It’s widely believed that when Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the Americas, he arrived on one of three islands: San Salvador, Samana Cay in the Bahamas, or our very own Grand Turk. We tend to believe he was the first European to visit Grand Turk.
Although we may never know for sure where Columbus first landed in 1492, there’s no arguing that the peaceful island of Grand Turk—home to the islands’ capital of Cockburn Town—is rich in history and culture. It was here that John Glenn’s capsule landed after orbiting the Earth in 1962. And for hundreds of years before, Grand Turk served as the main hub for sea salt production in the Turks & Caicos.
Today, it’s a quiet island of fewer than 5,000 residents where people go to escape the bustle of city life, and to get a glimpse into the history of the Turks & Caicos. The seaside Front Street is lined with Bermudian-style architecture dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, including the Turks & Caicos National Museum (also known as Guinep House). Grand Turk is also home to the country’s only lighthouse, built in 1852.
Why Visit Grand Turk
Beyond its historical significance, Grand Turk is renowned for its scuba diving and its beautiful beaches—including Governor’s Beach and Pillory Beach. The island is also home to a cruise ship terminal, the Grand Turk Cruise Center, which is home to a variety of shops and restaurants. Outside of the cruise center, there are a handful of local inns offering comfortable places to stay on the beach, with restaurants open to all visitors. And then there’s Sand Bar—a local oceanfront restaurant and bar where locals and tourists congregate to relax, eat and sip their drinks while watching the world go by.
If you’re interested in visiting Grand Turk, it’s just a 30-minute flight from Providenciales via InterCaribbean or Caicos Express. And once you’ve had a taste of Grand Turk’s laid-back island charm, be warned: You may find it hard to leave.