Although the coastlines of East Grand and North Caicos are open to the prevailing trade winds and surrounded by fierce looking reefs, there are many places where you can anchor judiciously outside the reef and take an inflatable in to explore -- mind you, in settled weather. West Caicos is uninhabited, but Grand Caicos, sometimes referred to as Middle Caicos, the largest island in the whole group, boasts three small settlements with a total of about 270 inhabitants and three small guest houses. Caves cut out of the limestone by the original Lucayan Indians are well worth investigating. North Caicos, with just over 1,500 inhabitants in its 41 square miles, still harbors vestiges of plantations carved from the bush in the period between 1789 and 1820 by Loyalists who had fought on the side of Britain during the U.S. War of Independence and subsequently were granted land in the islands by the British crown. North Caicos features the friendly, family-run Pelican Beach Hotel on Pelican Beach, a larger Italian-managed Club-Med-type place, two small condominiums and a few smaller bed-and-breakfast establishments. Flamingos, pelicans and several other notable birds call the island their home, an island best explored, typically, on a bicycle.