It was early in the morning when my friends and I walked off the ship and stepped onto Grand Turk Island. Grand Turk is the largest of the islands that make up the 40 islands of Turks & Caicos, a British territory southeast of the Bahamas.
Grand Turk is a popular stop for cruise ships and there was something really inviting about pulling up one of the many beach chairs and spending the day just watching the Caribbean blue waters hit the sand. There would be time for that later, but for now we were off to see the rest of the island.
We got on the bus and set off around the island. We couldn’t get enough of the views of the beach and that clear blue Caribbean water. It was amazing to see the color change from turquois to dark blue where the water got deeper.
The name Turks & Caicos comes from the islands earliest inhabitants. The Turks head cactus with the red tops and wide bottoms are plentiful around the islands. While Caicos is a Lucayan term from ‘ cayo hico’ that means string of islands.
One of Grand Turk’s claim to fame is its connection to NASA and the space program. For 30 years part of NASA was based here in Grand Turk. It was here in 1962 that astronaut John Glenn returned to earth after several successful orbits around earth. His capsule Friendship 7 remains as a tribute to that amazing journey.
Most of the buildings were white with beautiful colored accents. We passed a church with red shutters and a simple cross relief set above the door and the local post office with it’s green shutters next to all the windows.
We stopped at a local market where we got out and walked through looking at all the hand made items so full of pride of the island and a desire to share it with others. There were rows of pink conch shells and crafts made from bark and lots of jewelry made from pale blue and green stones that looked like the ocean.
At the far corner of the island is the Grand Turk Lighthouse standing at 60 feet tall to warn sailors of the shallow waters. Around the lighthouse are herds of wild horses and wild donkeys. The horses stayed back but the donkeys came up to meet us.
We ended the day with a swim in those stunning waters we had passed all day. The water was warm and clear and every bit as incredible as they looked from the beach.
What a day getting to see what makes this island so special and learning that there is so much more to it than the beautiful beaches.