You can most definitely get by without renting a car while staying in the Grace Bay area on Provo, but outside of that, you will want one. If this is your first trip, it's wise to plan on renting a car for at least a couple of days for some exploration; then you can decide whether you need it the rest of the week. Taxis can be expensive, with each round-trip equal in cost to a daily car rental, but if you feel uncomfortable driving on the left or if you want to go out and not worry about having too much to drink, then a taxi is the best option. A car is really the only way to go if you want to do a lot of exploring; taxis will not wait for you in isolated areas.
If you travel to North Caicos or Middle Caicos, you almost have to rent a car, because everything is so spread out. Of course there is the option of a bicycle tour, but if you’re on your own, go with a car. On the other islands, you can get by just walking or taking an occasional taxi.
To rent, you need to have a valid U.S. driver’s license, and you need to be 25 or older.
Gasoline is much more expensive than in the United States. Expect to pay about $2 to $3 more a gallon. There are numerous gas stations around Provo, but most accept cash only.
Parking in the Turks and Caicos is easy and free. Grace Bay has numerous public parking lots, so those not staying in the area have easy access. And all the resorts and restaurants offer free parking; even those that are gated have general public areas to park. North and Middle Caicos also have parking areas at all the restaurants and places to stay.
Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Thrifty have offices on Provo, but you might like to support the local businesses by trying agencies such as Grace Bay Car Rentals, Rent a Buggy, Tropical Auto Rentals, and Caicos Wheels, among others.
On Provo small cars start at around $39 per day, and a small SUV averages about $69 to $85 a day. Almost all rental agencies in the Turks and Caicos will drop off a car at the airport or your hotel. You can then leave it at the airport upon its return.
There are several car-rental agencies on Grand Turk. They will meet you at the airport or the cruise-ship terminal, have you sign the paperwork while standing on the sidewalk, and have you on your way in a matter of minutes. There’s also the alternative, a golf cart from Nathan's Golf Cart Rental. No matter what your choice may be, call ahead to make arrangements.
Al's Rent-a-Car and Pelican Car Rentals offer service on North Caicos.
Contacts on Providenciales
Avis. There is a car drop-off and collection depot at the airport, as well as midway up the island at Bayview Motors and within Grace Bay proper across from IGA Gourmet. Airport, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/946–4705; 649/941–7557; www.avis.tc. Christmas Day.
Bayside Car Rentals. Located in the Grace Bay Area, Bayside rents cars, scooters, buggies, and jeeps. Airport, Providenciales. 649/941–9010; www.baysidecarstci.com.
Budget. This company rents cars and jeeps. Their main office is in the Town Centre Mall, however they have a contact counter at PLS. Town Centre Mall, Downtown, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/946–4079; www.budget.com. Christmas Day.
Caicos Wheels. Car rentals are offered from within the Grace Bay area. Car rentals include an island map, a child seat if needed, plus personal concierge service. Ports of Call Plaza, Grace Bay Rd., Grace Bay, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 954/363–1119; 649/946–8302; www.caicoswheels.com. Christmas Day.
Grace Bay Car Rentals. Grace Bay's service is unbeatable, with friendly staff who greet you at the airport. Your car is ready and waiting for you the minute you get off your flight. If you don't need a car for your entire stay, there is an office in Grace Bay for your convenience. Their fleet includes four-door sedans, a full range of SUVs, minivans, and eight-to-12-seater vans. Grace Bay Plaza, Grace Bay Rd., Grace Bay, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/941–8500; 649/946–4404; www.gracebaycarrentals.com. Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
KK and T's Auto Rentals Ltd.. KK and T's has inexpensive options, including compact cars as a very economical alternative to renting a scooter for those quick tours around the island. You'll find their rates some of the lowest on Provo. Long Bay Rd., Long Bay, Providenciales. 649/941–8377; www.kkntsautorentals.com.
Paradise Scooter and Auto. Paradise Scooter offers a "green" alternative to seeing the island through the rental of a Vespa or Paradise scooter. If you are sticking a little closer to home, you might give their hybrid electric bicycles a try; pedal away, but if you get tired, you can kick in the automatic "power at hand." If you wish to join a tour, this company offers a scooter tour that takes in much of Provo. Grace Bay Plaza, Grace Bay Rd., Grace Bay, Providenciales. 649/333–3333; www.paradisescooters.tc.
Rent a Buggy. Book your week's rental with Rent a Buggy and you will get your seventh day free. This agency offers jeeps, economy cars, and SUV rentals. Although their main office is on Leeward Highway mid island, your car will be waiting for you at the International Airport (PLS). There is an airport booth immediately after exiting Customs and Immigration. 1081 Leeward Hwy. , right next door to Mac Motors, which is right next door to Central Plaza, Downtown, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/946–4158; 649/231–6161; www.rentabuggy.tc.
Scooter Bob's. Locally owned and operated, Scooter Bob's has been providing service on Provo for more than 20 years. You'll find cars, passenger vans, SUVs, and bicycles for hire both on Provo and in North Caicos. Their office is in Turtle Cove. Turtle Cove, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/946–4684; www.scooterbobstci.com.
Thrifty Car Rental. With three different classes of vehicle to choose from, this agency is conveniently located right in the arrivals area of the Providenciales International Airport. Included in your rental are complimentary cell phones and child seats upon request. Providenciales International Airport, Airport Rd., Providenciales. 649/946–4475; www.thriftytci.com.
Tropical Auto Rentals. Tropical offers a full range of Kia autos and SUVs for rent, conveniently located on the outskirts of the Grace Bay area. It's locally owned and operated, and has provided service on Providenciales for more than 25 years. Tropicana Plaza, Leeward Hwy., Grace Bay, Providenciales, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/946–5300; www.tropicalautorentaltci.com.
Contacts on Grand Turk
Island Autos. Neville, the owner, provides excellent service. He'll deliver an auto to you with little notice wherever you may be on Grand Turk. Grand Turk. 649/232–0933.
Nathan's Golf Cart Rental. Nathan rents both SUVs and golf carts from right outside the cruise-terminal gates. He'll also deliver to the airport if you're arriving by plane. We recommend calling ahead for efficient service. Outside cruise-terminal gates, Grand Turk Cruise Terminal, Grand Turk. 649/231–4856.
Tony's Car Rental. Tony has a fleet of cars, scooters, and bicycles for hire, conveniently located outside the cruise-terminal gates. He'll also deliver to the airport if you're arriving by plane. Be sure to contact him in advance for efficient service. Outside cruise-terminal gates, Grand Turk Cruise Terminal, Grand Turk, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/231–1806; 649/946–2934; www.tonyscarrental.com. Never!.
Contacts on North Caicos
Al's Rent-A-Car. If someone refers you to Speedy, it's one and the same company; Speedy is Al's dad. Together they have been providing excellent service for independent auto exploration of both North and Middle Caicos for more than 10 years. Be sure to give him a little advance notice! Ferry dock, Sandy Point, North Caicos. 649/331–1947.
Pelican Car Rentals. Operating out of Pelican Beach Hotel, this company offers four-door sedans at $75/day or a six-person minivan at $85/day. Pelican also has pickup and drop-off at the ferry dock for added convenience. Pelican Beach Hotel, King's Hwy., Whitby, North Caicos, TKCA 1ZZ. 649/331–7620; 649/946–7112; 649/241–2076; www.pelicanbeach.tc.
Rental Car Insurance
Everyone who rents a car wonders whether the insurance the rental companies offer is worth the expense. No one—including us—has a simple answer. If you own a car, your personal auto insurance may cover a rental to some degree, though not all policies protect you abroad; always read your policy's fine print. If you don't have auto insurance, then seriously consider buying the collision- or loss-damage waiver (CDW or LDW) from the car-rental company, which eliminates your liability for damage to the car. Some credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it's sometimes supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers SUVs, minivans, luxury models, and the like. If your coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company. But no credit-card insurance is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill. All companies exclude car rental in some countries, so be sure to find out about the destination to which you are traveling. It's sometimes cheaper to buy insurance as part of your general travel insurance policy. And note that in too many instances, the rental agency doesn’t include the basic liability insurance—as is mandatory in North America—and credit card coverage certainly does not include this.
Most of Leeward Highway is a smooth, four-lane divided highway complete with roundabouts. However, the paved two-lane roads through the settlements on Providenciales can be quite rough. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended if you want to head to Malcolm's Beach or if you’re staying in the Turtle Tail area; those two areas have graded roads, often with many potholes to navigate around. Strangely enough, the less-traveled roads in Grand Turk and the family islands are, in general, smooth and paved.
Rules of the Road
Driving here is on the left side of the road, British-style; when pulling out into traffic, remember to look to your right. Give way to anyone entering a roundabout, as roundabouts are still a relatively new concept in the Turks and Caicos; be cautious even if you're on what appears to be the primary road. And take them slowly. The maximum speed is 40 mph (64 kph), 20 mph (30 kph) through settlements. Use extra caution at night, as drinking and driving, though illegal, does happen—some people forget they must follow the rules when they are relaxed and on vacation.