Vacations are all about getting some much-needed rest and relaxation. That’s why we decided to make your trip to Turks and Caicos hassle-free by compiling this list of things NOT to do during your stay. So before you head off to the Caribbean islands, make sure to take a look at the 14 things you should avoid so your vacation is memorable.
1. Don’t Forget Coral-Safe Sunscreen
If you plan on participating in water excursions, many of them won’t allow you to join if you’re not equipped with coral-safe sunscreen.
In 2005, a forensic ecotoxicologist in Virginia was appointed to find out what was happening to the coral reefs in many areas of the world. It was later discovered that the regular sunscreen tourists were wearing was accumulating in the water and killing all of the beautiful reefs. This special type of sunscreen will not only protect your skin from harmful UV rays, but it will protect Turks and Caicos’ coral reefs, too.
2. Don’t Drink the Tap Water
The tap water is safe to drink, but many people suggest you avoid it at all costs. The piped water in the hotels originates from reverse osmosis desalination. This means it usually doesn’t taste very good due to the sulfur dioxide recycling process.
3. Don’t Be Surprised at Your Cab Fare
Before hopping into a cab, it’s always best to negotiate the rate upfront so you’re not hit with any hidden surprises. All drivers will also charge you per person as opposed to charging one set amount to take you to your destination.
4. Don’t Expect to Eat Lobster Off-Season
August 25th through April 1st is the time when lobsters are in season. If you visit any time outside of that time frame, don’t expect to get your hands on this delicious seafood cuisine. It’s illegal for lobsters to be caught during the off-season, so you won’t even find them offered on restaurant menus.
5. Don’t Try to Walk Everywhere
The scenery is so gorgeous, you’ll definitely feel the urge to walk around the islands and explore. But with the blistering heat and many attractions spread out miles apart from each other, a taxi cab or a bicycle is definitely the way to go. Many resorts also provide bikes to their guests on a first come, first serve basis.
6. Don’t Look for a Deal
Many travelers are shocked by just how expensive this Caribbean nation is. Since they don’t have a natural harbor, large ships aren’t able to import goods. And because the climate is so hot and dry, the land isn’t suitable for crops. This makes pricing outrageous, from the food in the restaurants to the groceries in the stores. Expect to pay at least two to three times the amount you would pay in America.
7. Don’t Purchase Hotel Water
We’ve already warned you about drinking the tap water, and you’ll want to stay away from the water offered at the hotels, too. Many resorts will mark up the costs of bottled water to sell to their guests. Instead, you’ll find that the jug water in the islands’ modern stores is much cheaper.
8. Don’t Forget Insect Repellent
Before heading off for your trip, make sure you pack a strong insect repellant to protect you from various critters, especially mosquitos. Sea Lice and jellyfish repellant will also come in handy. If you forget to include these items in your luggage, you’ll be looking to pay close to $20 for a bottle on the islands instead of the $5-$6 you would’ve paid at home.
9. Don’t Assume There’s a Service Charge
Many hotels will automatically add a 10% service charge to your bill. This is the baseline tip that the staff shares. If you think your server went above and beyond, feel free to leave an additional 5-10% on your bill. However, not all establishments automatically add the service charge. If you don’t see it listed on your bill, it’s best to ask management how you should leave your tip.
10. Don’t Eat the Conch
Turks and Caicos is known for its conch – a tropical mollusk that can be eaten in a variety of ways. But sadly, the population of this delicacy has declined significantly in recent years. You can do your part in saving this species of marine life by skipping out on conch cuisine entirely.
11. Don’t Visit During December
December is the islands’ busiest time of the year. Tourists from far and wide flock to Turks and Caicos’ sandy beaches to soak up the sun and kick back in paradise. If you want to cut down on your travel costs, consider visiting in July. This is when rates drop by close to 40%, and you’ll have less tourists to deal with.
12. Don’t Forget to Go Bird Watching
You can’t visit the islands without checking out the wildlife. Turks and Caicos is full of marshes and salt ponds that are the homes to over 170 species of birds,
13. Don’t Bypass Natural Souvenirs
During your excursions, your tour guide will insist you take a few natural souvenirs home with you. Shells, sand dollars, and whatever else you can collect is free for you to gather up and collect.
14. Don’t Stock Up On Real Souvenirs
Speaking of souvenirs, let all of your friends and family back home know you won’t be bringing home cool magnets and keychains. If you’re looking for a central market location that’s full of unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, you probably won’t find it here. There’s also the issue that many of the crafts made by local artisans are severely overpriced.