The ferry ride to Grand Turk is a fun little adventure; however, if you are prone to seasickness, it might be a good idea to take Dramamine first or, better yet, to eat lots of salted soda crackers (which is probably the easiest, cheapest and best cure for motion sickness).
The ferry itself is a little boat similar to the ones in the picture. Seating capacity is really limited: if there is no room on the only bench available, you will then have to remain standing up or sit on the gunwale. If you choose the latter, make sure not to do so on the windward side (or you might get soaking wet fairly quickly).
Once you get to Grand Turk, you will be a few kilometres from Cockburn Town. You can always hoof it, but since you only have a few hours to spend on Grand Turk before the ferry heads back to Salt Cay it might be wiser to stop at the gate (a couple of hundred metres from the dock area) and ask the gatekeeper to call a taxi for you. A taxi costs about $20.00; the driver will point out places of interest along the way; and you can arrange to be picked up at a given spot and time for the ride back to the dock.
Cockburn Town is a very pretty little place that is well worth a visit. And going to Grand Turk by ferry from Salt Cay is a trip that you are likely not to forget because if the sea is calm, you will simply bask in the beauty of it all, and if the sea is ever so choppy, you might perhaps enjoy it less but at least, once you get back to land, you will have the satisfaction of having made it (not to mention having a good story to tell later on).
By the way, the ferry runs on Wednesdays and Fridays (leaving Salt Cay at 7:30ish a.m. and Grand Turk at 2:30ish p.m.), the return fare is $12.00 for men and $8.00 for women (!), and the crossing roughly takes an hour. Enjoy!
With only two little grocery stores (which are well shelved with essentials, by the way) and a general store humorously called "Shopping Center", Salt Cay is not a shopper's nirvana.
But who would go to such a peaceful, out-of-the-way, little place like Salt Cay to shop anyway, right? If shopping is your thing, then go to Miami.
This being said, you can buy cute little souvenirs at the Splash Boutique and the Island Thyme Bistro. Prices are very reasonable ... and they don't even expect you to pay right away! At both places, the friendly owners asked us where we were staying, how long we were staying for, and then told us that we just had to drop by and pay for our purchases before leaving the island! Salt Cay is the kind of place where they know how to make you feel welcome.
Salt Cay truly is a lovely little piece of paradise and just getting there makes you feel like you have strayed from the beaten track.
We were there during the Christmas holidays (which is a busy season anywhere in the Caribbean) and we often felt as if we were the only tourists on the island.
The picture shows part of North Beach, one of the island's many beaches (and the best one, actually) and was taken late in the morning. As you can see: no crowds! There was another couple, several hundred feet behind us, and that was it.
If you yearn for peace and quiet, then Salt Cay is the place you are looking for, there is little doubt about it.