Grand Turk. 6 Simple Island Experiences

Are you looking for island life that you have not discovered yet? Somewhere in between the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas might be your answer! 

Discover Grand Turk! 

We traveled via cruise ship to uncover and discover Grand Turk and while it is not Turks and Caicos it is beautiful and quite simple.  I reference Turks & Caicos because I really want to visit there it just hasn’t happened yet! 

discover grand turk, lighthouse, donkey, water

There’s this one media group that visits there each year, and no matter my travel credentials (award-winning travel documents, featured in Google, I meant what do you need to be included) I was always snubbed.

Guess what, I went to Grand Turks instead and didn’t have to be snubbed.  So while I discover Grand Turks, I am keeping my eye on the prize, and keeping a visit to Turk’s & Caicos just not with the media group! 

Today,  I will discover Grand Turk and help you uncover this destination by peeling each layer back like an onion skin. The deeper we peel, the more we learn.

Discover Grand Turk with 6 Simple Island Experiences 

Discover Grand Turk, Port of Call sign

First, do yourself a favor, don’t just go to the bars and the pool that your port drops you at, move along! There are great shops a bit inland and a private driver away. Plus, you can experience the essence of the island which is how you truly discover Grand Turk

Port of Call Facts IMO 

Margaritaville is here, big deal. However, there’s also WiFi here, just in case you are jonesing for it and didn’t ‘buy it on your cruise package. Beyond that what are you doing in port? Get out! 

  1. The port is a total tourist trap and unless you just want to pool and drink, grab a cab. 
  2. Look at the beach, totally overpopulated from tourism and other ships. However, if you just want to beach you can stay in this crowded section, but trust me there are nicer areas to visit and it’s really only a short private drive away! 

Grand Turk Beach and cabanas at port of call

Grand Turk Fact!

In case you are not already aware, the capital of both Turks and Caicos and Grand Turk is located in Grand Turk, and it is Cockburn Town.   Did you know that Christopher Columbus was here on his first visit to the New World in 1492? Now, Grand Turk offers an incredible port of call with all the amenities that cruise-goers could wish for.

Most stays for cruise ships are from early morning to early afternoon. I will state that personally, the island is small, but there is a lot to do.

Hardly can you do all the things you want on Grand Turk, so it is great to get a ‘taste’ of the island and plan a return trip later to really indulge in everything (IMO).

Here’s your check-off list to help you Discover Grand Turk. 

Photo opp right at Grand Turks margaritaville before you Discover Grand Turks

Discover Grand Turks start at Governor’s Beach

Tourists and locals swim here, after all the water beckons.  It is very calm here and so pristine.  Governor’s Beach. 

discover Grand Turks at Governor's Beach sunken ship

You do not fish here nor do you touch the coral (what there is).  You do swim in rather calm, clear water, but you have to get there by taxi to enjoy it.

Looking to really experience and Discover Grand Turks? 

We were not very far out of the cruise port when we stopped here. So, it’s close and WOW it’s unpopulated unlike the port of call beach! 

Prefer to walk here it’s about 20 minutes from the port! 

Pines, Picnic Area, Peaceful & Crystal clear water. 

Yes, that water is that clear and that calm, why did you miss this when you cruised last time? Becuase you didn’t leave the port! Discover Grand Turks and test this beach out! Bring a towel and a few friends! 

Discover Grand Turk and the Governor's beach

SHIPWRECK ASHORE (that has now been removed) 

The ship here was washed ashore during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, it is the Mega One Triton.

Wrecked Ship at Governor's beach. Discover Grand Turks

To take photos here is breathtaking. In fact, this is super close to town, yet you need a taxi to get here because it would be quite a hike from the port.  Since it’s gone, it is one thing you won’t find anymore, sorry! 

2. The Capitol of Turks & Caicos is here!  

Color abounds, architecture is stunning and so simple. There’s nothing like welcoming beach towns and here we were about to shop.

Far enough away from the port that it is reasonable and there are places to buy clothing and drinking water by the bottle that is only $1 a bottle! 

Cockburn Town as you Discover Grand Turks. The Capitol of Turks & Caicos

The architecture is gorgeous and at first, all I could do was stare, then I started snapping photos.  

Here you will find grand old  British-Bermudian colonial-like buildings.  

Many buildings are filled with history and some are just fantastic for backdrops for photos. 

Some buildings are used by the government and others have been recycled into hotels and businesses. 

These streets are filled when ships arrive with tourists and those selling their wares! 

For those looking for rentals, it is the place to stay.

Tropical, beachy, and historic perfectly describe the trifecta essence of the area. 

3.  St. Mary’s Church in Cockburn Town

It’s beachfront and gorgeous. We always visit at least ONE church no matter where we go. I always feel it is a part of our trip and that I’ve been blessed and seek the chance to say a quick prayer.

Church in Cockburn as we Discover Grand Turk - St. Mary's Church Cockburn Town

This is St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Cockburn Town on Front Street, it does make a fabulous photo. 

They say that every church you visit brings you good luck. so stop in and get blessed with some luck! 

In Between the Church and The Beach 

Shop and grab cold drinks (water for $1 a bottle), and a good walking area. 

Shopping in the area is not the largest we have been in, but, the prices are better than in port and you can find things that are not in port! 

  • tees
  • hats
  • arts
  • fresh island eats 

Discover Grand Turks & The Pier To Nowhere 

The Pier To Nowhere as you Discover Grand Turks. Pier in Cockburn Town

I loved this pier, and while not walkable, a great backdrop to all the endless options of the Cockburn Town area.

4. Grand Turk Lighthouse as you Discover Grand Turk

Grand Turk Lighthouse as you Discover Grand Turk

A popular attraction but there is a little tourism nonsense here as well. Go to this and capture a great photo without going onto the grounds. 

However, if you choose to go onto the grounds to capture a photo, you pay $3 a person, which can be used towards gifts (nothing is $3 or for beverages). 

Beer is $5 so you have to pay more money, water is $3 a bottle (which you could pay $1 for in town), so you get where I am going.  In fact, I’d have totally just purchased water and beer no matter the cost if they had not charged for entrance as it makes Zero sense (and that was the general story others were complaining about too. 

When you are not forced, you do more. So, my opinion: Consider it a donation and walk away, because the beer we had was old and others were complaining saying exactly the same.

Bugs & Donkey Dong (TIP)

In this same area, no matter how cute the donkeys are, they sure bring on flying bugs. NO one is going around cleaning up what they are laying down. While the donkeys are great, they leave a lot of donkey dong which brings on the flies.

So make sure to slap on the repellant.   Don’t miss the photo opp, just be prepared to be eaten alive by flies and whatever else is thriving there. That said, no need to go on the grounds to gain access to the photo! 

Overall Take on The Grand Turks Lighthouse

As a lighthouse buff, I loved getting to visit this non-working lighthouse. In fact, Grand Turk’s lighthouse was built in 1853, since many ships used to wreck into the northern coast of Grand Turk.  It is the only lighthouse on the Turks and Caicos Island chain and was necessary to keep shipping moving without wrecks.

Both UK and US governments requested the lighthouse so that fewer wrecks would occur.  I would not have missed it! 

Here’s What You Will See If You Go On The Grounds 

The grounds of the Grand Turks Lighthouse pay Admission to venture on them

5.  Donkeys as you Discover Grand Turk

I may be a jackass for taking this photo with the DONKEY. Always take caution as donkeys have tempers and they kick. 

Discover Grand Turk photo with donkey be careful

There are so many donkeys on the island, and they are in the darndest places. One donkey was standing on a railing, while others were in doorways and these were just at the lighthouse.

CAUTION: Do not stand behind the donkeys and really you should not stand towards their butt even tho stupidly I did. 

 Discover Grand Turks. Donkeys. 

Discover Grand Turk + wild donkeys

  • Donkeys are in the parking lot, they are along the road, standing on front porches, on the beach, you will simply see them everywhere.
  • These donkeys arrived here during days of the Salt industry, but now are just misplaced animals, roaming everywhere.  
  • Donkeys here drink beer and get drunk so we heard and saw! They actually drink out of bottles like babies.
  • The donkeys are pretty docile and so used to people
  • never stand behind a donkey or do expect to get kicked you ‘Jackass’ and I say that as nicely as I can. LOL! 

6. Columbus Landfall National Park

Columbus Landfall National Park. Discover Grand Turk

Remember, learn the history and then kick back and relax at the Columbus Landfall National Park.

Relax the day goes by fast. The areas with beach access are all over the island and this one was right next to a place to stay.

It is a public beach with a list of rules and they need to be followed.

Back to Your Port 

With so much to do and see make sure to Discover Grand Turk and visit all of the great places, I’ve highlighted. Also, there’s more, so discover and uncover. Enjoy! 

Discover Grand Turk. Cabanas at port of call


Dana is a world traveler, award-winning travel writer, DIY’er, and Foodie!