South Caicos Weekend

Getting ready to board the ferry for the Big South

A ladies weekend getaway to South Caicos some 40 miles away from Providenciales started with an hour and a half ferry ride with TCI Ferry Service/Caribbean Cruisin’ from Walkin Marina. South Caicos is the only island we hadn’t visited as yet. It is actually one of the smallest islands in the Turks and Caicos Islands and consists of 8.5 square miles. South Caicos is also known as The Big South, East Harbour and The Rock and it boasts excellent scuba diving, deep sea fishing and bone fishing, birdlife, history and fresh seafood. We were there to take it all in and of course, to take lots of photos.

South Caicos up ahead as the ferry smoothly skimmed over the calm seas.

The little harbour town of Cockburn Harbour or East Harbour was once a thriving and active commercial community and became a major role player in the Salt Industry. Today it makes it’s living from fishing, conch and lobster.

South Caicos Ocean Beach Resort on Tucker Hill is our first stop.

We had made arrangements to stay at the only hotel, Ocean Beach and Resort, which is on a ridge overlooking the ocean and Long Cay. The photo shows the hotel, the old light house and the Commissioner’s House. Once we checked in, dropped our suitcases off in the room, we set off to explore before the sun went down.

Love these old buildings and this one must have been pretty grand in its day.

To the west of the hotel, you have the remains of the old light house and then The Commissioner’s House. This is an 18th century colonial building from the salt industry days. From what I can find out it was originally the District Commissioner’s home and later was turned into Miss Mae’s B&B. Miss Mae became too old to care for it and passed it on to her son who was unable to keep it up. I’m reading that this is where Queen Elizabeth stayed during her visit to South in 1966. Note the stone Bermudan kitchen on the left.  This grand old house has been left to deteriorate and suffered damage from hurricane Francis in 2004 and more recently, Ike and Hanna. How I would love to have seen this grand old house in its’ hey day.

View from the porch

A bygone era, ghosts of what used to be. A lovely covered porch area at the front of the house.

We continued to walk towards the town of Cockburn and enjoyed the colours of the setting sun.

Looking back towards the hotel and lighthouse


The remnants of the Customs and Excise building along the road we were walking.

We had a group of horses wandering along the roadside and one was shredding and eating cardboard? Not sure what that's all about.


Here he is.....must have been super hungry.


Queen Elizabeth 11 Parade established in 1966 for the Queen's visit.


Sunset colours through an archway by the old Salt Works..........I think this was part of the building at one time.

Not altogether sure what this was but am assuming it has something to do with hoisting salt off the boats and onto the dock by the old salt works.

Fishing boat in the harbour on Saturday morning

Woke up Saturday morning to a beautiful day. We couldn’t wait to get going with our exploring. We had decided to head up towards the north and come back to the salt pans and search out the old windmills but ended up doing this first. I was fortunate enough to photograph an old one in Salt Cay years ago that was still intact with its sails. We soon found out that there isn’t one that has withstood the ravages of time.

I didn't know what this was but later found out that this is the new South Caicos Airport buildings and Fire Station.

The salt industry thrived on South Caicos from 1850 to 1960 and the salt was produced and collected in vast salinas. They say that South Caicos produced more salt than Grand Turk and Salt Cay put together. Sea water was fed into the salt pans and then then baked dry in the scorching sun. The salt rakers raked the salt crystals into small piles which were then carted to salt sheds for storage. The salt was packed into bags and transported by small salt lighters to larger ships out at anchor.

Several skeletons of the old windmills still stand on the salt pans.

Rock walls containing small salt ponds or salt pans

South Caicos has natural, shallow depressions called salinas that fill up with salt water directly from the sea or percolate up from underlying rock. The Bermudans bordered the salt pans or ponds with rocks and created ponds that were linked to the sea by canals and sluice gates. The old windmills controlled the water flow.

The locals call this the Boiling Hole

The Boiling Hole is across from the ball park.  It is where an underground source of hot water connected to the ocean by a subterranean passage feeds salt water into the ponds.  The salt water ebbs and flows into a large basin and the quantity was regulated by a system of trap doors. Note the large flock of flamingos out in the pond. there’s more to come on the flamingos later on.

A beautiful red saltwort growing out in the salt pans


Stunning bonefishing flats on our way towards the northern tip of the island


At the northernmost tip of South Caicos stands the old US Coast Guard Station. It was built on South Caicos in the 1950s for the purposes of navigation and space missions. It was a Loran station, used in the global navigation system that preceded GPS.

South Caicos is full of contrasts and from some of the historic and old sights we stepped into and toured some of the new……………..major developments of deluxe villas, condominiums and hotel rooms. We met Glenn, the development supervisor for Sailrock, by accident when I flagged him down asking for directions. Sailrock is focusing on selling home sites on 775 acres of untouched land on South Caicos’ 2 1/2 mile long, slender northern peninsula.

Here we are looking at the fantastic coastline where Sailrock will have beautiful villas as part of their development


This complex of buildings is absolutely huge and I was shocked by its' immense size.....I'm trying to find out how many rooms

I had to put a second photo in because I was shocked at the size of this development.

Beautiful and upscale East Bay Resort with beautiful rooms and windows for magnificent ocean views

This wonderful lady was enjoying a swim with all her "grands"


Flamingos and Highland House on the ridge in the background.

Highland House sits on 250 acres called Highland Estates and has been abandonned by the owners. This is a typical Bermudian structure and gives visitors a good example of what South Caicos was once like.


St. Thomas Anglican Church has been on South Caicos for 210 years, though it was rebuilt after Hurricane Ike in September of 2008.


Quaint little shop and Rose was sitting outside and let me take a photo.

Sunday morning ...the morning light was so beautiful as I had my morning coffee.

Eva was still sleeping and I headed out along the headland where I found a patch of Turk's Head cacti. I have never seen such a glorious sight and took many photos

The old Jursteiner Home overlooking Cockburn Harbour was converted into the Admiral’s Arms Inn. It is now a US-based School for Field Studies and a marine biology center


Old house in the town as we wandered the streets taking photos

This has to be my favourite building on South Caicos.

It’s really amazing what you can find out from the internet. I discovered that this fine old house was once the home of Jim and Betty Cooper who were pioneer missionaries in 1961.  Jim built the Calvary Baptist Church in South Caicos from the ground up. Unfortunately, I don’t recall seeing this church. Apparently he added the overhang part as an extra room for his son. I also read that this used to be the old police station. I wish it were possible to retore some of these fine old buildings.

Sunday morning and this adorable little miss was on her way to church with her mother.


Colourful welcome sign out by the airport

Graceful flamingos out in the salt ponds

One last hour of relaxation before heading for the ferry and Provo

A wonderful trip comes to an end. So many highlights and my only regret is that we couldn’t have stayed just a little longer.

South Caicos we’ll be back one day.








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11 Responses to South Caicos Weekend

  1. William Waterworth says:

    I lived in the house you called your favorite from Dec, 1972 to Aug. 1973. It wa then called “The Burmuda House”. I was the Dive Guide and worked out of the Admiral’s Arms Inn. Was there until 1977. Thanks for posting all the photos. The Salt Shed ruins next to the Ad Arms is where the solar salt was bagged into burlap and loaded onto small dories that were then sculled out to the Salt Schooners from Nova Scotia that sailer the salt there for the cod fishing industry. I have pics of that shed with three walls still intact but no roof. Bill Waterworth

  2. marta says:

    Hi Bill, Thanks for this info. I’d love to see any old photos you might have. I’ll send you my email.

  3. Wilfred Dennis says:


    I loved all of your pictures! I have been to Grand Turk three times but never been to South Caicos to visit. My Mom was born in Grand Turk and I still have plenty of family living in Grand Turk, Provo and I believe salt Cay. My Mothers family originated from out of Salt Cay. They are known as the “Tatems”

    Thanks for sharing the pictures!

  4. marta says:

    Hello Wilfred, Happy that you are enjoying my blog and pictures. I love Salt Cay and have been to both Grand Turk and South Caicos.

  5. jon says:

    hello, i was stationed there (Coast Guard) in 1977 for 12 months. Such an amazing experience for a 18 year old!! Have been to Provo a couple of times recently but haven’t made it back to South Caicos yet. But its definitely coming soon!! Thanks for the great pics and commentary.

  6. marta says:

    Hi Jon, We made the trip to South Caicos the first year that the ferry started up. Makes it really convenient and of course now East Bay Resort has opened. Really wanting to return as I’m into photography. Some fine old buildings there. I’d love to see any old photos from 1977 you might have. Hope you can make it back to South one of these years.

  7. Edith Sheridan says:

    Hi Marta,
    I love your pictures, you really capture the beauty of the islands! I enjoyed reading your blog. I grew up on South Caicos, married a ‘Coastie’ and moved to the US. I have fond memories of strolling along the salt pans, gazing into the ‘Boiling Hole’ and swimming up at East Bay. Do you sell your photos?

  8. marta says:

    Hi Edith, let me know your email address. Would you have any old photos from South? I’m really into trying to find old photos of the TCI.

  9. Kia says:

    What wonderful pictures of South Caicos Island! I was a student at the School for Field studies and lived in the Admiral Arms Inn for a semester in 1990. I have a whole album full of pictures but they are at my family’s house in the States. I live in Japan right now so I can’t access them. It was wonderful to take a trip down memory lane. I was just thinking about South Caicos right now because I think hurricane Irma is hitting it as I type this. I am feeling worried for everyone who lives there.

  10. lynn says:

    I lived in South Caicos for two great years, 1964 thru 1966 and was presented to the Queen. The Admirals Arms didn’t have a swimming pool. Liam Maguire was the Manager. In fact I would like to get in touch with him, I have a lovely portrait of his Father that I would like to give to the family.

  11. lynn says:

    PS the Queen and Prince Phillip stayed aboard the Britania! It was a glorious sight.

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