The state capital and administrative center of the Turks and Caicos is Cockburn Town. On the west side of Grand Turk, which is the second-most populated island in the Turks and Caicos, there is a small coastal town of Cockburn Town.
This small town is named in honor of the governor in the Bahamas in the early 18th century, Francis Cockburn. Cockburn Town is the earliest known permanent settlement in the country. It was first established by sea salt producers from Bermuda in 1681. Later, many other European territories in the Caribbean, like Kingston and Nassau, were found.
In Cockburn Town, which is on the 6-mile-long Grand Turk Island, you can find a small Caribbean paradise that is easy to find on foot. Many exciting things can be found on Duke and Front Street, the two principal streets of this town. They also have a lot of restaurants, the National Museum of Turks and Caicos Islands, and an ancient and famous shipwreck in the western region called Molasses Reef Wreck. There are miles of sugary sandy beaches where you can dive, snorkel, or sail in the azure waters. In the area, there are also some of the best all-inclusive resorts for adults in Turks and Caicos and the Caribbean.
The Heritage and Architecture of Cockburn Town
Sea salt from Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos was the main reason the town flourished. People who lived there at the time when salt was worth a lot of money were able to use the natural shallow ponds in the Turks and Caicos to evaporate ocean water. When salt was exported, it made money, and people needed places to live, and this is how Cockburn Town was born.
It was prevalent for the older constructions in the community to look significantly like the British Colonial Bermudian design. Typically, these buildings were built with formed limestone blocks that were mortared together, with smooth plasters on the inside and outside to keep the soft limestone from decaying. In most cases, the early settlers of this town would use wood planks to make the roof and floor of the house. Today, they have been turned into villas and inns after they have been restored and made look good again.
Cockburn Town was often profoundly affected by hurricanes as a low-lying tropical coastal town. Every decade or two, the town had to be mostly rebuilt from the ground up. Many buildings were destroyed, and many ships were sunk by the September 1866 Hurricane, which also washed away a quarter million kg of sea salt that was prepared to be shipped. Then again, in 2008, Hurricane Ike did a lot of damage. Some of it is still being repaired, and it’s still going on today.
Discovering Cockburn Town
And because Cockburn Town is the oldest town and the center of government in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it definitely has the most personality of all the places in the country.
The historical part of Cockburn Town is not very huge. Most of the sights are on either Queen Street or Front Street, about a mile (1.6 km) following the shoreline, both of which run next to the beach. The stunning Cockburn Town Beach can be observed at many sights together across Queen, Front, and Duke Street.
It’s recommended and best to start at Duke Street on the southern end of Cockburn Town and travel north on this coastline. Vacation villas and a few small inns and restaurants are the main things you’ll see in this area.
The road Duke Street and Queen Street merge after about half a mile. Queen Street is next to the ocean. But after a close walk, Queen Street turns into Front Street at a point which can’t be seemed. Queen Street and Front Street used to be the places where important government buildings were constructed in Turks and Caicos.
Gift and souvenir shops can be found near Her Majesty’s Prison and at the northernmost tip of Front Street.
Things to do in Cockburn Town
Grand Turk is a great place to dive, with some of the best reefs and walls in the tropical Atlantic. Today, most of the visitors to Grand Turk are from cruise ships. Before the Grand Turk Cruise Center opened, the island was mostly known for its diving tourism.
If you go on a typical cruise from the east coast of the United States, Grand Turk is the best place to go scuba diving in any of the Caribbean ports you visit.
One of the most important things about diving in Grand Turk, there is so much variety and composition of marine life at each site on the reefs.
You’ll see lots of friendly Nassau groupers and other fish like garden eels, parrotfish, spiny lobster, stingrays, trumpetfish, yellowtails, wrasse and blue tangs, and angelfish. It feels like you’re swimming in an aquarium.
Bright and healthy coral can be found, and there are a lot of hard and soft corals and sponges to look at.
Charter a Boat
One way to see the beautiful waters, beaches, and reefs of Grand Turk is on a boat. There are a lot of boats to choose from, including sailing yachts and party boats with a lot of space and shade.
There is a lot of tourism on Grand Turk that comes from cruise ships, so when a cruise ship is in town, the most popular boat tours may be full.
If you want to book a trip on a local boat, you can now do so through the cruise line, but you can still book directly with a local watersports company, too.
One of the most popular cruise destinations from Grand Turk is Gibbs Cay, which is a small stingray sanctuary.
This island is small and not occupiable. It is a few miles off the east coast of Grand Turk.
In the Gibbs Cay, friendly southern brown stingrays flock to meet boats and people. There aren’t many chances to get up close and personal with large marine animals in their natural habitat. You’ll be able to see and snorkel with the stingrays.
When the winter months are over, you might be able to snorkel with humpback whales that are migrating from January to April. There’s no guarantee that you’ll meet a fish in the water, but if it does, it will be a memory you’ll never forget. If you want to have the best chance of having a snorkeling encounter, you should go on a private or small group cruise instead.
If you want to go snorkeling on the beach, you won’t find many good places on Grand Turk. The reefs around the island are full of color and beauty, but they’re either too deep for snorkeling or too far off the coast to be safe to swim out to. As a qualified diver, think about going on a dive trip to some of Grand Turk’s best dive sites and the wall.
Many of the main beaches have rocky areas off of them. However, these areas don’t have much to offer except for a few reef fish. You probably won’t see the coral, sea fans, bigger fish, and other sea creatures that make the Turks and Caicos reefs so beautiful.
If the ocean is relaxed, Boaby Rock Point is the best place on the island to snorkel. As long as you can deal with the enormous amounts of seaweed and debris on the beach, you’ll get to see really wonderful sea life in the shallow water. A lot of fish, coral, and sea fans are found near the site. On the east coast, this beach is constantly blown by the east-southeast trade winds and can be rough at times.
Governor’s beach is the most popular place to “snorkel” because it’s easy to get to and because it’s also a great beach. Close to the beach, you can find rocks from a jetty that was long ago gone. Red sea fans and small reef fish are the main things to see.
There are a lot of places on Cockburn Town Beach and English Point where old coral shelves and gully formations are close to the shore. In these places, there isn’t much to see in the waters.
North of Pillory Beach, there are still some old coral formations and features that you can see. The variety and abundance of sea life that you can find at other west coast beach sites are the same.
Even though you might not think so at first, you can see humpback whales on Grand Turk during the winter months of January to April.
Humpback whales migrate from the northern Atlantic to the north of the Caribbean every year to give birth and mate.
A deep channel separates the Turk Islands and the Caicos Islands on this large subterranean shelf. Most of the shelf is shallow. Because of this passage, whales are pushed through and end up very close to Grand Turk.
There is a chance that you’ll get to go snorkeling with the whales, even though it isn’t sure. We strongly recommend grabbing the opportunity of this if you get to.
One of the most impressive things about snorkeling with humpback whales isn’t even seeing one of the giant marine mammals. It’s just being able to see the turquoise ocean from underneath the surface.
It looks dark navy blue on the boat, but when you go underwater, the water changes to a bright blue and lighter shade because the sun reflects off of it. More rays can be seen in the depths on sunny days.
There is a chance that humpback whales may act in a way that is not easy to predict. Do not start chasing or get too close to whales. As you should do with all animals, don’t bother or bother the whales. And, of course, whenever you’re in the water, wear a snorkel vest.
Great for water sports, horseback riding adds a little bit of the ocean to what is usually thought to be a land sport.
Rides on most beaches, like Pillory Beach, Governor’s Beach, and East Side Beach, give you the chance to walk in the crystal-clear coastal waters.
Costs start at about $70 per person for children and $85 for adults. It’s possible to book a tour through your cruise line or on your own. When you make a reservation, make sure you know when you’ll arrive and which vessel you’ll be on.
According to whether or not you want to swim in the ocean, the clothes you should wear while riding vary.
You should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes when you will only ride on land.
If you plan to ride in the ocean, flip-flops and long pants that won’t get wet are best.
To protect yourself from the sun’s rays, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are all good things to have. People who want to stay out of the sun should wear long-sleeved rash guards or synthetic shirts.
You can bring a small camera, but it is not recommended to bring bigger ones. Remember, there is a chance for damage to the electronic devices because of the water.
West coast sites like the Cruise Center Beach, Governor’s Beach, Cockburn Town Beach, and Pillory Beach are beautiful beaches. However, they aren’t usually good for kiteboarding because the typical east trade winds that blow offshore don’t make it safe.
As a result, the beaches on the east coast are better for water sports. They don’t have a lot of people, which can be a good thing because they don’t have a lot of people around the Cruise Center.
Generally, the windward islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay, and South Caicos tend to match the weather forecast a little better than the central islands of the Caicos Islands do.
Storms and hurricanes can make the wind go in a different direction. In this case, the beautiful beaches and surf spots on the west coast may be the best place to kite.
For kiters who want to get the most out of their trip on a cruise ship, they need to do some research and plan ahead. To start, check the wind forecast to see if it’s worth it to go out and try.
Rental cars sound good for your trip. You’ll be able to check out places where you can fly a kite, and if the wind isn’t blowing, you’ll be ready to see the sights and beaches of Grand Turk.
On the other hand, there isn’t a lot of technical support for kiteboarding on Grand Turk. There aren’t any organized schools or instructors. People who want to learn how to kiteboard must come to Providenciales, where all the schools and rental shops are. You can rent everything you need there, from kites to boards to lines.
Cockburn Town Weather and Climate
At less than 100 miles (160 km) across, the Turks and Caicos is a small country. The Turks and Caicos Islands aren’t very different from one another when it comes to weather.
Because Cockburn Town and Grand Turk are close to the eastern trade winds, they get less cloud cover and rain than the Caicos Islands. This dry and sunny weather was ideal for making sea salt.