Where Can I Swim in Turks and Caicos?

snorkelinginturksandcaicos-300x199You may already know that Turks and Caicos is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, drawing over a million of sun worshipers each year. It’s no wonder why. Surrounded by tranquil turquoise waters and exquisite coral reefs, the islands of Turks and Caicos offer spectacular swimming opportunities. The water in Turks and Caicos is warm year-round, ranging from 82 to 84 degrees (28-29 degrees Celsius) in the summer, and about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26 degrees Celsius) in the winter.

All total, there is about 230 miles of shoreline in Turks and Caicos. But which beaches are the best? In particular, which beaches offer the best opportunities for swimming? That’s not an easy question to answer. Turks and Caicos is home to a long list of absolutely stunning white sand, pristine beaches. But in terms of which are best specifically for swimming, here are our top picks:

Grace Bay Beach

Open to the public and comprising much of the island of Turks and Caicos, Grace Bay Beach has been repeatedly voted one of the best beaches in the world. Grace Bay Beach is located on the northeast coast of Providenciales, starting in the island community of Leeward and stretching over 12 miles (19 km) to the town of Thompson Cove. Known for its crystal clear water and white sand, and having literally no pebbles or other foreign objects, it’s no exaggeration to say that Grace Bay is the definition of paradise. If there was a perfect 10 for beaches, this is it.

Many people come to Grace Bay Beach to lie on the soft, powdery sand and enjoy the cool breezes and tranquil setting. But it would be a mistake to just stay on shore and not take a dip! The waters alongside Grace Bay Beach are the perfect temperature for swimming. Of course, water sports like sailing, diving and snorkeling are available here as well. Keep in mind this is a very popular beach, and much of it lined with resorts and hotels. It’s still a very relaxing destination, but usually has more visitors compared to Provo’s other beaches.

Leeward Beach

Also on the northeast end of Providenciales and directly adjacent to Grace Bay, Leeward Beach is another world-class beach. Known for its white sand, limestone cliffs and untouched shoreline, Leeward Beach surrounds the exclusion residential community of Leeward. Compared to Grace Bay, Leeward Beach is not nearly as developed and has less traffic, and has a far more secluded feel. Like Grace Bay, Leeward Beach’s pristine waters offer excellent swimming conditions. [Note: there are no public washrooms at Leeward Beach, however, facilities are available at area restaurants and resorts.]

Long Bay Beach

On the northwest coast of Providenciales is another spectacular beach: Long Bay Beach. In contrast with Grace Bay, Long Bay has very few hotels and resorts on its 3-mile shoreline (at least for now), and visitors usually have this gorgeous beach to themselves. The shallow waters of this beach are sheltered and waveless (usually no more than a few choppy waves), providing an ideal setting for young children to swim. Long Bay Beach is also famous for pony tours; many people opt to go in the water while on the back of a gentle pony, rather than swim. Kiteboarding is another activity this beach is known for, and this is due to the area’s northeast trade winds.

Taylor Bay

Located on Provo’s southwest coast, adjacent to Chalk Sound and just west of Sopadilla Bay, Taylor Bay offers hundreds of yards of shallow water that are ideal for taking a dip and getting your feet wet. There are no steep drop-offs and the water here is almost always calm and clear, so Taylor Bay is perfect for kids to make a splash while Mom and Dad relax and soak up the Caribbean sun and breeze. The crystal clear waters are also ideal for snorkeling. [Keep in mind there are no lifeguards at this beach, so if you have small children you’ll have to keep an extra close eye on them.]

Smith’s Reef

Located near Turtle Cove Marina, Smith’s Reef is home to a variety of colorful marine life and is ideal for snorkeling. Snorkelers only need to swim a short distance from the shoreline to see native sea life such as stingrays, turtles, anemones, lobsters, crabs and brightly-colored Caribbean fish. Smith’s Reef is quite shallow compared to other beaches in Provo, so it’s perfect for novice divers. If snorkeling and swimming with the aquatic life isn’t your thing, there are plenty of sandy paths along the shoreline for walking.

Little Water Cay Beach

A 10-minute boat ride from Leeward Marina in Providenciales, Little Water Cay is home to Turks and Caicos’ endangered population of rock iguanas and has been affectionately nicknamed “Iguana Island.” You can stroll among the greenery of this little island, participate in sailing and snorkeling outings, or discover nearby islets by kayak—in addition to swimming. Little Water Cay Beach is located on the northeast edge of the island. As is true of the other beaches in TCI, the water is crystal clear and the sand is powdery soft. However, Little Water Cay Beach is by far one of the quietest and most secluded, with relatively few tourists (although there may very well be some iguanas taking a dip in the water alongside you!).

Governor’s Beach

If you’re venturing to the islands’ capital, Grand Turk, make sure Governor’s Beach is on your list. Within Columbus Landfall National Park, this laid-back beach is perfect for swimming, as well as snorkeling and picnicking underneath shady pines. Governor’s Beach is located near the Grand Turk Cruise Center, which welcomes huge cruise ships 4 to 6 days a week (depending on the time of year), so you may see a lot of activity on cruise ship days. In addition to seeing cruise ship passengers, you may also see the governor’s residence from the beach, and even a flamingo or two!

Whitby Beach

Located on the northern shore of North Caicos, Whitby Beach’s sugary white sand and teal blue waters offer spectacular swimming and sunbathing opportunities, along with snorkeling. Whitby Beach is nine miles long, and even though most of North Caicos’ resorts and vacation rental accommodations are located on this beach, the area is usually uncrowded. Whitby Beach is surrounded by a barrier reef which keeps its calm and free of strong waves, making it ideal for snorkelers and young swimmers.

So…what are you waiting for? Now go get your beach towel, some sun block and a pair of shades and head for the water. Life is better at the beach…especially when it’s a Turks and Caicos beach!

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