Turks and Caicos
Southeast of the Bahamas
Soft white sand beaches and rugged coastlines
Pristine beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters
$2,000 to $4,000 per person for a week-long trip
$2,500 to $5,000 per person for a week-long trip
Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison
Grace Bay Beach
Dining and Nightlife
Vibrant food scene, local Bajan cuisine, rum shops
Excellent dining options, more low-key nightlife
Culture and History
Rich cultural heritage and historical sites
Emphasis on relaxation and luxury resorts
Barbados vs Turks and Caicos: Barbados and Turks and Caicos are two of the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean. With stunning beaches, great weather, and no shortage of fun and exciting things to do, both islands are well worth visiting. However, there are some major differences between Barbados and Turks and Caicos that may make one better than the other for your next trip. Here are some factors to consider when comparing the two:
Both Barbados and Turks and Caicos are renowned for their stunning beaches. Barbados offers a mix of soft white sand beaches on its western and southern coasts and more rugged, dramatic shores on the eastern and northern sides. Turks and Caicos, on the other hand, boasts pristine beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters, particularly on Grace Bay Beach.
Most visitors to Barbados tend to go to the west coast (also known as the Platinum Coast), which is renowned for its luxurious all-inclusive resorts, glamorous villas, and beautiful beaches with calm, blue waters. The west coast is considered the more upscale and affluent part of the island, attracting high-end travelers seeking relaxation, fine dining, and beautiful scenery. Some popular areas along the west coast include Holetown, Sandy Lane, and Mullins Bay.
Another popular region in Barbados is the east coast, which is characterized by rugged beauty and powerful Atlantic waves. The region is less developed than the west coast, and more suited for those seeking a peaceful, nature-focused vacation. The region is also a popular surfing destination, and is known for its coastal towns with world-class surfing conditions.
In Turks and Caicos, the most popular region is the island of Providenciales, commonly known as Provo. Provo is the most developed and tourist-friendly island in Turks and Caicos. It is where most of the best resorts, hotels, and tourist amenities are located. It is also home to Grace Bay Beach, which consistently ranked among the world’s best beaches.
Another popular island in Turks and Caicos is Grand Turk. which is the capital island of the country. Grand Turk offers a more laid-back and cultured atmosphere. It features beautiful colonial architecture, historical sites like the Turks and Caicos National Museum, and of course, stunning beaches.
The beaches all throughout Turks and Caicos a picturesque, with calm, blue waters, and white sands. Turks and Caicos is surrounded by one of the longest coral reef systems in the world, which protect its beaches from rough waters and ocean surges.
Bottom line: If you are seeking picture-perfect beaches, Turks and Caicos may have the slight edge.
Activities and Attractions
Both Barbados and Turks and Caicos offer no shortage of activities, attractions, and events. Here are the main things you will want to check out at each destination.
Bridgetown, the capital city of Barbados, is a vibrant and bustling urban center with a rich history, diverse culture, and a range of attractions. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and historical landmarks. There is plenty to see and do in Bridgetown, from visiting the historical sites, to shopping, relaxing on the beach, and enjoying the frequent festivals, parades, and other cultural events.
Try the Local Cuisine
The cuisine of Barbados is eclectic and flavorful, with influences from African, British, Indian, and Caribbean foods. Seafood is very popular on the island, particularly flying fish, snapper, mahi-mahi, and kingfish. Rice and peas cooked in coconut milk, Barbadian black cake, Bajan seasonings, and cutters (sandwiches with ham, fish, or cheese) are all popular.
Visit the Barbados Wildlife Reserve
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is a well-known reserve founded in 1982, initially for the conservation and study of green monkeys, an Old World monkey that was brought to Barbados 1600s, and has since spread throughout the island. The reserve is also home to red-footed tortoises, Cuban rock iguanas, Patagonian maras, Brocket Deer, agouti, peacocks, parrots, caimans, and more.
The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is committed to animal conservation and raising awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife. The reserve provides educational information about the different species, their habitats, and the conservation efforts taking place in Barbados. Visitors can also enjoy watching the feeding of the green monkeys and deer at designated feeding times.
Enjoy Water Sports
Barbados is a fantastic destination for water sports enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities and excellent conditions for surfing, snorkeling/scuba diving, jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, and more. In fact, Barbados is known as the “Surfing Capital of the Caribbean” for its excellent winter swells, particularly on the east coast. For the vacationer looking for a more relaxed time on the water, the western and southern coasts are known for their calm waters, which are full of vibrant coral reefs and are great for snorkeling and kayaking.
Visit Historic Plantations
Plantation tours in Barbados offer a captivating glimpse into the island’s colonial heritage and the legacy of the sugar industry. Popular historic plantations to visit in Barbados include St. Nicholas Abbey, Sunbury Plantation House, and Drax Hall. The plantations offer guided tours of the grounds, tours of the buildings, museum exhibits, and more. These tours offer visitors the opportunity to learn about how the people of Barbados lived in the past, including the lives of the families that owned the plantations and the enslaved laborers who worked the plantations.
Take a Rum Distillery Tour
Barbados is renowned for its rum production, which dates back to colonial times. You can learn about Barbados’ rum-making history with a tour of one of the many famous distilleries located throughout the island. Mount Gay Rum Distillery and St. Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery are popular options for rum enthusiasts.
Whichever distillery you choose to tour, you will be sure to enjoy learning about the methods of rum production, visiting the sugarcane fields, trying different types of rum, and exploring the historic distillery buildings that have been in operation for centuries.
Turks and Caicos
Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
The islands of Turks and Caicos boast shallow, crystal clear waters with vibrant coral reefs and an abundance of marine life, making it excellent for snorkeling and scuba diving. The reefs around the islands are home to a multitude of tropical fish, sea turtles, and even dolphins and whales, unlike anything you will experience elsewhere in the Caribbean. You can snorkel right from the beach, or take a boat out for an unforgettable snorkeling or scuba diving adventure.
With so many excellent islands to explore, island hopping is a very popular activity on Turks and Caicos. Visit places like North Caicos, Middle Caicos, or South Caicos to experience different landscapes, charming local communities, and untouched natural beauty. You can either rent a boat and explore the different islands yourself, take advantage ferries, or travel between the islands via plane. The two main islands, Provo and Grand Turk, are well-connected by regular flights and ferry services. This makes it convenient to visit multiple islands during your stay.
Provo Golf Club
Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf at the Provo Golf Club on Providenciales. This 18-hole championship course offers a challenging and scenic experience, surrounded by lush vegetation and stunning ocean views. The course was designed by Karl Litten, a renowned golf course architect, and has been recognized as one of the top golf courses in the Caribbean.
Provo Golf Club also features excellent practice facilities to enhance your golfing skills. The club offers a driving range, putting greens, and chipping areas where you can warm up or work on specific aspects of your game before heading out to the course.
Visit Conch Bar Caves National Park
Conch Bar Caves National Park is a captivating natural wonder that offers a unique underground experience. The park is home to an extensive network of limestone caves, filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and other breathtaking formations. Exploring the caves is an adventure that takes you deep into the earth, where you can marvel at the geological wonders formed over thousands of years. Guided tours provide fascinating insights into the history, geology, and significance of the caves, allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty and mystery of this subterranean realm.
Experience the breathtaking beauty of a Caribbean sunset with a sunset cruise. Sail along the coastline, enjoying the stunning colors of the sky as the sun dips below the horizon. Sunset cruises are a popular attraction at each of Turks and Caico’s main islands. Many marinas throughout the islands have regular sunset cruises.
Bottom line: If you’re seeking a more laid-back experience, Turks and Caicos might be a better fit.
Butterfly Beach Hotel – Located in the vibrant South Coast area, this budget-friendly hotel offers comfortable accommodations, a swimming pool, and direct access to the beach.
Yellow Bird Hotel – Situated in St. Lawrence Gap, Yellow Bird Hotel provides affordable rooms with ocean views, a rooftop restaurant, and easy access to dining and nightlife options.
Pirate’s Inn – Located near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bridgetown, Pirate’s Inn offers affordable rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant, all within a short distance of the capital’s attractions.
Bougainvillea Barbados – Situated on the South Coast, this family-friendly hotel features spacious suites, multiple pools, a spa, and a range of dining options.
Ocean Two Resort & Residences – Located in St. Lawrence Gap, Ocean Two offers modern rooms with ocean views, a beachfront restaurant, a rooftop pool, and easy access to shopping and entertainment.
Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados – Positioned on Carlisle Bay, this hotel offers comfortable rooms, a beachfront location, a pool, and proximity to Bridgetown and popular attractions.
Sandy Lane – Known for its luxurious accommodations and world-class service, Sandy Lane is a prestigious resort on the west coast. It features elegant rooms, a renowned golf course, a spa, multiple dining options, and a private beach.
The Crane Resort – Set on the southeast coast, The Crane Resort offers luxurious suites and villas, breathtaking ocean views, cascading pools, a spa, and several dining options. It is also known for its stunning pink sand beach.
Coral Reef Club – Nestled in a lush tropical garden on the west coast, Coral Reef Club provides elegant rooms, an award-winning spa, fine dining, and access to a beautiful beach. It offers a serene and intimate setting for a luxurious stay.
Turks and Caicos
Ports of Call Resort – Located in Grace Bay on Providenciales, Ports of Call Resort offers affordable accommodations, a pool, complimentary breakfast, and is within walking distance to the beach and dining options.
Alexandra Resort – Situated on Grace Bay Beach, Alexandra Resort provides comfortable rooms, a pool, beach access, and an all-inclusive option, making it a great value for budget-conscious travelers.
Sibonne Beach Hotel – Positioned on Grace Bay Beach, Sibonne Beach Hotel offers cozy rooms, beachfront access, and is in close proximity to shops, restaurants, and water sports activities.
Grace Bay Club – This upscale resort on Grace Bay Beach offers spacious suites and villas, a selection of pools, beachfront access, multiple dining options, and a spa, providing a luxurious mid-range experience.
The Palms Turks and Caicos – Located on Grace Bay Beach, The Palms offers elegant accommodations, a stunning infinity pool, a spa, and a variety of dining options, making it a popular choice for a mid-range luxury stay.
Ocean Club Resorts – Comprising Ocean Club and Ocean Club West, these sister resorts on Grace Bay Beach provide comfortable suites, pools, beach access, and convenient amenities, making them ideal for families and couples.
COMO Parrot Cay – This private island resort offers a luxurious retreat with pristine beaches, luxurious villas and suites, a spa, yoga retreats, fine dining options, and a range of activities, providing an exclusive and tranquil luxury experience.
The Regent Grand – Positioned on Grace Bay Beach, The Regent Grand offers upscale suites, a pool, beachfront access, and is in close proximity to shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
Amanyara – Located on the secluded western shore of Providenciales, Amanyara offers luxurious pavilions and villas, an infinity pool, a spa, gourmet dining, and access to stunning private beaches, providing a high-end luxury escape.
The average cost of a vacation to Turks and Caicos vs Barbados can vary depending on various factors such as travel season, accommodation choices, activities, dining preferences, and the duration of the trip. However, as a general guideline, here’s an overview of the average costs for a vacation in both destinations:
Turks and Caicos:
- Accommodation: The average cost per night for mid-range hotels in Turks and Caicos can range from $200 to $400, while luxury resorts and private villas can start from $500 per night and go up to several thousand dollars per night.
- Dining: Dining in Turks and Caicos can range from affordable options at local eateries and casual restaurants to upscale dining experiences. On average, a meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between $15 and $40 per person, while fine dining establishments can be higher.
- Activities: Excursions and activities in Turks and Caicos can vary in price. Snorkeling tours, boat trips, and water sports activities can range from $50 to $200 per person, depending on the type and duration of the activity.
- Transportation: Rental cars, taxis, and private transfers are common modes of transportation in Turks and Caicos. Rental cars can range from $50 to $100 per day, while taxi fares vary depending on the distance traveled.
- Overall: On average, a moderate vacation package (including flights, accommodation, dining, and activities) to Turks and Caicos can range from $2,500 to $5,000 per person for a week-long trip.
- Accommodation: Mid-range hotels in Barbados can cost around $150 to $300 per night, while luxury resorts and upscale properties can range from $300 to $600 per night or more.
- Dining: Similar to Turks and Caicos, dining options in Barbados can vary in price. Local eateries and casual restaurants offer affordable meals, while upscale dining experiences can be more expensive. On average, a meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between $15 and $40 per person.
- Activities: Excursions and activities in Barbados can include island tours, catamaran cruises, water sports, and visiting attractions such as Harrison’s Cave. Prices can range from $50 to $200 per person, depending on the activity and duration.
- Transportation: Rental cars, taxis, and public transportation (buses) are available in Barbados. Rental cars can range from $40 to $100 per day, while taxi fares vary depending on the distance traveled.
- Overall: A moderate vacation package to Barbados (including flights, accommodation, dining, and activities) can range from $2,000 to $4,000 per person for a week-long trip.