Travelers seeking the ultimate beach—and by that we mean miles of talcum-soft white sand washed by pale turquoise surf—will be hard-pressed to do better than the islands of Turks and Caicos. Located southeast of the Bahamas, this small island nation can sell itself to sun seekers with a single-color photo of one of its beaches, perhaps world-famous Grace Bay Beach on Providenciales or maybe undeveloped Water Cay (which is as dreamy as it sounds).
Providenciales, where the international airport is located, is the main resort destination, and Grand Turk is a popular port for cruises, while less-visited islands include North Caicos, Middle Caicos and Salt Cay. Here are the best beaches in Turks and Caicos.
1. Grace Bay Beach
Consistently ranked among the best beaches in the Caribbean—and in the world—this charismatic three-mile arc of soft white sand and tranquil sea on the island of Providenciales has managed to retain its beauty despite being lined with Turks & Caicos’ most popular resorts. Perhaps that’s because it is part of Princess Alexandra National Park and that the bay is protected by a thriving reef system that prevents large swells from crashing ashore.
The result: flat, smooth sand that’s ideal for strolling and clear, calm water offering an invitation to float your cares away from sunrise to sunset. To truly appreciate Grace Bay’s beauty, book a parasail adventure and look down on it from several hundred feet in the air.
2. Leeward Beach
To get away from the towering resorts and gaggles of sunbathers on Grace Bay Beach, head directly east to neighboring Leeward Beach, known for the brilliant hue of its water and pure white sand that’s backed mostly by low-lying greenery, blue sky and some of Providenciales’ most architecturally distinctive luxury beach villas.
If chilling atop a blanket while enjoying a bottle of wine at sunset is your thing, Leeward Beach is a great spot to kick back and relax.
3. Long Bay Beach
Kiteboarding is a popular activity on this three-mile beach, located on the southeast coast of Providenciales, because the water is shallow (making it a great place to learn the sport) and it’s known for consistent winds. Long Bay Beach is also quite scenic, with water that’s deep turquoise in color and fine-grained white sand that’s easy to stroll on. Even if you don’t kiteboard, a visit here is a fun way to appreciate the skill and daring this sport requires as you watch dozens of colorful kites soar against the sky.
4. Water Cay
Uninhabited. If that’s a top priority for you when it comes to best beaches, consider a day trip to this beauty, located between Providenciales and North Caicos. Water Cay is a narrow, two-mile-long island with a pristine white-sand beach running along its northern coast. An added bonus: photogenic limestone cliffs (some areas offer shade) that distinguish it from many other Turks and Caicos beaches. How to get here? Book a cruise tour that stops here.
Or if you’re adventurous, rent a kayak on Providenciales’ Leeward Beach and paddle to the southern side of Half Moon Bay, where you can walk to Water Cay (and Little Water Cay, home to an endangered Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana sanctuary), which are all connected by sandbars.
5. Half Moon Bay Beach
Part of a trio of connected uninhabited cays (along with Water Cay and Little Water Cay), this wide, three-quarter mile strand of pristine sand is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Turks and Caicos and is a popular spot for day-trip cruises and picnics. Like Water Cay, it features low-lying limestone cliffs and its proximity to Little Water Cay means you may spot some friendly and harmless rock iguanas on Half Moon Bay’s dunes.
6. Governor’s Beach
Cruise passengers looking for a pleasant spot on Grand Turk to soak in the Caribbean sun and enjoy a swim will find Governor’s Beach is not only convenient—it’s located a mile from the Cruise Center on the way to Cockburn Town and is an inexpensive taxi ride—but also home to soft sand and sparkling clear water. It’s a great place to learn to snorkel, although there isn’t an abundance of sea life, just some coral, sea fans and tiny reef fish. The casuarina trees that fringe the beach here do offer some shade, especially helpful at midday.
7. Parrot Cay Beach
Parrot Cay is private—home to upscale villas and the luxury COMO Parrot Cay resort—so you’ll need to book a room or rent a villa to experience the tranquility of its secluded beach. At four square miles, it’s the largest of the cays located between Providenciales and North Caicos (it’s about a 35-minute boat ride from the former) and its resort and villas have long been the escape of choice for seclusion-seeking celebrities.
8. Mudjin Harbour Beach
Feel like taking an adventurous day trip? Check out Turks and Caicos’s two largest yet most sparsely populated islands by hopping a ferry (30 minutes each way) from Heaving Rock Down Marina on Providenciales to Sandy Point Marina on North Caicos and picking up a rental car (reserve ahead of time) to cross the causeway that connects to Middle Caicos.
Here, you’ll find the three-mile stretch of beach and coast at Mudjin Harbour, one of the island’s top attractions, known for its dramatic limestone cliffs and caves. Swimming is not generally recommended, but there’s a lot to see and explore along the coast. The last ferry back to Providenciales departs just before sunset.
9. North Bay Beach
Located on Salt Cay, the smallest of the inhabited islands in Turks & Caicos, 1.75-mile North Bay Beach is the best strand with a sandy bottom and calm water, thanks to it sheltered location looking north to Grand Turk (both cruise ships and humpback whales can be sighted in season). There are also some excellent reefs not far from shore for experienced snorkelers to explore.
Salt Cay, at just 2.6 square miles, is a quiet spot known for the colonial architecture of Balfour Town. The only way to arrive is via a domestic flight from Providenciales and the only accommodation is rental villas.
10. Sapodilla Bay Beach
A top beach for families with small children, this sheltered strand on the south coast of Providenciales about 10 miles from Grace Bay is known for its clear, shallow, warm water. The area offers a range of vacation rental villas and there’s some decent snorkeling featuring colorful reef fish, sea urchins and coral at the base of the small coastal cliffs at one end. In addition, neighboring Chalk Sound National Park, a vibrant turquoise lagoon featuring hundreds of tiny limestone islands, is a star attraction.