Grand Turk is home to some of Turks and Caicos most beautiful beaches. Turks and Caicos is made up of two groups of tropical islands. Grand Turk island is the bigger of the Turks islands, which includes 2 main islands and small cays. When visiting Grand Turk on a cruise, you’ll dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center, located on the south of the island. While you only have a limited amount of time in Grand Turk, here’s what to expect at the Grand Turk Cruise Center and other things to do in Grand Turk on a cruise. If you are planning on going on an Eastern Caribbean cruise with any of the Carnival Corportation cruise lines and Grand Turk is one of your stops, then this will help to plan your Grand Turk visit.
Arriving at the Grand Turk Port
The Grand Turk cruise center is a 13 acre complex on the south of the island. Carnival spent $50 Million creating a cruise port for its cruise passengers. The Grand Turk Cruise Center can get quite busy when multiple cruise ships are in. When you get off the cruise ship, you’ll pass through a shopping center with duty free shops, jewelry, souvenirs, and bars, including Jimmy Buffett’s MargaritaVille. All the clamshells, beach chairs and umbrellas at the cruise center are free. The umbrellas will say “cruise center” on them. However, the more north you walk, you will find locals selling the chairs and umbrellas for $10-15 for an umbrella and 2 chairs. While the beach at the cruise center is gorgeous, we wanted to walk further north a little. We walked about a .5 mile north and just put our blanket on the sand and hung out for the day, just before Jacks Shack.
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Things to do in Grand Turk on a cruise
Jacks Shack is a nice little “shack” at the end of the cruise center, near the pier with jerk chicken and drinks. If you walk north from the cruise center on the western coast, you’ll reach Jacks Shack. They have awesome food, drinks, chairs, umbrellas, music, showers and wifi! Food is between $6-15 USD, beer is $5, and most cocktails are $10.
Cockburn Town is the capital city of the Turks and Caicos Islands. You can explore the history and character of Cockburn Town. Some places to check out in Cockburn Town include the Turks and Caicos National Museum, the Grand Turk lighthouse, Her Majestys prison, and Cockburn Town beach.
Grand Turk lighthouse
The Grand Turk lighthouse is the only lighthouse in the country and is Grand Turk’s most famous landmark. While the lighthouse is no longer operational, you can visit the grounds of the lighthouse for free, and you can go inside the lighthouse for $3/person. The lighthouse is located on the north side of the island, completely opposite from the Grand Turk cruise center, and is recommended to go by taxi or tour.
Governors Beach is rated the best beach on Grand Turk. Located between the cruise center and Cockburn Town, you’ll find some of the most gorgeous water in all of Turks and Caicos. While it’s only one mile from the cruise center, it’s not possible to walk all along the beach the whole way. You’ll have to walk in the city along the road to get to the beach. Or you can take a taxi which will cost about $4/person.
Gibbs Cay is a small island 1 mile off the eastern coast of Grand Turk with sting rays. Its a 7 acre island with an excellent beach. The stingrays have been in the area naturally and arrive when boats come in.
Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritavilla bar
Jimmy Buffets Margaritavilla is the main restaurant and bar located at the Grand Turk cruise center. This is the largest Margaritaville in the Caribbean. When arriving from the cruise port, you’ll walk right by Margaritaville. Margaritaville has plenty to do for cruise passengers including a restaurant, bar, swim-up bar, pool, tiki bar, showers, hammocks and more!
Grand Turk Excursions
There are plenty of things to do in Grand Turk on a cruise, but here are some popular Grand Turk shore excursions:
- Grand Turk FlowRider® attraction – simulated body boarding or surfing, located right at the cruise center
- Off road ATV adventure – get a tour of the island as you go off-roading on an ATV
- Snorkel tour – a half day snorkel adventure with 4 different snorkel spots
- Gibbs cay sting ray and conch adventure – head to the small cay off of Grand Turk to swim with the stingrays
- Paddle boarding – paddle through Grand Turks marine and bird life of the National Reserve
- Island tour – 2.5 hour sightseeing tour around the island
- Catamaran boat – sail and snorkel in the beautiful Grand Turk water
The best Grand Turk beaches
If you’re visiting Grand Turk on a cruise, its worth exploring more than just the cruise center. If you don’t want to do an excursion while on Grand Turk, there are some gorgeous beaches on Grand Turk. The beach at the cruise center is not the nicest on the island but you can still expect to see gorgeous turquoise water. Remember all beaches on Grand Turk are free and accessible to the public.
- Governors beach – Not far from the cruise center, but quieter than sunray beach at the cruise port. Perfect for snorkeling and diving
- Cockburn Town beach – easily accessible beach with beautiful white sand, clear water, and a British Colonial Architecture backdrop
- Sunray beach – this is the beach at the cruise center beach, and while it’s not the nicest on the island, its still a gorgeous blue, and right when you get off the crusie ship.
- Boaby Rock Point– on the southern tip of Grand Turk, to the right of the cruise port. The beach can be a little rocky, but a great spot for snorkeling.
- Pillory Beach – best for divers, the reef is only 400 yards away
- Stay at the Bohio Dive Resort if you want to scuba dive
- East Side Beach – less developed and less people
Best time to visit Grand Turk
The best time to visit Grand Turk is between May and Cotober, when the weather is sunny and warm. Although Grand Turk has tropical weather year round, so you can expect nice weather most days.
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We really loved our day on Grand Turk on our Eastern Caribbean cruise. The water is just gorgeous and theres so much to do! We’ll definitely be back. If you’ve been to Grand Turk, what did you do while at the port?
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