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15 Fun Things to Do on Salt Cay in Turks & Caicos

On the south-easternmost part of Turks and Caicos lies a quaint island that time forgot and is one of the best-kept secrets worth exploring — Salt Cay. With an area of only 2.6 square miles, it’s the smallest inhabited island in the country, with a population of only 108 people, but it is also the most charming and peaceful.

Its weather-beaten and undeveloped landscape with rich history lends to that authentic old Caribbean way of life that beckons low-key vacationers. I absolutely loved my time on Salt Cay and can’t wait to go back! In this post, I’ll discuss fun things to do on Salt Cay in Turks & Caicos.

Salt Cay Welcome Sign Near the Airport
Salt Cay Welcome sign near the airport.

Daily life is simple and quiet on this island, surrounded by the crystalline beach and limestone-stuccoed colonial buildings. It’s also a place of pure bliss for an uninterrupted session with Mother Nature or trying water sports away from the hustle and bustle of Provos.

So, if mellow beach bumming on a secluded island appeals to you, visit this island and try these incredible things to do on Salt Cay!

Cows greet flights at the Salt Cay airport in Turks and Caicos
Cows greet the flights at the Salt Cay airport in Turks and Caicos.

How to Get to Salt Cay?


Salt Cay has several flights a week. The two local airlines that operate on the island are interCaribbean Airways and Caicos Express Airways. The flight takes approximately 30 minutes and gives you a chance to marvel at the stunning aerial views of the turquoise waters and coral reefs.

These flights are available from either the Providenciales Airport (SLX) or the Grand Turk Airport (GDT).

The ferry used between salt cay and grand turk floating beside another personal boat in the ocean.
The ferry used between Salt Cay and Grand Turk

You can also take a ferry between Grand Turk and Salt Cay. This is heavily dependent on weather conditions, though.

Remember, Salt Cay is a remote island. It’s essential to plan your trip in advance and check the schedule of flights and ferries. The island’s laid-back charm is its biggest attraction, but it also means that services are limited and can change based on weather conditions.

Check out the current ferry schedule to Salt Cay.

The Salt Cay Divers boat used on the whale watching excursions.
The Salt Cay Divers boat used on the whale-watching excursions.

Another option is to book a boat pick-up via Salt Cay Divers (they have the best boat on the island). This will be considerably pricier than the other options available here, though.

Golf carts for passengers in Salt Cay.
Golf carts for passengers in Salt Cay

Getting Around on Salt Cay

Transport options on Salt Cay are a bit different than what you’d commonly see at tropical destinations. Due to the limited size of the island, golf carts are the main form of transportation on Salt Cay.

COVID had thrown a bit of a wrench in which shops are offering golf cart rentals, though. When you book your stay on Salt Cay, enquire with your owner about the best spot to rent a golf cart for the day. 

The only grocery store on Salt Cay.
This is the only “grocery store” on Salt Cay.

Packing for Salt Cay 

When coming to Salt Cay (if you’re coming for more than a night), it’s important to note that this tiny island has one tiny grocery store that will have similar provisions to a US gas station.

So, you are going to need to bring any groceries you want from a grocery store in Provo or Grand Turk. The grocery stores are used to this and will help you pack up a box and/or purchase a cooler to take your food on your flight or boat ride.

Read more: Is Turks and Caicos Expensive?

Also, be sure to pack any medication, sunscreen, clothing, etc., that you may need – as it is unlikely you will be able to purchase these things on Salt Cay!

Read more: What to Pack for Turks and Caicos for Men & Women

History Of Salt Cay


Salt Cay, a hidden gem in the Turks and Caicos Islands, boasts a rich history that’s as captivating as its natural beauty. This small island, covering just 2.6 square miles, was once the heart of the salt industry in the 17th century.

The island’s unique geography, with shallow waters and steady trade winds, made it perfect for salt production. Salt was harvested from the sea using a network of windmills, canals, and manually dug salinas (salt pans). 

Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos - May 14, 2019: Salt pans on the remote and mostly deserted Salt Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Salinas on Salt Cay.

The salt industry flourished here, and by the mid-1800s, Salt Cay was producing over a million bushels of salt annually.

However, the salt industry declined with the advent of modern refrigeration techniques and the island’s economy shifted to fishing and subsistence farming. Today, remnants of the salt industry, such as the crumbling windmills and salinas, are still visible and provide a glimpse into the island’s past.

In recent years, Salt Cay has gained recognition as a peaceful getaway with pristine beaches, excellent diving spots, and a relaxed pace of life. 

Despite its transformation, the island has retained its historical charm, with a handful of preserved colonial-era Bermudian buildings and a friendly local community that’s proud of their island’s heritage.

Salt Cay Highlights


Salt Cay, a hidden gem in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is a paradise that offers a unique blend of stunning natural beauty, rich history, and thrilling activities. Its tranquil environment, far from the bustling tourist crowds, is its own kind of charm.

The Old Caribbean Way Of Life

If you’re looking to experience the authentic old Caribbean way of life, Salt Cay is the place to be. This small island, a part of the Turks and Caicos Islands, is steeped in history and has managed to retain its old-world charm, offering a unique experience unlike any other.

Zac walking down a dusty street wearing a pink shirt leaning over looking at a donkey who is following him
Fun fact: there are more donkeys on Salt Cay than people!

A key aspect of the old Caribbean way of life is the slow-paced, laid-back lifestyle. On Salt Cay, you can take a step back from the hustle and bustle of modern life and enjoy a more tranquil existence. Take a leisurely stroll around the island, soak in the breathtaking views, and take the time to appreciate the simple things in life.

Another quintessential part of the old Caribbean way of life is the close-knit community. The locals on Salt Cay are warm, friendly, and always willing to share a story or two about the island’s history. 

Don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with a smile and a wave as you walk around – it’s all part of the island’s charm. And no visit to Salt Cay would be complete without indulging in some traditional Caribbean cuisine. 

Beaches

Salt Cay is a gem when it comes to pristine, untouched beaches. The island is small but it boasts some of the most beautiful, white sandy beaches you’ll ever see. 

A pristine white sand beach with blue green water and clear skies on Salt Cay

The turquoise waters are crystal clear which makes it a perfect spot for snorkeling and diving. The coral reefs are alive with a variety of colorful marine life and offer an amazing underwater experience.

The North Bay beach is a favorite among visitors. It’s a tranquil spot, ideal for a relaxing day under the sun. The South District beach, on the other hand, is perfect for those seeking a bit more adventure. It’s a great spot for kite-surfers and those who enjoy a good swim.

The beaches on Salt Cay are not just for sunbathing and water sports. They are also nesting grounds for sea turtles. If you visit during the right season, you may even get a chance to witness these magnificent creatures laying their eggs.

Hiking and Exploration

For the adventurous at heart, Salt Cay offers numerous opportunities for hiking and exploration. The island, though small, is rich in natural beauty and historical sites. One can easily spend a day or two just exploring the island on foot.

A refuge boat that had crashed on the shores of Salt Cay.
A refuge boat that had crashed on the shores of Salt Cay.

The trails on Salt Cay are not marked, but the island is small enough that you won’t get lost. You can walk along the beach, hike up to the highest point on the island for a panoramic view, or explore the ruins of the old salt industry.

Keep an eye out for local wildlife as you hike. Salt Cay is home to a variety of bird species, and you might even spot a few iguanas or sea turtles if you’re lucky. From January to April, it is also not uncommon to see whales close to shore with their young!

Remember to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat. The sun can be intense, especially in the middle of the day. Also, it’s a good idea to wear sturdy shoes, as the terrain can be rocky in places.

15 Fun Things to Do on Salt Cay in Turks & Caicos


The Northern Beaches on Salt Cay.
The Northern Beaches on Salt Cay. The water color is unedited!

Now, I’ll discuss some fun things to do on Salt Cay.

1. Frolic on Secluded Beaches

Those who’d like the beach to themselves will find Salt Cay’s variance of majestic coastlines and beaches worth seeing.

North Bay Beach is the most popular, with its signature white sand and crystalline waters—perfect for snorkeling and swimming. South Creek’s sandbars and shallow waters make it a great beach option for kids.

2. Go Humpback Whale Watching

January to April is a magical time to be in Salt Cay to witness over 5,000 Atlantic humpback whales in migration.

During the winter, Atlantic humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of the Silver and Mouchoir Banks, two subterranean ocean banks located southeast of Turks & Caicos, to mate and give birth.

Whales are naturally funneled past Salt Cay because of the deep Columbus Passage that separates the undersea Turks Islands plateau from the Caicos Islands plateau. And while they can be seen from land, it’s better to see them up close underwater—weather permitting, of course.

Whale-watching tours with in-water snorkeling are available off the northern coast for such encounters.

Read more: 8 Things to Know Before Swimming With Humpback Whales in Turks & Caicos

White and Blue Buildings Beautiful Homes in Salt Cay against the blue sky.
The homes on Salt Cay are fun to admire and photograph!

3. Live Like a Local in One of the Accommodations

Those who want to unplug and commune with nature will appreciate the simple and laid-back appeal of the accommodations on Salt Cay.

Only charming rental villas furnished with functional kitchens are available for booking; most are located on the beach. Getting around town can be done via golf carts and bikes, and the beach is never far off.

If you’re looking for something more luxurious, there are also beachfront villas available. These villas often come with private pools and stunning views of the ocean.

Regardless of where you stay, you’ll be welcomed by the friendly locals who are always happy to share their knowledge about the island. They might even invite you to a local event or suggest lesser-known spots to explore.

The best snorkeling is on the Northwest corner of Salt Cay in this little cove.
The best snorkeling in the Northwest corner of Salt Cay in this little cove.

4. Snorkel in the Northwest Corner of Salt Cay

This location and secluded environment shelter you from rough ocean swells, which makes it the perfect spot for snorkeling. Underwater visibility is also great on the Northwest Point (it’s like looking into an aquarium!).

Another good option is Little Bluff Lookout, where you can see distinct reefs, fine corals, as well as blue tangs, French grunts, and bluehead wrasse gliding about.

Bring your own snorkel gear or rent it by the day from the Salt Cay Dive shop.

The Salinas on Salt Cay and blue sky.
The Salinas on Salt Cay.

5. Learn About the Salinas Salt Production

Part of what makes up Salt Cay is the rich colonial history found in its Salinas. Sea salt was a staple that changed the country’s development over the centuries, and much of its remnants can still be viewed by visitors, including the windmill pumps, gates, and low stone salina walls.

With it being great ecological value, Salt Cay has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Harriot White House Salt Cay.
Harriot White House Salt Cay

6. Visit the Harriot White House Built in the 1820s

One of Salt Cay’s iconic structures is the White House, built by the prominent Harriot family in the 1820s. It was the center of operations and salt storage back in its heyday and shows the timeless colonial Bermudian style of architecture.

Although currently uninhabited and weather-beaten by a century of storms and waves, the landmark still endures.

7. Hike South Creek or South Wells

Salt Cay’s sandy paths and tracks usually lead to the best scenic locations. Colorful landscapes and bluffs make for Instagrammable photos.

South Creek is a birdlife refuge on one side, while South Wells has charming bluffs and hills. Visitors can walk, bike, or use off-road golf carts throughout the area.

On the other hand, South Wells is a bit more challenging but equally rewarding. This trail takes you through a rugged, rocky terrain that offers stunning views of the ocean.

The Salt Cay Dive Shop.
The Salt Cay Dive Shop.

8. Scuba Diving with Salt Cay Divers

Some of the world’s best diving is on Salt Cay’s doorstep. Salt Cay’s waters are brimming with vibrant marine life, and it is known for its undamaged coral formations. Sharks and reef fish sightings are also common.

Salt Cay Divers is the company best for your diving adventure. The company also offers snorkeling trips and whale-watching tours during the January-April season. (Seriously, I love this company!)

9. Go On a Wildlife Tour via Kayak

Kayaking locations in Salt Cay may not be as extensive compared to its neighboring islands, but visitors can still have fun exploring South Creek’s channels during high tide and see the variety of wildlife available in the area. Salt Cay is a refuge for wading birds including tricolored herons, great egrets, blue herons, ospreys, and kingfishers.

A small underwater cave also shelters barracudas, sharks, and larger fish in the deeper central part of the creek. (Again, there are kayaks and paddleboards for rent at the Salt Cay dive shop.)

Oceanaire Bistro Restaurant on Salt Cay.
Oceanaire Bistro Restaurant on Salt Cay

10. Sample Foods in Salt Cay’s Restaurants

Given the small population, there are only three restaurants on Salt Cay where visitors can sample local foods. And there were only two open while we were on Salt Cay. Oceanaire Bistro was our favorite! We highly recommend trying their Red Snapper, and their Rib Night is AMAZING. (Just call Lynn ahead of time to let her know what you want.)

Pat’s Place is another great option that is heavy on seafood, serving lobster and conch when in season, and is also a favorite among the locals.

11. Explore Big Sand Cay for Swimming and Solitude

Big Sand Cay is another uninhabited island just 11.4 km south of Salt Cay. Visitors can take a charter from Salt Cay to explore the coves, dune bluffs, and wildlife. There’s more open water for swimming and snorkeling, and the island’s sheltered lee side makes it a favorable spot for cruising yachts.

12. Go Deep-sea Fishing

One of Salt Cay’s popular activities is deep-sea fishing. Excursions are usually half or full-day trips, and most games are to be caught yellowfin tuna and Mahi-Mahi. Enquire at Oceanairre Bistro for deep-sea fishing trips. (Note: when we went, we saw more humpback whales than fish, though! So, it can be a whale-watching experience as well as a fishing trip.)

HMS Endymion wreck cannon on Salt Cay.
HMS Endymion wreck cannon on Salt Cay.

13. Explore the Scenic Landscapes of Salt Cay

Upon exploring Salt Cay’s scenic attractions, one may find older Bermudian-style houses like the homestead in Salt Cay’s South District. (I personally loved taking the golf cart to go around and admire the homes of Salt Cay!) There’s also the iconic single cannon from the HMS Endymion wreck at Balfour Town.

South Wells and South Point portray the best of rural life, with donkeys and cattle still roaming about freely and the ruins found in Taylor Hill of an old whaling lookout overlooking the majestic island vistas.

3 cows with large horns roaming freely on Salt Cay.
Cattle roam freely around Salt Cay.

14. Birdwatching

Salt Cay’s old Salinas and mangroves provide a habitat for local and migratory birds of all kinds, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching.

One can spot Antillean Nighthawks, White-tailed Tropicbirds, and Gray Kingbirds during spring and summer. Spotted in all seasons are Ospreys, Pelicans, and Flamingos. 

Beautiful sunset on Salt Cay , blue sky in the background.
Beautiful sunset on Salt Cay.

Above all else, the best thing to do on Salt Cay is to enjoy the peace and quiet! Read a book, watch the sunset, unplug, and RELAX!

15. Island Biking

One of the things to do on Salt Cay is Island Biking. By renting a bicycle, you can tour Salt Cay at your own leisure, find secret nooks, take in ocean vistas, and meet residents.

What are your favorite things to do on Salt Cay? Let me know in the comments! I’m also happy to answer any questions about visiting Salt Cay too! 

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