The History of Pine Cay
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.
Pine Cay has played an important role in the history of maritime exploration, and even today The Meridian Club, Turks & Caicos takes pride in the stewardship of the island’s ecosystem. The island has been a source of fresh water to seafarers since the days of Christopher Columbus. Historians estimate that Columbus’ first stop in the New World was in the Turks and Caicos Islands in October 1492 where he restocked the ship’s water supplies on route to Cuba.
In 1958, Count Ferdinand Czernin made the trip to Pine Cay to see for himself if the island truly had a fresh water supply. In addition to finding water, he also discovered a peaceful little private island which had no occupants. It was serene and untouched, teeming with iguanas, and great white herons, stretches of pines and palmettos, and abundant and varied flora. He thought that this secluded island hideaway in the Turks and Caicos could gradually be expanded to accommodate like-minded friends, who were eager to escape the stresses and demands of their more cosmopolitan lifestyles.
Unfortunately, Count Czernin passed away in 1966 without realizing his dream of inhabiting this deserted island hideaway in the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, his widow Helen, came back to Pine Cay and together with good friend, George Nipanich, continued the legacy her husband had dreamed about. The Meridian Club – named for the proposed location of the clubhouse which came through the middle of the 22nd meridian and intersected with the 72nd meridian – opened its doors in the early 1970s.
Since opening, there has been little change to The Meridian Club and the island. Aside from improvements in communication, and in the quality of the dining experience, Pine Cay retains its old-world charm and appeal as a secluded island resort – which is just the way residents and guests like it.
Thirty-eight comfortable private homes and a 13-guestroom beach club offer an idyllic escape from the stresses of everyday life. Sandy “highways” crisscross the island, and on-island transportation relies on battery-operated golf carts and bicycles.
Unspoiled beaches, turquoise water, fresh drinking water and an abundance of flora and fauna continue to be the hallmark of the remote romantic beach getaway that Count Ferdinand Czernin once dreamed that Pine Cay could be, and which continues to honor his pioneering spirit today.