Natural Attractions to Visit in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
Are you looking for your next lavish beach holiday? Look no further than Providenciales (also known as Provo), home to Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos.
You will not be disappointed as Grace Bay Beach with its soft white sand beaches and turquoise waters have been recognized as the Caribbean’s Leading Beach Destination in 2021 by the World Travel Awards, and it is ranked No. 1 in Trip Advisor’s 2022 Top 25 beaches around the world.
Without a doubt, Turks and Caicos has the Caribbean’s best diving and snorkeling locations, as well as a variety of fine dining establishments and year-round pleasant weather!
Besides all the exciting water activities and the best Caribbean dining experience, Providenciales features several protected areas, including national parks, nature reserves, and historically significant locations that you should not miss out on and must consider including in your travel itinerary. Many are free for the public to access and just as buzzworthy as their beaches.
Let’s explore these attractions while bearing in mind that harming animals, plants, vandalizing historical items or natural features, as well as collecting shells and fishing (without appropriate license) in these areas, are all strictly prohibited. For more information, see Basic Guidelines and Regulations.
Princess Alexandra National Park
A marine preserve that covers the Northeast part of Providenciales. Many water activities and dive sites take place here due to the parks’ easy access from resorts and marinas.
The Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve consists of small uninhabited cays. The main islands are Little Water Cay, Mangrove Cay and Donna Cay. There are red, white, and black mangroves in Mangrove Cay that grow in the extremely salty coastal sea areas and interior ponds.
Kayakers and paddlers who want to explore the reserve will have a great time at Mangrove Cay. You’ll be kayaking and paddling through mangroves, which are home to birds, fish, and other marine species. Along the channels and shallows, you’ll also find nurse sharks, lemon sharks, hawksbill turtles, conch, stingrays, starfish, and numerous varieties of reef fish.
Birdwatching is also an excellent idea in the mangroves where you’ll see green herons, brown pelicans, tricolored herons, reddish egrets, American oystercatchers, and other young fauna.
Little Water Cay on the other hand, is best known as “Iguana Island” because it is home to the Turks and Caicos Islands rock iguana, a big lizard found only in the archipelago. There are beautiful little beaches and walkways where you may see the iguanas in their natural habitat.
Chalk Sound National Park
Chalk Sound National Park is a stunningly turquoise 5-kilometer lagoon dotted with hundreds of small rocky islands. The water here is algae-free, and the amazing turquoise hues are caused by sunlight refraction off the fine limestone sand and particles in the vicinity.
The national park prohibits the use of powered watercraft due to its protected status, it is instead a wonderful spot to kayak, paddleboard, and sightsee by car on the southern side. Bonefish, barracudas, stingrays, and small lemon sharks are all frequent in the water, so occasional sightings are expected.
Iguanas can also be seen foraging for fruits, plants, prickly pear cactuses, and insects in this area. Iguanas on the islands of Chalk Sound clean out existing holes and fissures in the rock.
Northwest Point National Park
A scenic coastal environment in Providenciales where Northwest Point Marine National Park, and Northwest Point Pond Nature Reserve are two of the protected areas.
Because the water is harsh with sharp rocks, coral, sea urchins, and seaweed, Northwest Point is best for snorkeling rather than swimming. There is a superb diving spot near the coast of Northwest Point with awe-inspiring underwater wall, vibrant coral reefs, gorges, and pinnacles.
Birdwatching is also pleasant in the area, thanks to the beach and cliff coastal regions, as well as the inland saline ponds. Ospreys, brown pelicans, terns, American oystercatchers, gulls, green herons, yellow-crowned night herons, reddish egrets, stilts, warblers, and ducks are some of the most common birds seen. Red kites, great blue herons, cormorants, reddish spoonbills, Caribbean flamingos, and kingfishers are among the rarest species.
Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve
Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond is the largest section of protected land in Providenciales. The nature reserve showcases a diverse range of unique Turks and Caicos terrains and natural features.
Here you’ll find expansive underwater cave structures, blue holes, natural salt flats, seasonal freshwater ponds, and some of the best weathered marine limestones in the country, typically called “Ironshore.”
The location is perfect for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding because of the mangrove trees and shallow channel waters with lemon sharks, bonefish, and conch.
However, due to its remote location, the crime rate is high, so we advise that arrangements be made through a local watersport company that is experienced with the area.
Meanwhile, Pigeon Pond is a tiny salt pond in the nature reserve’s northern section. It’s difficult to get to, but it’s worth it because the area has unusual rock formations and enormous flocks of birds. It’s also one of the few places in Providenciales where you may see Caribbean flamingos!
On the Southwest point of Providenciales is West Harbor Bluff, which is part of the Frenchman’s Creek and Pigeon Pond Nature Reserve. It has a cave, limestone ocean cliffs, and rock inscriptions dating back 200 years.
Sapodilla Bay Hill Rock Carvings
The rock sculptures in Sapodilla Hill, on Providenciales’ south shore, are a representation of the sentiments of shipwrecked sailors and travelers from the mid-1700s through the early 1800s. You’ll find rock carvings with names, dates, symbols, and primitive images of ships and buildings.
Even though there is currently little to see owing to theft and vandalism, it is still worth a visit. Hike the 50-foot hill for a spectacular birds-eye view of Chalk Sound Lagoon’s gorgeous turquoise waters, Sapodilla Bay Beach’s tranquil beautiful houses and mansions, and South Dock, the Turks and Caicos’ principal cargo port.
It’s important to mention that it is prohibited to steal, destroy, or add graffiti to any rock in the region, and that you should not tread or walk on any inscriptions. Also, be cautious when hiking the hill because the rocks can be slippery.
Cheshire Hall Plantation
Cheshire Hall Plantation is the top historical site in Providenciales. It is the ruins of a cotton plantation in the late 1700s and it is by far the most extensive and the best preserved among other cotton plantations in Providenciales.
There are several ruined structures to see which include the great house, slave quarters, the kitchen, and cotton press bases. Majority of the buildings are in bad condition, having been left as they were after the plantation ceased operations. But many structures and ruins are marked with signs that explain their purpose.
You may visit Cheshire Hall with an entrance fee of $10 (cash only) which includes a 30-minute tour. Tours are open on weekdays from 8:30 to 11:30 in the morning and from 2:30 to 4:00 in the afternoon. Admission is free for children under three years old.
We do recommend visiting in the mornings to get the most out of your tour, because aside from the temperature being more pleasant, wildlife is more active at this time as well.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are home to several caves, sinkholes, and blue holes. And one of them is found in Long Bay Hills in Providenciales. The Hole is a limestone sinkhole that formed naturally and is simply an interesting geological landmark in and of itself.
It was formed by what is called the Karst Process: the slow action of slightly acidic rainwater dissolving the soft limestone, wearing out the rock on the outside, and hollowing it out from the inside.
The hole has a diameter of roughly 50 feet and a depth of about 60 feet to the saline water below. The depth continues below the water surface for around 25 feet.
Because the hole is a short distance from the road and right in the middle with no marked walkways or safety handrails, there is a significant risk of falling into the hole. So, we do not recommend going with small children as they may go running down the path and fall directly into the hole.
Visiting with great caution is advised and we strongly discourage swimming or jumping in because there might be concealed underwater rocks.
Other well-known blue holes in the country are Cottage Pond and Middle Caicos Ocean Hole. While non-submerged caves are the Conch Bar Caves and Indian Cave in Middle Caicos and are the only caves open to tourism.
Bird Rock Point
Hikers will love Bird Rock Point. Low limestone cliffs, mangrove rivers, and tidal sea marshes make up the topography here. It’s an interesting habitat, and it’s an excellent place to see many of the country’s unusual saline-resistant flora and a diverse range of native wildlife including many birds.
It’s the last remaining undeveloped area at the East end of Providenciales. In 2014 a hiking trail to the point was cleared by the Turks and Caicos National Trust. After about 0.55 miles, the trail emerges into the interior marshes, passing through low drought-resistant coastal vegetation.
The total distance from the starting point to the point is 0.8 miles. The walk is not difficult, despite the Turks & Caicos’ normal high temperatures and harsh sun.
Meet JoJo the Dolphin
If none of attractions listed above has convinced you of why a visit to Turks and Caicos is worth your time, then perhaps a dolphin will!
Jojo the Dolphin is a wild Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin that freely interacts with humans. He is a male dolphin who struck a friendship with Dean Bernal, a wildlife advocate from the United States who visited the Turks and Caicos in 1981 and settled in the island in 1986.
It was during Dean’s daily swims that he struck a friendship with the dolphin. And his works of petitioning for Jojo as a valuable natural resource has contributed to the conservation of Jojo and other wild dolphins and marine animals.
It was in 1989 when Jojo was declared a National Treasure by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. And he has since become a symbol of marine conservation in the country. Thankfully, Jojo’s influence has so far prevented the proposed captive dolphin facilities from happening in Grand Turk and Providenciales.
In protest to the proposed dolphinariums, bumper stickers reading “JoJo says NO to captive dolphins” were widely distributed and may still be seen on vehicles today.
He can be seen frequently swimming in Grace Bay Beach, and in the cays off the eastern end of Providenciales. It will be easy to identify him because of the propeller scars that he has on his back.
If you’re out on the water around the Grace Bay area, you’ll have a decent chance of sighting him. But remember, dolphins may attack if provoked, therefore NEVER touch any marine animal or reef.
How to Enjoy all the Natural Attractions
There’s just so much to see and so much to do in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. It’s certainly going to be a luxury vacation that is well spent not only with your loved ones, but with the magnificent flora, fauna and marine life that will surround you. And the best approach to make the most of your vacation is to rent a villa that caters well to your needs and provides the most value for your money.
Aqua Divina, located in Leeward Settlement, Providenciales, is just minutes away from all these natural and historical attractions. Whether you’re looking to make timeless memories, escape to paradise, or experience endless summer, we’re here to help make it happen by providing you with a luxurious, convenient and comfortable accommodation!
And because we want you to get the most out of your vacation, you get FREE ACCESS to onsite water sports facilities when you book today!