Turks and Caicos Islands: Chic, Romantic and Playful
A review from travel specialist Jennifer Carr:
This chain of breathtaking islands, only a 3 hour flight from New York, make you feel like you are standing in the middle of Paradise. From secluded white sand beaches to sexy beach bars, to adventurous water sports, Turks and Caicos has something for everyone and every budget.
On my recent trip to Providenciales (Provo to the locals), I had the good fortune of conversing with many of the very friendly locals, other tourists, and even the large population of tourists who decided never to leave, and they themselves became “belongers”. With their advice and insider tips, I had the opportunity to sample a great deal of what this up and coming destination has to offer. Here are some of my recommendations:
For the ultimate all-inclusive family vacation, take the kids to Beaches Turks and Caicos. Here you will find 16 restaurants, a water park, kids clubs that range from infants to teenagers, and endless activities for both children and adults. The wide variety of accommodations range from a standard double room to a 2 bedroom family suite complete with private butler service.
If you are looking to take the family to a more relaxed but sophisticated resort, I recommend The Veranda Resort. This all-inclusive resort has a quaint and charming feel to it. There are beach side cottages with private pools big enough for the whole family. There are separate pools that are “adults only” and “child friendly”, as well as a Kids Club, and a welcoming open-air beachfront bar and restaurant. My favorite thing about The Veranda is the second level Star Lounge that overlooks the amazing Grace Bay Beach. With perfect ocean views, this is the ideal location for a private event or wedding reception.
For couples or friends looking for a more upscale, luxury atmosphere, you must check in to the Gansevoort Resort or the Seven Stars Resort. The Gansevoort is a very “hip” spot with a young, sexy vibe. From the sleek modern accommodations, private beach cabanas, and late night parties, this is the place to see and be seen.
Seven Stars offers luxury suites while keeping a laid back atmosphere. Get to the over sized pool early enough to secure a cabana, or lounge on the beach and enjoy the waiter service and complimentary non motor water sports. Also offered is a reef snorkeling trip (for a fee)- that departs right from the beach at Seven Stars twice daily.
Seven Stars resort is in an ideal location on the famed Grace Bay Beach- within walking distance to popular restaurants, shopping and nightlife.
*Restaurants and Nightlife-
Five star restaurants are plentiful in Provo. With that said, be prepared to pay top dollar for your meals out. If you are ready to splurge, try dinner at Anacaona, inside the elegant Grace Bay Club resort. This gourmet restaurant is adults only and serves fine Euro-Caribbean cuisine.
The Mango Reef Restaurant at the Alexandra resort offers outdoor dining on their large deck. You must put this restaurant on the top of your list of places to eat while in Provo. They offer generous portions, and a delicious seafood selection. The open ravioli with shrimp and scallops that they had on special was to die for. I only wish I had saved room for dessert!
You can’t leave Provo without dinner at their #1 voted restaurant- Coco Bistro. Here you will find a casual, but romantic outdoor dining experience. Coco Bistro serves a local Caribbean cuisine. Just be sure to have your concierge make your dinner reservations a week in advance!
If you are looking for a more casual atmosphere, with great food that won’t empty your wallet- go to Da Conch Shack. This restaurant/beach bar was one of The Travel Channel’s Sexiest Beach Bars. The main item on their menu is- what else? Conch of course! You have to try the conch chowder , conch fritters and the Creole conch which was a favorite.
Go there on Thursday nights for live entertainment and “infamous rum punch”. You can even watch as they crack open a conch and pull out the live snail from its shell.
Somewhere…Cafe and Lounge offers more than just flavorful fish tacos and low-priced beers. They provide the ultimate viewing spot to watch the spectacular sunset. Get there early enough to get a table on their second level beachfront deck! Then head downstairs for an after dinner drink and friendly conversation.
If you like to prepare your own meals in the comfort of your own suite or villa, you are in luck. Most resorts have suites equipped with kitchenettes or full sized kitchens. There are multiple grocery stores on the island that are fully stocked and are easily accessible.
Popular nightlife spots are Danny Buoy’s Irish Pub on Tuesday nights. Both locals and tourists meet here for Karaoke or a friendly game of pool.
On Friday nights, the place to be is the DJ dance party at The Gansevoort Hotel. Dress your best and dance the night away. The party starts jumping about 11:00pm.
Insider tip- on other nights of the week, the Gansevoort displays a gigantic outdoor movie screen and shows major sporting events.
*Recreation and Activities-
With Grace Bay Beach being voted as one of the best beaches in the world by Conde Nast, one could spend all day just staring out at the crystal clear turquoise waters and relaxing on the powder white beaches with a tropical drink in hand.
However, if you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, you won’t have to look far. In Turks and Caicos, you can find plenty of water sports such as windsurfing, banana boat rides, snorkeling, diving and fishing.
Another great, affordable way to see the spectacular sunset, is to book a sunset cruise aboard the Atabeyra. For $25.00 per person, you get a 2 hour catamaran cruise and unlimited soda, water and rum punch.
Unique to Turks and Caicos, and “must do’s”, include a tour of the world’s only Conch Farm. At $10 per person, see how these beautiful conch shells are raised into adulthood, and supply the islands with plenty of this high protein seafood.
Take a ride on the inter-island ferry to the lush island of North Caicos. While there, view flocks of pink flamingos or snorkel off the secluded beaches. Or sail to Iguana Island, home of many Rock Iguanas.
Adventure seekers must visit “The Hole”. Located in Long Bay in Providenciales this naturally formed massive limestone 40 foot Hole is on the list of things to see. People can be lowered down a rope where 80 feet down there is a swimming hole. For adventurous souls only!
Finally, my top suggestion for a “must-do” in Provo, is to rent a car and drive off the beaten path to Provo’s best kept secret- Sapodilla Bay Beach. Here you will find a remote beach with the most serene and tranquil waters. These calm and shallow waters are perfect for wading or snorkeling, and the quiet beach is ideal for a romantic couple’s picnic.
On your way back, be sure to stop at Las Brisas restaurant in Chalk Sound for great food (try the shrimp Creole wontons), and stunning views!
Whether you are traveling as a honeymoon couple, with a group of friends or family vacation, this small 38 square mile island has something for everyone. Home to one of the top beaches in the Caribbean, and direct flights from the U.S and Canada, who wouldn’t want to vacation in Paradise?