Many of the fun activities on the Turks and Caicos islands revolve around, or at least include the conch, and for a good reason. The Queen Conch (pronounced “konk”) has a long history throughout the Caribbean, particularly in the Turks and Caicos Islands. It holds such high importance that it has become one of three symbols for the Turks and Caicos flag. Conch is considered a staple for island cuisine, and you can find their beautiful and unique shells on display all over.
What is Conch?
While there are well-known sounds associated with a Caicos conch, it is also known as a culinary delicacy, sought the world over. It is especially popular in the Caribbean and the Turks and Caicos Islands. This edible marine snail has a similar taste to clams with a more defined and “rubbery” texture.
The Queen Conch boasts a beautiful spiral-shaped shell and glossy pink interior that offers excellent versatility in cuisine, making it a highly attractive menu item.
Conch in Turks & Caicos
The Queen Conch is native to the Atlantic Ocean, and in the early 1990s, conch was exported to the United States from 16 different Caribbean countries. However, the Turks and Caicos are one of only three total countries that export it today due to the conch population at large becoming endangered from overfishing.
You can learn about and even hold young conch at the Caicos Conch Farm, the world’s first and only commercial conch farm on the east side of the island. The Caicos Conch Farm works hard to supply the country with conch in hopes to protect the wild population. Conch is exported from the Turks and Caicos Islands mainly to the United States, making the US one of the biggest importers of this delicious mollusk according to the FAO.
Visit Anna’s Art Gallery at the Saltmills Plaza where you can purchase beautiful bowls, trivets, and dishes created from conch by island artist Standford Handfield.
Caicos Conch Festival in November
If you’re visiting in November, add the Caicos Conch Festival to your list of things to do on Providenciales. Enjoy the scene where islanders come together to celebrate all things conch! You even witness very friendly caped version, Henry the Conch, the island mascot dressed colorful Bermuda shorts and sandals.
Key places to enjoy the best in conch cuisine include beachside Da Conch Shack, listed among 2017 USA Today 10 Best Readers Awards for Best Caribbean Restaurant. The conch fritters and conch creole here are a huge draw, as well as the local musical entertainment every Thursday evening.
See Conch in the Wild
Seeing the growth cycle of the conch at the farm can be very interesting, but diving for conch is a whole different experience!
Did you know that slow-moving conch become camouflaged over time? Covered in sea grass, they are almost impossible to spot when snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos coral reefs. But if you plan your excursion with a conch expert through Caicos Dream Tours, then you will be delighted when you are led to the perfect spot for seeing conch in their natural habitat.
Take our half day boating excursion for a captivating tour through mesmerizing oceanscapes and stunningly-isolated cays, and you will experience the thrill of conch harvesting with our expert crew. The half day Snorkel and Conch Cruise include stops at Half Moon Bay, snorkeling at the Pine Cay coral gardens and shell collecting at Fort George Cay.
The full day Dreamday Getaway boating and snorkeling charter whisks you away to even more fascinating and historical locations and includes a full freshly prepared beach barbeque lunch. That comes with a conch salad, of course!
A recent reviewed on TripAdvisor was delighted with the excursion, “Had a great time. Good snorkeling, saw lots of different fish. Went to Half Moon Bay and Iguana Island. The boat was clean, food really good and got a lesson in how to take the conch out of the shells.”
With both boating tours, you will experience the beauty of the Turks and Caicos Islands and get the opportunity to snorkel the waters where conch and a myriad of magnificent marine life thrive.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn how to clean and prepare conch! The Caicos Dream Tours conch experts will help you dive for conch and create a tasty, fresh conch salad for guests to indulge in along with sandwiches and beverages. Sharing in a meal of conch is a delicious and authentic way to experience Providenciales that you won’t want to miss!
Conch is at the heart and soul of the people and culture of the Turks and Caicos. It will greet you upon arrival, sustain you while you’re here, and accompany you when you leave.