With your first glimpse of the brilliant azure waters surrounding the Turks and Caicos islands, you’ll know just why you’ve come, and why your friend’s descriptions couldn’t possibly capture just how lovely these islands truly are. As your plane banks sharply to the left on approach to the airport at Providenciales (PLS) all heads swivel toward the windows taking in views of pristine white sand beaches, vibrant aqua waves, and magnificent island mansions dotting the many bays and sounds. What was a sleepy remote archipelago 20 years ago, is now an ultra chic island destination with dozens of luxury beachfront properties built to compliment the island topography and to offer the best in island lifestyles. Because of our in-depth experience on this beautiful island, Expedia.com asked us to share our tips on making the most of a trip. Take a deep breath and relax, you are about to be soothed and pampered, and will surely fall in love with the many charms of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Flickr: by John Voo
Where To Stay
There are so many wonderful properties in Turks and Caicos that it will be a challenge to decide which one is ideal for your vacation. See the many Turks and Caicos hotel options at Expedia.com to begin your search. It’s valuable to know that most properties are built in the Island Villa style, having kitchen facilities, large living rooms for relaxing and oceanfront balconies for gazing out to the pristine bay. Here are our thoughts on the best properties to stay right on famed Grace Bay Beach.
Without question, these properties will take your breath away. They are the ultimate in design, tropical landscaping, infinity pools, pampering spas, comfort and personal service.
Grace Bay Club – This is one of the first ultra-luxury hotels built on Grace Bay Beach, and still sets the mark for delivering beachfront splendor in a Mediterranean style. Service and food is simply superb, rooms and public areas deliver enchanting views everywhere you look.
The Palms – It’s all about the magnificent pools at The Palms. They are inviting by day and sensuously lit at night. The decor has an elegant nod to the West Indies, and the service is tops.
Gansevoort – This property has a chic modern vibe. With signature properties in the Northeast, the Gansevoort attracts many hip vacationers from New York, New Jersey and Boston. Done in shades of gray, white and blues, with uncluttered clean lines, it’s a trendy place to stay for sure.
Most resorts in T&C are built as villa accommodations, which makes it a particularly great place to vacation with your entire family. You can easily rent a one to three bedroom unit and have plenty of space for everyone, plus full kitchen facilities. Waves along Grace Bay beach are calm for the most part, and your kids will love keeping an eye out for JoJo the dolphin who often comes to swim with vacationers.
While you can hardly go wrong with any of the properties along Grace Bay Beach, here are some of our favorites:
Ocean Club and Ocean Club West – We like these resorts because they are very family oriented. Each has a nice restaurant right on the beach as well as casual beach grills.
The Sands at Grace Bay – Likewise, this property has been catering to family groups for years. Their villas are elegant without being stuffy and the beachfront restaurant, Hemingways, is really delightful.
The Veranda Resort – This property offers a Kids Club and is a great choice for families with young children.
Beaches – One word says it all. Beaches is perhaps the premier family resort in the Caribbean. Owned by Sandals Resorts, this property offers everything that kids AND adults could wish for. There is a large variety of accommodations, dozens of restaurants and bars and numerous activities for the kids at all hours of the day. There will be plenty of playmates for your kids or grandkids as this is an extremely popular (and sometimes crowded) resort.
All Inclusive – sometimes you want someone else to worry about every detail so you don’t have to. If that’s the case, here are all-inclusive resorts on Grace Bay.
Beaches (See Above
The Beach House, a lovely, relaxing, adults-only boutique hotel right on the beach.
The Alexandra Resort – is another great all-inclusive property for families. Located directly on the beach, they offer a kids club, as well free shuttle to two sister properties Blue Haven and Beach House for exchange dining privileges.
There are a number of budget friendly hotels that are in walking distance to the beach, but not directly on Grace Bay Beach. This would include, Ports of Call, Grace Bay Suites, and The Island Club – all decent properties in easy walking distance to restaurants and beach activities.
For a few dollars more you can be directly on the beach with these budget properties:
Royal West Indies Resort – This is a lovely resort with the feel of a tropical enclave for privileged guests. The pools are picturesque with bridges spanning over them and inviting balconies. Their restaurant is also a tried and true choice. For golfers, it’s a short distance away from the course.
Sibonne – This property has been an island favorite since before the days of ultra-high ends resorts. It has a charm that is timeless and a relaxed atmosphere that feels like a upscale beach shack. The restaurant has a particularly great view – there is nowhere I’d rather enjoy breakfast and sip coffee looking out at the breaking surf. You will feel like you’re a member of the family when you stay at Sibonne.
Best Spots For a Sunset Cocktail
Infinity Bar, Flickr by Ben Ramirez
Our pick for great spots to sip a cocktail while the sun goes down include, the Infinity Pool Bar at Grace Bay Club, Magnolia Restaurant overlooking Turtle Cove, The Deck at Seven Seas, and if you just can’t force yourself off the beach to dress up, head for the Somewhere Cafe at Coral Sands.
Top Activities For Couples
A few activities to add romantic memories to your island visit should include; horseback riding in the surf on Grace Bay with Provo Ponies, a sunset and/or snorkeling boat trip, bonefishing (T&C is one of the best bonefishing destinations on the planet), go island hopping by taking the ferry over to the North Island, rent a car to explore and then visit Middle Caicos by driving over the Causeway.
Best Ways To Entertain the Kids
Flickr: by James Willamor
Don’t miss a visit to the Caicos Conch Farm – you’ll see conch on all local menus, but do you know how they grow? Take a dive in the Semi-Submarine. Grace Bay is a national park and is ringed by beautiful reefs where you’ll see sea life of all description. Snorkel right off shore at the underwater snorkel trail just opposite the Coral Gardens Hotel, or at Smith’s Reef by Turtle Cove. Or for one day of nonstop fun, buy a day-pass to Beaches Resort.
Everyone – should attend the Thursday night Fish Fry that takes place every week at 6:00 pm at the Bight Park. There’s a carnival type atmosphere where you’ll find island crafts, t-shirts, fresh conch salad, BBQ and of course fresh fried fish! This is a great way to meet some locals and other vacationers.
Another must for everyone is a visit to Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl in the Five Cays Settlement. What started out as a driftwood beach shack with some tables made of old crates, where locals harvested conch and whipped up fresh conch salad, has become the island’s signature casual beachside restaurant. You can eat with your toes in the sand or at the beach bar. Local bands perform and the atmosphere is party, party, party. It’s a wonderful place to sit down and talk with locals, as it’s just as popular with those who live on the island as folks who visit there.
One thing is for sure…. It’s almost impossible to visit Turks and Caicos just once. It’s the type of place that gets into your daydreams and you’ll find yourself yearning to return again and again.