TURKS & CAICOS :
The beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles southeast of Miami, southeast of the Bahamas and north of the Dominican Republic. Covering 193 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, Turks and Caicos has the third largest coral reef system and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! Turks and Caicos islanders are friendly and welcoming, and the official language is English.
The US dollar is the official currency of Turks and Caicos. Most hotels, restaurants and taxi services accept traveler’s cheques. Most credit cards are accepted and banks offer ATM’s as well as cash advances on credit cards.
Tipping is normally paid to waiters, bartenders and taxi drivers at 15-20%. It’s also customary to tip dive staff… $10 or so for a two-tank boat dive, or $5 for a single tank dive is considered a reasonable tip. Your hotel maid will appreciate a gratuity of a couple of dollars per night, left in the room as you depart.
FOOD AND DRINKS
The water’s distilled from sea water, and perfectly safe to drink. The food on both Provo and Grand Turk is excellent, though island prices may be a higher than what you’re used to at home (less so on Grand Turk). On Provo you’ll find food of every kind on the island, from seafood, burgers, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, and almost anything else you can think of. On Grand Turk your choices are much more limited, with only a handful of restaurants and beach bars, including those located at the hotels.
The average temperature ranges between 85 and 90 degrees F (29-32C) from June to October, sometimes reaching the mid 90’s (35 degrees celsius), especially in the late summer months. From November to May the average temperature is 80 to 84 degrees (27-29C). Water temperature in the summer is 82 to 84 degrees (28-29C) and in winter about 74 to 78 degrees (23-26C). A constant trade wind keeps the climate at a very comfortable level. In an average year the Turks and Caicos has 350 days of sunshine.
ENTRY AND DEPARTURE REQUIREMENTS
U.S. citizens are now required to have a passport to re-enter the USA, so you’ll need a valid passport to travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Non-US/Canadian citizens may need a visa to enter. Please be sure that you are carrying correct documentation – you will not be able to board your airplane without it.
Minors under age 18 who are not traveling with both parents need a signed & notarized letter of consent from the parent who is not traveling.
CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION
When you check in for your flight, or on the plane, you’ll be given the appropriate immigrations forms. Complete both the top and bottom sections in black or blue ink before you land. When you clear immigration, you’ll give this form and your proof of citizenship to the agent. After he or she signs and stamps your immigration form, they’ll keep one part and give you the other. Keep this in a safe place; you’ll need it to leave the country. If you lose your exit paperwork, get to the airport several hours before departure, and ask airline or immigration personnel what to do. Carrying any contraband, like guns or drugs, is a very bad idea. Visitors over age 18 are allowed to bring one fifth of liquor and 200 cigarettes for personal use.
Re-entering the USA, US citizens who have been out of the country for 48 hours or longer and who have not used their duty-free allowance in the past 30 days are entitled to a $600 duty-free tax exemption. Families traveling together may pool their exemptions, meaning that a couple with 2 children may bring home $2400 in duty-free articles. Alcohol: the duty-free allowance for adults age 21 and over is one quart, which is included as part of the $600 exemption. Cuban cigars are sold in the islands, but it’s illegal to import them into the USA
Getting to the Turks and Caicos is easier than ever, with direct flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Charlotte, and New York – and easy connections from most major U.S. airports. Getting to Grand Turk will require another short flight on a local airline.
Airlines sometimes make last minute changes to flight itineraries. Please remember to verify your flight times 72 and 24 hours prior to departure (you can verify your flight times online, or by calling us or the airline). International flights require check-in at least 2 hours prior to departure
Important – airlines may charge you for checking bags! AIrline policies differ and change frequently – if you are unsure about your airline’s baggage charges check the airline’s website, or we’ll be happy to assist. Most airlines enforce a 3 bag limit, including one carry-on that must fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. Checked bags are usually limited to 50 pounds each. Dress on the islands is generally casual and informal (dressier at upscale restaurants on Provo, of course). Some items to remember: several swimming suits, shorts and tropical-casual wear, comfortable shoes, flip flops, sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, windbreaker or light jacket. As a safety precaution, don’t pack your valuables in checked luggage (or just leave non-essential valuables safely at home!) Airline security regulations prohibit using locks on your checked baggage – instead, use tie-wraps to secure them.
We always recommend spending a little more and buying travel insurance to protect you against financial loss in case of emergency or unplanned circumstances. Things happen: you or a family member gets sick and you’re unable to travel at the last minute (and hotel/dive packages are almost never refundable once paid for). Weather prevents you getting to the airport and you miss your flight, and you have to buy another ticket. You miss a connection and arrive two days later than planned. An airline cancels your flight, and you incur unplanned hotel expenses. An emergency back home forces you to cut your trip short. Your luggage is lost and you have to buy new clothes to wear. You get sick and have to go the hospital, and your home insurance doesn’t cover all your expenses. All these and more happen every single day, and travel insurance would cover these circumstances. Check what the policy covers before buying, of course – travel insurance isn’t perfect, but the more expensive and the more complex the trip, the more important it becomes. Travel packages can cost thousands of dollars, and route deviations can get very expensive. Please protect yourself in case of emergency!
PHONES & COMMUNICATION
The Islands enjoy direct worldwide telephone access, and most US cell phones will work on both Provo and Grand Turk.
The area code for the entire country is 649, and incoming calls can be dialed as when calling the USA (by dialing 1 640 then the local number). Outgoing cellular calls to the USA are made as if calling a number in the USA, by dialing the area code and number.
Hotels offer cable TV, with a full lineup of U.S. channels including CNN, ESPN, Disney, and others. Internet service at a nominal charge is available at most hotels.
120 volt, 60 cycle – exactly the same as in the U.S., and no plus adapters are required.
Staff at the hotels and dive shop will be able to help you resolve almost any problem that comes up. If you’re unhappy with your hotel room for any reason, tell the front desk or manager and ask them to resolve the situation (they can’t help if they don’t know you’re unhappy about something!) For serious situations, emergencies, or assistance with problems you can’t resolve locally, call us at Bay Adventures (Miami) at 1-305-892-4280. IMPORTANT: if you believe you are being charged unfairly for something, get a receipt and the name of the person who insists on payment – otherwise there is no recourse for getting your money back!
AND A FEW MORE SUGGESTIONS
Your vacation begins the moment you walk out your front door. Relax and enjoy yourself!
Use our advice as a starting point for your own exploration, and you’ll find that friendly people, great sunsets, exhilarating diving, and the beautiful waters of the Caribbean are only the beginnings of a great vacation.
HAVE A GREAT TRIP!