Turks and Caicos info: the caves of Middle Caicos

Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos (TCI) is on a bit of a roll nowadays – it’s been referred to as as one of the entire world’s top 10 beaches, and the island of Providenciales has been celebrated one of the world’s top honeymoon destinations.

With all this PR, you would think Turks and Caicos would be a frenetic region, but that’s not the case at all; not a long way to the east of Provo and Grace Bay rests the largest island in the Turks & Caicos chain, Middle Caicos, which is home to the lowest number of inhabitants in the country (only 300 full-time residents).

You can spend the time of your life in some pretty private areas on Middle Caicos. The chief allure on the isle are some of the most fantastic caves and caverns in the Caribbean.

Produced by the erosion of limestone, the Conch Bar Caves are the most expansive above-ground caves in the Turks and Caicos, as well as the nearby Bahamas islands chain.

Close by are the Village Caves, which look as though to have been utilized by by human beings since ancient times. Limestone outcroppings resembling furniture contribute to the illusion of human habitation, and clean water delivered in by large subterranean lakes must have made these grottoes an superb place to live.

The caves themselves were noticed in the last century by guano harvesters, and most likely had not been seen by human eyes in for quite a long time indeed.

It’s assumed the caves were originally claimed by the Lucayans, the early inhabitants of the Bahamas who were taken by the Spanish as slaves and extinguished by about 1520.

Different Lucayan cultural items have been discovered in the subterranean areas, such as traditional \”duho\” wooden stools, and other relics that have been unearthed in the caves indicate that Middle Caicos has been a center of Lucayan society for millennia.

It seems likely that the caverns on the islet were used principally for worship by aboriginals, and potentiallyas protection during storms. With the beginning ofEuropean colonization, first inhabitants of Middle Caicos withdrew from the shoreline, seeking protection in the caves, and commenced to live in them perpetually.

There are a variety of limestone caves to investigate on Middle Caicos with names like Orange Tree, Dead Man’s Skull Bluff, Dark Night Well and Banana Tree Cave. Many of the caves hold artefacts that link the former lucayanresidents of the spot with the Orinoco Basin of South America. As well, in the neighborhood of the caves can be found mounds of coral rock, configured in a pattern. Pottery, knives and other items of cultural value have been located in these heaps.

Many of the caves can be accessed via the Middle Caicos Crossing Place Trail. This trail follows the coast, and has long acted as a highway foot traffic communicating messages and transporting goods for trade. You can end the day at a hotel in Turks and Caicos, with memories fresh in mind and a better understanding of the history of this ancient island chain.

They make a great place to spend the day.

Visitors don’t need to rent a seaplane or private vessel to get to Middle Caicos.  They can take a ferry from Provo to North Caicos (the ferry terminal is a 5 minute drive from the Shore Club) and then once they are at North Caicos they can rent a card and drive across North Caicos and the causeway that connects North Caicos to Middle Caicos.

This entry was posted in Turks and Caicos info by Charles Edwards. Bookmark the permalink.

About Charles Edwards

I'm a travel writer specializing in Caribbean destinations, notably the Turks and Caicos Island, St. Martin (French West Indies), St. Lucia, and the Dominican Republic. Although I am quite lazy and prefer spending most of my time reading a good book by the pool or on the beach, I'm also quite interested in ethnobotany, ecology, and natural history.

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