Salt Cay, Turks & Caicos, is the tiniest, saltiest, donkeyest island we have found!
After a challenging year at work with a relocation and new role, we had one goal: ultimate relaxation. The turquoise waters of the Turks & Caicos Islands beckoned. Not content to settle in with the holiday crowds, we opted to go off the beaten path passing up the popular island of Providenciales (Provo) for Salt Cay and Grand Turk.
Getting to Salt Cay is a multi-day adventure. On advice we stayed one night at Grace Bay on Providenciales (Provo) to pick up fresh groceries and load them up in a cooler bag. One couple we met tried to make the direct connection through Provo and got jammed in the immigration line up, missing their connection… predictably, the last of the evening.
Graceway Gourmet will be a (pricey) must-make stop on Provo. Having most of what you would expect from a community-sized Whole Foods, we recommend packing your bags light from home and filling them up on arrival in Provo. Your puddle jumper to Salt Cay or Grand Turk has luggage weight limits and the shopping options are minimal once you arrive.
The flight to Salt Cay takes around 20 minutes on a tiny single-prop 10-seater plane that touches down on Grand Turk on the way over. Keep your camera handy… The views of the blue, tranquil waters are incredible and may be a trip highlight!
If you’re lucky, as we were, you may even get the co-pilot seat.
VISITING SALT CAY … NEED TO KNOW
Salt Cay is an underdeveloped off-the-beaten-path getaway ideal for empty nesters (young or old) looking for quiet diving, snorkeling, or beach relaxation. Expectations of high-end modern amenities will leave you disappointed, but the stunning North Beach makes a few days on this tranquil island most worthwhile.
FOOD & DRINK
There are 3-4 restaurants on the island serving lunch and dinner daily. If you want dinner, you’ll need to let them know your intent to join by around 2:00pm so they can prepare… your visit will no doubt be one of the highlights of their night. Vegetarians will find tasty and authentic Caribbean Rice & Peas at Pat’s.
Several accommodations on the island include kitchens or kitchenettes. If you, like us, don’t fancy Conch three ways and generally want to be in the drivers’ seat for your meals we recommend packing some simple cooking supplies in and being self-sufficient. We enjoyed frequenting the restaurants for a happy hour cocktail and light appetizer.
While we were there we discovered some great recipes. The Bajan Seasoning is a delicious caribbean marinade, the ‘secret-sauce’ of local cuisine. For happy hour, the island’s slow afternoon pace inspired us to mix up the refreshing Coco Loco Cocktail. It’s a must-try whether you’re in the caribbean, or just wishing!
North Beach is the star of the island. Untouched and undeveloped you can walk along it for ages. For maximum beach enjoyment, we recommend staying up there.
Snorkeling is easy and accessible from the leeward side of the island. Walk-in sites are accessible at Lighthouse Point (our favourite), Deane’s Dock, and the “Swimming Pool” near the old government wharf.
Snorkel gear is available for rental from the dive shop, though you may prefer to bring your own and use it as you please.
Stay tuned for our upcoming post on Salt Cay diving!
Relax! If you are in a hurry on Salt Cay, you’re lost…
Your own two feet will be the most reliable, but not the only mode of transport on the island.
Bicycles are available with many accommodations, and may be hired on island.
Golf carts (pricey) are available for rent and are recommended if you are staying several nights up at North Beach, as without it will be a 30 minute walk down a rocky path. Island living is tough on a golf cart, and replacement parts must make the same long journey you did to arrive. Expect your cart to be in well-worn condition.
ISLAND INTERVIEW RATING
We dream of retiring to an island paradise, and we love interviewing the candidates!
For us, Salt Cay lacks the infrastructure to be a long term home. Real Estate prices are a bargain for the caribbean, but existing structures offer only the basics. The gravel airstrip and lack of deep water mooring for a container ship or barge (building supplies) means even the most adventuresome home builders will run into logistics nightmares until the access improves.
Island Livability Score: 2 / 5
That said, Salt Cay, and particular North Beach, is a gorgeous place to get off the grid for a few days and enjoy the sound of the lapping waves, without the crowds that come with a typical built-up destination. We have great memories of riding off into the sunset on our golf cart with a drink for the road, going to explore the island’s views, among the donkeys.
Island Dream Vacation Score: 4 / 5
SAILS & SPICES TIPS
- Humpback Whales – Salt Cay is a perfect escape during the cold winter months. Between January and April you can spot migrating humpback whales, and if you are diving you can hear them underwater!
- Pink Flamingos – Make it a point to try to find the elusive pink flamingos in the salinas before sunset.
Worth 2-3 days to enjoy North Beach, a good book, and a bit of snorkelling or diving.