Turks and Caicos has a well deserved reputation for being the playground of the rich and famous with miles of sparkling beaches, serene aquamarine water, chic dining spots and uncrowded luxury resorts. Just ten years ago hardly anyone had heard of these gorgeous islands, but as A-listers and well-healed vacationers spread the word about their pristine beauty, the pace of building increased and new posh resorts now dot world famous Grace Bay beach. Today Providenciales, (Provo for short) is a wonderful destination for couples, families and everyone who searches for that quintessential beach-side paradise.
With the opening of Beaches Resort on Grace Bay, T&C was officially put on the family vacation map. Beaches has proved so popular with families, that they continue to expand year after year and are considered by many to be like a “Disney World” of the Caribbean. Turks and Caicos is particularly congenial for family vacations as most of the hotels are villa resorts with multiple bedrooms and kitchen facilities in every unit.
Here’s a look at 10 of the most fun activities for families vacationing in the Turks and Caicos islands:
#1. Turks and Caicos is all about the beach and the inviting water. Soft white sand, clear aqua water and docile waves make Grace Bay Beach one of the most scenic in the world. Plan to spend lots of time with the kids playing in the sand and splashing in the waves. You’ll be able to pick up sand toys, beach snacks and munchies for your condo at the IGA Graceway grocery store. Note, selection and prices are better at the Graceway store in comparison to the smaller IGA Gourmet shop. You may want to rent a car for a few days or take a taxi to the grocery store and have the driver come back in half an hour to pick you you up again.
#2. Snorkeling is great in T&C. Your family can snorkel along the underwater snorkel trail in front of the Coral Gardens Hotel – just walk in right off the beach. Further down at Smith Reef near Turtle Cove you’ll find nice coral gardens and tropical fish just off the shore. For those who don’t want to get wet, climb aboard the semi-submersible submarine, or glass bottom boat to watch the colorful fish in comfort. Or for children over 12, learn about Snuba to explore below the seas without the expense or lessons of an ocean dive.
#3. Go boating! Everyone should get out on the crystal clear water in a boat – you’ll get a whole new perspective of the islands. Visit the nearby islands, have a secluded beach BBQ, collect snow white sand dollars on a sand bar, go celebrity spotting, meet the curious Iguana on Little Water Cay, sail along Grace Bay at sunset, snorkel on the fabulous offshore reef – or take the ferry to North Caicos for the day. There are a wide variety of boat excursion companies to meet every families personality. Be sure to keep an eye out for JoJo the friendly dolphin who loves to make friends with boaters.
#4. Make friends for the day with a potcake rescue dog and take a puppy to the beach for a walk. Your kids will love visiting Potcake Place in Saltmills Plaza to see all the adorable puppies waiting for adoption. Potcake is a nickname given to homeless dogs in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos based on the food they were often given – peas and rice stuck to the bottom of the family cooking pot. Not everyone can adopt a dog, but everyone can give them a bit of love and donate to this very worthy island charitable organization.
#5. Go horseback riding in paradise. ProvoPonies have been taking vacationers sauntering along Grace Bay for many years and the horses love to frolic in the water. This is a photographer’s and horse lovers dream.
#6. Play a round of mini-golf or take a Go Kart for a spin at Fun World TCI. No family vacation is quite complete without playing some miniature golf. At Fun World TCI you’ll find lots of water holes. And for race fans there’s a great go kart track.
#7. Visit the world’s only Conch Farm. Take the road right out to the end of Provo to discover the Caicos Conch Farm. Here you’ll learn all about the life cycle of the Queen Conch, how they grow those magnificent shells and why they are such an important food source in the Turks and Caicos islands. They have also recently begun deep sea fish farming of four fish species. This is a fascinating and educational place to visit.
#8. Get a Day Pass to Beaches and let your kids enjoy all the magic of this popular family resort. Play with Sesame Street characters, splash in the elaborate water parks, climb a pirate ship and generally have a blast. It’s a day your kids won’t soon forget. This can be pricey, but the resort is one of the best family designed resorts in the world.
#9. Take a ride away from the tourist zone and out to Blue Hills for a stop at Da Chonch Shack for the freshest conch you’ll ever have in your life! Watch the conch being harvested from the ocean right in front of you and enjoy your fresh conch salad in a stunning oceanfront setting. For more delicious Conch dishes as well as local specialties, head over to Five Cays Settlement (where local “Belongers” live) and stop in a Bugaloo’s. “Bugaloo” is considered to be the first islander to set up a conch shack – then in Blue Hills. Although he started with an umbrella and one table, he is now famous for serving up wonderful island dishes in a cheery pastel beach-side restaurant.
#10. Meet the locals at the weekly beach-side fish fry sponsored by the tourism bureau. You may have grown up with fish on Friday, but in T&C Thursday is fish day. Every Thursday everyone gathers at the children’s park in the Bight for a rock’n good time with dozen of local food vendors, live entertainment. The event runs from 5:30 to 9:30 pm. You’ll find the Children’s Park on the Bight Road between Beaches and Turtle Cove, across the street from the Environment Center.
For more great ideas of things to see and do in Turks and Caicos, use these great resources:
The Top 50 Things To Do in Turks and Caicos – a great resource from our good friends at Turks and Caicos Reservations. Val and his team really know the island from where to stay, what to pack, where to shop and where to have the most fun!