Posted by: travelrat | June 5, 2015

Grand Turk: Coast to Coast

Turks Head Cactus_copy

Grand Turk: 18th March 2015

 The expression ‘Coast to Coast’ can mean different things, according to which country you’re from. In the US, it calls forth visions of a two-week road trip; in the UK, it’s a hike of about ten days or so.

On the island of Grand Turk, it’s a bus tour only taking a couple of hours.

When we boarded the 4WD bus for the ‘Coast to Coast Safari’, we noted that, although the islanders (officially!) drive on the left of the road, the vehicle was, like many others we saw, left hand drive.

It’s said of many places that, in theory, they drive on one side of the road or the other, but, in practice, they drive on the side with the least potholes. And, we visited all four coasts.

Our first stop was at the entrance to the airport, where there’s a replica of the capsule in which astronaut John Glenn splashed down near Grand Turk in 1963. Nearby grew the Turk’s Head Cactus. which gave the Turks Islands their name … early explorers thought they resembled red-turbanned Turkish soldiers.

Friendship 7, Grand Turk_copy

At the island’s capital, Cockburn Town, there was a brief stop near a souvenir shop (naturally!) and a toilet (most welcome) by the site of the former jail. We didn’t really have time to explore the beautiful beach. But, a bad road and an unsurfaced, and dusty track, by the side of which donkeys grazed, usually accompanied by white egrets, took us to another, more secluded ones.

Here, we paddled, and looked for conch shells and coral. Since Grand Turk is home to the third largest coral reef in the world, not surprisingly, there’s a fair amount of this.

There are more donkeys at our next stop, the ‘historic lighthouse’, of which the islanders are very proud. You can approach them, and pet them … but, the driver/guide warned not to get behind them, for they have a powerful kick.

The ‘cruise terminal’ to which we returned is really a shopping complex, where we bought a few souvenirs. But, our favourite shop here was called ‘Froots’, where they serve great smoothies … and, more importantly, have free wifi!

There’s a good, but crowded beach nearby, and I later took a stroll along it to inspect a wrecked ship. Alas, I couldn’t quite get to it, for it’s in a Restricted Area, guarded by a stout fence.

Lighthouse, Grand Turk_copy

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