If you’ve never been to Turks and Caicos before, you might be a little worried about your personal safety. After all, the Caribbean has different safety standards than what you may be used to.
But don’t let that deter you from exploring these beautiful islands. Crime is rare – even towards tourists. However, it’s important to be cautious and to be aware of some issues that could arise during your travels.
Is Turks and Caicos Safe?
The short answer is yes – Turks and Caicos is relatively safe for tourists. And as a British overseas territory, it has one of the lowest crime rates in the Caribbean. But as with any destination around the world, it’s not entirely immune to crime. Travelers should still take precautions while visiting, as incidents, accidents, and petty theft can happen anytime.
If you’re planning to visit Turks and Caicos, then there are a few things to keep in mind so your trip goes as smoothly as possible.
What are the Most Common Safety Issues in Turks and Caicos?
The most common safety and security issue for tourists is petty crime. Pickpocketing can be a big issue in crowded tourist areas, while theft can occur in hotel rooms, on the beach, or from your rented vehicle.
For this reason, it’s important that look for reliable accommodation, like an all-inclusive resort in Turks & Caicos or a hotel. Then, you can leave valuables like jewelry and electronics locked up in your hotel room safe (if you are planning to bring them to Turks and Caicos at all!). And if you’re driving, store your bags and suitcases out of sight in your car if you’re parking somewhere.
Unfortunately, muggings and armed robberies can also be a big issue in some places and especially at night. Avoid isolated areas that are away from the touristy neighborhoods. While Bight and Grace Bay are generally safe, venturing too far away from the central areas can be more dangerous.
There may also be increased risks if someone suspects you are carrying large amounts of cash. But thankfully, most restaurants and shops are starting to accept credit cards, so you don’t have to walk around with too much money. Either way, always be aware of your surroundings and don’t resist if you are approached by an armed or dangerous suspect.
I also recommend that you avoid isolated rental villas, as they can be targets for armed robbers. If you would like to rent a villa, look for one in a gated community with a security guard.
Accidents on the Road
There are specific safety measures you should also take when traveling through the islands of Turks and Caicos by car or taxi. However, the roads are generally in good condition, and if you’re comfortable driving on the left, you should have no problem getting around.
However, the big issue tends to be with other drivers. You’ll quickly notice that people often speed and ignore street signs, which can make driving alongside a little nerve-wracking. Therefore, it’s crucial that you drive cautiously and pay attention to other people on the main road.
As there is no public transportation in Turks and Caicos, taxis have become one of the easiest ways to get from point A to B. While taxis are relatively cheap, drivers are known for inflating fare prices for tourists. To prevent being scammed, make sure you agree on a price beforehand and that the amount covers all passengers.
As a side note, most taxis only accept cash. While businesses, restaurants, and shops generally take credit cards, you will need to have some cash on hand if you’re getting around by taxi.
Hurricane season in Turks and Caicos is from June to November. But just because there’s an increased risk of hurricanes doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel during this time. After all, storms are quite rare (the majority of them would occur in August and September), and many buildings on the islands are well-prepared for such occurrences.
The best way to stay ahead of the game is to check the weather before you travel. It’s possible that flights can be canceled if the weather becomes too treacherous.
Generally speaking, tap water is safe to drink if you’re staying in a resort or a populated area on the island of Providenciales. However, it has somewhat of an unpleasant taste, so many people prefer to buy bottled water instead. If you are traveling to a more remote area, the water might come from a cistern, which may contain contaminants.
What to Do in an Emergency in Turks & Caicos
Although it’s highly unlikely that anything will happen to you during your stay, it’s essential to know what steps to take in case you encounter an emergency.
If you are a victim of a crime, the first thing you need to do is get to a safe area. This would ideally be a public place, like a grocery shop or restaurant. The next thing you’ll need to do is call the police. Just like in the US, the emergency number for Turks and Caicos is 911. From here, the operator will walk you through what to do and if you need to file a police report.
Another option is to visit a police station in person. There are only six stations scattered around the islands, so make a note of the closest one to where you’ll be staying.
- Grand Turk – Pond Street
- Grand Turk – Air-wing Airport
- South Caicos – Cockburn Harbor
- Providenciales – Chalk Sound
- Providenciales – Grace Bay
- North Caicos – Kew/Bottle Creek
It’s also important to note that there are no embassies or consular services for Americans in Turks and Caicos. If you need support, the nearest embassy is in Nassau, Bahamas. For Canadians, the nearest embassy is in Kingston, Jamaica.
Tips for Staying Safe on the Turks and Caicos Islands
- Only carry the cash you need for the day. Most taxis only take cash so keep that in mind/
- Don’t take unlicensed taxis (called ‘jitneys’).
- Don’t leave food or drinks unattended.
- Make sure your hotel has an in-room safe.
- Don’t walk alone at night.
- Don’t bring/wear valuable jewelry.
- Drink bottled water instead of tap water.
- Bring all medications and supplies. The islands are small and might not be stocked with what you need (and if they are, be prepared to pay a hefty sum).
- Buy travel insurance! For just a few dollars a day, you can protect yourself in case you get sick or injured on your journey (make sure that your plan includes medical evacuation). Some policies also cover theft, trip cancellation, and trip interruption, which is also nice to have if you’re planning your trip to the islands.
- Use common sense! If something feels off, it probably is.
As you now know, crime is relatively low, and most people that travel to Turks and Caicos come back with only great memories to share. And while accidents can happen at any time, if you pay attention to your surroundings at all times, the chances of something bad happening to you are slim to none. So go out there and enjoy your vacation to Turks and Caicos. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world!