Providenciales’ cotton plantation past is revealed at Cheshire Hall. The plantation is now in ruins, but more than 200 years ago it was a thriving complex of buildings and cultivated land. The property dates back to around 1790 and the ensuing years when Loyalist brothers Wade and Thomas Stubbs worked the cotton plantation, named for their English home county of Cheshire. Overlooking the island was the property’s hilltop main building, the Great House, surrounded by outbuildings and the industrial machines of the cotton age. The plantation was worked for around 30 years, before succumbing to the climate, hurricane and impoverished soil conditions. Today, all that remains is grass-covered rubble and a solitary cannon. Cheshire Hall is protected by the National Trust. On a visit to the site you can take a wander through the grounds via stone-lined trails. The remains of several buildings are identified, including the kitchen and Great House, cotton gin and cotton press.
An interesting attraction of the Turks and Caicos are the rather large iguanas that are native to the little island archipelago. While they may seem to jar with your traditional notion of a Caribbean getaway, these green guys are actually native to the islands. To find them, head on over to Little Water Cay (known locally as Iguana Island) for some white sand and good old fashioned lizard-hunting.
Little Water Cay is just shy of 500 yards from Providenciales, so it’s easy to spot while looking for things to do on the island. You can take a tour boat or ferry over to the island, and the exercise enthusiast or outdoorsman of the group will enjoy a brisk kayak over to the shores of Little Water Cay - but be careful of the currents that run between the two islands (for this reason, a swim is not recommended).
On the island of Providenciales, Grace Bay Beach is the Turks’ sandy gem, voted best beach by beach-lovers the world over.
The white sand here is stunning, offset by gently lapping turquoise waters. Taking advantage of those sunset and ocean views, it’s here that you’ll find the majority of Providenciales’ upmarket resorts.
Restaurants, dive outfits and other facilities are also based at Grace Bay, but the vibe remains relaxed rather than busy, and empty stretches of beach can easily be found.
Close offshore, the fringing coral reef sets divers’ hearts fluttering with iridescent tropical fish and flapping rays. It’s ideal for beginner snorkelers, with great visibility and little sea vegetation to spoil the pristine underwater view.
The protected waters of the Northwest Point Marine National Park lap the northwest edge of the Providenciales’ coast. The park also protects the world’s third-largest coral reef system, so it’s no surprise that the underwater wonders here include some of the territory’s best reef diving and snorkeling. Sea sponges, pastel corals, turtles, rays, iridescent tropical fish – you name it, you’ll see it in this sea park that’s celebrated for its marine-life diversity.
On the shore, the pristine arc of sand known as Malcolm Beach stretches for 10km (6 miles), and the park also encompasses saline lakes like Pigeon Pond that are home to water birds that come here to breed. The park is in the island’s undeveloped and remote western reaches, and hiking, 4WD or boat is the easiest way to get here.