(LifeWire) - Welcome to the Turks and Caicos
Originally settled by the Taíno and Lucayan Indians, this British archipelago began developing as a tourist destination in the 1980s. The Turks Islands (including Grand Turk, the capital) and the Caicos Islands (including Providenciales, known as "Provo") are comprised of 40 islands, only eight of which are inhabited. If you want an upscale, peaceful Caribbean vacation with your family, the Turks and Caicos is your place in the sun.
Direct flights arrive in Providenciales International Airport from major cities in North America and from London. Grand Turk, the country's capital, also has an international airport, but it receives flights primarily from Florida, other Caribbean islands and Provo (a 30-minute connection).*
The Turks and Caicos seem designed to get arrivals from the plane to the beach in the briefest amount of time possible. Most Provo and Grand Turk accommodations are no more than a 15-minute ride from the airport, and many resorts provide free airport transfers.
How's the Beach?
It's impossible to go wrong with any of the Turks and Caicos' unspoiled, white-sand beaches - they're the top reason to visit. Grace Bay is the site of most of Provo's resort development, but the beach remains pristine, if not a bit more crowded than Grand Turk's Governor's Beach and Little Bluff Point Beach. Rent a car and explore; you'll likely find a spot where you and your family are the only people around.
Most family-friendly accommodations are found on Providenciales; the other islands (including Grand Turk) tend to have smaller inns and hotels that cater to divers and those seeking romantic hideaways. No matter where you stay, resorts in the Turks and Caicos tend to be pricey. Some choices:
Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort: Beaches is a top name in family all-inclusives, and this resort on Providenciales is considered its flagship property. Features include Pirate's Island kid center and water park, watersports including scuba (for ages 12 and up), nursery, kids programs, and teen programs, and special partnership with Sesame Street.
Grace Bay Club and Villas: The rooms at this luxurious resort - just 15 minutes from Provo's airport - are meant for adults and children 16 and older, but the oceanfront villas cater to families. The Kids Town program (ages 5 to 12) features a tree house and safari tents as well as eco-friendly activities such as nature hikes.
The Regent Palms: Another high-end resort on Grace Bay Beach, this property's rooms include a kitchenette (suites have full kitchens). The Conch Kritters kids' club (ages 4 to 12) offers a full roster of activities from art projects to lawn croquet, and beach toys are available during the day.
The Alexandra: This all-suites resort is more affordably priced than some of its neighbors, but it doesn't skimp on family-friendly amenities such as laundry service, car-rental access and a "family fun" program that offers activities for kids big and small.
Ocean Club Resort: This Grace Bay resort - two sister properties linked by a shuttle - doesn't offer a formal children's program, but budget-minded families will appreciate the amenity-packed property, sizable suites, beach toys and babysitting services.
Island House: If you prefer to stay at a beachfront inn instead of one of the big Provo resorts, this all-suites property is the best option on Grand Turk for families. Kids under age 12 stay free in a parent's room, which includes a full kitchen and living room; guests also have access to a freshwater pool, laundry facilities, and a personal car.
Attractions and Fun Outings
A trip to Turks and Caicos is really all about the beach and what you can do on or around it. If you're hoping to introduce the little ones to snorkeling or the older ones to diving, there are few better places in the Caribbean to do it than here.
When your kids ask you what exactly a "conch" is, take them to the Caicos Conch Farm to see how they're raised - and for a fresh sample.
Provo tour operators offer trips to Little Water Cay, where you can play with the surprising friendly resident rock iguanas. It's a popular experience with kids and adults alike.
If you visit Grand Turk between January and April, you can witness the annual humpback whale migration; divers can actually listen to their songs underwater. The best viewing spot is the Grand Turk Lighthouse.
More Turks and Caicos Tips
For resorts and major attractions, always check recent visitor comments at a site such as TripAdvisor.com.
More about Where to Go in the Turks and Caicos