Turks and Caicos is home to the world’s first and only commercial conch farm. Although it’s a delicacy in most places, conch is readily available on pretty much any menu in Turks and Caicos, thanks to the Caicos Conch Farm.
The conch farm is located on the east side of Providenciales, and they offer a tour where you get to learn about the lifecycle of the conch and how the farm operates.
The first ten minutes of the tour are in a small presentation room where they walk through the lifecycle and breeding procedure. They show you the shell sizes and how much they grow each year.
Conch Metamorphosis through 5 months. They do their best to help the environment and use Turk’s Head Beer’s recycled hops and barley to feed the conch at the earliest stages.
Conch Shell Growth 6 Months to 2 Years:
This is at four years of age (7-8”) when they are harvested. It’s illegal to harvest them at this age anywhere else, but since they are the only commercial farm, they are allowed to harvest them at this time. When we asked why they harvest at four years, they said it’s when the conch is most tender.
After the presentation, the tour guide takes you to see the different areas of the farm. You get to see and pick up young conch that they keep in trays.
5000 conch are put in each of these offshore pens from 6 cm in size to approximately one-year-old. The juvenile conch live in a natural sandy habitat and feed on the algal substrate supplemented with conch feed. The pens are designed to exclude predators such as stingrays, porcupine fish, and turtles. There are 200 pens, which hold an inventory of 1 million conch.
Since Turks and Caicos is a natural habitat for conch, they are placed in pens in the water once they are old enough. Here, they naturally mate so that they can harvest the eggs.
At the end of the tour, you meet a male and female up close and personal. You can even pet them if you want! I had no idea what they looked like until we came to TCI. Pretty weird!
Since conch is endangered, they are even putting some of the conch back into the wild to encourage the natural population.
The tour itself is relatively short – only about 30 minutes – but it’s packed with information and a unique experience since it’s the only one in the world.
Pro Tips for Visiting the Caicos Conch Farm:
- They only take cash, so be sure you have enough!
- If you want to buy conch shells that don’t have holes, the farm is a great spot to do it. They have a method of harvesting conch that doesn’t require them to break the shell, as the fishermen do.
- Most of the conch we found in the wild were much larger and older.
- Make the most of your day and check out the mangroves while you’re on this side of the island.
- A cab ride from the conch farm to Grace Bay Town was $8 per person.
Children and Teens: $8.00
Under 4: Free
Have you eaten conch before?