Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Turks and Caicos – Sophistication and Splendid Isolation

By Bob Curley

Turks and Caicos – Sophistication and Splendid Isolation

The Turks and Caicos Islands blend the sophistication of Providenciales with the quiet solitude of islands like Middle Caicos and South Caicos. Whether you’re searching for the ultimate socially-distanced vacation or a classic beach getaway, there are many great reasons to explore this archipelago Caribbean destination further. Here are some of our favorites.

Grace Bay Beach: There are plenty of beaches in the Caribbean that claim to be among the world’s best (and some of them are), but it’s hard to top the broad, talcum-soft sands of Grace Bay Beach. Stretching for miles along the shore of Providenciales, Grace Bay Beach also has calm and brilliant waters and a wide range of hotel, resort, and activity options to enhance your days at the beach.

Fabulous Resorts: From boutique luxury beach hotels to private island resorts, Turks and Caicos has an exceptional array of places to lay your head for a Caribbean vacation. For pure beachfront luxury, it’s hard to beat the Shore Club on Long Bay or the Palms, Turks and Caicos. For an all-inclusive stay, there’s Beaches Turks & Caicos and Club Med Turkoise, both located on Grace Bay Beach. Ambergris Cay joins the Meridian Club on Pine Cay as exclusive private island resorts off the coast of Providenciales. The dune-protected Beach House is a small boutique hotel with a beach club vibe, while Aman Resorts’, Amanyara and Seven Stars resorts also offer luxurious accommodations and top service. The new Beach Club at the Rock House resort features luxury accommodations, oceanfront dining, and a 130-foot jetty with umbrellas and daybeds for guests. That’s along with the brand-new Ritz-Carlton, Turks and Caicos, which just opened in June.

Splendid Isolation: As bustling as Providenciales can seem at times, quiet Caribbean calm is never too far away. Less than half an hour from the Provo beaches you’ll find Chalk Sound, an undeveloped lagoon dotted with limestone islands that can be explored by kayak or paddle board. Big resorts and crowds are likewise absent from Sapodilla Bay. And if you really want a taste of the “old Caribbean,” venture off Provo to historic Salt Cay, where donkeys outnumber people, and Middle Caicos, which is blessedly devoid of mass tourism despite beautiful beaches like Mudjin Harbor.

Beach Bars and Fine Dining: Sophisticated dining can be found at both resorts and standalone restaurants, but Turks & Caicos also has its share of laid-back and local eateries. Da Conch Shack on Provo is a legendary but pretense-free beach bar famed for its conch dishes. Hemingway’s has fish tacos and other beach food served under shady umbrellas at the Sands Hotel on Grace Bay. With outdoor dining is a palm shaded courtyard, Coco Bistro proves that it’s worth venturing away from the shore if you want to sample some of Provo’s best food (along with its splendid food-truck-style eatery, Cocovan. And for real local flavor, be sure to make it to Bight Park on Friday night for the weekly fish fry, which also is accompanied by live music and the occasional Junkanoo parade, too.

Fishing: The waters surrounding Turks and Caicos are rich in big-game fish, including wahoo, mahi-mahi, yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, sailfish, and sharks, with excellent fishing grounds located as close as 10 minutes offshore. Fishing charter boats operate out of a pair of marinas on Providenciales, and local restaurants are usually happy to prepare your “keeper” fish for dinner when you get back into port.

Diving and Snorkeling: The Turks and Caicos Islands sit on the edge of a mostly submerged plateau, surrounded by the barrier reefs of the Caicos Banks and with precipitous drop-offs to the 6,000-foot-deep Turks Island Passage. Add the fact that the islands are largely composed of porous limestone and it sets the stage for some of the Caribbean’s most spectacular diving, from plunges over colorful reefs and walls teeming with marine life rising from the dark deep to the beauty of blue holes like the 250-foot-deep Middle Caicos Ocean Hole.

Iguanas and Stingrays and Bats, Oh My: Take a wild guest what inhabits Iguana Island. We’ll wait. Yup, it’s a colony of rare rock iguanas, which once were found across the islands but now live only in a few isolated communities like the one on Little Water Cay off Providenciales (Iguana Island is a nickname). The waters off Gibbs Cay, another small island off the coast of Grand Turk, is home to a docile population of stingrays who will eat out of the palm of your hand. And if you visit the Conch Bar Caves on Middle Caicos be sure to look for the resident bats hanging out on the ceilings in this vast cave system.

Planning a visit? The Turks and Caicos has announce an update to its travel protocols, Caribbean Journal has learned. All travelers now need to present a negative PCR or antigen test result taken and received within three days before travel. The new rules took effect on July 28th. It’s a change from the earlier requirement of five days. The destination received a Level 1 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the safest designation level.

It’s also one of the world’s most-vaccinated countries, with vaccination at more than 60 percent of the adult population.

All travelers to Turks and Caicos additionally need to have medical or travel insurance that covers med-evac; they also need to complete a health screening questionnaire.

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