Nervous About Driving in the Turks and Caicos?

Nervous About Driving in the Turks and Caicos?

So when we travel to Provo (Providenciales), we usually think about how much effort it will be to get there, where we’ll stay, where everyone will sleep, but it’s often an afterthought as to how we will get around once we land.

Provo, while a small island (only 23 miles tip to tip), is not so small that you can walk to whatever it is you want to do.  In fact, attractions seem to be somewhat peppered about, thus forcing the adventurous tourist, who actually wants to SEE the island he or she has come to visit, to get behind the wheel of a car.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, maybe not….because on this island, we drive on the LEFT side of the road.

Fun Fact: The Turks and Caicos islands are a  British Colony Overseas Colony (1 of 14)! Meaning, they are a territory that is under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom but not technically part of the United Kingdom. They are the remnants of the British Empire.

Driving on the left side of the road is a small yet crucial detail that turns the usual mundane process of driving to the grocery store into a swell of anxiety and flashbacks to your teenage drivers test all over again. Another thing, since we’re talking about driving in the context of the Caribbean, sometimes certain rules are treated more like..guidelines..for instance if it rains or if the road is bumpy, we may just drive on the BEST side of the road.  Sound intimidating? Fret not! We have a couple of useful suggestions to to keep in mind when driving on the island of Providenciales.

Take a Deep Breath and Look Both Ways

First off, your rental car may have the steering wheel on the right side (left hand drives are sometimes available upon request). Hopefully this serves as a reminder to drive on the left, since it already feels foreign to be on that side of the car to begin with.  Now, deep breath, focus…..put the car in Drive and let’s do this.Yes, you will probably turn on your windshield wipers every time you intend to put on the blinker, but we can get over that.  As a tip, whether you’re turning left or right, just go ahead and look both ways.  Why not?  There’s always a chance a pedestrian could walk in front of you anyway, so just make a habit of this from the start.

Pay Attention to the Roundabouts

Once on the roads, you’ll find roundabouts that nobody really seems to know how to handle.  They have these on the main highway and the lower road beside Grace Bay Beach, the former of which is a little more intimidating.  Even if you live in a city where roundabouts are common, you must realize that many using those on the island are not as familiar and you may find yourself stuck in the roundabout, unable to exit (remind anyone of Chevy Chase in European Vacation??).

Well, be patient; eventually, there will be a break and you can pass through or exit without incident. Once you are in the roundabout you technically have the right of way until you exit. Remember, even though that is “technically” the case you should still be careful because driving in the Turks & Caicos does not follow rigorous guidelines.

Watch Out for Speed Bumps

You’ll also encounter speed bumps that threaten to suspend your car from the center mass, and they are not always well marked.  Some can come up upon you by surprise and remove all curiosity as to why the suspension on your rental car is shot.  This is all just part of island living!  Somehow, some way, we all seem get off the island without incident.  It may be in part due to the fact that with each passing day, we become more adept at driving on the “wrong side” of the road.  Or, it could be that everyone here is used to drivers who are not familiar with left hand driving.  Either way, it’s worth the learning curve for many reasons..

What You Should Know About Provo Taxi Drivers

One of those reasons that renting a car is simply more convenient for exploring the island is because taxis are more elusive that you may think. Generally speaking, taxi drivers on this island are independent contractors, so if you need a ride somewhere, you do not call a central dispatch; instead, you will call the driver directly.  If you know of one.  Then, prepare yourself for the cost in doing so; it doesn’t take much to surpass that of a rental car for a day. If you choose a rental car, you definitely won’t get left at the grocery store with bags of melting ice cream as your taxi driver carries another fare to another destination……

You’ll Eventually Get Used to It

As the old saying goes: Practice makes perfect. While it may be daunting at first, within a few days your brain will slowly get the hang of it. After all, you have the skillset in your brain already, it will just take time to switch it over to the opposite side. Countless other visitors to the island have had to go through this exact process which means so can you!