St Thomas and Turks & Caicos share a unique feature in common.
Both islands are Caribbean territories that are dependencies of larger countries.
St Thomas is an overseas territory of the United States of America (USA) while Turks and Caicos is an overseas dependency of the United Kingdom (UK).
In this article, we explore key differences between these two gorgeous Caribbean islands to help you decide which one is ideal for your vacation.
As a general rule, St Thomas is better for travelers who are interested in beaches, snorkeling, island hopping and duty free shopping. Alternatively, Turks & Caicos is perfect for a visitor who wants to explore several small islands in a safe, quiet and peaceful environment.
Read on for further details and explanations on how these two magnificent Caribbean islands compare. This article was written by a Caribbean national familiar with both islands.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- Which Island Is Bigger
Turks and Caicos is the larger of the two islands. Being a British Overseas Territory, Turks & Caicos is a group that consists of 40 different islands and cays.
The island group is 366 square miles but only 8 of these islands are inhabited.
The population of Turks and Caicos is slightly smaller than St Thomas being 39,408 respectively according to Worldometer at the time of writing.
On the other hand, St Thomas is 32 square miles.
The highest point of elevation in St Thomas is Crown Mountain at an elevation of 1,556 feet.
St Thomas is part of the island group called the United States Virgin Islands (USVI).
The other major USVI are St John, St Croix and Water Island.
According to The Virgin Islands Consortium, based on a US census as at April 01st, 2020, the population of St Thomas was 42,261.
This means that St Thomas is more densely populated than the Turks & Caicos.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- Entry Requirements
As an overseas territory of the United States of America, no passport is required by US citizens for entry into the island.
Contrastingly, US citizens are required to have a valid passport for entry into the Turks & Caicos and proof of a return ticket.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- Can You Hop To Other Islands
If your priority is to visit another country, then St Thomas is the better option as it affords visitors the choice to easily access the British Virgin Islands (BVI) via ferry.
However, US citizens require a passport as well as proof of return ticket to access the island.
Additionally, ferry services are available to other US Virgin islands territories such as St Croix, St John and Water Island.
On the other hand, if you are in Providenciales you can easily find ferries to North, South and Middle Caicos islands.
However, there are no passenger ferries to other islands such as the Bahamas from Turks and Caicos.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- Which Island Has Better Beaches
Both islands have gorgeous beaches. However, Turks & Caicos has the slight edge in this category.
Located on the island of Providenciales, Grace Bay Beach is the pride of Turks and Caicos and it has won many awards both regionally and internationally.
Grace Bay Beach is part of Princess Alexandra National Park and known for its calm and turquoise waters.
It stretches three miles long and there is a barrier reef located about one mile off shore to keep the beach still and safe.
Grace Bay Beach shares its shoreline with many high rise and luxurious hotels on the island.
Likewise, St Thomas also has amazing beaches. Magens Bay is a beautiful one mile stretch of white sand.
Located on the Northern end of the island, this beach is the island’s most popular with both locals and tourists alike.
The water is usually very calm which makes it perfect for small children.
Another well-loved beach in St Thomas is Coki beach. In terms of snorkeling, Coki beach is one of the best options in St Thomas.
This beach is perfect for beginners and individuals new to snorkeling.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- Which Island Has Better For Shopping
If an exciting retail experience is your priority, then St Thomas is the better island to visit.
Brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Little Switzerland, Diamonds International and Bebe have a presence on the island.
Yacht Haven Grande is a premium waterfront development which features a marina and a number of medium to high end stores.
In addition, to some of those previously mentioned, Coach and Bulgari have retail operations at Yacht Haven Grande.
On the other hand, duty free shopping is only available in Providenciales International Airport.
The airport features stores that sell brand name jewelery, luxury items and alcoholic beverages.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- Which Island Has Better Nightlife
St Thomas is the island with the more exciting nightlife primarily due to the fact that it is the commercial hub of the USVI.
Generally, there are more restaurants and bars on St Thomas than the other USVI with Red Hook, Frenchtown and Haven Sight areas being hot spots.
These are located near to each other so it is easy for individuals to bar hop.
On the other hand, Turks & Caicos is a much more quiet and laid back destination with nightlife comprising primarily of beach bars and nightclubs.
A weekly event that attractions numerous patrons is the Fish Fry.
Food is available from various local vendors. Souvenirs and various forms of crafts are also on sale. Turks and Caicos also stands out in the Caribbean as an island for fine dining.
St Thomas Vs Turks & Caicos- What Are The Unique Things To Do
Unique Things To Do In St Thomas
Visit Coral World Ocean Park– This Park is an amazing way to see and learn more about sea life in St Thomas.
There are activities available for all ages such as educational shark and sea lion tours.
In addition, you can enjoy kayaking with the dolphins while at the park. This location is perfect for multi-generational families.
Visit Mountain Top & Drake’s Seat– These two areas are must visit spots to take in the panoramic views of the island.
Mountain top is 1500 feet above sea level and provides a stunning view the other Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. From mountain top you can see a total of 20 islands.
Explore Fort Christian– This is one of the key landmarks located in the capital city of Charlotte Amalie and is the oldest structure in the US Virgin Islands.
Built between1672 to 1680, Fort Christian has a red exterior with a Victorian clock at the front.
A tour explores the history of the Danes and slavery. The admission fee is $10 for non-locals.
Climb 99 Steps- is another key feature that stands out in Charlotte Amalie.
These steps were constructed from bricks brought to the island from Denmark and are used to connect the streets in the city.
At the end of 99 steps is Blackbeard Castle which is another must visit historic site while on the island.
Unique Things To Do In Turks & Caicos
Kite Boarding– the beach waters and wind conditions makes the island an ideal spot for kite boarding.
Long Bay Beach is one of the popular spots on the island for this activity.
There is a kite boarding school on the island where tutors will provide you with a lessons as well as equipment rental.
Private Island Beach Hopping– Only 8 of the 40 islands and cays of Turks and Caicos are inhabited.
The others are private cays where you can go and enjoy a private beach day on your own island.
This makes the destination unique and one of the many reasons why the islands are favored by celebrities.
On a whole, St Thomas is an ideal choice for a traveler who wants to enjoy beautiful natural scenery, nightlife and duty free shopping. On the other hand, Turks & Caicos is perfect for a visitor who wants to enjoy white sand beaches and turquoise waters as well as parasailing and kiteboarding.
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