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dannygoesdiving This is a blog & photo journal of the trips that I (Danny) and Jo (wifey) have taken over the past few years.

Under the weather in Grand Turk

TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS | Tuesday, 3 March 2015 | Views [467]

Historic Downtown - looking onto town beach

Historic Downtown - looking onto town beach

Its our 9th year in the Turks and Caicos (how time flies) and there are still parts of the island chain and annual events that we have not yet visited/experienced. We barely skimmed the surface of Grand Turk (the Capital) on our last day trip visit (back in 2010) and so using the arrival of our friend Bev as an excuse we decided that it was time to become better aquainted. On the agenda was whale watching (the main reason for taking Bev there), scuba diving and chillin'.

Flights, accomodation and car rental were arranged and the day had finally arrived for our 3 day adventure and wouldn't you believe it I awoke with a sore throat and congestion.

A short flight and we were back in the Capital and it was ony 8:30 am, I phoned the car guy within minutes a crazy dude arrived on a scooter and started madly waving at us and shouting 'car hire, car hire'. Cash was handed over, no paperwork was signed and then he was off with not a word about the car, no sign of a map, infact not even verbal directions as to which way we should exit the airport. Luckily you can't go too far wrong and I had a vague memory of which direction to head - I dread to think how a tourist would have reacted to this abandonment !

Reaching the old town and having located the Osprey Beach Hotel where we were staying (no checkin till after 2pm but they secured our bags for us) we decided that our first priority was some breakfast.

We had scheduled a boat trip to Gibbs Cay in the afternoon with Grand Turk Divers and so with a few hours to kill decided to go exploring. Heading towards the most northerly part of the island and the location of the historic lighthouse (dating back to 1852).  Despite hearing repeated reports of trying to control the wild donkeys on the island there was little to indicate that this had been done as they were everywhere ! Charming for us visitors but I'm sure a real problem trying to keep out of your vegetable plot !  

We reached the lighthouse and began to notice the changes that had taken place on the island since our last visit.  Firstly there was a refreshments booth which had previously not existed, however more significant was the construction onf an extensive ziplining operation which circled the lighthouse and then ran along the coastline. It seemed a real shame as there had previously been unrestricted and breathtaking views, however I suppose the cruiseship dollar speaks loudly. Fortunately we arrived inbetween the hoards , having the place pretty much to ourselves; wandering the trails that lead off along the coastal cliffs we watched the angry seas breaking on the reefs and realised what an important role the lighthouse must have played to prevent ships falling foul of them.

Heading back to the old town we passed cruise shippers travelling to the lighthouse in pretty much every form of transport possible - air conditioned buses, private taxis, rental cars,  off road open air safari buses, ATV's, dune buggies and scooters - I almost expected to see the local donkeys, horses and cows ladden down with cuiseship tourists !

To add to the almost surreal experience we were passed by the town trolley train as we parked up outside the Osprey Beach Hotel !

After a tasty beachside lunch we met up with 4 other friends who had travelled from Provo for a few days away and jumped aboard one of Grand Turk Divers boats for an afternoon excursion to Gibbs Cay. Stopping off along the way we snorkelled at a place called 'The Library', the area was full of fish and colourful corals and best of all was right on the edge of the wall. Freediving down you could even hear the singing of the humpback whales cruising along the columbus passage.

Next it was onto Gibbs Cay, which is an unihabited island laying just off of Grand Turks southeast tip,  popular for snorkeling, photography, beachcombing and stingray encounters. We were the only boat on this Robinson Crusoe style island; even before the engine stopped we could see a number of stingrays (large and small) making there way towards the boat (they are used to being fed, something we don't approve of and so chose not to do). Jumping into the shallows we enjoyed watching them swim upto, under and over us, they had no fear of humans and came so close that you could touch their velvety skins. They soon realised that there no scraps to be had from us and disappeared just as effortlessly as thay had appeared.

Stepping ashore onto the pristine white sand beach we made the short hike to the far side of the cay which afforded spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. Beachcombing we found both driftwood and numerous pieces of different coloured sea glass (all for Lucie and her art gallery on Provo).

Heading back to Grand Turk we chilled before heading to Barbies restaurant (a local eatery) where between us we enjoyed typical island food - conch, ribs, grouper, oxtail and chicken. Tasty and cheap.

As soon as I woke the next morning I knew that there was no way that I would be diving, so trying not to sulk I went back to bed leaving Josie to enjoy what Grand Turk had to offer beneath the waves.  I spent the morning wandering around the historic downtown, taking photos of beautiful waters and old Bermudian-style buildings from the salt raking era.

Meeting up with the rest of the group we were met by the owner of the charterboat with whom we were meant to be whale watching that afternoon - it went from bad to worse - the seas were too rough to visit the normal area that the whales frequented. We chose to postpone until the next day and decided to further explore the island

Heading to North Creek we continued on to Little Bluff Point - no tourists in sight, just us, lots of donkeys and beautiful scenery - especially the beach at the point. Heading from one end of the island to the other to see th now defunct and derelict conch world at South Creek Sound - what a waste of investment and such a shame - mind you it really was located in the arse end of the island. We at least got a good view of Gibbs Cay in the distance.

My energy levels were rapidly diminishing so it was back to the hotel for some rest before heading out for a meal at the Salt Raker Inn and then (for me at least) an early night.

It was already our final day in Grand Turk, bravely dragging myself out of bed and fortified by breakfast we headed to an old animal watering hole that we had been told about by one of the locals.  Fresh water is in short supply on the island and so any fresh water is much sought after by the wildlife. Sure enough there were horses. donkeys and a variety of birlife in the area, as well as a number of now disused hand dug wells. At this point we were advised that there would be no whale watching this trip due to mother nature :(

So instead we headed from one extreme to the other with a visit to  Margaritaville at the cruise terminal - just to enjoy a margartia or two mind you. A quick lunch of jerk chicken at the Jack Shack and then we chilled out at Governors Beach and explored the freighter that had run aground last year (not another person in sight).

All too soon it was time to catch the flight back to Provo - no diving, no whale watching and much grumbling about man flu - that all said it was still a great visit to the Nations Capital.

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