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Turks & Caicos: Things To Do

 Beautiful by Nature

The Turks & Caicos Islands are best known for their deserted beaches, crystal clear waters and outstanding diving and fishing. The colorful fish, large grouper, sea turtles and manta rays are but a few of the marine species that draw snorkelers, divers and sailors alike. Moreover, humpback whales can be seen migrating through the Turks Island Passage on the way to their breeding grounds during January through March. Less well known on the islands are the sites of historical and natural interest on land. Stop in at the office of the TCI National Parks in Provo (Tel: 649-941-5122) for more information.

On Middle Caicos there is an underground cave system to explore. On North Caicos, known as the "Garden Island", Ocean Beach Hotel has a botanical walk to introduce visitors to the island's flora. Each plant on the lovely path is identified by name on a pink conch shell. There are exciting possibilities for bird watching throughout the islands. On North Caicos Flamingo Pond offers a view of these pink birds from cabañas by the road. Just south of North Creek Channel on Grand Turk is a feeding ground for shorebirds including herons, egrets and a small group of flamingos. Pelicans and kingfishers roost in the mangroves.

In Cockburn Town the architecture is Bermudian colonial. Of special interest are the pink Victoria Public Library and the blue-trimmed Oddfellows Lodge. The highlight of a town tour is the Turks & Caicos National Museum in an historic building constructed of salvaged ships' timber. The primary exhibit is the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest ship found in the New World. Visitors can see the ship's hull and rigging as well as displays about nautical archeology. Other exhibits cover the salt, cotton and sisal industries and the coral reef. Recently uncovered artifacts of the Lucayan Tainos, the first inhabitants of the islands, will soon be added to the museum's treasures.

Horseback riding on the beach is a favorite pastime in Grand Turk. Horses are available at the Arawak Inn. If shopping is your sport, while in Cockburn Town stop at X's Place for antiques and bric-a-brac, local art and crafts including handmade painted furniture. The Shell Shack, open in season, has unique lamps and frames made from shells and driftwood.

On Providenciales the ruins of a 1790 Loyalist's plantation house can be seen at Cheshire Hall. Over Sapodilla Bay find rock carvings, said to be made by shipwrecked sailors in the early 1800s. The views from here over Chalk Sound and the island are spectacular so be sure to bring your camera! Visit the Conch Farm at the eastern end of the island and learn about the habits of this prolific and tasty sea creature.

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