Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands

The Turks and Caicos islands include some eight main islands and forty small low-lying cays. The name Turks is taken from a strange cactus plant that is said to resemble a turkey (photo). Grand Turk is the location of the government, Cockburn (pronounced Coburn) town.   Either Ponce de Leon or Columbus was the first European to arrive at the island.  It is believed that Columbus arrived in 1492 but the location of his exact landfall is unknown.  However, there is a long park along the coast called Columbus Landfall Park.  Today the island relies upon tourism, offshore banking and fishing for income.  However, Bermudan merchants using African slave labour, started salt production operations in 1668.  Slavery was abolished in 1834.  We docked at a purpose built cruise ship terminal that contains stores, restaurants and a beach right at the end of the pier (photo).  I took a tour that went around Cockburn town where we saw a number of heritage homes, (photo)mostly now B & Bs, the Victoria Library (photo) built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s 50th year on the throne, a church built in the 1930s(photo) and the Salt flats (photo).  On a marshy area in the middle of town we saw some beautiful pink flamingos (photo). We then went to a beach near, but not at, the cruise ship terminal.  The water was a bit cold but I went swimming. The water  is  a clear green  and then turns dark very suddenly when it hits a very steep drop that someone told me is thousands of feet deep. (photo)  As you can imagine, water sports and fishing are the main tourist draws in these islands.  The next port is San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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