Our 2nd stop on the cruise excursion was a snorkeling stop which was much more satisfying than the stop at Gibbs Cay but we could have snorkeled with a variety of private excursion operators and have had a much smaller group of people. Here we saw the usual variety of tropical fish and also a handful of nurse sharks that were lurking on the bottom. That is until the snorkel guide grabbed the poor thing and brought it up for people to get a closer look. Nurse sharks are not aggressive but they still look intimidating enough where I really didn't want to get up close and personal with one.
If I were to ever return to Grand Turk, I would definitely not book a ship tour again. It had been such a long time since I had booked one that I forgot how awful they were. Here were some of the suggestions people had when I was looking for something independent
Grand Turk Diving email@example.com 649-946-1559
Blue Water Divers firstname.lastname@example.org 649-946-2432
Papa J Tours email@example.com 649-231-0400
Salt Cay Divers firstname.lastname@example.org 649-241-1009
The Princess ships dock at what is essentially a private port, once you get off the ship you will find a long stretch of beach, some shopping and a Margaritaville. Turning right from the ship to go to the beach seemed less crowded than the beach right outside of Margaritaville. It reminds me of a beach at a resort with all of the beach chairs lined up and people saving them with towels
I thought it was a little funny that cruise ship passengers who could easily return to the ship if they *needed* to eat were eating at Margaritaville. Drinking I can understand as Princess charges extra for alcohol and even soda. We weren't in port all day, we docked around 1pm so most people ate lunch on the ship and since it gets dark earlier than the ship left, I would say most people were off the ship for just a few hours.
We went out to Gibb's Cay on a Princess excursion, booked through the ship only because it appeared to be the only way to visit Gibb's Cay and the stingrays. In restrospect it was the wrong decision, the tour we booked which stopped at Gibb's Cay and at another snorkeling spot was disappointing, our visit with the stingray, singular not plural, consisted of 60 people piling out of the boat and standing in waist deep water for a photo op with one stingray. The people on a different excursion were all in the water snorkeling with a bunch of stingrays but for whatever reasons, we were confined to the one ray, perhaps because it would have been too crowded.
The water on Grand Turk is absolutely perfect. The water is clear with wonderful shades of blue. The sand is soft like sugar. Our last visit to Grand Turk we arived on the beach and staked out two lounge chairs closest to the water's edge. Liz jumped in right away into the warm water and spent some time swimming alone before I decided to just get up and have a dip myself. The water was very refreshing on such a warm day. Liz and I had a great time swimming around and ejoying our time together in the water.
The beaches of Grand Turk are outrageously beautiful. The sand is white, the water crystal blue and the palm trees provide a perfect shade. The water was warm like bathwater and was refreshing to walk through or to swim. I could get used to living in a place like this....it's my idea of heaven.
The Grand Turk FlowRider opened at the Grand Turk Cruise Center in June 2008. It's offered as a shore excusrion for the cruise passengers. The flowrider creates an artificial wave utilizing a pair of high-pressure water jets that produce a thin, two- to three-inch layer of water moving over a pre-formed and cushioned surface at high speed. Tjis is a big attraction for the kids and people who like to surf or bodyboard. It was fun to watch people try to stay up.
Margaritaville has its own pool area and swim up bar. The pool is free to cruise passengers and covers a large area. The pool is surrounded by cabanas (for rent) and numerous lounge chairs. Liz and I passed on the pool since we came to Grand Turk for the beach (there are several pools on the ship after all).
The Beaches of Grand Turk were amazing with soft white sand. The waters were crystal clear and an array of turquoise and aqua. It was wonderful to walk the beaches and feel the ultrasoft sand beneath my feet; it felt like brown sugar. The water was warm as if it were bathwater and so clean.
The Solarium is one of our favorite places to relax and spend some time with each other. We love relaxing in the jacuzzis of the Solarium before or after dinner to unwind.
On Thanksgiving morning we spent some time in the Solarium on lounge chairs relaxing after breakfast. We weren't due into port until 10am and had plenty of time to hang out in the Solarium. We pulled two chairs up to one side of the Solarium right by the glass and watched the waves. It was a relaxing time with my baby. I like these moments when it's just the two of us enjoying some good conversation and each other's company.
There was a tent for beachside massages in Grand Turk. Massage tables in the shade right by the palm trees and beautiful water. The sign read a $1 a minute which seemed right to me considering the prices for massages back in the states. What a nice way to spend an hour or more...getting a realxing massage in Paradise.
The Francis Building is Turks and Caicos House of Assembly and also the office of the premier... basically it's the Parliament Government. This building is next to a tiny square, where you can also find a Columbus Monument: Grand Turk (among other places) claims that this is where Christopher Columbus landed in 1942.
The cannons in the square point to the exact area where he was supposed to have landed: Columbus Landfall National Park. They were "saved" from s ship called Endymion which sank in the proximity in 1790. There's a plaque to commemorate the italian explorer, which reads: Christopher Columbus arrived in the new world at the island of Grand Turk on 12 october 1492.
The St. Mary's Anglican Pro-Cathedral Church on Front St is the first cathedral church in the Turks and Caicos islands and it is over 200 years old. It was built in 1899 and made of white washed limestone with red venetian blinds and roof. If it seems blue in my photo, it's because it's a temporary cover: hurricane Ike blew away the red roof.
Originally it was a chapel, a 'chapel of ease', and it used to house parishoners.
Services are on Sundays at 6.30 am, 9 am and 7 pm .
The little pink building of the Victoria Public Library started being built in 1887, to celebrate the 50 years of reign of Queen Victoria of England. Queen Victoria (born in 1819) reigned for 64 consecutive years.
The library was finished two years later, in 1889, and the total cost was of 568 English pounds. It is located on the corner of Victoria and Front Street in the heart of Cockburn Town, just around the corner from the old prison.
One of the buildings that has surprised me most, in Cockburn town, is the large Masonic Temple in Front Street. It's a white and blue wooden two-storey building with a large square and compass, surrounding the letter G on its facade. - which is the symbol of freemasonry. The lodge number is 647.
The temple is called Turk Island Forth Lodge and has been in operation since 1855. It is named after the man who lived there, Frederick Henry Alexander Forth, the first Council President since The British-ruled islands were declared a separate colony from the Bahamas... and the first Masonic Worshipful Master.