The Islands of Turks and Caicos – The Long Road to Independence
The islands of Turks and Caicos are found in the Atlantic Ocean’s Lucayan Archipelago in the West Indies. A British Overseas Territory, the islands feature a total area of 430 square kilometers, and are primarily known for their many tourist attractions and resorts.
The islands were first sighted by European explorers in 1512, however, their history is much longer than that. Scholars believe that Taino people from Hispaniola moved to the islands as early as 500 AD. When the Spanish found the islands in the 1500s, they took many of their inhabitants as slaves along with the people from the southern Bahamas Islands.
After Britain prohibited slave trade in the early 19th century, the islands became part of a separate colony under a council president. After Turks and Caicos also became part of Canada for a short time, the islands finally received their own governor when the Bahamas became independent in 1973.
Turks is by far one of the best trips I have taken in the Caribbean. For starters this is a pretty quick trip from Miami, a few drinks and before you know it your on the tarmac. Not being a primary destination the Islands have a great flavor, just enough infrastructure but not too many people. Rentals, great food, nice airport, and plenty of exploration abound.
The Island is pretty underdeveloped; just the right mix of feeling safe but having to work to find what you need. There is a pretty developed strip where you can find food, wine, and electronics but we kind of stayed away from the part of the island (except when searching for wine)
Food Turks and Caicos
My wife and I will typically get in our rental car and just drive and explore the islands with no idea of where we are going. On our trip there just happened to be an annual conch fest going on, and what great eats. Prior to the festival we ate at a place named “Conch Shack” and it was amazing, sitting on a bench in the sand with fresh conch (nothing like it).
Both of us avid photographers we had a great time snapping shots of people and places along the journey, the entire island had a 50’s vibe.
Everywhere we go we look for Gelato and Turks delivered! We met a woman from the Czech Republic who bought a town home in Turks and had a small shop, she went to the beach in the morning opened the shop for lunch and went back to the beach (what a life). My wife and I are fans of The Amazing Race, and in season 24 a team that called themselves the Afghanimals won a trip to Turks, we ran into them at her Gelato shop.
Diving in Turks
The diving here was incredible, I especially loved Smith’s Reef. Every morning I would head out to GreenBean for an espresso or two, get my gear ready then proceed to the beach. In 8 days I saw one person on the beach at smiths diving as well, it was incredible (luckily I never got into a bind and needed rescue. Aside from Smith’s I visited other reef’s on the island as well as a few night dives on the house reef at the resort we called home.
Turks Bight House Reef
As house reefs go it was what you typically experience, tourist usually decimate coral colonies in time, and the run off from resorts create pretty high nutrient level. Princess Alexandra National Park was no different, we stayed at Coral Gardens right off Bight Reef. The secret to a house reef is this, keep your expectations low, have your gear ready, get some weights, and be fit enough to hold your breath long. Past the buoys Bight (like any house reef) improves. Most people won’t swim past the mark or go deep. I typically swim out to the barriers, ready my gear and descend past the marks to get good shots.
When your doing macro anything can look incredible no matter where you are, scout the waters for something interesting, dip down take a look and line up a shot then ascend. Take a deep breath and drop, make sure you rinse and repeat taking the same shot a few times. During my trip to Turks I was still using a GoPro 3 Black, I would take a series of shots in burst mode, then go back down and take a video.
The photo below links to my gallery of the best dive shots while on the Island, I have improved a great bit since then but these photos do demonstrate how well you can do with a GoPro (no lights) and shallow water.