Those of you who have traveled the Caribbean know that often your ability to explore the islands is somewhat limited. Most of the islands are beautiful, and transportation is not really a problem for the adventuresome. However, there are areas throughout the Caribbean that can be dangerous, unless you are staying at a resort or sticking to the docks near a cruise ship. One exception would be the magnificent Turks & Caicos Islands.
All cruise lines dock at man-made ports, where many tourists remain for a few hours shopping and taking in the sun. If flying into a resort area, transportation is usually provided to main downtown spots.
My wife and I prefer to wander off the beaten path. On vacation last year, we did just that. En route to who knows where, we noticed wild horses ran freely, so we knew we were leaving tourist areas.
We were pleasantly surprised along the way to see some wonderful structures that reminded us of times past, and even as we wandered, the areas between towns did not feel isolated or perilous.
In one downtown area on Grand Turk Island, we visited a local library. The small facility was not what an American would envision, but the townspeople working the library displayed a great deal of pride in their “collection.”
On one of the smaller islands, the houses were well-maintained tiny residences one might call slices of paradise. They were built on tree-lined streets bordering the Caribbean, where the aqua-colored water resembled a large swimming pool, crystal clear.
There were also a few historic houses and buildings that had been renovated over the last fifty years, giving some of the smaller islands a quaint, village-like feel.
Some of the more famous structures posted plaques outside, which related some of the history of the various buildings.
The photo below is of a small hotel where we had some coffee and great conversation with locals upon our arrival. We did not expect this kind of "luxury" off road.
And of course, we hit the local tent markets that pop up on every Caribbean island. These were certainly not elaborate, but all the merchandise was unique and hand-made, as opposed to much of the authentic Caribbean-island trinkets made in China that adorn many tourist areas on other islands.
All in all, I would return to these islands in a heartbeat, and plan to do just that. One of my friends who just relocated to Florida from California asked us if we had heard of the Turks & Caicos. This has re-ignited the spark. Some of the smaller Cays were interesting, and the Salt Cay was educational, but the outer islands were Naturally beautiful, and the people were the friendliest we had ever met in the Caribbean. We have so much more to experience and will do so soon.