10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turks & Caicos

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Turks & Caicos

aerial-view-turks-caicos-turquoise-water

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.

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

Oldest European Shipwreck

Courtesy of James Willamor | Flickr.com

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.

5

An Astronaut Landed Here

Courtesy of Jared | Flickr.com

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.

6

Largest Ocean Hole on Earth

Courtesy of Turks and Caicos Tourist Board

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.

7

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.

8

Conch-Based Cuisine

Courtesy of Turks and Caicos Tourist Board

Turks and Caicos’ cuisine’s main ingredient is conch, a large, indigenous mollusk. Its meat is used to make traditional dishes like conch fritters and conch salad, and there’s a commercial conch farm on the islands.

9

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.

10

Origin of the Name

Courtesy of Turks and Caicos Tourist Board

The islands’ name comes from a combination of two terms. The name of the indigenous Turk’s Head cactus and the phrase “caya hico’’ that means “string of islands” in the old Lucayan dialect.

Special Deals Delivered to Your Inbox!

Join the newsletter for great deals, current news and inspiring stories on all things beach.