The Fascinating History of Turks and Caicos
A vacation to Turks and Caicos can be anything but boring. With so many opportunities for rest and entertainment alike, it’s a miracle most visitors manage to get to the bottom of their vacation to-do list by the time their flight takes off.
For those of you who are part-time or full-time history buffs, the archipelago surely has a lot to offer. There is a lot of fascinating history to uncover and historical sites to explore. Blending relaxation time with fun strolls down memory lane is a perfect way to spend your exotic island retreat.
The ancient origins
That being said, let’s start at the beginning – with a fun fact! Did you know the name of Caicos comes from the Arawak language – the language spoken by locals Taino and Lucayan Indians who used to call the islands their home? In English, the word translates to “string of islands”, which we think it’s very appropriate.
One way to honor the Turks and Caicos natives is by paying a visit to the old Caicos Conch farm – the only one of its kind in the world – to witness the shellfish legacy they left behind. Unfortunately, following the destruction caused by hurricanes back in 2017, the site is now closed until further notice.
Salt industry remnants
By far, some of the most fascinating historical attractions in Turks and Caicos are the remnants of the sea salt industry. Salt production has a long, rich history on the islands, beginning with the natives who first started “farming” sea salt, followed by early European explorers.
Around the start of the 17th century, the sea salt industry really started taking off, at the hands of the Bermudians. About 70 years ago, exports stopped due to the small scale of production. Nowadays, most of ruins of the old industry are scattered across the Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos, where you can see massive salinas.
Cotton and sisal plantations
On the other side of the archipelago, in Providenciales, North Caicos and Middle Caicos, another type of industry flourished. Each of the islands hosts several cotton and sisal plantations. The most interesting and best preserved one is, by far, the Cheshire Hall Plantation in Providenciales. This top historical attraction offers an authentic glimpse into the islands’ Loyalist period, which began in the late 1700s.
If you’re not a fan of the hands-on historical exploration, then the Turks and Caicos National Museum is a good fit for you. For the price of $5, you can have a relaxed walk through Turks and Caicos history and visit the many exhibits that reflect their adventurous past. Here you can find anything from shipwrecks to artifacts such as coins, old diving equipment, postage stamps and much more.
Loading up on history might not be your primary goal going into your exotic island vacation, we get it. With all the gorgeous beaches, exciting water sports, breathtaking coastal views… it’s hard to make time for anything else.
Still, in Turks and Caicos, history lies around every corner, and it creates a wonderful opportunity to explore how the ancient islanders lived and worked and see how the centuries have shaped the archipelago into what it is today.