The “Big South” Regatta of South Caicos

The Big South Regatta is a highlight of the year in this corner of the Turks and Caicos. There are classic yachts on display, music, dancing and plenty of opportunities to experience a quiet corner of the Caribbean.

The “Big South”

Of the eight inhabited islands of the Turks and Caicos, South Caicos – or the “Big South,” as it’s called by locals – is the second smallest. While Big South used to be the primary port of the islands, thanks to fishing and the salt industry, these days it’s a quiet corner of the Caribbean suited for explorers and adventurers.

If you want to experience a bit of island life here, there is no better way to do it than by attending the South Caicos Regatta, held every May.

turks and caicos satellite view

A Window Into the History of the Caribbean

The Big South is located just south of East Caicos at the eastern end of Caicos Bight.

One hundred years ago, South Caicos was a major exporter of salt around the Atlantic seaboard. The island thrived off salt, but all that remains today are abandoned salt pans that now provide a home to native birds. now wade. Long-forgotten buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries can still be seen around Cockburn town, the main settlement of the island.

At mid-century, with salt still a major commodity, South Caicos played host to Queen Elizabeth II in 1966. In honor of her visit that year, South Caicos plays host to an annual regatta.

south caicos
South Caicos, by Murray Blacomb.

This year, 2017, marks the 50th anniversary of the regatta. It’s a fun time when locals gather to show off their boats and enjoy a small festival.

In May each year “Big South’ comes alive as islanders and tourists come together on South Caicos for the party of the year. As part of the regatta tradition, festivities include boat races, beauty pageants, basketball games, domino tournaments, junkanoo, and gospel music.

When the Queen visited the island in 1966, she arrived aboard the royal yacht Brittania. When she was departing, approximately 30 local sloops hoisted their sails and sailed past the yacht. Ever since then, the regatta commemorates the visit of the Queen.

If you’re interested in attending the regatta, keep up to date on the official Turks and Caicos tourism page here.

In the meantime, here’s a video from the 2016 regatta.

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