Once a part of the British Bahamas and famed for profits from salt raking, the Turks and Caicos Islands had their place during the colonial times of the Caribbean. When salt raking became unprofitable around 1900 – because salt mines in Europe delivered the white gold at much lower cost – these islands seemed to disappear from written history. In 1961, the first car came to the island of Providenciales, and within little more than one generation, the major island experienced a revival and grew from 1,000 to 15,000 inhabitants. The smaller islands of the archipelago remain widely unchanged.
Tourism is certainly the dominant factor, but it is not geared toward the masses – it is more individualistic and upscale. The British Governor and the locally elected government try hard to avoid the mistakes that have been made at many other places. The tag line “Beautiful by Nature” is institutionalized through the creation of marine parks and national parks, which protect the unique marine life, the reefs, the bird sanctuaries, and the iguana refuges.
A more prominent “representative” of the marine life is the bottle-nosed dolphin named “JoJo,” who shows up in the vicinity of the beaches and boats. JoJo impresses swimmers with his elegant moves or frightens some tourists, who mistakenly believe that a big white shark is approaching them. A website – http://www.jojo.tc – is dedicated to JoJo, and quite prominent supporters, from Robin Williams to the United Nations to the Prince of Wales, assist his human friend and defender Dean Bernal in his effort to give protection to the unique animal and his very special species.
Such genuine islands, as the Turks and Caicos still are, have their attraction for celebrities, who can afford to escape from tourist crowds. Bruce Willis and the magician David Copperfield are two celebrities who built their villas on the islands.
As most of us do not belong to those ranks, but still want to enjoy such scenic spots, it came to my mind when I visited the island for the first time in 1996 to open a bed and breakfast inn. The unbelievable colors of the sea – from deep blue to light turquoise – the intense sunlight, the dry, desert-like climate, the spectacular marine life and corals – all of those attractions made me to leave Munich, Germany and start something entirely different. Being inexperienced in hospitality business did not stop me from going through the adventure to build a place and finally open it in 1998. The “Caribbean Paradise Inn” became soon a favorite destination for those who do not have or want to spend $800 a night and for those who do not like to join the crowds at all-inclusive places.
For more information, visit our comprehensive website at http://www.paradise.tc, where I have also compiled island overview information perfect for a first-time visitor.
Barbara Spiess is co-owner and manager of Caribbean Paradise Inn on Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Born and raised in a Black Forest village near Freiburg, Germany, Barbara soon explored foreign cultures and languages, studied Spanish and French, lived in Paris and Munich, and worked in the software industry. She traveled intensively in Europe as a PR Manager for a U.S. software company, and interchanged corporate management for a life in the Caribbean.