Money: The currency is US Dollars. Major credit cards (not always Amex) are widely accepted although some vendors charge a percentage to use them. Bring cash for taxis, gas, tips, out-island travel. ATM machines are common on Providenciales and Grand Turk but none of the other islands.
Electricity: 110V, 60Hz. North American sockets
Phone coverage: GSM and CDMA (4G). Most cell phones work on international roaming. Local providers are Digicel and FLOW.
Transport: Rental cars are popular and useful on Providenciales. They are more essential if you are not staying in Grace Bay and need to buy groceries or want to explore the island. Most tour operators provide complimentary pick up for their guests staying between Grace Bay and Turtle Cove. Although many of the taxi fares are standardized by route, they can be on the expensive side and typically charge per person. Please see ‘Inter-Island Travel’ for more information regarding out-island transport and travel within the Caribbean region.
Gratuities: Service providers generally expect a gratuity for a job well done. Check if and what may be automatically included on your bill. Many restaurants and all hotels add at least an automatic 10% service fee. Excursions booked and paid through a resort may also carry a service fee although the staff on the front line will typically receive about 60% of this. Customary gratuity for restaurant service is 10% at breakfast, 15% at lunch and 15-20% at dinner. Watersports, spa staff and taxi drivers would expect around 10%.
Social Etiquette: The Turks and Caicos is fairly conservative. You should wear shirts and shoes in all public areas and avoid profanity and nudity. Good manners and respectful language go a long way. Almost all residents are extremely friendly and happy to help you find your way, answer any questions or have a chat.
Clothing & Shoes: It is warm year round in the Turks and Caicos but ladies may appreciate a shawl in the evenings. Long pants are unnecessary although appropriate at some restaurants and with socks will help guard against mosquitoes at the dinner table. Long sleeved shirts or jacket and tie are never required. Bring water sandals or closed shoes for exploring the coastline; flip flops are hopeless and hazardous on rocks or sand. A swimmer’s shirt or rash guard and wide brimmed hat will help protect your body from the sun.
Snorkelling and snorkel gear: There are only a few places to snorkel from the beach around Providenciales. These include Smith’s Reef on the outside of Turtle Cove and the Bight Reef adjacent to the Coral Gardens hotel. You should pay attention to boat traffic and potential currents at these locations but generally they are user friendly. Arguably the best marine life and certainly the greatest range of snorkelling is along the offshore reefs. Known as a ‘barrier reef’, they run parallel for almost the entire the length of the archipelago. These reefs are approximately one mile offshore and accessible only by boat. There is an offshore wind at most of these reefs which should not be underestimated. Other reefs are more remote and reached on more adventurous snorkel expeditions. It is difficult to rent gear for private use in the Turks and Caicos Islands. All tour operators do provide complimentary gear on their tours. But if you want to snorkel from the beach or ensure quality equipment you should bring your own.
Other gear: What other gear might you may find useful on a trip to the Turks and Caicos Islands? A small day pack for walking and exploring, a small dry bag for use on a boat or at the beach and reusable water bottles. You could also bring reusable shopping bags; our single use plastic bag ban has not come into effect yet. And some visitors even bring collapsible trollies to help transport groceries on foot from the IGA supermarket in Grace Bay.
Conservation and Environmental Etiquette:
Sands, shells, coral
PDF: Etiqutte phaplet
Link: DECR. Cites regulations
Generally the Turks and Caicos are considered reasonably safe islands for visitors but you still want to use your common sense, particularly on Providenciales.
Most theft is opportunistic and popular tourist locations/accommodation can make an easy target if you are complacent. Do not leave valuables unattended on the beach or visible in your car for example. It is best to lock ground floor windows and doors in the evening/night. Do not leave valuables lying around or visible through the window, even during the day. Most hotels and some villas provide safes which should be used.
It is generally advised that rental vehicles are best left unlocked and empty at beachside car parks or remote locations. Drink driving enforcement is relaxed so please drive carefully and pay attention to other drivers. Use of indicators on vehicles should not be expected either so it is often best to wait or give other drivers the right of way.
You should walk at night only in the higher traffic areas of Grace Bay. Be more cautious in quieter areas around the fringes of Grace Bay, Turtle Cove and the Bight. Central Grace Bay beach is generally a safe highway for tourists walking between resorts and restaurants in the evening. Cars drive on the left. Please look both ways before crossing the street.
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