Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) have always been on my bucket list so I was excited to head there! I’ve also wanted to compare TCI to Exuma, since I’ve heard their beaches are very similar.
Here are the differences I’ve noted:
- Development: The roads in TCI are of good quality and you feel like you could be driving in Canada. In comparison, Exuma is a lot less developed than TCI which is very obvious. TCI has major brand gas stations, stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, etc. while Exuma definitely does not have that.
- Beaches: The main beaches I saw include the famous Grace Bay, and the beaches during our boat excursion (Half Moon Bay beach, Fort George beach, and a few others). From what I’ve heard from many people, the water is very similar to Exuma, but I would have to say it is even better. The sand is even more powdery, the water is even more clear, and more blue, if that is possible. Of course, on a nice sunny day Tropic of Cancer beach in Exuma is hard to beat, and may be better than a lot of beaches in TCI, but overall I think TCI may take the top award.
- Hotels: TCI has many more hotels, especially ones that are higher end. The Gansevoort where I stayed is very nice (separate post on it coming soon). The hotels are quite expensive when you compare to Exuma or any other island. The Grand Isle hotel in Exuma is 5 star but you can get it for around $400, whereas the cheapest room at Gansevoort is around $800 (per night, USD). I’ve checked Homeaway/VRBO for villa rentals in TCI and the prices seem a lot more reasonable on there. There are a lot of private condo complexes in TCI where owners rent them out (they have a front desk, pool, etc.) and the prices are the same as in Exuma.
- Restaurants: According to our boat captain, who is a long time local, the one thing that TCI does not lack in is number and variety of restaurants. He said there are about 25 different ones on the tiny island! The restaurant at our hotel (Gansevoort) was very good so we just had dinner there every night, but we made sure to check out Da Conch Shack for lunch! Da Conch Shack has amazing conch fritters and conch salad, and has a real authentic beach shack feel. Would love to come to da Conch Shack next i’m in TCI, and try out some of the other many restaurants on the island! In comparison, Exuma only has a few decent restaurants, so TCI wins in this category.
- Snorkelling: There is amazing snorkelling in TCI. There is a very long and wide reef alongside the entire island where everyone goes to snorkel. We went there during our boat excursion and really enjoyed it. However, the best snorkelling is just a 5 minute walk down the beach from the hotel, on Grace Bay. Across from a beachbar named “Somewhere” there is a protected reef that you can snorkel around, and in just an hour (first thing in the morning) we saw a large spotted eagle ray, a barracuda, countless turtles (at least 10), parrot fish, etc. They were all in one spot and literally a few meters from the shoreline of the beach! I’ve made a video of it with my GoPro, will attach the video here once I put it up on Youtube! Exuma has great snorkelling too, with turtles, stingrays, David Copperfield’s sunken statues, nurse sharks, the thunderbolt grotto, pigs, etc, but it’s all separate locations. I would say they are generally equal in this category.
Overall, I really enjoyed TCI and would love to come back! We also chartered a private boat tour which turned out to be amazing, thank you to Captain Mat at Catalyst Caicos! It was a 35″ customized catamaran which has beanbag chairs! If you need a boat while in TCI I would recommend this company.