These tiny islands might just be one of the most underrated holiday destinations. Apart from long, sandy beaches and luxurious resorts, there’s interesting history and natural wonders. Here are the 10 best-kept secrets of Turks and Caicos.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turks & Caicos
Largest Above-Ground Cave Complex in the Caribbean
Located on Middle Caicos, the Conch Bar Caves national park is one of the largest above-ground cave systems in the Caribbean. The karst complex features astounding flora, underground lakes and ponds, stalagmites and stalactites as well as centuries-old Lucayan artifacts.
Their Very Own “Ambassador” Dolphin
A recognized national treasure, JoJo is a male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin that has been visiting the beaches of Turks and Caicos for over thirty years. What makes JoJo different from all the other dolphins that cross these waters, is that he voluntarily interacts with humans.
Sea Salt Played an Important Role in the Islands’ History
There are many spots throughout the islands where sea salt naturally accumulates. Even before the Europeans’ arrival, local Tainos traded salt for fruit and honey with neighboring islands. Later on, collectors from the Bermudas settled on the islands and managed to establish a successful trading business based on sea salt.
Oldest European Shipwreck
Turks and Caicos—and more specifically Molasses Reef—were the final home of a 16th-century caravel vessel that sailed across the Atlantic. After being spotted by treasure hunters, it became the oldest scientifically excavated European shipwreck in the Americas. Parts of the ship and various artifacts are now exhibited at the National Museum of Grand Turk.
An Astronaut Landed Here
NASA’s “Friendship 7” mission was successfully terminated when John Glenn landed on the waters of Turks and Caicos in a capsule, after circling the Earth three times. Glenn became the first American to orbit the planet and a replica of the space capsule sits outside Grand Turk’s airport.
Largest Ocean Hole on Earth
Turks and Caicos’ probably hold the record for the widest ocean hole in the world. Just off the shallow waters of Caicos Banks, the spectacular Middle Caicos Ocean Hole has an astonishing diameter of 2,000 feet. You have to think twice if you’re dreaming of snorkeling over it, as it is the favorite spot of hammerhead sharks.
Popular Filming Location
Apart from tourists, the beauty of the islands has attracted many filmmakers and television producers. Among others, Turks and Caicos have been the backdrop of 1941 Bahama Passage, 2012 Life’s a Beach and of course the critically-acclaimed 2014 TV-movie Turks & Caicos.
Birthplace of Ripsaw Music
Turks and Caicos are the birthplace of Ripsaw music, an obscure music genre that features an actual handsaw as the main instrument. The way the saw is supposed to be played is by scraping a knife blade along its teeth, producing a very unique sound.