Bright pink bougainvillea, sunny yellow hibiscus, and palm greens to shade you… Serene sandy beaches, aqua clear water, and coral reef snorkeling…
This is just the tip of the starfish (iceberg) when you visit Turks and Caicos in the British West Indies. Although there are numerous islands that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands, most voyage to Providenciales or “Provo”, the most popular island within the chain. Your trip begins with a 20-minute ride from the Providenciales International Airport. Provo is home to the famous Grace Bay, where most of the resorts and attractions are located.
Although this sounds like it could be reminiscent of Cancun (large hotels, casinos, night clubs, bars…), I can assure you it is anything but. All resorts are low profile, meaning at the most have five levels and boast some of the most luxurious amenities found in the Caribbean and attractions are more like beach strolling, shopping, art galleries, golfing, local eateries and a visit to the Leeward Marina. There are many great resorts to choose from on Provo – The Grace Bay Club, Amanyara, Beaches, Gansevoort, The Somerset just to name a few – we’ve always escaped to The Sands Resort and Spa. This incredible resort has spacious rooms, three swimming pools with waterfall (including a separate shallow kiddie pool), in-ground Jacuzzi, water canals, spa, fitness center, convenience store, tennis court and coconut-grove hammock area – ahhh…. There is an onsite restaurant, Hemingway’s Restaurant and Bar, which is full-service breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including take-out for those nights (or mornings) that you just want to sit and eat alone in the enjoyment of your private balcony. Hemingway’s offers items for everyone, including local dishes and favorites like grouper tacos. Want a frosty beverage but don’t want to escape the ocean or leave your spot in the pool? Hemingway’s also offers poolside and beachside service. My standard go-to: chicken fingers and spicy fries with a Turks Head Amber. Turks Head is a local beer named after the island’s Turks Head Cactus. Try some; you’ll be glad you did. The Sands also offers kayaks, snorkels/flippers and bike rental at no extra fee and there are permanent straw beach umbrellas with built-in tables – grab them early in the morning so you don’t miss out.
Take a walk down the beach to visit neighboring resorts of various sizes and stop in for a refreshing cocktail or tapas bite at any time of day. Don’t miss the Bay Bistro at Sibonné Beach Hotel and try a My Blue Heaven from Junior’s Bar; all menu items are out of this world so you can’t go wrong. The Bay Bistro is even more amazing at night. Visit The Somerset poolside bar and grab a salad or a burger and soak in the incredible sights of this luxurious resort. To really explore the island, I would strongly recommend renting a car or moped. There are many shopping areas, local art galleries and swimming holes, not to mention other beaches. At Princess Alexandra National Reserve, there is a public coral reef, sectioned off for the safety of swimmers and ocean creatures, which will provide you with an amazing experience. You literally walk into the ocean and swim out about 200 feet and bam – there it is. A coral reef teeming with life and you didn’t have charter a boat to get there. I’ve seen parrot fish, angel fish, squid, grouper, flounder and sea turtles to name a few at this amazing spot. Don’t forget to bring your towel.
Speaking of chartering boats, head to the Leeward Marina and rent out the Cool Cat for an afternoon. All you need is a beach bag with the essentials and your captain provides the rest – life jackets, snorkels and flippers, snacks and rum punch, of course. You’ll be cruising along to the sounds of Bob Marley and Buju Banton as you go by Parrot Cay, lonely beaches, shipwrecks and visit the iguanas that populate Little Water Cay. You’ll head home with a handful of sand dollars, sun-kissed skin, and great memories! And for you foodies, there is an assortment of delicious locations for whatever you desire. Dine under the stars and coconut palms at Coco Bistro, enjoy an Italian meal in the marina setting at Baci Ristoranti in Turtle Cove and take in stunning views of the island at Magnolia.
The islands are calling. What are you waiting for?
Katie Nack is a is a featured writer for this blog and Travel Agent with Fairy Tale Concierge. To learn more about her and read more of her articles, click here!