Pine Cay, Turks & Caicos
Pine Cay, an 800-acre private island with two miles of pristine beach, is fast becoming one of the only places in the Caribbean where you can get completely away from the pressures of modern life. Just kick back with a good book under a shaded cabana and hear nothing but waves rolling up on the beach.
Our Turks and Caicos island's most striking natural feature, aside from its beach, is its underground fresh water lens. The structure and porosity of the limestone is such that rainfall is absorbed and held as if in a sponge. Being lighter, the fresh water floats on the underlying salt water, forming an underground lens-shaped layer of pure fresh water, varying in depth from a few inches to over 40 feet.
The waters surrounding Pine Cay, our Turks and Caicos private island resort, contain a remarkable variety of marine habitats. Offshore there are miles of undisturbed barrier reefs. Vertiginous drop-offs and tidal flats are often only a few hundred yards apart. Coral, grass and mangrove communities make the area particularly interesting for studies in marine biology, and the waters teem with many as-yet-unidentified species. Due to the diversity of habitats and variety of species, the fishing is excellent.
Because spear guns are prohibited, and there are relatively few divers, the marine life is thriving and not "man-shy." To make sure it stays that way, divers are required to obey a simple rule: "take only pictures, kill only time, leave only bubbles." An unimaginable number of fish, corals, sponges and fans are found in water 6 to 15 feet deep. There is a multitude of opportunities for outstanding underwater photography since visibility can exceed 100 feet. Because you dive on the leeward side of the island, the water is almost always calm. The water temperature averages a pleasant 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The island is a series of low rolling limestone ridges, formed from solidified beach dunes -- older to the east, while still developing on the western shore. The oolitic limestone is created from the consolidation of egg-shaped grains of coral sand. The gray surface is the result of oxidation and algae growth.
There are several distinct vegetation zones on Pine Cay, each with its own set of plants and attendant bird life. Over 100 plant varieties have been identified, including an ancient mahogany tree, branched cacti, and two varieties of native orchid. The eastern shore has the deepest soil and correspondingly densest vegetation. The bird population varies with the season, with peaks during the migration periods. Island walks may reveal several nesting areas.
Apart from a settlement of Taino Indians, probably dating to the 11th century, Pine Cay has had no permanent population until the Club was built here in the 1970s. Today the people who work on the island come primarily from North Caicos and Middle Caicos. Their names and the ruins of plantations around their villages date back to a short-lived wave of settlement by English loyalists escaping the American revolution. Prior to that, some believe that Columbus made landfall in the Turks and Caicos Islands on his second trip. Perhaps the fresh water lakes on Pine Cay filled his water barrels. Certainly during World War II, submarines put in at Pine Cay for fresh water. Today, Pine Cay is home to a limited group of private homeowners and the Meridian Club, Ltd., a 13-room resort hotel.
The prevailing easterly trade winds average 14 mph throughout the year. The constant breeze, combined with low humidity (usually 60%), makes for a very comfortable year-round climate. Midday temperatures range from a winter mean in the low 80's to just over 90°F in the late summer.