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Turks and caicos beach from above

Turks & Caicos vs Bahamas: An Honest Comparison To Help You Choose!

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If you’re looking for white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and superb snorkeling, then the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are two of the Caribbean’s best destinations.

However these destinations may surprise you with just how different they actually are…

Both nations have beautiful beaches, but the Bahamas’ most popular islands and beaches can get packed and noisy. However, if you want many tourist activities and a lively nightlife then busy Bahamas may suit you best.

In contrast, the beaches in Turks and Caicos are unparalleled in the Caribbean and much quieter, so if relaxing on incredible beaches is your main priority then this nation may be the better choice.

However that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos differ…

That’s why after visiting both, we compare them below and show you exactly what each has to offer.

We look at which has the better beaches, nightlife, what activities you can do in each, how the vibe compares, and much more. All so you can make the right vacation decision!


  1. A Quick Overview & Comparison
  2. Which Has The Better Beaches & Landscape?
  3. Which Has Better Nightlife?
  4. Which Is Better For A Family Vacation?
  5. Which Is Better For Honeymoons & Couples?
  6. Where To Stay According To Your Budget
  7. Which Has Better Culture?
  8. Which Is Cheaper?
  9. Which Is Safer?
  10. How Does The Cuisine Compare?
  11. Which Is The Better Choice?
An infographic pitting the Bahamas vs Turks & Caicos and showing some of the key differences that will be discovered later in the article.

Bahamas vs Turks & Caicos: A Quick Overview & Comparison

The Bahamas, with its countless islands and beaches to discover, is huge compared to Turks and Caicos.

In fact Turks and Caicos, although made up of 40 islands and cays, has just 242 miles of coastline. In comparison, the Bahamas has 3,542 miles of coastline!

However whilst both nations have gorgeous white sand beaches, the beaches and swimming water in Turks and Caicos is superior to much of the Bahamas.

Furthermore, the most popular sites in the Bahamas tend to attract hawkers who can be quite persistent.

Turks and Caicos, on the other hand, has avoided this fate at their most popular beaches and destinations.

As a less busy destination, the most popular beaches in the Turks and Caicos are far less busy and touristy than the most popular beaches in the Bahamas too.

That makes Turks and Caicos perfect for a relaxing beach vacation where you can settle down on the sand and not be disturbed for hours.

However, the advantage to the Bahamas is that with so many islands, there’s a bigger variety of things to do. Each of those islands has a different personality – some are great for nightlife, others for relaxing, and others for water-sports.

The Turks and Caicos is more of a nation where life is laid-back, and vacations tend to be focused on relaxing, sunbathing and swimming.

In essence, the Turks and Caicos feels rustic and remote, compared to the Bahamas which is far more modern, ‘Americanized’, and lively.

Below we show you some of the scenery you should expect in each country. We then compare the culture and nightlife in both. Spoiler alert: they are very different!

Drone photo of beach in Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. The caribbean blue sea and underwater rocks can be seen, as well as some jet skies

Which Has The Better Beaches & Landscape?

Bahamas: The Beaches & Landscape

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches in the Bahamas, which has countless sandy bays and coves across 655,000 square kilometers!

One of our favorites is Greenwood Beach on Cat Island. This long sandy stretch is far less touristy than other beaches.

If you are adventurous enough and travel to the remote islands, it is still possible to find beaches all to yourself in the Bahamas.

In fact the beaches and swimming water in the outer islands of the Bahamas is very similar to what you would experience in Turks and Caicos.

Iconic beaches such as Pig Beach on Big Major Cay are a must visit too. This beach is famous not for the turquoise-hued waters, but the pigs that swim here!

Visiting this uninhabited Bahamian island can be expensive though, but it will bring you incredible photo opportunities with cute swimming pigs – there’s nothing really like it in the Caribbean.

Recommended: The Best Island in the Bahamas For You

A more accessible, and equally iconic beach, is Gold Rock Beach in Grand Bahama.

Regarded as one of the best swimming spots – and beaches in the Caribbean – the sunsets here are unparalleled. In fact it’s the sunset reflecting off a nearby cay that gives this beach its name.

The Bahamas also have some of the world’s best diving spots in arguably the world’s clearest water. And with 340 days of sun a year, there’s rarely a day when scuba diving and snorkeling isn’t possible.

Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park is probably the best snorkeling experience in the country, where you can see a huge variety of colorful sea-life. A great underwater camera – such as this one – is a must.

All in all, if you’re looking for great beaches with a smattering of adventure and exploring, then the Bahamas is a great choice. Just don’t be surprised by the crowds…

A woman paddleboarding around the wreckage of a plane that landed in the water off of Norman's Cay in 1980. Life Traveling

Turks and Caicos: The Beaches & Landscape

Turks and Caicos is all about beaches – which are some of the best, if not the best, in the Caribbean.

And with only eight inhabited islands – from forty – there are many secluded and remote beaches to discover too. However even the most popular beaches don’t tend to get that busy.

At Grace Bay expect unbelievable white sand set against sparkling clear turquoise water. The calm swimming water here is perfect for snorkeling, and the sunset is breathtaking.

Long Bay Beach is another spectacular setting. We recommend it not just for the gin-like water here, but because you can go pony trekking in the sea!

Provo Ponies does trekking tours along the beach – and in the sea – with their gang of rescued ponies. It’s an unforgettable experience.

You may have guessed it by now, but activities in the Turks and Caicos are mainly centered around the coast. One of those is snorkeling, and luckily, with such clear calm swimming water, many of the best snorkeling spots are actually accessible from the beach.

A couple of our favorite snorkeling spots are Bight Reef and Smith Reef just off the shoreline at Providenciales – named ‘Provo’ by locals. Expect to see sting rays, sea turtles, eagle rays and colorful reef fish.

In fact, Turks and Caicos gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal to the third-largest barrier reef in the world.

Some of this magnificent reef sits just a mile offshore at Grace Bay Beach, so it’s not difficult to access via boat for snorkeling and scuba-diving adventures. 

Other major underwater attractions include the 7000 feet deep Grand Turk Wall, regarded as the “Grand Canyon of the Caribbean,” and the Molasses Reef Shipwreck – an ancient European shipwreck from the 16th century. 

girl in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool.

Which Has Better Nightlife?

When it comes to lively nightlife, the Bahamas wins hands down. The islands come alive at night, with good bars, restaurants, and casinos to enjoy.

The Turks and Caicos, however, is a lot more subdued than the Bahamas when the sun goes down, and it can be a struggle to sometimes fill your evenings.

Below we introduce you to the nightlife highlights in both destinations, so you can see which one you think you’d like most:

Bahamas: The Nightlife

When the sun sets, this nation becomes even more lively and vibrant. You’ll find events and parties at every corner and on every populated island. You can party till you drop if you wish! 

Alternatively, you can also delight in a quiet evening with a luxurious drink in a sophisticated resort club too.

Beach bars, restaurants, dance clubs, and casinos characterize the evening entertainment throughout the Bahamas, and most evening action is centered around tourist hotspots such as Freeport, Paradise Island, and Nassau.

Aura (in the Atlantis), Bones Bar, Bambu, and Fluid are just a few top spots you shouldn’t miss when exploring the Bahamas’ nightlife. With each offering different music, you should dress to impress and expect to dance the night away.

Similar to clubs in major US cities, you should expect entry charges, VIP areas, and dress codes in the Bahamas. 

Dj decks with people dancing

Turks & Caicos: The Nightlife

In general nightlife in Turks and Caicos is far less lively than the Bahamas, but you can still find a party if needed. For example in Provo, various large resorts like the adults-only Club Med Turkoise provide a lively party atmosphere for their guests, featuring special performances and nightclubs.

Local bars around the islands also hold special events, from live bands, karaoke and disco, to game nights and throwback parties. Danny Buoy’s Pub & Restaurant is one lively place you shouldn’t miss when in Grace Bay. 

And if you really want to escape the hotels and resorts, there are numerous great beachfront locations to enjoy your night at. Sharkbite, Bob’s Bar, and Bugaloo’s Restaurant will not only offer you a fun outdoor atmosphere but also mouth-watering food and drinks. 

Another popular activity is watching the sunset on the water by taking a boat cruise. On that note, taking a Glow Worm Cruise should top your list of night-time activities. This spectacular phenomenon happens only a few days a month when bioluminescent worms put on a captivating display in the ocean!

There is also a Fish Fry on Thursday evenings in Bight Park, where you can try locally caught seafood as well as listen to music for a chilled out evening.

beach bar with stools and view of the ocean

Which Is Better For A Family Vacation?

Bahamas: For Families

The Bahamas is a colorful country filled with many attractions and activities – many more than the Turks & Caicos. So If your family is an adventurous bunch, a trip to the Bahamas will likely suit you the most.

For example, check out Lucayan National Park, a vast park on Grand Bahama Island. The main attraction of the park is the underwater cave, which is actually made of interconnected caves and is the largest underwater cave system in the world.

Other attractions in the national park are the mangrove creeks, coral reefs, and Gold Rock Beach. There are many birds here and overall, it’s a great place for enjoying nature with your kids and you can even go kayaking there!

For more wildlife adventures, there are several places in the Bahamas where you can swim with dolphins. To name a few, there is Dolphin Encounter on Blue Lagoon Island, and Swim With Dolphins in Nassau.

The Ancient Forts in Nassau are worth a visit if your family enjoys history. It’s a complex of three forts from the 1700s British colonial period. These forts are a great place for children to learn about history in a fun way.

There’s also the Pirates of Nassau Museum nearby which provides information about the city’s past as a pirate base in the 18th century.

Another wonderful thing to do in the Bahamas is going to one of their festivals. The streets are always lit up with all kinds of events and festivals. This is a great way to learn about their culture and also get some delectable street food.

So while there is plenty of family fun to be had on the beach and in the water, the Bahamas also has lots going on elsewhere too. Which should be more than enough to keep active and inquisitive kids happy.

Happy family - mother, kid in snorkeling mask dive underwater, explore tropical fishes in coral reef sea pool. Travel active lifestyle, beach adventure, swimming activity on summer holiday with child. Raro

Turks & Caicos: For Families

Turks & Caicos on the other hand is much quieter. We therefore wouldn’t really recommend it for families with school-age children as they may get bored from the lack of activities.

The British territory may be better suited for families with babies and toddlers though. That’s because a vacation here tends to be very easy and laid-back.

That being said, you can still find interesting attractions to do here that families would enjoy, such as the ruins at Chesire Hall and the underwater Molasses Reef Shipwreck.

And to learn more about the islands’ history, visit the Turks and Caicos National Museum, which tells the islands’ history from prehistoric times to native Lucayan Indians and times of slavery.

Water sports, snorkeling, and swimming at the beach are of course also great activity options for families. 

But for a trip that’s both fun and educational go to Caicos Conch Farm. You’ll learn all about conches, a staple food in the Caribbean. There are also Eco Tours that will take you to the mangroves and wetlands and teach your children about the islands’ ecosystems and conservation.

Beach bag, beach toys and a little girl on the beach.

Which Is Better For Honeymoons & Couples?

Bahamas: For Honeymoons & Couples

From iconic pink sand beaches to clear waters for snorkeling, the Bahamas is one of the most coveted honeymoon destinations in the world with romantic all-inclusive resorts fully booked all year round.

This country can be busy, but there’s no doubt it’s one of the best honeymoon destinations on the planet.

One of the things you must do with your partner is explore the Exuma Cays which are famous for the cute pigs that swim on the beach.

Whale and dolphin watching can also be a great activity in the Bahamas for couples. Grand Bahama Island is the best island to do just that.

Aside from that, you and your partner can do all the standard island honeymoon activities. This includes having couples’ spa treatments, doing water sports together at the beach, going on sunset cruises, and riding on horses on the beach.

In fact the resorts in the Bahamas are excellent for looking after couples and sorting out couple activities if you ask them.

The fun nightlife and festivals in the Bahamas also makes a couple’s vacation in the country more exciting and memorable.

But if you’re unlucky and there’s no festival going on when you’re visiting, take a stroll with your partner through the stalls of Straw Market. This can be a really pleasant and cute lowkey activity for couples.

All in all, the Bahamas is likely the better choice for couples who like being pampered and love big, busy resort areas with plenty to do.

Happy, young couple in white summer clothes enjoying their vacation on a tropical beach

Turks & Caicos: For Honeymoons & Couples

However if your vacation goal is to lounge on the beach all day with your partner and take full advantage of your resort’s amenities, then you can do just that in the Turks & Caicos as well as the Bahamas.

But the one big reason to choose the Turks & Caicos over the Bahamas is the fact it can provide a more private honeymoon experience. And that private atmosphere could create a more romantic trip, so that’s definitely something to consider.

There are, of course, several romantic and fun activities you can do together as well.

So why not go swimming at the beach, try out water sports, or enjoy island hopping. In fact the water temperature in Turks & Caicos is better for swimming than the Bahamas.

Another popular activity for couples is going on a sunset cruise. By doing so you can enjoy each other’s company while watching the gorgeous sunset and sipping on a few drinks.

Horseback riding on the beach also makes a great honeymoon picture and is a popular activity too.

And on top of that, the Turks and Caicos is also one of the best places in the Caribbean for whale watching, especially for spotting humpbacks! On Salt Cay, you can take excursions out to sea to spot them and possibly even snorkel with them – if you dare to! Now that’s a honeymoon memory!

romantic couple in love sitting together on rope swing at sunset beach, silhouettes of young man and woman on holidays or honeymoon

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

The Bahamas

Budget: Pineapple Fields Resort Eleuthera is worth checking out if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway on a budget that still has fun activities like parasailing or jet skiing on your doorstep.

Located on the stunning Eleuthera Island, there’s an outdoor pool here, free WiFi and the beach is just a a short walk away. Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is a short distance from Pineapple Fields, and Governor’s Harbour is just 4 kilometres away too. And all of that at a budget Bahamas price. See photos and rates!

Luxury: The gorgeous French Leave Resort has all the facilities you’d want and world-class service, but it’s the stunning sea views and outdoor infinity pool that really makes this resort worth staying at.

Located directly on a pristine beach, you’ll be treated to some of the best sunsets in the Bahamas when staying here. It’s luxury and romantic all rolled into one. See photos and rates!

Couple enjoying beach vacation holidays at tropical resort with swimming pool and coconut palm trees near the coast with beautiful landscape at sunset, honeymoon destination

Turks & Caicos

Budget: The classy studios at Villa del Mar, which is located just a stone’s throw away from the beach in Grace Bay are worth the price you pay alone.

But couple that with the outdoor pool, hot tub, and the fact you’re close to whole bunch of restaurants and you can see why we think this is a fantastic choice on the islands. See photos and rates!

Luxury: You can’t get more luxurious than The Palms Turks and Caicos which sits right on the beach at Grace Bay.

The beach, facilities and world class service are fantastic, but the real star of the show is the huge outside infinity pool with sea views. See photos and rates!

Amazing tropical paradise beach

Which Has The Better Culture?

Along with the natural scenery on offer, both the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos have a wealth of attractions and cultural experiences worth checking out.

The Bahamas has quite an American vibe to it and is clearly more geared towards tourists. The Turks and Caicos, on the other hand, feels more laid back and Caribbean.

Below we look at the cultural highlights in each island nation, so you can see which will suit your vacation preferences best:

Bahamas: The Culture

The Bahamas is a fascinating mix of culture, with African, British and American influences. But with its close proximity to the U.S., there’s a very ‘American’ feel to the tourist hot-spots in the Bahamas.

However, the Bahamas still has much culture on offer.

The vibrant rhythmic national music of the Bahamas, Goombay, was created as a way for slaves to pass down traditions and customs. Goombay continues to this day, and is a staple of fun summer festivals in the country.

The Heritage Museum of the Bahamas in Nassau is also a good place to visit to find out more about the history of the Bahamas.

There’s no doubt that the Bahamas is also a country synonymous with having a good time, so if you fancy a flutter then head to Paradise Island. Here you can try your hand at the casinos, and grab a beach-side cocktail at one of its high-market resorts.

For something a bit more historical then visit Fort Charlotte, which sits on a hill overlooking Nassau. The 18th century fort will introduce you to what the Bahamas was like when piracy was rampant a few centuries ago.

Turks and Caicos: The Culture

The culture of this Caribbean paradise is a mix of influences from the native Taíno people, Europeans, and African slaves.

The result is a colorful set of beliefs and traditions that can be seen in the art and music that emanates from Turks and Caicos.

Many tourists don’t discover this side of Turks and Caicos, but for the visitor who wants to learn about this nation’s history, a trip to Cheshire Hall in Providenciales is a must.

The ruins there represent what’s left of 5000 acres of slave plantation, and it’s one of the country’s important historical landmarks.

Hundreds of years ago, slaves in Turks and Caicos invented a form of music unique to the archipelago – ripsaw. The rhythm is created using a handsaw, and nowadays is accompanied by various other instruments.

The Somewhere Cafe and Lounge in Providenciales often has a ripsaw band playing on a Sunday night.

In fact it’s the opportunity to take part in fish frys (as we mentioned in the nightlife section) or watch ripsaw bands live that makes Turks and Caicos a more culturally rich nation than the Bahamas for tourists. Simply put, it’s far easier to get a taste of a new culture here than in tourist-driven Bahamas.

Grand Turk island, Turks and Caicos

Which Is Cheaper?

Partly because it’s so remote, the Turks and Caicos tends to be more expensive than other Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas.

On top of that, tourism in Turks & Caicos tends to be more upscale too, offering luxury resorts and private island stays. Food is also more expensive due to the limited local agriculture.

There is a wider range of accommodation options in the Bahamas, from upscale resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses owned by friendly locals. So if you need to keep an eye on your budget, the Bahamas may be the better choice.

The drone aerial view of the beach of Rose Island, Bahamas. chen

Which Is Safer

The US travel advisory for both the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos is only to “exercise increased caution.”

Both places are relatively safe, especially for tourists, and there are no particular safety issues that you should be aware of.

For the Turks & Caicos, the island with the highest criminal activity is Providenciales. And for the Bahamas, the high tourism areas, namely New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) are where the majority of crime happens.

In the end, just exercise general caution. Avoid walking alone at night, especially in deserted areas.

A tourist woman in a white summer dress and holding a drink walks along a tropical beach with turquoise sea and palm trees

A Taste Of The Caribbean: How Does The Cuisine Compare?

Both island nations will provide a treat for your taste buds, with cuisine focused around seafood.

Bahamas: The Food

Fried conch (aka cracked conch) is a popular dish in the Bahamas and is served in a variety of ways – look out for it on menus.

Baked crab is another dish that’s very popular – it’s made up of crab meat, bread crumbs and egg, all baked within the crab shell itself.

As for what to drink, coconut water in the Bahamas is a no brainer! You also have to try Switcha, which is a sort of lemonade, except it’s made with limes.

Want something a little stronger? The beers made by the Bahamian Brewery are definitely worth trying, as are the delicious rum cocktails served up and down the archipelago. The Yellow Bird is a favorite rum cocktail of many Bahamians.

Turks and Caicos: The Food

Unsurprisingly, cuisine in the Turks and Caicos is heavily seafood based.

Conch is especially popular, with Conch salad, Conch fritters, and cracked Conch all on the menu throughout the archipelago.

Other seafood favorites include crab and rice, lionfish, and lobster and chips!

As for what to drink, like most Caribbean islands rum is the spirit of choice here. There’s only one Turks and Caicos rum, Bambarra Rum, so getting your hands on some is a must.

Bahamas Or Turks & Caicos: Which Is The Better Choice?

Both are great destinations, but certainly suit different vacations.

The Bahamas’ most popular islands and beaches can be packed and noisy. However with so many beaches and islands, it’s still possible to find remote secluded spots all to yourself.

If you have longer than a week or two for your holiday and want a bit of an island hopping adventure with some lively nightlife and many activities, then the Bahamas would suit you best.

The beaches in Turks and Caicos are unparalleled in the Caribbean, so if incredible beaches are your main priority then this nation is the better choice.

This nation is very laid back and quiet compared to the Bahamas, so Turks and Caicos is the perfect place if you want to relax and unwind.

Recommended For Your Trip To The Bahamas Or Turks And Caicos

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