19 Best Things to Do in Grand Turk on a Cruise [Port Guide]

Grand Turk cruise port guide

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If you’re visiting Grand Turk on a cruise, you’re in luck. Grand Turk is a favorite Caribbean cruise port for many cruise travelers!

With soft white sand and exquisitely clear blue water, the islands that makeup Turks and Caicos (which include Grand Turk) are known for phenomenal snorkeling and scuba diving.

In this post, I’ll share the best things to do in Grand Turk on a cruise, including shore excursions as well as inexpensive or free activities. You’ll also learn everything you need to know about visiting the Grand Turk cruise port for the day and get answers to commonly asked questions. 

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Grand Turk Cruise Ports 

Grand Turk Cruise Port

The two-berth dock at the Grand Turk Cruise Center is the primary port for cruise ships. The Cruise Center was designed by Carnival Cruise Lines in 2006 to be a full-service destination. When you dock here, you are steps away from a gorgeous public beach, a free swimming pool, and numerous restaurants, bars, and excellent duty-free shopping. 

Many passengers will enjoy their entire port day at Grand Turk within the Cruise Center. 

What Cruise Passengers Need to Know About Grand Turk Cruise Port

Grand Turk Cruise Port

Upon exiting your ship, you are steps away from the beach. On the left side of the pier, the first section of blue chairs is free to use. There are plenty of palm trees, however if you plan to spend the day at the Cruise Center beach, you’ll want to get there early. 

There are many shops, restaurants, and bars located within the Cruise Center boundaries, including the largest Margaritaville in the world.


The official currency in Grand Turk is the U.S. Dollar (USD). 


English is the official language of Grand Turk island. 

Time Zone

Grand Turk island is located in the Eastern Time Zone (ET). 


High temperatures in the Turks and Caicos Islands hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. The hottest months are July, August, and September when the average high temperature is 89 degrees F and the lows are 80 degrees F. 

The water temperature near Grand Turk island ranges anywhere from 3-6 degrees lower than the high temperature on land.

Getting Around Grand Turk

Grand Turk Cruise Port

This small island is mostly known for white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. If you decide to leave the Cruise Center, there are a few different ways to explore this little island. 

On Foot

The Grand Turk Cruise Center is easily walkable on foot and wheel chair accessible. If you decide to explore beyond the center, it is not recommended that you explore Grand Turk island on foot. The lack of sidewalks and spotty signage makes the island difficult (and dangerous) to walk. 

Public Transit

There is no public transportation available on Grand Turk island. 


Taxi cabs are one of the primary modes of transportation here. There are taxi cab stands as you exit the Cruise Center terminal.

Golf carts

Golf carts are an easy way and fun way to get around Grand Turk Island. Venture outside of the Cruise Center gates for the most golf cart rental options. 

Electric Bikes (EBikes)

There are a few eBike rental companies right outside of the Cruise Center terminal. Because the island of Grand Turk is so small, an eBike is an ideal way to enjoy the sunshine and fresh ocean air as you see the sights.

Rentals include a bike lock, helmets, and a map for easy navigation. Just beware of wild donkeys!

Car Rentals

Many streets on the island are one-way and parking can be limited, so renting a car may not be your best option for getting around. 

However, there are cars for rent, including Jeeps. Look for rental options near the taxi stands as you exit the Cruise Center. 

Best Grand Turk Shore Excursions

Grand Turk is the largest of the Turks Islands that make up Turks and Caicos. The island is small, measuring only 6.9 square miles, however it has both historic and natural wonders that cruise passengers will enjoy exploring.

Here are some of the main attractions you can find when you port in Grand Turk. 

1. Go Shopping in the Grand Turk Cruise Center 

Grand Turk Cruise Port

The Cruise Center has an astounding 45,000 square feet of shopping including Diamonds International, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Tanzanite International, and Colombian Emeralds. There are also locally crafted souvenirs and gifts available to purchase as well as 10,000 square feet of duty-free shopping

If you love to shop-until-you-drop, the Cruise Center is a convenient location with many unique offerings. All stores at the Grand Turk Cruise Center accept credit cards.  

2. Relax by the Pool 

Grand Turk Cruise Port free pool

The Grand Turk Cruise Center is home to one of the largest swimming pools in the Caribbean. There is no charge to use the swimming pool and loungers, but it is “first come-first serve” and a popular attraction for cruisers. 

There are private air-conditioned pool cabanas available to rent through your cruise line. However, there are no towels provided, so be sure to bring your own from the ship. 

3. Spend some time in Margaritaville

Grand Turk Cruise Port Margaritaville

The Grand Turk Cruise Center is home to the Caribbean’s largest Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant, bar, and retail shop. 

Grand Turk Cruise Port margaritaville

Cruisers could easily spend the whole day in Margaritaville enjoying the laid-back, Caribbean vibes. Be sure to try the nachos, burgers, jerk salmon and conch fritters, and swim up to the bar for a signature Margarita. 

Related: 50 Best Jimmy Buffett Quotes – The Ultimate Collection

4. Catch a Wave on the Grand Turk FlowRider

In the Cruise Center, near Margaritaville, you’ll find a self-contained water attraction called the FlowRider. High-pressure water jets shoot a thin layer of water moving over a cushioned surface creating an artificial wave perfect for surfing, bodyboarding, or kneeboarding. 

You can schedule this hour-long, shared excursion through your cruise line, and don’t forget to purchase pictures of your epic wave. If you’re cruising with teenagers, this could be a fun port activity!

5. Enjoy a Catamaran Excursion

cozumel catamaran excursion

Starting from the Cruise Center, you’ll board a catamaran and set sail for a dreamy deserted beach. 

Enjoy the smooth sailing catamarans are known for, as well as stops for snorkeling along the way. After spending time relaxing on the beach, you’ll sail back to the Cruise Center and enjoy a complimentary beverage. 

6. Have an Off-Road ATV Adventure

If you’re looking for a non-water excursion on Grand Turk, you can see another side of the island on an ATV tour. 

Most ATV excursions leave from right outside of the Cruise Center. You’ll be outfitted with a helmet and goggles and your own four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle.

ATV excursions last around an hour and a half. Your guide will take you past local attractions including the Ridge Trail, Grand Turk lighthouse, and the North Creek Bird watching area.  

7. Try Conch Fritters at Jack’s Shack

Located about 500 yards up the beach from the Cruise Center, this restaurant is a favorite of both locals and tourists. Besides a gorgeous setting right on the beach, Jack’s Shack is famous for their conch fritters, jerk chicken and rum punch. 

If you purchase something at Jack’s you can use their free wi-fi. They also have beach chairs and umbrellas available to rent if you want to relax on this beach. 

Grand Turk Cruise Port cabanas

8. Whale Watch at the Grand Turk Lighthouse

Built in the 1850s to help ships navigate the shallow reefs at the northern end of the island, this historic building is the only lighthouse on Grand Turk island.

The lighthouse is included in many tour itineraries. However, if you want to go on your own it is an easy 20-minute taxi ride, golf cart or bicycle ride to get there. In February and March, this is also a popular spot for whale watching. 

9. Swim with Stingrays in Gibbs Cay

Gibbs Cay is a tiny, uninhabited island on the eastern side of Grand Turk. It has some of the most beautiful beaches and the best diving sites the Turks and Caicos islands have to offer. 

Located a 1-mile boat ride away from Grand Turk island, the best way to visit stingrays in Gibbs Cay is through a tour. They will provide information and instructions to ensure your safety.

Many tours include additional stops to snorkel and some have a unique opportunity to dive for conch and feast on fresh conch salad. You won’t want to miss out on the stunning beaches and chance to interact with marine life at Gibbs Cay. 

10. Relax at the Governor’s Beach

Most cruisers use a Grand Turk port day as a beach day, and there are plenty of picture-perfect beaches to choose from on this Island. If you want to venture from the more crowded beach at the Cruise Center, Governor’s Beach is a short distance away. 

Your best option is to grab a quick taxi which should cost around $4 per person each way. Governor’s Beach is perfect for sunbathing or swimming, however, the absence of reef in this area means this isn’t the beach for snorkeling or scuba diving. There are usually vendors selling cold drinks and souvenirs here. 

11. Try Power Snorkeling

If you want the magic of snorkeling with a little more speed and adventure, power snorkeling is an exciting excursion available in Grand Turk. 

The power snorkel is a lightweight, underwater propulsion device that helps you to cover greater distances, get past rougher currents, and view more underwater creatures. 

Power snorkel excursions depart out of the cruise center and include transportation to and from a snorkeling beach on Grand Turk, and all of the equipment you’ll need for this unique snorkeling adventure. 

12. Learn About Local History at the Caicos National Museum

If you want to learn more about the intriguing history of the Turks & Caicos Islands, you might want to visit the national museum located on Grand Turk. 

Located in the lovely Guinep House, built during the colonial era, the museum is small in size, yet full of fascinating exhibits.  It is a great place to learn about the splashdown of John Glenn’s Mercury spacecraft to the south of Grand Turk, the Lucayan Indians indigenous to the islands, the salt trade, and the oldest shipwreck in the northern hemisphere dating back to the 1500s and located in the waters off Grand Turk. 

The museum is about a 12-minute taxi ride north of the Cruise Center. Plan on about an hour and a half for your visit. 

13. Enjoy solitude at Pillory beach

This idyllic beach is worth a visit if you want to get away from the cruise ship crowds. Pillory is less than a 15-minute taxi ride from the Cruise Center. There used to be a resort here (Bohio Dive Resort), that is currently being renovated. 

The bottom can be rocky, so bring your water shoes.

Related: What to Pack for a Caribbean Cruise

14. Snorkel or Dive at the Grand Turk Wall

Grand Turk island is the site of the world’s third-largest coral reef structure. Located approximately 1km offshore of the west side of the island, the Grand Turk Wall offers snorkelers and scuba divers the chance to see colorful tropical fish, sea turtles, barracuda, reef and hammerhead sharks, rays, and more.

To visit this natural phenomenon, you’ll need to join a dive boat tour. There are several cruise excursions that offer tools for snorkeling and diving at “the wall.” 

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15. Visit Historic Cockburn Town

Cockburn Town is the oldest permanent settlement in Turks and Caicos. A visit to this town offers a peek into the island’s history with attractions like Her Majesty’s Prison, the old Victoria Library, and the vibrant green post office 

You can spend time enjoying the colonial-style buildings along historic Duke Street and visiting local shops. If you want to visit historic Cockburn, it is located about a 10-minute taxi or golf cart ride from the Cruise Center.

16. Snorkel at Cockburn Town Beach

The white sand and calm, crystal-clear waters at Cockburn Town Beach are perfect for snorkeling. This beach is located near the historical town, and several tours combine sightseeing in Cockburn Town and snorkeling at the beach, the perfect combination of history and relaxation.

If you don’t want to do a sightseeing tour, you can catch a cab straight to Cockburn Town Beach, about a 10-minute ride from the Cruise Center.

Related: 10 Things to Never Do in Cruise Ports

17. Peek into Prison history at Her Majesty’s Prison (H.M. Prison)

This waterfront prison complex was built in the 1830s and was operational as Grand Turk’s only prison until 1994.

Take a self-guided tour through the prison, which housed both men and women and as many as 60 prisoners. Learn about the day-to-day life of inmates as well as the mass escapes during the Great Hurricane of 1866.

Grand Turk Cruise Port Guide
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18. Horseback Ride on the Beach

If you like horses, Grand Turk offers horseback tours that include an exciting ride on the beach. After a historical guided tour through Cockburn Town, you can choose to ride your horses straight into the ocean for a cooldown you’ll both enjoy.

Be sure to wear long pants that can get wet, and cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen.

19. See Humpback Whales Up Close on a Boat Tour

Between January and April, Humpback whales migrate close to Grand Turk island as they move to the warm Caribbean waters to mate and give birth. 

You can book a whale watching boat tour, departing near the Cruise Center, or head up to the Grand Turk Lighthouse for a chance to view these majestic creatures during migration season. 

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Grand Turk Cruise Port Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time of year to visit Grand Turk? 

The weather is great year-round, however, the best time to visit Grand Turk island is between December and April. Hurricane season in the Atlantic runs from June through November. During hurricane season, visitor numbers tend to be lower and some smaller businesses may close temporarily.

How far away is downtown from the Grand Turk cruise port? 

The Grand Turk Cruise Center is steps away from the cruise ship ports. There is plenty to do within the Cruise Center including a pristine beach, a swimming pool, bars, restaurants, and duty-free shopping. 

If you want to head to nearby Cockburn Town, a 10-minute taxi or golf cart ride will get you to this historical city. 

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Final Thoughts On Things to Do in Grand Turk Cruise Port

Grand Turk is known for its soft, white sand beaches and clear blue waters. Many cruise passengers make Grand Turk a beach and pool day for good reason. This location has a number of easily accessible beach options, including a beach as you step off the cruise ship.

Have you been to Grand Turk yet? What was your favorite part of this small island?

Happy Cruising!


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