Everyone who knows me intimately is aware that I keep a bag packed and ready to-go! So, when I saw a $200 flight deal to the picturesque island of Turks and Caicos nonstop on Delta, I was gone like 1999!
Words cannot explain how blissful this experience was but I’ll certainly try to capture the essence in this blog post…
Top Things to Do and See in Turks and Caicos Islands
I first learned of Turks and Caicos while in the midst of penning my second novel and the backdrop was none other than lovely Providenciales. The beautiful white sand and turquoise waters made for the most enchanting experience in the 90s and still does today.
Many people have no clue where these islands are. One friend thought I was near Australia and another actually thought I was in the Indian Ocean. Google is your friend folks!
Turks and Caicos Islands may very well become my favorite beach destination next to the Cayman Islands. Made up of 40 islands and cays, you’ll find these exotic islands south of Miami and East of Cuba or just below Bahamas for those geographically challenged.
Amazingly, Turks and Caicos is part of the Atlantic Ocean (not the Indian or South Pacific Ocean) and not the Caribbean Sea. This was startling because the water on the Atlantic Ocean is typically not this pristine or colorful. I’m in bliss.
English is the primary language but many residents are implants and speak another dialect of English, if at all. The islands are under British Government yet the official currency is the US Dollar and let me just say everything is overpriced. The food is extremely expensive and not great for what you get. The economy is coming off a major recession sparked from controversy and corruption in the parliament.
On that note, I had an interesting conversation with a taxi driver about his take on how the ex-Prime Minister Michael Misick is being unfairly tried in the courts.
It’s a sordid tale of affairs. The discussion took a turn as the driver explained how locals blamed LisaRaye for her
negative influence over the Prime Minister. The taxi driver tried to get folks to understand that the people didn’t elect LisaRaye (who was the First Lady of Turks and Caicos) but her husband Michael Misick.
My mind scanned between the lines and pondered how much of this disdain toward her was fueled by jealousy versus fact.
I met LisaRaye long before and she was such a class act. Far from the image portrayed of her character in the movie The Players Club.
We went on to discuss how the trial is underway and even passed by the building that was converted to a court. It sits directly across from the old offices of the ex-Prime Minister. Both of us agreed the location was a slap in the face with a clear message being sent.
The driver felt the rise and fall of Michael Misick was an unfortunate one and that he simply got caught up in the lights, camera, and action of politics. His sentiment was that Michael Misick overall is a good guy who made poor decisions and that cost him.
In a historical turn of events, this is the first (and probably last) time a trial is being conducted on the island without a jury.
The British Government came in and shut down Turks and Caicos government and installed a Jamaican judge to preside over the case which too seemed like another backhanded slap in the face of Michael Misick. So many points to prove.
In 2012, the government was reinstated with new leadership and I imagine the price of tourism to Turks and Caicos will continue to soar as they attempt to revive the economy.
As we arrived at the airport, we wrapped our conversation on this topic both feeling a bit bleak. I’m not sure when the trial concludes but got the sense that justice would not be served.
Not only is the court considering jail time upward five years for Michael Misick, but he’s been banned from practicing law and politics indefinitely, according to the taxi driver. Allegations range from corruption to bribery.
I got the sense that the island lacked its own culture. Its more of a hodgepodge of expats that descended upon the island. This was evident in the food and conversation with locals. The people are very friendly and laid-back.
It’s a slow-paced island where you can hang loose and soak up the sun. A lot of development is underway and you can see the land being sold at an increasing rate.
Turks and Caicos, like many Caribbean islands, has their own form of music and festivals although I didn’t have a chance to observe this. The local radio stations primarily played Soca and Calypso which made me feel right at home having lived in Brooklyn for nearly ten years.
The island Fish Fry, which goes down on Thursday’s at The Bight Park, must be the most popular activity on the island. I was saddened it was cancelled during my stay after hearing so much about it. The forecast was to blame. And, after all that anticipation, it didn’t even rain.
I’ll have to check out the Turks and Caicos fish fry next time. However, The Bight Park is a lovely beach as shown in the photo gallery and video below.
Update + Video: So, I made it back to the fish fry and the food was delicious!
where to stay in turks and caicos
There are many options to choose from and it really depends on your budget and preference. You can check out my hotel review on staying at the Ports of Call Resort.
I also popped over to where my friends stayed at One on Marlin. These villa spa-like studios were very nice. I’d consider a stay here next time. They are off the beaten path however requiring a car to drive to the many beaches in Turks and Caicos.
about those beaches
There’s something for everyone in Provo!
Here’s the best of Providenciales based on attraction and activity:
To check out the stunning sunset, you’ll want to make your way over to Taylor Bay and Sunset Bay. Park outside the villas of Ocean Point Drive and walk through an unmarked path to reach the Bay. It’s worth it. You’ll know you’re in the right spot when you see the rental cars alongside the road with the “TC” license plates. Just follow the paths.
Once the sun sets, get out of this area. There’s no need to linger around. It’s not a lot of people over here (although lined with villas) and it gets very dark. Keep in mind you’ll be off the beaten path so see the sunset and keep it moving.
For tranquility, snorkeling, and beachin’ stop at Sapodilla Bay which is also in this area, mixed in with the villas and down another unmarked path. This area is beautiful. It’s blissful, quiet, and serene. I wish I’d found it earlier and had more time to park my bumper.
You’ll see clear fish on this side of town and some pretty unusual looking ones too. I’m certain I saw a sea-turtle bopping its head from under the water and beware of the stingrays that hide out under the sand. When you’re walking out into the Bay, shuffle your feet to give them a heads up you’re coming. This will prompt them to move and help you avoid the sting of the stingray.
Do NOT leave Turks and Caicos without stopping by Sapodilla Bay. You’ll love it. And, the water is shallow, just at the ankles for a good ways out. Even when the bottom drops a bit you’re still in waist length water for a great distance.
In this area is also Chalk Sound National Park which is the colorful array of waters you see as you fly in to Turks and Caicos. Something about this water gave me an eerie feeling. It reminds me a bit of a toxic treatment plant (its not) but it’s an odd combination of colors that apparently shift at any given point in time. You’ll find good Cuban food over in this area at Las Brisas Restaurant.
All the way on the other side of town is Long Bay Beach. Do not be afraid to venture down the paths on the side of the road. They lead to the beach and many hidden gems!
Long Bay Beach is my favorite thus far. You’ll find all the kiteboarder’s here. The water is very shallow. You can walk out for miles in waist length water.
I was able to sit down and still stay above water. It’s beautiful. Keep an eye out for the kiteboarder’s who very well may fly over your head. It’s not a crowded bay and you really can spend your day here soaking up the sun and enjoying the turquoise waters.
Grace Bay is also pristine and beautiful. This is the beach that was closest to where I stayed. The water was calm, clean, clear, and soothing. This is where I was sunburned for the first time in life. For whatever reason my waterproof sunblock didn’t help my face at all. This is a great spot to snorkel too. It can get crowded over here depending on the time of day as all the resorts lined up to takeover this beautiful white sandy beach.
While I didn’t make my way over to Coral Gardens, I heard it is an excellent spot for snorkelers too. So note that if you’re into snorkeling activities.
Another destination for snorkeling in Turks and Caicos is over at Smiths Reef near Turtle Cove.
While you’re over in the Turtle Cove area, stop by Mango Reef and taste their mango cheesecake. The food here was pretty good overall. It’s a nice ambiance on the marina. I could totally see a wedding reception or some other lively event here (photos in the gallery).
Get away from the resorts. Please!
The food simply isn’t marvelous and I’ve mentioned a few times how expensive it is. On that note, you may want to consider an all-inclusive to cut down on the price of meals OR book at a private residence and shop with the locals to prepare your own meals.
If you’re dining out, don’t leave the island without a stop to Mr. Groupers.
The fish and seasoning is amazing. I think the chef is Jamaican. His pepper sauce is infused with Scotch Bonnet peppers and simply delicious. Germani, our hostess, was fantastic as well. I loved the vibe here and the price point is the most practical.
I mentioned Mango Reef which has yummy cheesecake but the entrees are good too.
In the Grace Bay area there’s a local restaurant called the Fresh Catch just pass Danny Bouy’s (whose food is not so good). This was actually the best meal I had in the Grace Bay area and wished I’d found them sooner.
I don’t eat conch but Da Conch Shack is known worldwide and I’m told has the best conch you’ll find. Check out my video of us catching conch and preparing a conch salad. You’ll find Da Conch Shack over by Blue Hills. In this same vicinity is Kalookis where you’ll find BBQ and jerk chicken.
Another spot for food and vibes is Bugaloos. Now before you venture out here know that you’re going through the hood to get there.
It’s rather sad to see how people are living over in Five Cays and the surrounding area. Especially after seeing all the lovely resorts and mansions going up. Even the dogs roaming the streets look sad and neglected. You’ll see a huge billboard when you get over here about the dogs and having them neutered. Apparently folks are not taking care of their pets.
Anyway, if you can find your way through this industrial area you’ll arrive at Bugaloos which is another beachside restaurant with live music. I’ll admit I didn’t stick around for the food. I was curious about finding the spot because everyone spoke so highly of it. However, it was another tourist trap and my preference was to mix with the locals. If you’re looking for music on the weekend and would like to mix-n-mingle with the tourists, hop on over. Try to find this place while you have some daylight.
And, about mixing with the locals. You really have to befriend someone who’s not working at a resort and even the restaurants. I swear the tourism board of Turks and Caicos or someone has prompted all the workers to point the tourists to the exact same spots. Pay attention and you’ll notice it sounds like folks are reading a script OR they’ll just say Turks and Caicos isn’t that type of island. People just come here to relax. Trust there are things to do and some underground fun to be had. Drop me a note.
If you love a cafe mocha like me, hop over to Blue Haven. There’s a great cafe inside the market that has the best mocha with yummy white or dark chocolate. The view of the marina here is gorgeous. Sit out on the deck and enjoy your coffee!
While you’re in the range of Blue Haven the Conch Farm is also on this side of town. If you haven’t noticed already, Conch is a big deal in Turks and Caicos. Don’t quote me but I think someone said Turks sets the standard worldwide for Conch. I had quite the learning experience of the anatomy of the Conch during my snorkel tour.
For Asian-fusion check out Chinson which is located off Leeward Hwy. You’ll find this highway to be your landmark for getting around Turks and Caicos.
reflections and travel tips
I didn’t bother booking tours and excursions with the exception of a snorkel tour with Caicos Tours. I found it much easier and better to rent a car and hit the road with my handy map (thanks Emily) to explore the island. When I go back to Turks and Caicos I’ll likely book a tour only to see the other islands outside of Providenciales.
You can reach the other islands via ferry but will need to rent a car and/or arrange for transportation once you reach the other islands.
So, Caicos Tours
While I didn’t have a bad experience with Caicos Tours, I wouldn’t book a snorkel tour with them again. For a half-day snorkel tour, I wasn’t impressed with the one stop we made. I did enjoy the time at Iguana Bay. I’m a nature buff and love animals so it was exciting seeing the Iguanas looking at us like why are you here!
The half-day tour cost about $99 per person and included rum punch, beverages, and conch salad. The essence of the trip was captured in my little video and underwater photos. What’s not captured is the comedic drama that unfolded when folks got drunk off the rum punch!
Captain Emanuel and Okemo were hilarious and a friend added to that banter after taking a carnal liking to the captain. That rum punch is trouble! Glad I didn’t have any. By the time we arrived at Iguana Island everyone on the boat knew her name. It was an extraordinary time out on the sea. That’s all I’ll say about that…
What I missed while in Turks and Caicos were the historical caves of the island. So, another trip is in order.
When you get to Turks and Caicos go ahead and get yourself a car. I do not recommend Avis. As a preferred member I was peeved with their extreme lack of service and dishonest tactics. Thankfully, Caicos Wheels had a great selection of cars and better pricing.
Don’t be afraid to drive around Turks and Caicos as it is fairly simple. Just stay to the left and count the roundabouts.
This post would not be complete without a shout out to the first person I met in Turks and Caicos
If you luck up and find a taxi/tour driver named D-Love (promise he’s not a DJ) you’ll be in for a treat. He’s an arrogant yet amusing Kappa man who will show you a good time. We bonded over HBCUs with him having gone to Wilberforce and me Hampton.
He hooked us up with vouchers for the casino which was a nice gesture. He also told us about Froggie’s which is a local restaurant out in Blue Hills and one of the many beach-side spots to hang out.
I’ll never forget him calling me a “stallion” *laughs out loud* and no I didn’t take offense. Have you seen the physique on a Stallion? Humph, yes hunty. Compliment accepted!
Are you going to Turks and Caicos?