Our first port-of-call was at Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos, a chain of islands southeast of Florida. They are not independent and still ruled by England. They are relatively flat with the highest point of land being 165 feet. Nothing is grown or produced on the islands and import absolutely everything with shipments arriving twice a week. This makes everything quite expensive, milk at over $6.00 per gallon and milk over $9.00 per gallon. The islands at one time did produce salt but no longer does.
It is suspected by some historians that these were the first islands that Christopher Columbus landed on in 1492. In recent times, John Glenn’s first space flight around the globe in the Mercury project capsule splashed down 12 miles off the coast of the islands. In 2008 Hurricane Ike with 175 mph winds destroyed most of the structure and ripped off all of the roofs. There are many houses still in shambles and not reconstructed, the rest of the houses have colorful new roofs.
We chose to take an excursion that included island highlights. First item of interest was a replica of the Mercury capsule that John Glenn made his historic space flight in. We did not even stop, just drove by.
Our first real stop was at a light house on the north end of the island where the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean converges. Big waves, beautiful waters. Every shade of tourquise, aqua, and blue, from light to dark surrounds the islands. All of the islands are nothing but a coral reef. The third largest coral reef in the world. The water is from 3 feet to 35 feet deep for about 350 yards from the beaches and then it drops to a depth of 7000 feet almost immediately.
We then toured the old historical buildings and stopped at the 200 year old building of the National Museum where artifacts from the Molasses Reef shipwreck of 1513 are housed. The name of the ship, where it came from, and the purpose of its sailing are still unknown to date. A lot of cannons have been recovered but that is the only clues. Five hundred year old cast iron stuff is really interesting.
The tour stopped at the second oldest church in the Caribbean on the way to the last stop, the Salt Museum. The coral colored salt ponds are still there even though salt production ceased over 20 years ago.
Upon returning to the ship we decided to go have a margarita at Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville Restaurant and Bar. We did enjoy a cocktail before boarding the ship for lunch. This is the largest in his whole chain. They have put in a gigantic pool with swim up bar and hundreds of lounge chairs. Cruise passengers make this a whole days excursion, swim and drink, just waisting away at Margaritaville. If hanging out at the pool is not your style then you could play at the beach all day instead, right there at Margaritaville.