If you hope to spend a few days in paradise, then Turks and Caicos and Grand Cayman are excellent choices. Both places have picturesque beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and spectacular natural beauty that will take your breath away.
They both also happen to be British Overseas Territories located in the Caribbean, so they clearly share many things in common.
Thinking bout visiting Turks & Caicos? See how this Caribbean island compares by checking out some of our related articles, like Turks and Caicos vs. Jamaica, Turks and Caicos vs. Hawaii, and Turks and Caicos vs The Bahamas!
Which is Better? Turks and Caicos or Grand Cayman?
Grand Cayman is more developed in terms of tourism and has a vibrant, cosmopolitan vibe. Turks and Caicos is the place to go to escape it all. It’s quiet and more tranquil, although there are still plenty of outdoor activities that you can enjoy.
But the truth is, the islands are far more different than you think. If you’re trying to decide where to go on your next tropical getaway, then I’m here to help.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear picture of what each island has to offer in terms of activities, weather, hotels, and more!
Location and Weather
Turks and Caicos is an archipelago of 40 different islands and cays, although only eight are currently inhabited (most travelers prefer to stay on Provicindales or Grand Turk).
It’s located in the Caribbean east of Cuba, north of the Dominican Republic, and south of the Bahamas. Grand Cayman is also found in the Caribbean and is the largest of the three Cayman Islands.
Both destinations have similar weather patterns. Annual temperatures in Turks and Caicos range from 80°F to 90°F, while the Caymens tend to be a bit cooler (77°F to 86°F).
The islands do see a bit of rain, mainly between June and November.
This is also hurricane season, although mild storms usually occur in September and October, so be sure to check the weather and time your trip accordingly.
If you’re planning a relaxing beach vacation, you can’t go wrong with either Grand Cayman or Turks and Caicos.
But because Turks and Caicos is larger and comprised of more islands, the beaches are far less crowded than the ones in Grand Cayman.
You can always find a spot to rest or a secluded place to hide out. And you just can’t beat the beauty of that pristine white sand shoreline!
The most famous beach is Grace Bay, although Long Bay Beach, Tailor Bay Beach, and Pillory Beach are also high on the list.
Grand Cayman also has some beautiful beaches, especially Seven Mile Beach on the western side of the island.
Between the water sports and high-end resorts, it can be pretty busy. Those seeking a more peaceful experience can visit the beach at Rum Point instead.
In summary, both places are ideal for a beach day, but the beaches in Turks and Caicos are simply unbeatable and, in my opinion, superior to the ones in Grand Cayman.
Activities and Attractions
If you can pry yourself from the beaches, you’ll see that both Turks and Caicos and Grand Cayman have a wealth of fun things to do on land and at sea.
However, I think that Grand Cayman has a broader range of activities compared to Turks and Caicos, so it’s a better destination if you’re craving outdoor adventure.
Most of the action on Grand Cayman takes place on the eastern side of the island, although you can find more off-the-beaten-path activities to the north or east.
Some popular activities include:
- Swimming with stingrays in Stingray City
- Visiting the Cayman Turtle Centre
- Wandering through Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park
- Hiking the Mastic Trail
- Scuba Diving the USS Kittiwake
- Seeing the bioluminescent at Bioluminescent Bay
- Exploring Cayman Crystal Caves
- Snorkeling the reef at Eden Rock
Don’t get me wrong – Turks and Caicos still has water sports and beach-related activities for you to enjoy. It’s just on a smaller scale. For example, you can go:
- Boating through the Caicos Cays
- Diving and snorkeling in the Grace Bay and Leeward barrier reefs
- Parasailing over Grace Bay
- Bone fishing in Bottle Creek flats
- Paddleboarding in Chalk Sound National Park
- Horseback riding at Long Bay Beach
- Hiking through the Crossing Place Trail
It’s also worth mentioning that both places are world-renown for their snorkeling and diving opportunities.
But if you were going to choose a destination purely on the sites, I would recommend Grand Cayman. There are over 200 dive sites to choose from sunken ships and coral reefs to underwater caves and shallow sandbars.
The accommodation options in Turks and Caicos is mainly limited to luxury hotels, upscale vacation rentals, and all-inclusive resorts.
While Providenciales and Grand Turk are the most visited islands, travelers can also choose to stay at a resort on a private island, like the exclusive Ambergris Cay Resort.
Grand Cayman also has its fair share of luxury hotels (especially along Sevin Mile Beach), although you’ll find a wider range of places that are more budget-friendly.
Apartments and villas are also widely available if you prefer to have the comforts of home. And if you don’t mind being further away from the beach, you can also stay in George Town.
The hotels, guesthouses, and vacation rentals here can be cheaper than other places on the island.
Although it’s a subjective opinion, the Cayman Islands is regarded as having some of the best cuisine in the Caribbean.
With strong Jamaican and British influences, you can feast on various types of delicious foods during your stay.
Conch stew and jerk chicken are popular choices, although if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try turtle stew (the national dish of the islands)!
While some of the best foods are found in cookshops (local eateries), there are also many gourmet restaurants and farm-to-table establishments with higher-end options.
Turks and Caicos cuisine is also a wild mix of cultural influences, although many of the most beloved dishes revolve around fresh seafood.
Conch, lobster, crab, and fish are as fresh as fresh can be! And similar to Grand Cayman, the islands are filled with fancy restaurants, beach shacks, and local eateries where you can try all these iconic dishes.
If vibrant nightlife is a big deal to you, then you’re better off booking a trip to Grand Cayman.
There are many nightclubs, live music venues, and atmospheric restaurants, especially in George Town and along Seven Mile Beach.
The area is also dotted with beach bars, so you can enjoy a tropical cocktail while you watch the sunset.
Turks and Caicos is far more laid-back, and there aren’t any big nightclubs that attract partygoers. On the other hand, you will find quite a few live music venues, beach parties, and cocktail bars where you can spend the evening.
I won’t beat around the bush – neither place is cheap.
Out of all the Caribbean islands, Grand Cayman and Turks and Caicos rank high in terms of expensive destinations.
But the Cayman Islands are marginally more expensive (it’s one of the most expensive places in the Caribbean in general). Therefore, you can expect to pay more for accommodation, dining, and entertainment.
|Turks and Caicos
|Mid-range hotel: $250 – $400
Luxury hotel: $500+
|Mid-range hotel: $200 – $300
Luxury hotel: $500+
|Local restaurant: $15 – $30
High-end meal: $40 – $100
|Local restaurant: $15 – $20
High-end meal: $25 – $35
|Cocktail: $10 – $18
Local beer: $5 – $8
|Cocktail: $10 – $15
Local beer: $7
|Tours and Activities
|Stingray City Grand Tour: $125 per person
Parasailing tour: $75 – $125 per person
Cayman Crystal Caves Tour: $40 per person
|Snorkel tour: $120 – $140 per person
Parasailing tour: $60 – $80 per person
ATV tour: $110 – $130 per person
By now, I hope you have a better idea of where you want to take your next vacation.
Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the secluded beaches of Turks and Caicos or indulging in the world-class cuisine and culture of Grand Cayman, both places offer a memorable vacation experience.
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