The waters here are superlative for all kinds of outdoor adventures, from diving and snorkeling to sailing, kayaking, and fishing. But watersports aren't the only game in town. You'll find prime golf and tennis facilities in Provo -- and Rollerblade hockey is all the rage with local school kids.
- Snorkeling the islands: The snorkeling opportunities are excellent throughout the islands, whether the Caicos Cays, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Grand Turk, or Salt Cay. But you don't even have to leave Grace Bay to find good snorkeling. The government has established snorkel trails at Smith's Reef (just outside Turtle Cove) and Bight Reef (right in front of the Coral Gardens resort). These reefs are right off the shoreline, providing easy access to a fragile but beautiful world.
- Taking a beach cruise (Caicos Cays): A number of tour-boat operators offer variations on half- and full-day beach sojourns. Your trip may include a stop on Little Water Cay, a protected nature reserve inhabited by a colony of rare rock iguanas; snorkeling the coral reefs and diving for conch; or combing the beaches of uninhabited cays for sand dollars and other shells.
- Riding horses on the beach (Long Bay, Provo): You don't need a whit of riding experience to thoroughly enjoy a leisurely late-afternoon trot on a beautiful beach. The gentle mounts of Provo Ponies are perfect for novices, but they don't mind kicking it up a bit for proven riders -- they love a good beach gallop, too.
- Strolling Grace Bay before sunset: You'll be surprised at the long stretches of beautiful beach you have all to yourself. The sand is a little cooler, and the water takes on the pink and purple hues of the setting sun. Stop in and sink into an inviting white-cushioned perch at the Lounge or the Infinity Bar, the oceanfront bars at the Grace Bay Club, and sip a cocktail while you wait for the green flash on the horizon during sunset (seeing it is said to bring good luck).
- Watching the glowworms glow: Four or five days after a full moon, millions of glowworms come out just after sunset to mate -- lighting up the shallow waters with a sparkling green glow. Take a glowworm cruise in the Caicos Cays or off any number of Caicos Bank docks. The show is over when the mating ritual ends and the female glowworms devour the males.
- Hiking or biking the Crossing Place Trail (Middle Caicos): This old coastal road, first established in the late 1700s by settlers and slaves working the local plantations, has been reopened from the Conch Bar to the Indian Cave field-road section and is now a National Trust heritage site. It has heartbreakingly beautiful sections, some on bluffs overlooking the blue-green ocean shallows and rocky outcrops; others bordered by island brush that includes wild sea-island cotton, remnants of the 18th-century plantations, and elegant sisal plants. Follow hiking or biking trails; when you get hot, take a swim in the shallow coves below. Be sure to visit Conch Bar Cave, a massive aboveground limestone cave system used by Lucayan Indians some 600 years ago.
- Diving the Wall off Grand Turk: You can find great scuba-diving spots throughout the TCI, including spectacular opportunities off Provo's Northwest Point and in West Caicos. But Grand Turk's electrifying dives are just some 274m (900 ft.) offshore, where the continental shelf drops off from the coral reef in dramatic fashion. Along the ledges of this sheer wall is marine life in all its eye-popping plumage.
- Whale-Watching on Salt Cay: From January through April, humpback whales migrate along the 7,000-foot trench of the Columbus Passage (which snakes between the Turks islands and the Caicos islands) to the Silver Banks to mate and calf. You can actually snorkel and swim alongside these gentle 15m (50-ft.) creatures.
- Finding treasures on the beach: The currents drop off a good amount of flotsam on these windward TCI beaches -- much of it worthless junk. But hey, one man's trash is another man's inspiration. Nearly every island has a visionary artist or two who dabbles in beach salvage. Of course, real treasures do wash up: In 2006, silver pieces of eight and an 18th-century spyglass were picked up on the Salt Cay beaches. And bottles containing messages have found their way here from all over the world; the Turks & Caicos National Museum has a collection of messages in a bottle. The water's edge also yields gorgeous shells, from snow-white sand dollars to queen conch shells -- but remember: Always return a shell back into the sea if something is living inside.