Ports of Call: Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
It was a dark and stormy night… Wait. No. It was a sunny and gorgeous day in the Caribbean.
We knew ahead of time that the Grand Turk Cruise Center, as its name indicates, was designed with the goal of accommodating a massive number of tourists, so we were prepared to have a fun vacation day rather than a particularly enriching island experience. Our plans for the day were to see the Splashdown Park, snorkel, and generally part with as little money as possible. Naturally, we immediately very nearly failed at the last one when we strolled through Diamonds International and a notably beautiful Tanzanite necklace just jumped out of the case and onto my neck!
Alas, Justin rescued himself from the jewelry salesman and we went on to see and read about some history of the U.S. space program. While the name misleadingly implies a water park, Splashdown Park is actually so named for John Glenn’s landing – or splashdown – in the waters near Turks and Caicos, returning from his historic orbital flight. John Glenn was one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts; sadly, he passed away in 2016, having lived a long and impressive life.
Next stop: the beach! The water was perfect - clear, refreshing, calm, and a lovely shade of blue. Having brought our own snorkel gear, we went straight for the water, swimming as far out as the frail rope barrier allowed, where the water was deep and populated by more fish than people. We came across a cannon, likely placed on purpose, but completely unknown to anyone hanging out above the waterline. We saw sand dollars and shells and the ledge where the shallows dropped off more to what you might call the big, wide ocean. We saw lots of small, colorful fish...and one big one.
You might not have noticed him with his dull camouflage, just hanging in place, magically transfixed in the same spot, where we could only pray he'd stay! He didn't seem particularly threatening, but we gave him a wide berth nonetheless. He never moved while we were there and our eyes remained cautiously aware of his position - a wary reminder that we were not in a backyard pool. I'm not sure what we could have done had he taken a shining to us, seeing as he was built for gliding quickly through the water and we, well, are not so graceful. Especially in a panic! After a suitable amount of exploration, we made it back to shore unscathed.
After a brief break, we wandered to the other side of the dock for another round of snorkeling. On this side, the water was much deeper and choppier, but still a very clear, bright blue. There were not many fish, if any – or people for that matter. It was here, as far from shore as we could go, Justin spotted a giant conch on the seabed. Had the shell not been covered in barnacles and all manner of sea gunk, it would be sitting on our dining room table right now. By this time, our underwater camera had already died, so I don’t even have a photo of the behemoth shell – just a memory. We did not stay on this side long. We had been snorkeling for hours and were tiring even as the waters continued to get rougher. Our self-preservation alarms went off and we made our way back to shore and, shortly, back to the ship. Another lovely port day in our memories…
Have you been to Turks & Caicos? Have a memory from the cruise center you want to share? Have any suggestions for an ‘authentic’ Turks & Caicos experience for our return trip? Let us know in the comments!
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Our Favorite Photos From The Trip:
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