Caribbean

A day trip to North and Middle Caicos' untamed beauty

Ema Bakalova

Jul 13, 2022

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North and Middle Caicos' untamed beauty
North and Middle Caicos' untamed beauty

Living on North and Middle Caicos is significantly more isolated and barren compared to that of Providenciales. They are some of the most picturesque and largest islands in the archipelago. Even so, combined they have a population of less than 2000 people. North and Middle Caicos constitute the vast majority of the land area within the Turks and Caicos archipelago and the two islands are now connected by a one mile long road, making it easy to travel from one island to the other.

Taking a ferry to North and Middle Ciacos
Taking a ferry to North and Middle Ciacos

North and Middle Ciacos

Nestled at the heart of the Turks and Caicos archipelago, North Caicos and Middle Caicos are relatively larger compared to their neighboring islands and stand out for their incredibly captivating and unique natural wonders. These two "garden islands" have some of the most unique and rare natural features in the Caribbean. They remain largely untouched and undeveloped, and retain a charming natural and tropical island lifestyle.

Home to some of the planet's most spectacular beaches, caves, and lush tropical landscapes, this incredibly remote island is a destination worthy of dedicated exploration.

Travelling to North Caicos

Surprisingly, we were unaware of the "must-see" status of North and Middle Caicos until the day before our discovery. It was during a chance encounter with a friendly family on the beach, that we learned about North Caicos. They mentioned how much they loved it, and recommended we make a day trip over there.

Travelling to North and Middle Ciacos

Taxi Diver: Judy Delaney

If you're in need of a taxi driver whilst in TCI, contact Judy Delaney on WhatsApp: +1 (649) 441-3612

On our way home in the taxi with Judy (our taxi driver) that day, we mentioned that we were considering making a trip to North and Middle Caicos. She connected us with her friend Desmond, who specializes in guided tours of North and Middle Caicos. We had the choice of either renting a car and exploring the island on our own or opting for a day tour with Desmond, who would not only drive us around but also take us to the best spots on the island.

Ultimately, we chose to take a tour with Desmond (since he's a local and knows the islands very well), and it turned out to be the best decision we could have made. There are so many "hard to access" spots on the island and so many unique cays off the coast, that we wouldn't have been able to tour the island to the fullest on our own. I would highly recommend hiring Desmond to give you a tour of the two islands for the day.

Exploring North and Middle Ciacos

Tour of North and Middle Caicos

If you would like to book a tour of North and Middle Caicos, contact Desmond on WhatsApp: +1 (649) 331-7666

Ferry to North and Middle Ciacos
Ferry to North and Middle Ciacos
Ferry to North and Middle Ciacos

Ferry to North Caicos

In just a short 30-minute boat ride, we took a boat from the eastern edge of Providenciales in the Leeward Settlement, to the shores of North Caicos, from the Blue Haven Marina.

Ferry to North and Middle Ciacos

Ferry to North Caicos

In just a short 30-minute boat ride, we took a boat from the eastern edge of Providenciales in the Leeward Settlement, to the shores of North Caicos, from the Blue Haven Marina.

North and Middle Caicos Itinerary

Desmond drove us through the island and stopped at a series of destinations. With your own vehicle, these are some of the top stops to explore while traveling across the island. There are many beaches throughout North and Middle Caicos, these are just the main ones we stopped at and they were the most accessible by vehicle.

Here are the destinations we explored on the islands:

  1. Hollywood Beach (North Caicos)

  2. Mudjin Harbor (Middle Caicos)

  3. Dragon Cay Resort (Part of Mudjin Harbor, Middle Caicos)

  4. Conch bar beach (Middle Caicos)

  5. Bambarra Beach (Middle Caicos)

  6. Horse Stable Beach (North Caicos)

North Caicos
North Caicos
North Caicos
North Caicos

Conch Bar Beach

We stopped at a few stunning lookout points along the road traveling through the islands. One of our favorite stops was in Middle Ciacos at Conch Bar Beach. We collected massive shells from the water. Conch (pronounced "konk") is a type of marine mollusk commonly found in the waters around Turks and Caicos.

The Conch Shells grow to be substantially large primarily due to their environmental conditions and the adaptation of their species. Along with the isolated and protected waters of North Caicos and the warm tropical water, the conditions are perfect for the conch to grow steadily. You can find huge shells laying close to the shore in the shallow waters.

Conch bar beach on North Caicos

Fun fact

You're not allowed to pack these massive shells in your carry-on bag because they are so large they are considered weapons.

Indian and Conch Bar Caves on Middle Caicos

The island is home to one of the largest caves in the Carribbean. The Conch Bar Caves on Middle Caicos are some of the most well known caves in the region, and claim the title of being the largest non-submerged cave system within the Bahamas–Turks and Caicos islands chain. We made a stop at the Conch Bar Caves first before stopping at the Indian Caves, that was full of openings or "skylights" that let light in from above.

The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos

The Indian Cave

The Indian Cave came into existence through a geological phenomenon known as the Karst process. This gradual process involves slightly acidic rainwater dissolving the porous limestone over time as it makes its way underground.

The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos

The Indian Cave

The Indian Cave came into existence through a geological phenomenon known as the Karst process. This gradual process involves slightly acidic rainwater dissolving the porous limestone over time as it makes its way underground.

Inside the caves, you can see massive tree routes dropping from above through the holes in the limestone. The cave is home to species such as the giant blue land crabs as well as native vegetation such as papaya trees and short leaved fig trees. The caves are home to thousands of mosquitos, so bring some repellant and prepare to only spend a few minutes exploring inside.

The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos
The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos

Stop for lunch

Lunch was included as part of the tour with Desmond (another reason you should book a tour with him). Halfway through our day, we arrived at a tiny yellow home, painted in the classic Caribbean colors, right at the heart of the island.

Homes on The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos

Blue and Yellow

Much of the island's infrastructure is painted with the colors blue and yellow, aimed at connecting to the natural landscapes while also extending to interior and exterior decor, flags, logos, and branding in general.

Homes on The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos

Blue and Yellow

Much of the island's infrastructure is painted with the colors blue and yellow, aimed at connecting to the natural landscapes while also extending to interior and exterior decor, flags, logos, and branding in general.

An interest in coconuts

Since we were surrounding by palm trees, I asked Desmond to knock down a couple coconuts and show us how to cut them open to get to the coconut water inside properly (something that would be very difficult to do at home). He must have cracked 3 or 4 different coconuts, just for my own viewing pleasure and curiosity. Meanwhile, I also acquired quite a bit of new knowledge about the coconut, including how to distinguish between different types.

Cutting open a coconut on The Indian Cave on Middle Caicos

Coconut water

At one end of the coconut, you'll find a series of softer areas. These are softer spots through which you can access the inner parts of the coconut. If you've picked a mature coconut, then it will likely contain more water and thicker meat.

The science of the coconut

If you've ever been curious about the distinctions between a classic brown coconut and a green coconut, I have some interesting information to share with you (thanks to Desmond). Green coconuts and brown coconuts differ in several ways, including the water content, amount of meat, and flavor.

Cutting open a coconut on Middle Caicos
Cutting open a coconut on Middle Caicos
  1. Water Content

• Green Coconut: Green coconuts, also known as young coconuts, typically have a higher water content compared to brown coconuts. The water inside a green coconut is often described as sweet and refreshing. It's a popular choice for hydration in tropical regions.

• Brown Coconut: Brown coconuts, also known as mature coconuts, have less water compared to green coconuts. The water inside a brown coconut may be slightly less sweet and can have a milder flavor.

  1. Amount of Meat

• Green Coconut: Green coconuts have less meat than brown coconuts. The meat in a green coconut is softer and jelly-like in texture, making it easier to scoop out with a spoon. It's usually consumed as a snack or dessert.

• Brown Coconut: Brown coconuts have thicker and more substantial meat. The meat is often used in cooking, baking, and making coconut products like coconut milk, coconut oil, and shredded coconut.

  1. Flavors

• Green Coconut: The water inside a green coconut is often sweeter and has a more pronounced coconut flavor. It's known for its refreshing and slightly sweet taste, making it a popular choice for drinking directly from the coconut.

• Brown Coconut: The water in a brown coconut can be less sweet and have a milder coconut flavor. It's often used in culinary applications, such as adding coconut water to recipes or using it as a base for coconut-based dishes.

The almond in its natural state

Similarly to the coconuts, we came across some almond trees on North Ciacos. Obviously at the super market, we only see the almonds in their most processed and edible form (the almond seed that we are all familiar with). Almonds in their natural state actually have a hard and inedible hull and shell and are not typically eaten directly from the tree.

In its most natural form, an almond found in Turks and Caicos (and many other regions) is encased within a fruit known as a "drupe." The drupe consists of several layers:

1. Outer Hull: The outermost layer is a green, fleshy hull, which is initially attached to the tree.

2. Hard Shell: Beneath the outer hull is a hard, woody shell. This shell is responsible for protecting the almond seed inside.

3. Almond Seed: Inside the hard shell is the almond seed itself. This is the part that is commonly consumed as a nut. It has a brown, wrinkled appearance and a mild, nutty flavor.

4. Inner Skin: The almond seed may also have a thin, papery skin attached to it, which can be removed or left on, depending on how the almonds are processed and used.

Mudjin Harbour

Mudjin Harbour is home to a collection of striking sea-side cliffs as well as a collection of caves. We visited the second and smaller cave at Mudjin Harbour, one that takes you down a steep set of concrete stairs, through a cave-like rock formation, to a "hidden" beach. Steep and narrow stairs open up to an incredible view towards the water, where you can enjoy a cove like experience tucked away on what feels like the edge of the world.

Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos

Reaching Mudjin Harbour

The beach isn't visible until you walk down a steep set of stairs. It is hard to find if you don't know where to go.

Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos
Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos

One of the best parts of this stop was that in addition to the main beach at Mudjin Harbour, there were several hidden and secluded beaches along the coastline. Now that we're familiar with all the fantastic places to explore, we're considering revisiting and touring the islands on our own to allow ourselves more time at each destination.

Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos

Good to know

A minor downside of the tour with Desmond was the quick pace, leaving less time to fully enjoy the beautiful beaches we passed by. However, it enabled us to see more in less time.

Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos

Good to know

A minor downside of the tour with Desmond was the quick pace, leaving less time to fully enjoy the beautiful beaches we passed by. However, it enabled us to see more in less time.

Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos
Mudjin Harbour Middle Caicos

Dragan Cay Overlook

The last stop on our tour was the overlook at Dragon Cay. Mudjin Harbour is famous for Dragon Cay, a small, rocky islet located just off the coast. Supposedly, it got its name from the iguanas that used to inhabit the island, which were sometimes referred to as "dragons" due to their prehistoric appearance. This is also where the Dragon Cay Resort is, if you are interested in staying for a few days and having an extremely secluded island experience.

The limestone cliffs surrounding Mudjin Harbour rise to impressive heights, providing a dramatic backdrop to the beach. After climbing down into the Mudjin Harbour cave, we made a small hike back up the cliff to get a final view of the coastline.

Dragan Cay Overlook at Mudjin Harbour

Making a wish

There is a tradition were people often take a moment to make a wish or send out positive intentions once they reach the overlook at Dragon Cay. Perhaps it's because in that quiet moment, you feel calm and inspired to engage in self-reflection.

Dragan Cay Overlook at Mudjin Harbour

Making a wish

There is a tradition were people often take a moment to make a wish or send out positive intentions once they reach the overlook at Dragon Cay. Perhaps it's because in that quiet moment, you feel calm and inspired to engage in self-reflection.

Dragan Cay Overlook at Mudjin Harbour
Dragan Cay Overlook at Mudjin Harbour

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