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“Cruise Stop - Not so Grand”
Review of Grand Turk

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Suburban Chicago
Level 3 Contributor
6 reviews
8 helpful votes
“Cruise Stop - Not so Grand”
Reviewed April 5, 2008

Other than the Name, Grand Turks is a place to visit once, and unless thing change, that's enough. It was our first cruise stop the end of March, 2008. A couple of sights that were interesting where the old prison, a stop at the lighthouse which ffered some nice views, and a walk down Front Street. We left the ship early (8am) but should of slept in a little bit. Hired a driver to take us to the lighthouse and he was actually pretty nice. From there, he dropped us off at Front Street, where we had a drink at a cozy little hotel at the end of the strip then walked down the street, seeing a mixture of cozy looking places to run down properties.

Helpful?
5 Thank GottaGoNowDude
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bellingham, Washington
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
55 helpful votes
“Cruising to Grand Turk”
Reviewed December 12, 2007

We cruised to Grand Turk on Carnival in late October. What a disappointment! Grand Strip Mall is a more fitting name. The port is nothing more that a series of shops and there is nothing else but beach in sight. The stores were either grossly over priced - $82 USD for a long sleeved hooded TSHIRT, or cheap stuff from China. No joke, they wanted more for a beach bag that I purchased at Wal Mart. The only place to eat or drink was Margaritaville. With two ships in port just try to find a seat or table. Be prepared if you do for sticker shock. $7+ for a beer $10-$14 for a Margarita. Our traveling companions took a taxi to "town" ($10pp) where we had been told there was some shopping. The "shops" they were taken to were pieces of plywood on top of saw horses in people’s front yards. On display was the same dollar store variety. They found the poverty and filth very depressing. Let me conclude that we are not 5 star travelers. We usually try to travel off the beaten path a bit and for that reason would probably not cruise again either. I sincerely hope that the tourist money coming in from the cruise lines helps the locals and their economy but until then I would avoid this port at all costs or stay on the ship!

Helpful?
17 Thank Armadillo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, TX
Level 6 Contributor
252 reviews
154 helpful votes
“Great location - but changing fast. Go soon.”
Reviewed June 27, 2006

We just got back from 8 days on Grand Turk. This review is split into two parts. First the good, then the bad. At the end I address the question of "Should you go?"

The Good -- (Diving, Sightseeing and Photography, Where to Stay)

Diving - After 10 years of diving (Curacao, Bonaire, Caymans, Mexico, Honduras, California, Hawaii, Florida), we found our very best divemaster ever! His name is Mackie Williams and if you are going to Grand Turk, be sure to dive with him. He was very good about pointing out various animals and fish, but he also let us dive our own profiles and go in our own directions. Mackie is a professional at knowing when, and how, to take a group of divers on a fun dive. He never puit more than 6 divers on our boat. YAY! Above water, he is also a fun dude. In about 25 minutes he can tell you everything you need to know about the island for eating, diving, snorkelling and above-water sightseeing.

We also heard about another divemaster named Mitch Rollins (Blue Water Divers), but he was booked the week we were there. So, if you go to Grand Turk, be sure to dive with Mackie and try Mitch also. They are both very easy to find. Everybody on GT knows everybody else. Last I knew, Mackie was with Oasis Divers and Mitch was to be found at the dive shop across from the Osprey Hotel.

Photography - On the way to GT, get a window seat on the left side of the plane and take some incredible aerial shots of the islands. On the way back sit on the right side of the plane. Hold the camera close to the window to reduce any effects from dirt or sctratches on the window. On the isaolnd, enjoy taking shots of the various brightly colored doorways, plants, birds, and there are also lots of rusty anchors and propellers around. Have fun with your camera!

Sightseeing and Eating - It's a small island mon! Everyone is very friendly. There's no crime. People frequently leave expensive dive gear, computers, cell phones and other stuff laying around for hours. Nobody steals. It's a great change from most places we've been.
Cockburn Town is the island's only town. The historical part is interesting and essentially starts at the Opsrey Hotel and goes along Front Street (next to the ocean) for about a 20-25 minute walk. That's it. The more modern part of town contains two smallish grocery stores and one large warehouse style grocery store. When in town make sure you see the T&C National Museum on Front Street. It's really really really great. Ask for Nigel Sadler the director. He's a diver and excavates shipwrecks. You'll learn a lot from him.
Outside town, ride a bike (you rent them from Conchi and he will deliver them to your hotel).
The island is small and the riding the mostly very easy. Saty on the left hand side of the road.

Where to Stay - We loved the Osprey. It's the only hotel that is on the beach. Rooms are clean, large, air-conditioned and have ceiling fans. All rooms face thge ocean and most have stoves. microwaves and refrigerators. We also heard that Island House and Manta House were very good. Saltraker also gets good press but the week we were there the
balconies and courtyard of Saltraker were overrun with mosquitos.

Food - We ate at Osprey (expensive), Saltraker (good and fairly priced, tons of mosquitos), Michael's (outstanding food and great prices), Sandbar (YUM!), Water's Edge (great food) and Courtyard Cafe (good food and cheap). These are all on Front Street and
are all within a block or two of each other. I recommend Courtyard or Saltraker for breakfast, Michael's and Water's Edge for dinner. Sandbar and Water's Edge for lunches.

The Bad - (Development, Oasis Divers and Declining Fish life)

The cruise ships are coming at the rate of four per week, and they are scheduled to have two ships PER DAY within the next year or so. The fish life is rapidly declining, as most of the bigger fish are moving away. The sport fishing industry is also picking up speed and this puts additional pressure on the fish population. There are still dive sites which have abundant fish life - (have Mackie take you to Fishpond, Aquarium and Amphitheater.) Other than those sites, you won't see many fish. You will see turtles and dolphins. In early Spring you can also see whales.

Other development on the island is lots of condos, a cruise ship terminal, tourist stuff and a bunch of the same businesses, and things you can see anywhere in the world. The character of the island is diefinitely changing.

Oasis Divers --- I said earlier that Mackie Williams is our favorite divemaster ever. My wife and I really enjoyed diving with him. However, the company he works for, Oasis Divers, is in transition. The most common complaint we heard during our trip was that Dale Barker (owner of Oasis) does not care about doing business with divers. My observation was that this is true. Oasis advertises two trips off-island. One is to Salt Cay for diving and the other is to Gibbs Cay for snorkelling. During our time on the island, there were approx. 35 people vacationing on the island who were using Oasis. We all frequently requested trips to the two Cays. However, Dale refused to go to either one, until the cruise ships came in. Then she loaded her boats with cruise ship passengers and took them to the Cays, leaving the non-cruise customers behind.

We also were annoyed to learn that the water scooters, waverunners and other Oasis equipment was reserved only for the use of cruise ship passengers. In other words, if you go to vacation on Grand Turk, don't believe anything you see on Oasis' website about day trips or equipment rental. Oasis clearly is moving away from the dive business and into the business of catering to cruise ships. I would never ever ever ever use Oasis again, unless it was the only way to dive with Mackie. So, if you go to GT, just buy a la carte dives with Mackie when you can and dive with Mitch Rollins (Blue Water Divers) or Cecil Ingraham (Sea Eye Diving) for your other dives. Mitch and Cecil go to Gibbs Cay and Salt Cay sometimes but you have to ask.

Should you go? Yes, IF you live near the east coast and can get there easily, IF you like corals and small stuff more than you like seeing a lot of fish, IF you want to see a small Caribbean island and enjoy the way the Caribbean was before the big developers took over so many of the islands.

I lke healthy reefs, lots of fish, and small crowds. I also do 3 to 4 dives per day.
My personal ratings for dive locations are:
1. Bonaire
2. Curacao (the west end)
3. Utila and Roatan (Honduras)
4. Monterrey California (for sea lions and bigger fish, otters and kelp forests)
5. Grand Turk

Have fun! I hope this review helps you decide on your vacation plans.

Helpful?
31 Thank Mike S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
akron, ohio
1 review
7 helpful votes
“grand turks osprey beach hotel and area”
Reviewed November 1, 2004

wife and i just returned october 29 from a nine day dive vacation on grand turk at the osphrey hotel and did not find much to impress us. the dive sites were just average for a caribbean dive location and the rest of the island was in poor shape.
water was not safe to drink so had to buy water at 2.50 a gallon. food was of poor quality and at least twice the price we would have expected. the sewer system was bad at the hotel and started running over onto the hotel property right beside the main sidewalk at the hotel and you could see raw sewage on the ground. the smell was horrible. there was no city trash pick up and the trash was all over the west side of the island where we was walking. we knew it was in off season but it was like the west side of the island was deserted. we walked through town at 5.00 thursday evening and saw one person in the whole town. last but not least the water was standing in most of the salt ponds and the mesquitos was thick day and night. we had to spray ourselves to go out in the evening or git eaten alive. we have been to seven of the better dive locations in the caribbean and this is the only one that we would refuse a free trip to

Helpful?
7 Thank arlo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
turks and caicos island
1 review
7 helpful votes
“city in the sun”
Reviewed April 11, 2004

Hi just want to tell anyone if they wand to have some fun and meet the most friendly people in the world they have to go to the turks islands and the rest of the islands .We have the most beautiful beaches in the world ,the sand is so white and the water so clear.And by the way my island was one of the Carribbean that Christopher Columbus first vist ,mow is;nt that though for money , so go and have some and get a tan.

Helpful?
7 Thank Dreamer19519
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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