Grand Turk Island is the capital island of the Turks and Caicos archipelago. Grand Turk has been the capital since the mid 1700’s. It is the largest island in the Turks Islands (the smaller of the two archipelagos that make up the island nation known as the Turks and Caicos). Grand Turk contains the territory’s capital and largest settlement, Cockburn Town and the main airport JAGS McCartney International Airport. Grand Turk has a population of less than 4,000 residents.
Cockburn Town is the center piece of the island with numerous historical buildings and a rustic charm. Grand Turk is one of the main historical points of the Turks and Caicos. You will find many Colonial style buildings, ancient ruins, and The Turks and Caicos National Museum here.
We arrived to the Turks and Caicos Islands while sailing on board Princess Cruise Lines Emerald Princess. Our cruise ship pulled into port at Grand Turk next to a Costa Cruise Lines ship (shown above). The Grand Turk Cruise Center we were told is a 15 acre complex and cruise port on the southern end of Grand Turk. This port location is a launch point for shore excursions and offers retail shops, restaurants including the largest Margaritaville in the Caribbean, and a spa.
Leaving the cruise ship there is a 400 ft. walkway (pier) towards the island. The first thing you will notice is a “Welcome to Grand Turk” sign and the Cruise Center Beach. The sand on this beach is soft and the water is calm and clear. Many cruise ship passengers didn’t make it far beyond this point. We discovered later that there is another beach that is nicer located north of the Cruise Center.
Walking past the beach adjacent to the cruise port is the Grand Turk Cruise Center. Visitors to the Grand Turk Cruise Center have the opportunity to peruse through 45,000 square feet of retail shopping that includes a 10,000 square foot Dufry duty-free shop. Here you will find other merchants such as Colombian Emeralds, Effy Jewelers, Goodmark Jewelers, Ron Jon Surf Shop©, Diamonds International, Piranha Joes, Del Sol, Dizzy Donkey, Silver Emporium, Tanzanite International, Joelle & Jake (Life is Good), Indigo Pearls, The Trading Post at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, plus unique apparel and t-shirt stores, locally crafted souvenir and gift shops.
One of the best attractions near Grand Turk is Gibbs Cay. This small island is home to many stingrays who freely interact with humans. Some shore excursions include diving for conch. snorkeling, and also lunch on the beach. Other shore excursion options offer a visit to the Grand Turk Lighthouse (built in 1852), or you can take in some history with a visit to the Turks and Caicos National Museum, Her Majesty’s Prison, or St. Mary’s Anglican Church. Beaches and water activities really are the highlights of this island.
According to turksandcaicostourism.com the islands are home to over 31,000 full-time residents, and attract more than 1 million tourists annually. In 2016 the Turks and Caicos Islands welcomed 1,300,575 tourists to its shores, with 453,612 being stop-overs and the remaining 846,963 arriving via cruise. Will you be next?
Below are some pictures we took while visiting this port of call. This is a beautiful Caribbean island and as you can see there are many visitors who enjoy coming here annually.
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