The historic Crossing Place Trail, Middle Caicos
This hike takes about 4-5 hours round trip, and is the most spectacular walking route in the whole country, encompassing high cliffs, long beaches, rocky coves, salt marshes and bush pathways. It is the western end of a traditional trail used by local islanders for over two centuries to walk between North and Middle Caicos, with the Crossing Place at the spot where you entered the water to cross the shallow banks. This is a mildly strenuous excursion, across varied terrain from loose rock to beach sand, and definitely not for young children. Much of the way the actual path is not completely clear , yet as long as you are following the shoreline it is very difficult cannot get lost! Prepare yourself well so you can enjoy it all…..water, sunscreen, long pants, good walking shoes ( sneakers, ankle strap sandals, boots – no flip flops!!), hat, bathing suit, towel, long sleeve shirt, fruit/snacks…. And off you go!
It is best to start early, so catch the 6:30 am ferry from Leeward, and your car rental agent will meet you at Sandy Point landing. About a forty minute drive from the ferryboat landing on North Caicos you will cross the causeway over to Middle Caicos, and just head on into Conch Bar to check in at Daniels Café, and have an orientation. You can leave your car and head straight out onto the trail!! Alternatively, maybe ten minutes after you come across the causeway, you will see a sign for Blue Horizon Resort. Turn into the drive, head up the hill and park near the cement path to the beach.
The cliff walk portion of the hike begins here at Mudjin Harbour, where a swim awaits anytime before or after your hike! Take the goat trail up on to the top of the cave to get started – it is a scrawny path over the rocks but opens onto a magnificent stone patio overlook site. Here you will pause in amazement, take photos, ogle at the view, be awed by the colours of the sea, and take in the glorious scenery as you perch on the stone benches.
Remember to check your daypack to be sure you have everything, and your hike begins. Your first stop is at the end of the stone walkway, where a tunnel has been dug out to lead you down to the hidden beach at the foot of the cliffs – not for those with any claustrophobic tendencies! After this, shoulder your day pack and pick your way carefully along the cliffs heading west. Take your time, be sure of your footing as the rocks may wobble – do pause, lift your head and take in the fabulous views.
Sometimes a rough pathway is visible, sometimes not, but keep on truckin’ along the cliff edge following the shoreline! In about twenty minutes you will come to the long stretch of Norbellis beach, where you can amble along the beach or find the sand road (the old actual Crossing Place road) to continue west. The beach at Norbellis has huge waves, not for the weak swimmer at all, but exhilarating for a dip!At the end of this beach, the sand road heads down the hill, and onto the next cove with a shallow shore. You will pass one of the trail markers – a lovely cameo tile with the head of a woman – and can see the next marker far along the way. Two more beaches and then you will arrive to the old turning point, where the trail heads south across the salina to the original ”crossing place”.
The traditional path is too overgrown to follow these days but an alternate trail is possible.
This is often far enough for many, and a fine spot for a good rest, swim and snack before heading back to Conch Bar. For the brave, continue on to the channel between North and Middle Caicos by making your way to Blowing Hole. In times gone by, the Blowing Hole had a top cover, so that water rushed in, gushed through the “hole”, spouted vertically visible for miles, and made a great booming sound!! The cover has broken but the swell of the waves in and out is still fun to observe. From here you will find small pathways to follow out to the channel, made by local fishermen going out to collect conch on the low tide.With perseverance along these small pathways, you will come out at a calm sandy cove on the channel between North and Middle Caicos where a flock of flamingoes often feeds. The channel offers great swimming and a fine spot for a rest and snack. Alternatively, if you are not a bushwhacker, you can just clamber on the hills at will. Clambering is not as easy at it sounds, but great exercise! You will find clusters of wooly nipple cactus all over the hills, lots of birds swooping along the cliffs – and the views continue to be excellent. Heading back is the simply the reverse .
After finishing your hike, congratulate yourself with a trip into Conch Bar to Daniels Café and the Middle Caicos Co-op for a cold drink, a great lunch and a chance to explore the largest collection of TCI handcrafts in the country – hand carved model sailboats, baskets woven form local grass, bags sewn from local palmtops, handmade brooms, conchshell crafts, lignum vitae conch bruisers, postcards of traditional elders all on display and for sale. It is a quick 45 minutes to drive back to the ferry from here.
Come and hike the Crossing Place Trail – you’ll be glad you did!