Budget Travel Guide to Turks & Caicos

Your Travel Guide to the Turks & Caicos

Like many Caribbean locales, Turks and Caicos offers fabulous beaches, adventurous outdoor activities, and more upscale resorts than you can shake a seashell at. Unfortunately, it has a price tag to match. But that doesn’t mean you can’t plan a trip to this amazing island without breaking the bank. In this travel guide, I’ll share how I visited the Turks and Caicos on a budget, and tips for how you can do it too.

Planning Your Turks & Caicos Trip on a Budget

Where to Go

Providenciales, or Provo, is the most popular island in Turks and Caicos. It’s the most developed, and the place where most international flights land. It offers a huge assortment of hotels, resorts, villas, and vacation rentals—and plenty of opportunities for bargain hunting.

Farther east you’ll find Grand Turk and North, Middle, East, and South Caicos—all of which have fewer activities and places to stay, and require an inter-island flight to get there.

This is why I ended up planning my budget Turks and Caicos vacation to Providenciales. You can just get more bang for your buck on Provo. More hotels mean more room for bargains, and you don’t have to worry about planning and paying for additional airfare. As a result, this budget Turks and Caicos travel guide will focus on Provo.

When to Go

The weather on Turks and Caicos is fantastic year-round, so there’s no limit on when you can plan your budget-friendly island getaway.

The peak tourism season falls between December and April, so flight and hotel prices tend to be lower in the shoulder season of May and June. You can score even deeper discounts during hurricane season (June to November)—just make sure to invest in travel insurance in case a hurricane ends up canceling your trip.

Getting There

Most airlines fly into Providenciales from big airports like Miami, Atlanta, or even Newark. Tickets can be cheaper flying through smaller airports like Fort Lauderdale. I ended up going through Fort Lauderdale on Southwest, which I know has a bad rap these days—but I used points to get our flights for free and had no complaints. Plus, they give you free checked bags.

Since the flight is one of the two biggest chunks of your Turks and Caicos trip budget (the other being accommodation), be sure to shop around before getting your tickets. Sign up for a flight-alert newsletter like Going to be notified of the latest deals. It’s also a good idea to sign up for frequent flyer accounts on several airlines (if you don’t have them already), and make sure you get their newsletters so they can let you know when they have a sale. I flew from Denver to Hawaii last year for $350 per person because of one of these sales!

Getting Around the Island

There are no rideshare services in Turks and Caicos, and taxi rates are through the roof, so renting a car is the best way to explore Providenciales. Some hotels rent bikes, but this isn’t recommended. Turks and Caicos drivers have a reputation for being careless—and you’ll believe it when you see how beat-up everyone’s car is.

To minimize your rental car expenses while seeing everything Provo has to offer, rent the smallest car that will fit you and your luggage. You won’t need the extra legroom—the entire island is only 17 miles long, so you won’t be spending much time in the car anyway. Some agencies offer a “character” class of car, which work fine but are quite a bit older, and thus cheaper, than most rentals.

Where to Stay in Turks & Caicos on a Budget

Lodging on Providenciales is pricey to say the least, but what did you expect from an island paradise? The good news is there are a ton of options, so there’s plenty of room for bargain hunting. Here are some tips for finding your ideal accommodation on your budget trip to the Turks and Caicos.

Stay Off the Beach

You’ll notice that the farther you go from the beach, the lower the prices. We opted for a compromise with the Inn at Grace Bay, which, based on my research, is one of the best bargains on Provo. It was less than a five-minute walk from Grace Bay Beach and the main shopping strip, with a balcony, full kitchen, and washer/dryer—for only around $300 per night during peak season.

budget travel guide to turks caicos

Hotels like Royal West Indies Resort and Villa del Mar offer similar prices while still being in the heart of the Grace Bay action, simply because they’re a block or two from the beach.

You can save more by venturing even farther from the beach, or out of Grace Bay. Places like Sibonne Beach Hotel and Hotel La Vista Azul have prices in the $200-$250 range in the high season.

Find a Place with a Kitchen

You can save a lot of money on your Turks and Caicos trip by cooking meals in your room, if it has a kitchen. Unfortunately, many hotels and resorts don’t. A few good options are the Inn at Grace Bay and Kokomo Botanical Resort. But to broaden your kitchen options, you may want to consider a vacation rental (more on that below).

Get a Vacation Rental

Don’t limit your search to just hotels. Provo has plenty of budget-friendly vacation rentals, villas, and Airbnbs. Most come with a full kitchen and laundry, and some even include beach gear like chairs, umbrellas, and coolers. Here’s an example of an Airbnb that sleeps two for only $150 per night, and a Vrbo that sleeps six for only $278 per night—both within easy walking distance of Grace Bay Beach.

Activities in Turks & Caicos on a Budget

Once you get here, activities in the Turks and Caicos can be pretty affordable—mainly because there are so many gorgeous beaches, and they’re all free! Read on for the best beaches to visit, as well as other budget-friendly things to do in the Turks and Caicos.

Beach, Please

Grace Bay often pops up on “world’s best beaches” lists, and once you get here you’ll understand why. But Grace Bay is crowded, and it doesn’t have any reefs for snorkeling. You’ll need to head a little farther out to visit the best snorkel spots in Turks and Caicos, like Smith’s Reef, Coral Gardens, and Malcolm’s Road.

Also be sure to check out the more remote beaches, like Long Bay, Taylor Bay, and Sunset. They’re not really that remote, because everything on Provo is within 45 minutes of Grace Bay, but they’re way quieter and more relaxing.

budget travel guide to turks caicos

Bring Your Own Snorkel Gear

After happily renting snorkel gear on our last beach vacation, in Maui, we were shocked to find the prices in Turks and Caicos more than double that. They were upwards of $20 per person per day, adding up to around $300 for the week. We ended up buying quality, well-fitting gear from our local scuba shop for less than that—and now we can use it to save money on future beach trips.

If you plan on doing a lot of snorkeling, consider buying and bringing your own gear for your Turks and Caicos trip. If you’d rather just do one or two days of snorkeling, rent gear only for the days you need. Or sign up for a snorkel cruise, which will include complimentary gear.

Adopt a Dog for a Day

The nonprofit Potcake Place, located on Grace Bay’s main shopping strip, is dedicated to spaying, neutering, and otherwise caring for the island’s stray dog population. They’re affectionately known as “potcakes” because, back in the day, people used to feed them the cake of food left in the bottom of their cooking pots.

You can do your part by visiting the storefront to play with the potcake puppies, or by adopting one for a day and taking it around the island with you. It’s a fun, free activity that also helps the local canine community. If you just can’t part with your new friend afterward, the organization will help arrange transportation so they can fly back home with you.

Splurge on a Tour

I know this is a travel guide to help you save money, but I do think it’s worth splurging a little on one of the Turks and Caicos’ many guided tours. We did a couple, and they were worth every penny.

For example, you can tour the shallow, crystal-clear water of the mangroves in see-through kayaks or paddleboards. You’ll learn about this fascinating ecosystem, why it’s vital to the health of the islands, and the animals that live here—and even see some of them swimming right underneath you! You’ll also get to visit the friendly endemic rock iguanas at Iguana Island.

Another great tour is through Provo Ponies, where you can ride a horse along the beach and in the ocean. This was unlike any travel experience I’ve ever had, and I’m so glad we did it. There are also plenty of boat tour options, like snorkel trips and sunset cruises. If your trip falls after a full moon, you can even take a glowworm cruise to see these strange bioluminescent creatures light up the ocean.

budget travel guide to turks caicos

Dining in Turks & Caicos on a Budget

Like everything else in the Turks and Caicos, food isn’t cheap. Because pretty much everything has to be shipped to the island, grocery store prices are double or triple what you’d expect back home and the cheapest meal at a restaurant will run you around $20. But fear not, savvy travelers—there are ways to cut costs on meals during your budget Turks and Caicos vacation.

Dine In

If you get a hotel room with a full kitchen or even a kitchenette, you can save a lot of money by cooking yourself. Plus, it’s nice to have a relaxing meal at home sometimes.

During our week-long stay, we mostly ate lunch in and dinner out. That way, we could crash in our room around lunchtime, still wrapped in a towel after our snorkeling adventures, and have a casual meal on our little balcony. We made quick-fix meals like pasta and frozen pizza because we didn’t want to spend too much of our vacation cooking. We also bought portable snack foods like apples, bananas, and PB&J supplies to fuel our outdoor adventures.

Tips for Dining Out

When we did eat out, we saved money by limiting add-ons like drinks and appetizers. We bought canned beer and cider at the grocery, which was way easier on our budget than drinks at restaurants—and we could sip them on the beach. Also, keep in mind that restaurants in the Turks and Caicos automatically add a service fee to your bill, so you don’t need to tip.

Another thing I learned: If you want to sample fare from the famous Coco Bistro, there’s a cheaper, more casual option called Cocovan right next door. This was my favorite meal from the whole trip! Bonus points for not requiring a reservation after we wandered around for an hour waiting for someone to let us in.

budget travel guide to turks caicos

Ask for Tap Water

We were surprised to find that when we asked for water at restaurants, servers would automatically bring us bottled water—and charge a few dollars per bottle for it. For thirsty people like us, that cost could really add up over a week-long vacation. Plus, I hate to contribute any more to the world’s plastic problem.

When you go to restaurants, be sure to ask specifically for tap water. They’ll bring you a free glass of it that you can refill as many times as you need.

Also be sure to bring a water bottle on your vacation. The tap water in Turks and Caicos is perfectly safe to drink, so use it! (I’ve heard some people think it tastes weird, but we didn’t notice this.) We brought our water bottles everywhere, filled with ice and water from our room, so we always had cold water to keep us hydrated at the beach.

Turks and Caicos belongs on any traveler’s bucket list, but it’s not the cheapest place to visit. Use the tips in this budget travel guide to plan your beach vacation on a shoestring and experience all the food, wildlife, and beaches the Turks and Caicos have to offer.

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