Grand Turk is the administrative and political capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands and Cockburn Town has been the seat of government since 1766. This small island is bursting with turn-of-the-century Caribbean charm.
Founded by Bermudan Salt Rakers some three centuries ago, its Bermudan British colonial architecture amidst the colorful, Caribbean-style local dwellings make Grand Turk worth a visit.
Donkeys, horses and cattle were the means of transportation during the salt industry, and these animals are seen still wondering the streets and countryside of Grand Turk.
Every summer Grand Turk becomes party town. In July Grand Turk is host to the annual Grand Turk Heineken Game Fishing Tournament, a fun-filled event for local and visiting sportspeople as well as party enthusiasts. Also sometime between June and September, Grand Turk parties down again with a week full of dancing to island music, sporting challenges, local food and much fun and other events to break up the heat of summer..
Grand Turk is six miles long and just over a mile wide. Like the other islands, Grand Turk is blessed with miles of quiet sugary beaches and is close to several uninhabited cays just waiting to be explored. At the north point of the island, a channel to the sea gives access to North Creek, the only hurricane shelter for yachts traveling between Nassau and Puerto Rico.
Grand Turk excels in providing spectacular diving, snorkeling, fishing and sailing. Grand Turk is consistently rated among the top 10 dive destinations in the World. The warm Atlantic Sea waters are filled with marine life ranging from a tiny seahorse to manta, eagle and sting rays, green and hawksbill turtles, dolphin, shark, whale shark and the magnificent humpback whale. Diving is just a 5 minute boat ride offshore to the 7,000 foot vertical wall. On the top of the wall divers enjoy diving through the incredible coral formations and sand gullies.
Grand Turk diving is relaxed, boats go out with one-tank and easily return to shore for an hour interval before going out to the government's marine conservation parks for the second dive. The local dive operators have combined efforts forming an organization to 'Protect Reefs & Islands from Degradation and Exploitation' ensuring that the reefs are managed and used with respect.
AN OASIS OF DIVING ON GRAND TURK
Story & Photos by Kathy Borsuk
Grand Turk houses the Turks & Caicos National Museum which displays span the whole of human history in the Turks and Caicos, from Indian occupations starting at 700 AD right up to modern times, the arrival of John Glenn after his historic three-orbit space flight in 1962. The Turks & Caicos National Museum also has a Natural History gallery with displays on the Geology of the Turks and Caicos and Reef and Island Ecology. The recovered artifacts of the "Molasses Reef Wreck" (1513), the oldest known European shipwreck in the New World, are displayed along with manuscripts, prints and items of art and culture relating to the history of the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Marta's Photo Gallery of Grand Turk
- Lucayan Gallery Exhibit in the Museum -
Turks and Caicos Islands postage stamps will surprise and delight you beside being a lightweight souvenir from the islands. An ever-changing variety of collectors stamps and post cards are available from the Philatelic Bureau on Church Folley in the Franklin Missick Building, open Monday - Friday. Stop in and tell Girley hello.
A lighthouse and the remains of a United States Navy Base are located on the northeast point of the island. The remains of a U.S. Air Force Base are on the west coast. This Grand Turk U.S. Air Force tracking station which began in the early 1950s until it closed in 1984.
On Feb. 20 1962 astronaut John Glenn, in the Project Mercury Space Program, became the first American to orbit the earth and his space capsule splashed down in Grand Turk waters and was brought to the island for a medical checkup and post flight de-briefing. A first hand account of this historical event includes postage stamps and a special envelope autographed by John Glenn, which would be of interest to stamp collectors, postal historians and those interested in Turks and Caicos Islands history.
Photographers enjoy old Bermudian-style archtecture, gates and doorways, beautiful turquoise waters and colorful plants that set Grand Turk apart from the other islands with its endearing Caribbean charm.
MORE GRAND TURK PHOTOS
More to date, you can now visit the Grand Turk Cruise Port and watch the cruise ship tourists and visit the shops and Jimmy Buffet's mega restaurant & bar Margaritaville.
The Turks and Caicos Islands have been documented by H.E. Sadler who spent years of research writing this delightful, easily read history book full of colorful pictures and fascinating history capsules. For students of history, residents and visitors to the Islands, this work is a revealing and authoratative account of the Turks and Caicos Islands from the earliest times to the present and an indispensable tool for further research on the Turks and Caicos. To find out more click here.
A considerable amount of archeological research has been done by the Earthwatch Institute, Dr William Keegan and Betsy Carlson, on the Coralie Site located at the north end of Grand Turk on the edge of North Creek. The archeology is done under the aegis of the T&C National Museum and the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville. Volunteers are recruited through Earthwatch, but they are not responsible for the research.
For historical details see:
The Coralie Site, Grand Turk Earthwatch Report, Grand Turk, 1996 Earthwatch Report, Grand Turk, 1997
Pre-Columbian Archeology of the TCI GRAND TURK: Its Bones are the key
The Columbus Landfall Page