Driving in Turks and Caicos

The sea and the sand are what people come to see when they vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands and guests at the Alexandra Resort are in for a real treat as this resort boasts one of the best beach locations on Grace Bay.  Not only is the resort situated on one of the world’s best beaches, but it is also in close walking distance to shops and restaurants.

However, if you’re adventurous and curious to see more than just the ocean and beach on our doorstep, it would be worthwhile to rent a car for a few days.   Renting a car will give you the freedom to see more of Providenciales and really get a feel for the unique personality of the destination and the characters that make this place so special.

Renting a car is something that can be done easily either prior to arrival or once you are in Providenciales. Many rental companies offer special services such as a free cell phone and pick up at the airport.  Prices can range from $30 to $80 a day so it is worth doing some research for the best deals.   Also, there’s a wide range of vehicles available – from open-top jeeps painted with Zebra stripes to traditional SUVs and everything in between.

But, before you decide to book a car, there are a few things you should know about driving in Turks and Caicos.

Drive on the Left

The number one thing to remember is that we drive on the left side.   This is something that you may have to keep telling yourself under your breath or even out loud.   We find this is most often needed when turning into a parking lot or driveway or entering a roundabout – REMEMBER TO STAY ON THE LEFT!

Buckle Up!

It’s not so much that there are seatbelt laws here – which there are – but the fact is that on any given day there are new drivers on the road (new to driving on the left that is), so it is especially important that you wear your seat belt and stay safe.    This also means refraining from using a cell phone and other distractions.

Navigating the Roundabouts

There are no traffic lights on the island but there are many roundabouts, which essentially help manage the flow of traffic.  For those not very familiar with driving in roundabouts, it is worth pointing out that the cars in the roundabout have the right of way (not the cars entering it!).   This means if you are approaching a roundabout and a car is in it, you must slow down to allow it to pass.

There’s No Hurry

The maximum speed allowed on any road is 40 mph, and on most of the smaller roads the speed limit drops to 20 mph.  This is also a very important rule to follow.  Many of the older roads are not in the best condition and may be bumpy or hard to drive on – so keeping it slow helps.  Also, schools and homes are located near the roads and it is common for people to walk along the highway, so following the speed limit is especially important for pedestrian safety.  The fact that there is so much foot traffic on the lower roads is one reason there are speed bumps.  However, the speed bumps aren’t always well marked so they can sneak up on you, especially at night in the Bight area. Please also check the speedometer on the rental car.  Some models feature speedometers in kilometers, and others in miles.  If you are driving a car with a speedometer in kilometers, multiply the kilometer by 0.6 to convert kilometers to miles.  For instance, if the speedometer says 60, that means you are driving at 36 miles per hour.

Fueling Up

Another aspect to driving here is how you’ll fuel the vehicle.  First you’ll want to make sure to have cash with you.  Most stations don’t take credit cards or foreign checks. Some vehicles require diesel instead of gas so be careful what pump you use.   The price of gas is almost $6.00 USD per gallon – but the good news is you probably won’t need to fill up much since the island is small and accordingly you won’t be travelling long distances. Also, when you do you wont’ have pump your own gas as most of the service stations are full service!    One last thing to note is that service stations are not open all night so it’s best to plan on fueling up during regular working hours (and most are cash only).

Car Seats

If you need car or booster seats for your children, reserve these prior to arrival with the car rental agency as these items are in limited supply with most rental agencies, particularly in peak season.

GPS

GPS systems will not cover most of the roads in Providenciales, so if it has been a while since you have used a map instead of a GPS system, be prepared!  Fortunately, it is easy to get around the island and local people will always be happy to provide directions.

Driver’s License Requirements

Unlike some other Caribbean destinations, international visitors staying less than 90 days do not need to purchase a local driver’s license, provided the driver’s license they are carrying is valid and has not expired.

Requirements to rent a car:

  • A valid Driver’s License
  • A major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, Discovery, and/or American Express)

Safety Tips

  • Buckle up for safety and avoid a traffic ticket
    • Drive on the left hand side of the road
    • Observe the maximum speed limit of 40 mph on the highway and 20 mph on the smaller roads

Leave a Reply