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Travel Guide: Turks and Caicos

The Turks + Caicos are a group of islands located in the West Indies. About an hour flight from Miami, this British Overseas Territory is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world — Grace Bay. With its baby-soft white sand, crystal clear turquoise water and gentle waves — it’s hard to imagine a more idyllic beach could exist!

We spent 9 days visiting the most populated island of Providenciales in January 2016. Although I’d hoped to island hop, it was too complicated and expensive for our family of 5. Instead, we kept it simple and explored nearly every inch of “Provo.” Prior to leaving, I studied the island in depth and it seemed that Grace Bay was the most popular area to stay. After visiting, I would have to agree! We rented a condo there, only a block away from the beach. Every morning we would bike or walk over for a swim and then each afternoon we would drive to a different area of the island.


Our first excursion took us to the Northwest Point. The freeway eventually turns into a sandy, one-lane road that ends at the beach. The area was completely deserted but covered in large conch shells, which Max and I enjoyed picking up.


From there, we followed the coast back as far as we could, enjoying some of the more local scenes on the island. We also stopped at the infamous da Conch Shack and Rum Bar. The service was lousy but it was a fun place to grab an afternoon drink.

The next day, we took a boat (through Caribbean Cruising) from Leeward Marina to the iguana inhabited island of Little Water Cay. Never have I seen so many iguanas in one place! There’s a small visitor’s center with a few guides, but mostly we had the island to ourselves. We didn’t take a guided tour, but instead followed the boardwalks through the jungle and explored some of the private beaches on our own.

Another fun and educational outing was the Caicos Conch Farm. Although nearly every restaurant in Provo has some form of conch on the menu, I really had no idea what was in a conch shell until visiting this non-profit farm. The tour begins with a biology lesson about the conch (which is actually an edible sea snail), followed by a walk around their hatcheries. The educators explain and show all of the different stages of a conch’s life cycle, what they eat and how they reproduce. They also talk about how some species are endangered and how they are being over-harvested.


The rest of the time, we drove around to visit different beaches. On the south side of the island we discovered Chalk Sound, with hundreds of rock islands in a shallow, turquoise lagoon. It wasn’t particularly accessible but was interesting to look at.

Next we stopped for a swim at Sapodilla Bay and Beach, which we found to be a great area for children.

On one of our last days, we drove to Malcolm’s Road Beach. The road was a bit rough but our tiny, Fiat-like car managed. The beach was a little different than the others, with golden sand and a large reef. 


Lastly, a few more images from stunning Grace Bay.



TIPS + SUGGESTIONS

STAY: Grace Bay, hands down. There’s a stretch of hotels all along the beach and plenty of rental properties to choose from. Restaurants, bars, shops and the ocean are all mostly in walking or biking distance. The only other options I would recommend would be staying at the luxury resort of Amanyara (but it is very secluded and on the opposite side of the island) or find a house rental near Sapodilla or Taylor Bay (if you are looking to be far away from touristy areas.)

TRANSPORTATION: We rented a car (which I would recommend if you want to see the island), however the rental process was a nightmare. We had to wait around for an hour and half because they didn’t have a car available (despite having booked months in advance) and we barely fit in the car they gave us. If you really want to relax and stay situated in Grace Bay, you could certainly get by without a car.

EAT: I can’t say we had any truly outstanding meals while we were in the Turks and Caicos, but we had plenty that were good enough. We stocked up on groceries at the Graceway Gourmet store in Grace Bay which allowed us to eat breakfast and/or lunch at our condo. We also went to the local grocery in the middle of the island just to check it out. It was definitely cheaper but didn’t have the selection of organic and natural items that I wanted. Most evenings we would go out for an early dinner. Some of the places we tried were: Lupo, Bella Luna, Chopsticks, Da Conch Shack, Garam Masala, Flamingo Cafe, Somewhere, and Lemon2Go.

DO: Grace Bay Beach, Caicos Conch Farm, Iguana Island in Little Water Cay (bring insect repellant – the mosquitoes were thick in the jungle), visit the other islands in Turks & Caicos, snorkel in the reefs. Some things we didn’t get to do but that looked fun were parasailing, kayaking through the mangroves and riding on the Provo Ponies.

BRING: Insect repellant. I had read that no-seeums were a bit of a problem on the beach and while we did get bit here and there, it wasn’t too bad. Money! It’s quite an expensive island to visit. Since everything has to be shipped in, you’ll find that a 6 pack of beer runs nearly $20 and regular milk was over $8/gallon. Eating out was even pricier!

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