Backpacking the Turks and Caicos

Beach in the Turks and Caicos
Beach in the Turks and Caicos (photo: Ben Ramirez)

The allure of the open road and the convenience of carrying all your possessions with you when you travel make backpacking a tempting way to see the world.

Backpacking demands a leisurely pace, perfect for delving into a culture and mixing with the locals in a way that is not possible from the decks of a cruise ship.

While backpacking in the Caribbean can present its own unique set of challenges, it is possible to utilize this form of travel in order to have a truly rewarding and meaningful Caribbean experience.

The primary challenge for backpackers in the Caribbean is traveling from one island nation to another. While there are often ferries or boat tours from island to island within one particular grouping of islands, it can be difficult to find passage on a ship bound for another nation.

As most island chains in the Caribbean are sovereign nations, entry visas or other legal matters become a factor when backpacking across the region.

For this reason there are no regular ferries traveling between many parts of the Caribbean, so meticulous planning would be necessary when plotting a route.

Travel by airplane is a viable, if expensive, option for traveling between islands.

Boats in the Turks and Caicos (photo: Rian Castillo)
Boats in the Turks and Caicos (photo: Rian Castillo)

Another alternative is to strike up a friendship with locals or visit city bulletin boards to see if there are private boats traveling in the right direction.

Sometimes boat captains will exchange passage across the sea for work as a crew member. This is not a reliable option, however, and should be saved as a last resort.

Some islands are equipped for tourists traveling in cruise ships or staying at resorts, rather than backpackers. As there is sometimes a dearth of available camping areas, a good strategy is to remain flexible and utilize many different accommodation venues.

The countries bordering the Caribbean, such as Costa Rica, Mexico or Colombia tend to have convenient sites to camp, while the smaller island chains such as Turks and Caicos focus on resort-style accommodation.

A backpacker could, for example, stay at an Club Med resort while visiting this island chain and sleep in a self-service cabana on the beach in other places where this option is readily available.

The U.S. and British Virgin Islands or the Bahamas have a network of camping venues as well as good travel options between the islands, making this part of the Caribbean a good place to begin any backpacking journey.

Then, with a little luck and a lot of planning, a rich and rewarding journey across this stunningly beautiful part of the world can become a real possibility.

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This article was brought to you by Club Med.

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