After a year of craziness at our house (move across country-again, new jobs, new house, major remodel…you get the picture), we decided we wanted to take a truly relaxing vacation. Like a do nothing type of vacation. A “press the reset button” type of vacation. Picture: turquoise blue water, toes in the sand, and an umbrella drink in hand (oh, and maybe a hammock to nap in). We scoured the internet, asked our friends for suggestions, and checked flight times and prices. After hearing about its famous Grace Bay (12 miles of uninterrupted sand meets water) and fantastic snorkeling & scuba diving, we settled on Turks & Caicos. We were quite sure this place would make our sun block laden dreams come true.
Don’t worry if you said something like “Where & what?”; you are not alone! That is pretty much the same reaction we got from everyone when we told them where we were going! For those of you unfamiliar with Turks & Caicos (TCI), it is a group of 40 small islands just southeast of the Bahamas. In short, many consider these little islands as some of the best the Caribbean has to offer.
Of course, we decided to go in pretty much peak season and waited until almost last minute (for us anyway) to book. Accommodations book up fast, particularly the more “affordable” options. Warning: all that beautiful sand and stunning views come at a price. Turks & Caicos is not super budget friendly. Booking ahead and during shoulder season will help you find options a bit easier on the wallet.
We finally managed to get ourselves sorted, booked, packed, & off we went! No direct flight from home meant a long travel day, but oh! Once we began our decent into Turks & Caicos, we knew we were in for a treat!
Our itinerary was pretty simple, which is unusual for us. We resisted all temptations to explore other islands or cays, save for one boat tour. We really wanted this to be a time to lounge by the beach, breathe in the salty air, and overdose on the beautiful views. This we did and it was AMAZING! We booked a place right on Grace Bay, so it was a short trip every day to get busy beach lounging.
We did decide to rent a car one day and venture to the other side of the island (of Providenciales) to explore Chalk Sound National Park and Taylor Bay. This was SO worth it! Chalk Sound has shallow, crystal clear, calm waters perfect for kayaking. We spent a few hours paddling around the various mini islands. The edges are sharp & none we saw had a place for landing and exploring these little wonders. There is only one place, Las Brisas, in the area that rents kayaks (they also have the only boat tour). We did call ahead and reserve to ensure we didn’t waste a trip over. After we had our fill of blue water and tiny islands, we headed back to Las Brisas and had lunch (surprisingly tasty food and drinks).
After lunch, we headed just up the road to find the entrance to Taylor Bay. It’s a bit tricky to find, so ask your concierge or a local for specific directions, and parking is tight. But this place is worth the sleuthing, especially if you have little ones. Definitely bring an umbrella or some sort of shade device because there is NONE! Food & drink is BYO as well. But oh that water! It is SO unbelievably calm and you can walk for several hundred yards into the bay and still only be knee to hip deep! In my opinion, the sand is far softer than that of Grace Bay. There was hardly a soul present when we went, so that was an added bonus. Tip: Renting a car to this side of the island is FAR cheaper than hiring a taxi or other private transport. Our car was about $50 for the whole day and they brought it to our hotel and picked it up the next day. You will pay double or more to hire a taxi.
The only other activity we planned beyond beach lounging was an all day boat tour. There are plenty of options in Turks & Caicos, but we went with Caicos Dream Tours. We were on a big boat complete with snacks, two bathrooms, rum punch, and a spunky crew. While there were several other guests on the tour, there was plenty of room for everyone. It did not feel crowded at all. We made made several stops at really pinch-myself-am-I-dreaming kind of places to explore and snorkel and eat lunch (they accommodate dietary needs). We are no snorkeling experts, but we thought it was pretty great-gorgeous fish and coral. I highly recommend this tour (not an affiliate link).
We also spent an afternoon or two wondering around downtown Provo (short for Providenicales). There are some cute little shops & restaurants. But I will be totally honest here, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in some city in Florida. Seriously. That was fine with us, as we didn’t come for the town. But if you are looking for some Caribbean charm or authenticity, you will be hard pressed to find it here.
Alas, a week flew by far too fast! We felt totally rejuvenated and ready (well, are you ever really ready?) to get back to the grind. Reset button pressed!
Have a favorite beach destination, question, or comment? Let me know! For now, I will leave you with a few farewell sunset pics.
A Few Extra Tips:
- Turks & Caicos is very family friendly (at least the Provo/Grace Bay area). Condominium rentals with full kitchens are aplenty, and most come with a washer and dryer. Even in the restaurants, families with kids of all ages seemed welcome.
- There is public access to Grace Bay. It’s near Ocean Club West. Bring your own umbrella, chair, etc as these are only available to guests at the various resorts
- We felt totally safe here, even walking around town at night.
- While Providenciales (Provo) is probably the most popular on Turks & Caicos, there are several other places to stay and/or explore besides those described above. Some can be more secluded and quiet (for example, Salt Cay).
Currency: US Dollar (yep, even though its technically British…even has the same dialing code as US +1)
Electric: 110V (i.e. same as the US)
Water: generally considered safe, though everyone recommended we drink bottled
Restaurants We Recommend: