Things To Do In Grand Turk During A Cruise Vacation
This Caribbean destination should be on your list of places to visit, it’s stunning! Here are all the things to do in Grand Turk while on your cruise vacation. Follow these tips and places to visit on the Turks and Caicos island.
Grand Turk Island in the Turks and Caicos is a must-visit destination during your cruise itinerary. This is a port of call when you really should get off the ship to take in the stunning beaches, experience excursions and take in the local culture.
This beautiful sleepy island has gorgeous white sandy beaches with sparkling blue waters and is packed with historical and cultural beauty. Carnival Cruise Line must have noticed this too when they decided to turn the island into a cruise port in 2006.
It has been open to Carnival and its subsidiary cruise lines like Princess and Holland America ever since. It is the only cruise port on the islands of Turks and Caicos.
So, if you are planning on going on an eastern Caribbean cruise itinerary with any of these cruise lines and Grand Turk is one of your port visits then read this list and create the ultimate Grand Turk must-do bucket-list:
Culture And Food Tour
Are you ready for a day of tastings that will give you all the best flavors of Grand Turk? Then, the Culture and Food Tour is the right choice for you and your appetite. This tour will take three hours and takes you to three different stops along the way where you will get to try the local catches, dishes, and signature cocktails.
With three stops, you can get a different dish at each local eatery and try a new tropical drink. Along the trip, your tour guide will tell you about the history and culture of Grand Turk as you pass by historical buildings and sights. Plus, with pick up and drop off service offered, you will be able to leave right from the cruise center and be dropped off right back after the tour is done.
Grand Turk Cruise Port: Tips Excursions And Weather
The Grand Turk cruise port, which is on the southern tip of the island, is not in a city like most Caribbean cruise ports. It is a separate cruise center built by Carnival Cruise Line.
It seems a logical thing to do on a small island of only 4,500 people. As a result of its location, Grand Turk has become a common stop among eastern Caribbean cruise ports for Carnival, Carnival-owned cruise lines such as Norwegian and cruises from other companies.
Cruise lines that visit Grand Turk include AIDA, Carnival, Costa, Fred Olsen, Holland America, P& O, Princess, Saga and Silversea, according to the Grand Turk Cruise Center.
Cruises that include Grand Turk among their ports of call usually range from four nights and five days to seven nights and eight days. Most of the cruises originate in Florida ports, although some of the longer cruises originate from the upper east coast of the United States.
Itineraries often include a port in the Bahamas such as Nassau, Freeport and Half Moon Cay. Longer cruises may include other eastern Caribbean destinations such as San Juan and St. Thomas.
Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory. Grand Turk is one of 40 islands that form the Turks and Caicos archipelago. The island is about seven miles long and one and a half miles wide, which makes it easy to tour by bus, taxi or even bicycle.
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Grand Turk Cruise Center Info
The cruise ships that come in the Grand Turk port dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center. This area is a large cruise ship pier that allows for two cruise ships to dock there at the same time.
The pier/port area was built by Carnival Corporation so if you want to visit Grand Turk, you will need to sail on one of their cruise lines . View Prices on Cruises to Grand Turk
The port itself has a large space that consists of many restaurants, shops, and beaches, and offers its own amenities to its guests. Many places are within walking distance and most of the tours will offer pick-ups directly from the port. Some tours will only offer pick-ups if they are scheduled in advance, so you should make sure that your favorite choices are booked ahead of time.
There are shuttle services that will be available at the port and will take you to the beach or town excursions, but with many options being so close by, there are few reasons to need them. There are buses that will take you on a tour of the island, but they will pick you up at the port, so there is little need to go very far.
If you choose to rent golf carts, ATVs, or dune buggies, they are all available at different vendors that are near the cruise center so you can walk to them. Maps should be available at information kiosks if you need help finding your way to the vendor youre looking for.
Here are some great things to do in Grand Turk while on a cruise to this beautiful port:
Boat Cruise And Fishing Tours
Take a boat tour to other cays, like Gibbs Cay and snorkel/swim with the stingrays or charter a private fishing trip.
There is a lot of marine life to explore on the Grand Turk, interact with sea animals like parrot fish, which are very common on the Grand Turk, stingrays, butterfly fish, snappers, trumpet fish and many more.
The boat rides are good for exploring the coral reefs and the cays nearby, book a boat excursion with your cruise line or a local tourism company to enjoy this fun adventure.
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Transportation And Getting Around Grand Turk
If youd like to rent a car, golf cart, or scooter, we advise making a reservation in advance of your visit. However, the local rental companies may be able to accommodate walk-ins.
Exploring the sights, town and beaches of Grand Turk is one of our recommended ways of spending the day on Grand Turk. Theres so much to see, including the small yet interesting Turks and Caicos National Museum, the Grand Turk Lighthouse, and the waterfront at our capital city of Cockburn Town .
If youd prefer to have a guide on your island tour, many of the taxis will be happy to show the sights and sounds of the island.
Grand Turk Wall Snorkeling
Adventuring into the shimmery waters of Turks and Caicos is a fantastic option for spending your time on this small island. The Grand Turk Wall is an extensive barrier reef that is made up of multiple coral formations. This amazing reef offers the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of various fish and underwater creatures that live nearby and to get a chance to see the 7,000 foot underwater wall itself.
This tour includes all snorkeling equipment with the ticket price and will last for approximately an hour. You will be able to take a shuttle to Governors Beach where youll be taken straight to the Grand Turk where youll be able to get your rental equipment and begin your snorkeling journey.
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Where Ships Dock And The Cruise Center
Unlike most Caribbean ports , you will only find the Grand Turk Cruise Center at the end of the pier. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is a large open-air cruise terminal dotted with excursion booths offering most of the possible tours and activities in Grand Turk. Most of these shore excursions can be booked online or onboard your cruise ship.
Tour Booth, Grand Turk
On the left side of the Cruise Center, the traveler will find a very large bar, restaurant, with a huge pool and its signature retail shop – the Trading Post. Next to Margaritaville, you will find the Flow Rider surfing attraction that is exclusively offered as a shore excursion through the cruise lines. It is also on the North side that the most popular beach in Grand Turk is located – palm tree lined, with beach chairs on the white sugar powdered sand by the crystal clear turquoise water.
Cruise Center Beach, Grand Turk
This is where the overwhelming majority of cruise travelers go to and it can get a bit crowded when there are two mega-ships in port . The beach is free and so are the beach chairs, but if you would prefer a Clam shell shade, floats, or snorkeling gear you can rent these at the Beach Rental Hut located on the beach. Naturally, at this beach, you can also get all the pampering expected in a Caribbean beach – massages, drinks, food, and all sort of vendors roam the beach.
NASA Splashdown, Grand Turk
Spend A Day At The Beach
When you get to Grand Turk, the first beach youll see is Cruise Center Beach, right at the pier. However, there are many other beaches where you can spend the day!
On the west side of the island between the cruise port and Cockburn Town is Governors Beach. Most guests agree that this beach is the best beach on Grand Turk because of its beautiful landscape and shallow waters, perfect for swimming.
Cockburn Town Beach
This beach is home to many surrounding restaurants, hotels, and shopping. Cockburn beach spans far and sections into smaller beaches due to seawalls. Mainly, the waters are calm, but when the tide is high, you may catch some waves.
Pillory Beach is one of the quieter beaches located north of Cockburn Town. Away from the crowds at the other beaches, this is a place to come if youre seeking solitude or somewhere quiet to read a book. If Christopher Columbus did first land at Grand Turk, this would have been the beach where he arrived.
Splash in the Water!
If you find yourself in Grand Turk for the day, take advantage of all of the water excursions available! If youre a diver, youll want to go diving in Grand Turk. Plenty of charters are available.
You can rent kayaks, stand-up paddles, and boats for a day out on the water. Looking for an adrenaline rush? You can rent jet skis and go kiteboarding.
Try a Land Tour
Head Over to Gibbs Cay
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My Favorite Free Thing At Grand Turk
I like to park myself in a lounge chair at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville and enjoy having a waiter bring me fancy drinks while listening to a DJ spinning awesome tunes. I then take several dips in the killer lagoon-style pool in a picture-perfect setting. Sometimes, Ill get my drinks from the fun swim-up bar, and dont forget the souvenirs from the stellar gift shop.
When the hunger sets in, I order a heapin stack of tasty nachos for a break from cruise-ship food. The food and drinks are expensive at Margaritaville, but since the pool and loungers are free, I figure it is worth the splurge.
If you need more entertainment or have kids, Margaritaville has the FlowRider, where you can learn how to surf, body-board, or at least make a fun video of attempting it.
On a recent visit to Grand Turk, my Holland America ship was the only one in port when we arrived so that we could land primo seats around the pool. About 1 PM, a massive Carnival cruise ship pulled in, and people came out in droves. The music went from easy listening and island tunes to loud hip-hop in seconds. It was as if we were at a different place within minutes of the passengers disembarking. I found it interesting and wanted to share it.
FYI: Margaritaville has 52 types of margaritas available.
Best Things To Do In Grand Turk: Complete Guide
If youre wondering what to do in Grand Turk, we have the answers! Nearly one million cruise passengers arrive at the Grand Turk Cruise Center every year, and its no wonder why.
Grand Turk Cruise Port is mainly visited by Carnival Cruise Line ships, so youll find Princess, Holland America but even Celebrity ships are there, too. A day at Grand Turk can be part of Eastern Caribbean and Bahamas itineraries.
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Food And Drinks / Entertainment
Food is an important feature of most peoples port day itinerary. Grab common American and Mexican cuisines at the Margaritaville that includes burgers, sandwiches, grilled chicken, salads, and drinks. When at the SunRay beach/Cruise Center Beach, you can head over to Jacks Shack and get some of their famous grilled burgers.
For a beautiful meal with a view of the ocean, head on over to the southernmost end of the Old Cockburn Town to the Bird Cage Restaurant and enjoy Jamaican cuisines like the popular conch cuisines, which mostly include fried conch fritters and conch salads.
Other restaurants like the Sandbar restaurant and Salt Raker Inn offer seafood and continental cuisines. So, if you are hungry, just grab a cool pina colada, cold beer or a strawberry margarita and enjoy delicious barbeque chicken on the beach.
Relax At The Grand Turk Cruise Center
If you dont want to wander away from the cruise ship, or plan on making a lot of trips to and from the ship, then just relax at the cruise port center. Carnival spent $50 Million, creating a cruise port for its cruisers. The cruise port is located in the southernmost part of the island. It is a large complex of approximately 30 acres and features the largest Margaritaville in the Caribbean.
The cruise port is designed to be a little center of luxury for your port day. There are amenities such as restaurants, spas, and if you love shopping, there are gift shops and local jewelry stores on the port.
At the cruise center, you will find a big beautiful swimming pool. Book a poolside cabana and enjoy private time away from the crowds and a dedicated waiter. Here you can swim and hang out with other shipmates, enjoying the tropical magic that is Grand Turk.
Purchase your cruise accessories for your vacation right here.
In front of the complex is the cruise center beach known as the SunRay Beach. It has nice warm, clear waters and a white sandy beach. There are plenty of sun loungers on this beach, grab one and enjoy the beach for free.
To enjoy more of the island, head to the northern direction from cruise center beach and enjoy beaches in a less populated area. To get to the best beach on the island, you will need to take a taxi to Governors beach.
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Beaches Near The Cruise Port
Grand Turk is mainly a beach destination. It has plenty of them at or near the cruise center, so excursion operators offer few if any paid excursions. The few excursions that include beaches have them as an extra on top of other activities such as snorkeling, dune buggies or ATV rides.
The cruise center has 1,000 feet of beachfront. The nearby South Beach also is available for anyone who wants a quieter experience.
Two more beaches lie within walking distanceGovernors Beach to the north and White Sands Beach to the south.
Anyone planning to see Cockburn Town, the Grand Turk Lighthouse or other attractions will find more beaches near both the cruise center and the town.
They include Cedar Grove Beach and Town Beach. Beaches north of the town include West Road, Pillory and Cocktree.
Grand Turks Sunsets And Scenery
Lastly, youll be privy to some of the best sunsets in the world from the beaches of Grand Turk Island. Pull up a chair on Governors Beach and watch the spectacular scenery unfold. Youll see the crowds gather, and photo shoots begin as soon as the golden hour begins. Everyone flees within minutes after the sun goes down.
The mosquitoes also come out at that time, so bring repellent if you plan on being outdoors after dark.
Best described, the cruise port of Grand Turk, in the Turks and Caicos island chain, is a sensory overload for your eyes. Pastel-colored limestone buildings pop in front of the sparkling coastline waters and sand. The beautiful water and native plants enhance the landscape canvas like a world-class painting, which is yours for the day.
Enjoy this little slice of heaven, 575 miles south of Miami, on your ocean cruise. Bon Voyage!
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Sights And Attractions At The Cruise Center
The highlight of the Grand Turk Cruise Center is the huge, lagoon-like swimming pool. Private pool-side cabanas with waiter service can be rented, but be sure to reserve yours early as availability is limited.
The Cruise Center is located on the beautiful Cruise Center Beach, and the section next to the cruise ship pier is the poorest sectionyoull want to head north up the coast a short distance to experience the best sand and water. Here youll also find Jack’s Shack, a popular restaurant to grab lunch. Complimentary beach lounge chairs are found fronting the complex, although depending on the number of ships in port, this area of the beach can become extremely crowded. Grand Turk is one of the few destinations in the Caribbean where a great beach can be enjoyed directly off the cruise ships.
To the south of the Cruise Center, the beach becomes a bit more secluded, albeit rocky as well. If you continue to the southern point of Grand Turk, youll be at Boaby Rock Point, and near some snorkeling reefs. Further on is White Sands Beach.
The unparalleled Governor’s Beach is found less than a mile to the north, unfortunately, its not possible to walk to this location on the beach due to the Government Dock which interrupts the coast. Its necessary to take the inland roads to get to Governors Beach.