It’s all about the beach on the Overseas British Territory of Grand Turk, a tiny patch of paradise in the Atlantic Ocean, less than 7 miles long and 2 miles wide (11 km by 3 km). Donkeys and chickens wander the quiet roads, the colonial buildings are whitewashed, red-roofed and draped with bougainvillea, and the island pace of life soon takes hold.
Day 1: Cockburn Town
Start your exploration of this laidback island in the capital, Cockburn Town. The main draw in town is the National Museum, with its shipwreck exhibits and displays on the island’s former salt industry. Then take a wander along the waterfront, lined by once-grand two-story buildings with their shady verandas and window shutters. The town also has a couple of churches, the formerly imposing post office, and the Columbus Monument commemorating the explorer’s (disputed) arrival here on October 12, 1492.
Day 2: Beaches
Grand Turk’s finest beaches lie sprinkled along the island’s west coast. North of Cockburn Town, the best beach facilities are provided at Pillory Beach, courtesy of the Bohio Dive Resort with its beach lounges and beach bars. The waters are calm for swimming and snorkeling south of the airport at Governor’s Beach, near the Governor’s House at Waterloo. Or catch FlowRider waves at the Grand Turk Cruise Center’s water park, hire a private pool cabana for the day and order in cocktails from Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.
Day 3: Diving & Snorkeling
A string of legendary dive sites lines Grand Turk’s west coast, from the Aquarium site in the north to Tiki Hut in the south, protected by the Columbus Landfall Marine National Park. Visibility in the coral wall can exceed 100 feet (30 meters) into the captivating underwater world of pinnacles, tunnels and valleys that lies just minutes offshore. For snorkelers, the inner ledge literally takes your breath away as the drop-off plunges from 30 feet (9 meters) to more than 7,000 feet (2,100 meters). Several dive operators run snorkel and dive tours, including Bohio at Pillory Beach.