments, but in 2008 they went bankrupt. While there was plenty of backlash and consequences for their actions, one of the consequences I did not know of relates directly to Turks and Caicos. The Lehman Brothers had made plans to start building a resort in West Caicos, a resort filled with condos, hotel suites, and land resorts. But when they were bankrupted the resorts was left half finished. According to this article the resort will continue to be developed by a different company, but as of last week when I visited Turks and Caicos, our snorkeling tour guide took us by the half built resort and said no progress was being made.

2. Where the Wild Dogs Are

Something I had no idea about going into my vacation was the sheer amount of wild dogs I would see. While I’m not one to be particularly scared of a bunch of dogs, figuring that as long as I don’t bother them they won’t bother me, I feel as though travelers should be made aware. The dogs, called potcake dogs, are creating a problem in Turks and Caicos. Although people are encouraged to spray and neuter their dogs, there are thousands of strays on the islands. And while there are organizations encouraging the adoption of these dogs, there are so many the job is difficult. Something important for tourists to note is that while the dogs might be cute, it is important to exercise caution and avoid interaction, as the dogs have at times been known to kill people, although not common. Safety tips include not walking alone, carrying a large stick at night, and trying not to look threatening to the dogs.

3. To the Left, To the Left

When my family went to Turks and Caicos we rented a car as the islands have no form of public transportation. When you rent a car, the first thing you learn about driving in Turks and Caicos is that you drive on the left side of the road. It’s an adjustment, but you catch on quick. If you don’t rent a car however, it is still important to know, for crossing the road. It’s a bit disorienting at first because everything is backwards (if you are traveling from a right side of the road country) and you have to remember ‘right-left-right’ instead of ‘left-right-left’ for checking for cars, which in actuality becomes looking both ways ten times in a row real quick just in case.

4. Around We Go

Something else related to driving is the fact that on the islands there are no traffic lights, traffic circles being used instead. This article details how to navigate a traffic circle when driving on the left side of the road, as is done in Turks and Caicos. The article also explains some popular signs, as well as outlining other basic road rules, such as the speed limit. It’s important that if you are planning on driving in Turks and Caicos, or any country you are unfamiliar with, that you check up on the laws and read suggestions so you are prepared for the differences to avoid causing an accident or breaking a law you didn’t know existed.

5. Crazy for Conch

For those that don’t know what a conch is, and haven’t read Lord of the Flies, a conch is a big shell with a flared opening that has a sea snail it in, which can be eaten. Conch is an important food to Turks and Caicos, used heavily in local dishes. While I was visiting Turks and Caicos I was able to try coconut cracked conch, which was good, but there are many more ways to prepare conch, as seen in November when there is the Annual Conch Festival where different restaurants demonstrate the unique ways they incorporate conch into food. Even more interesting to me is the Caicos Conch Farm on Providenciales, the world’s only commercial conch farm dedicated to minimizing overfishing and poaching. I wish I could have been able to visit, as seeing the only conch farm dedicated to helping the endangered conches sounds interesting, but unfortunately the farm is closed on weekends, so I was unable to. For others planning out a vacation however, it sounds as though it is worth the visit.

The Bottom Line

While these are lesser known facts about the islands of Turks and Caicos, what is also important to know is that the islands are absolutely beautiful, the sand is surprisingly soft, and the water is blissfully warm. I personally had a fantastic time when I stayed at Providenciales, as I had the opportunity to snorkel, eat new and exciting food, and spend time with my family. I would recommend visiting Turks and Caicos if possible, especially if you are a beach person, and while the facts above can help prepare you for unexpected aspects of your vacation, it won’t prepare you for how amazing Turks and Caicos can be.

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