RE: Grand Turk in a nutshell
Grand Turk is a tiny island lost in time. An incredible place, very relaxing and laid back. If you come in by cruise ship, you have plenty of time to take a day trip. There are several dive shops that run boats to Gibbs Key. "Oasis Divers" is the cheapest and best. Take a taxi or let the liner arrange it for you. Speed boats take up to 15 people to the key, about a half hour ride. You stop on the way and Tim the captain and his mate dive for conch in 12 - 20 feet of crystal clear water. You are welcome to dive for them too, nearly everyone does. Snorkles, masks and fins are provided. Then you go to the island and they put up a canvas shelter for shade. No facilities whatsoever, it's uninhabited. A really neat little island to explore. Huge, harmless manta rays come right up to the beach and you can swim with and photograph them. Pretty good snorkling, (not just there on the key, but right off Grand Turk's beaches, everywhere.) and lovely sand beach. They feed you a nice lunch, conch and other stuff, and rum punch, you have several hours, then you go back. It's like25 in high season. Definately worth the money and time spent. There is virtually no crime on Grand Turk. I stayed at Manta House and they don't even use keys. Also stayed at SaltRaker Inn. There are very few accomodations as there are only like 3,500 people on the whole island and remarkably little tourism, thank God.. Taxi to any hotel from airport is7, no matter where you stay. The three places to stay are Manta House, SaltRaker Inn, and Osprey Inn, a block apart and all are beachfront. Osprey is modern, the others are restored and like 170 years old, faded glory and kinda tacky but dripping charm. The lighthouse is on the other end of the island and it's a nice way to spend a few hours, too. You'll need a car or driver to get there. Right by the cruise port, at the same end of the Island as the airport, is Governer's Beach, incredibly beautiful. There are no dangers on Grand Turk, just maybe an occasional mosquito. If you dive, be sure you're no amature as you are not supervised closely. Everybody jumps in, they don't even have a boat attendant. Dress is casual all the time but some girls like to dress up at night. Hang out at Sand Bar across from Manta House, or Osprey's bar, a block away, or Water's edge, a block in the other direction. There's a few more bars on the strip. Not many shops so be sure to bring everything you're gonna need. Fresh water is a big problem, they don't have any! They use collected rain run-off to bathe and do dishes and buy more unsanitary water from trucks when that's gone. Be certain to use bottled water when you brush your teeth, I learned the hard way. Drinks and food are quite expensive. A beer is4, drinks well over5, a hamburger10 and a conch lunch is15. You can spend much more at Bohio or Osprey, if so inclined. Liquor store is 2 blocks from Manta House, and a bottle of nice rum is maybe18. Mitch and his band play about three nights a week at the various bars, he's fun and entertaining. His bandmates are islanders and they play the "rake and scrape" saw and bongos. Weird to watch but it sounds great. He also has a dive shop. Everyone is cultured and polite there. No racial tension. Don't worry about teens or kids getting in trouble, they can't. The water is crystal clear, no weeds, but there is a flat rock bottom in places. No sharks close in. The reef is not far offshore, but I couldn't to swim to it. The wall drops off to over a 1000 feet and there are monsters out there. Bring your own raft or float for the beach as no one sells them. Only the Osprey has beach loungers, but everyone uses them and they don't seem to care much. The island is pretty dry, not a lot of storms or rain days. Saturdays they open the cruise port and it's craft shops to the public. They have a great pool there, interesting shops (although everything they sell is Dominican made, or from like, Guatemala) and Margaritaville, a tourist trap, high-dollar restaurant. It's not a pretty island, most of the trees were cut down hundreds of years ago to make salt ponds. But, the ambiance more than makes up for the lack of scenery. Best sunsets on earth, too. I'm a West Floridian and an avid traveller, and I know my Caribbean well. Grand Turk is my favorite and I'm going again for 2 weeks in August. Real estate is still affordable, too. You can rent scooters, bikes and snorkle/dive equipment, no need to bring it. Go, have fun, relax, and be nice. Behave yourself though, no nude or topless bathing, please, they hate that ***. You never see a sloppy drunk, so don't be one, either. People are cultured and refined. Your greatest problem will be deciding where to have dinner. They use U.S. dollars and everyone speaks English. Cops are friendly and no problem, not like Jamaica or the D.R. Remember, virtually no shopping, so bring everything and don't forget your hat and sunscreen. A radio is a must-have if you're into the raggae or Island music. It's very dry and the humidity is quite low so you don't sweat, even in the heat. I love that part. Eat lots of seafood, it's all good and fresh. There are dogs everywhere but they're meek and no threat, like communal pets. They even have names and someone puts collars on them. You can also rent horses but there are no jet skis or parasails. Not a busy place at all. If you can't keep yourself company, you might do better elsewhere, like Providencials,(aka Provo) as there is almost nothing to do on Grand Turk but swim, snorkle, dive, read, socalize, and eat. All bars and restaurants are open-air but almost no bugs. I've never seen a spider or roach. Hotel rooms are cheap,70- something at SaltRaker and Manta House,150 at Osprey. There are some high rent condos for larger groups but I wouldn't advise them, too far from the hot spots. It's all happening on Duke Street, and all within like three blocks. i.e. crawling distance. Several places have free wi-fi if you bring your laptop, but the Cafe Courtyard sells internet time pretty reasonably. Like 30 minutes for5 and if you don't use it all, you can come back again. I love this island, I shouldn't be telling y'all this stuff because you might start going there en mass and cause a stampede. There is a tiny golf course and I think some condo has tennis courts. Mostly, everything is water oriented. The sea can get a bit nippy in the winter, around 70 degrees, which is cold to me, but it's usually calm and flat year round and pee-warm in the summer months. No lifeguards or roped off areas. Imagine a place in the 1930's and that's what you get. Some hotels have TV, (not Manta House rooms) and it's good cable, but you won't watch it much. I turn in pretty early, but some places stay open and rocking until 2-3:00 am. I always travel alone but I have lots of friends there now. Many x-pat Americans, Brits and Canadians are living there, all extremely cool people. You'll be treated really well by everyone, none of the rude business you get in more crowded places or resentment by the islanders. Lately, some young native people have discovered drugs and graffiti but the old hippies are keeping an eye on it. It's certainly no problem and not evident on Duke Street at all. Everyone is pretty secretive about marajuana and no one will approach you or hassle your kids on the beach. There is a small ghetto but you have no reason to go there and probably will never see it. Most islanders are pretty well-to-do and nearly everyone has a job. Hope this helps you honey. You have nothing to fear on Grand Turk island. M. K.
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