Thursday, March 1, 2018

10 Things to Know Before Visiting Turks and Caicos

Just at the southeast of the Bahamas lie two groups of tropical islands at the Lucayan Archipelago of the Atlantic Ocean -- the Turks islands and the Caicos islands. For anyone who has ever planned on getting away from the bleak urban jungles and to a tropical hideaway will find that Turks and Caicos is the best place to be. One look at the crystal clear waters along white sand shores will make you forget about all the hustle and fuss the comes with modern life.

Imagine staying at any of the luxurious Turks and Caicos home rentals, diving around the 14-mile barrier reef, or watching the sunset on a catamaran cruise -- oh, isn't that a vacation you'd like to go on? And whether you plan on filling your days with activities or choosing to just lounge about on the beach, Turks and Caicos is a destination that lends itself to utter relaxation or utter excitement.

But before you pack and book those tickets, here are some important things you need to know.

General Climate
Because Turks and Caicos are tropical islands, expect temperature that can average up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is mostly sunny on the islands, but they do have a hurricane season from June through November. If you are planning to go on a trip between those months, make sure to keep yourself updated on the weather reports. While hurricanes are pretty common on the islands, it would be best to make preparations in case a hurricane comes in on your visit.

The peak tourist season is from the end of November until March, which is the winter months in other countries. This is when the islands usually have most of their activities and tours planned, which some may find unusual since other tropical island countries have activities all year round. If you are not really planning on joining tours, you don't need to go on months when there is an influx of tourists. Instead, you can build your own itinerary so you can explore the islands at your own pace.

No need for currency exchange if you are from the US
Yes, Turks and Caicos accept US Dollars. But this also means that food, transportation, and shopping can be a bit pricey. For instance, eating out at restaurants may cost twice as much as when you eat in the States. Moreover, taxi rates are paid, not by distance, but by individual fare.

Turks and Caicos is known to be a luxury island destination. Even if there are efforts being made to make traveling here accessible to the average globetrotter, it would be best to start researching prices and saving up for the average costs of things. Budget traveling here, in this case, may not work out well.

Pack climate-appropriate clothes
Tropical destinations mean you need to leave all your heavy coats at home. Wear casual, loose clothing so that the heat will not bother you as much. Since Turks and Caicos is right at the Atlantic Ocean, the sea breeze, especially at night, will be more than enough to keep you from sweating under the sweltering heat of the sun.

However, if you have scheduled your visit during the hurricane season, make sure you have a raincoat with you. And don’t forget to bring mosquito repellant!

Locals can speak English
Being a British Overseas Territory, the locals of Turks and Caicos can speak English fairly well. The locals of Turks and Caicos were originally from Africa, calling themselves “belongers” and not natives of the islands. When you hear the belongers speak, you will notice that their accent sounds very similar to Jamaican. As a tip: never ask them if they are from Jamaica because this is considered offensive.

Tipping rules
They follow the US rules for tipping which is 15-20% of the pre-tax bill. But make sure you check the receipt because there are some establishments who will already charge you the service fees.

Get a diving certificate before your trip
Turks and Caicos has the third largest barrier reef in the world and is considered to be one of the prime diving spots to visit. You can choose to just snorkel around the reef; a certificate is not exactly required to do that. But you will be missing out on a lot of diving sites, popular for diverse marine life and colorful reefs. So if you can, get certified.

Use coral safe sunscreen
There are excursions that will not allow you to join if your sunscreen is not coral safe. If you are not sure which brands are coral safe, you can check your sunscreen if does not include the following:
●    Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3)
●    Butylparaben
●    Octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate)
●    4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC)

You can always buy your sunscreen on the island; they are just a bit pricey.

If you plan on driving yourself around the islands, it is important to note that they drive on the left side of the road. But particularly unusual is that they have cars with a right-side driver’s seat. Before renting, you might want to test it out first and see if you can adjust your driving accordingly. If not, it’s better to commute around.

Get sea lice lotion
Aside from the coral safe sunscreen, you might want to purchase sea lice lotion or anti-jellyfish lotion as well. While the jellyfish sting is not too bothersome, you can prevent getting stung altogether if you just bring a lotion bottle and use it before swimming.

Try not to depend too much on the local’s time estimates
One of the fascinating things about locals of any country is how they estimate travel time. Some locals might think that going from point A to point B is just a 10-minute walk, but in actuality, it’s actually 20 minutes. So it’s better to consult your Google Maps right after asking the locals the general direction of your next location.

Hopefully, these facts will help you while you are planning your Turks and Caicos trip. Enjoy beautiful scenery and exciting island activities on your vacation!

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