Turks and Caicos Islands, or TCI in its abbreviated form, are a sun revelers delight- two tidy islands drifting in the Atlantic Ocean with near perfect weather year round. With their population just a twitch about Prince Edward County, Ontario, these two islands boast amazing snorkeling and scuba diving locations, picture perfect sunsets and friendly locals that welcome pasty tourists seeking sun in the off-season.
Turks & Caicos are part of the crown colony, or to you Yankees, the British Empire. So we’re practically cousins, right? While Canada sought to annex TCI and have them join Canada as our own overseas territory, the attempt back in the 70’s was thwarted by the House of Commons, and grumblings of that movement have resurfaced a few times with sadly not much vigor. Too bad, since Canadians make up the majority of their tourism, and Canadian flags (I spotted a few parasailing flags flying high in the ocean) can be seen around, and as Creole French is a common second language, well, you see the similarities- so can you join us or what?
Luxury hotels and all-inclusive resorts are popular options for visiting tourists. With not a lot of restaurants and grocery stores, the remoteness of the island gives way to the convenience of arriving and having everything done for you. There really isn’t much to see and do other than a few roadside marketplaces or a trip to the casino (but we’re not complaining). Cockburn Town is the nation’s biggest city, with a scant 3,000 residents who call it home. Easily explored on foot, the small town boasts pretty quaint colonial housing and a museum or two.
Glitzy TCI has even seen its fair share of starlets grace the islands, hosting the wedding of Ben Affleck and Jen Garner, back in the day, and canoodling ex-Disney stars Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron once visited during their blurry romance.
Those looking for nightlife will find better odds in Providenciales, or Provo as it’s known for short. While most of the bars reside inside the luxury hotels on the doorstep of the beach and its turquoise waters (which is regularly rated one of the world’s top), there’s still not much action here, so save your stilettos for Miami instead.
Scuba divers and snorkelers come to TCI for the breathtaking beauty of the water, and what lies beneath. Whether you’re into finding Dory, or just exploring, Provo beach has pristine water with many shipwrecks and ocean walls to dazzle even the most land-lubbing mermaid. Many of these scuba sites are close to shore too, making it an easy access adventure.
Provo is also home to the International airport, making it easy to fly into and get right to holiday mode. We stayed at the Beaches Resort, which is an quick 20-minute shuttle from the airport. En route you’ll pass many other big brand hotels, most of the major players have set up shop here, like The Gansevoort, The Palms, and Seven Stars Grace Bay. The majority of these places run about $400 USD per night, with drinking and eating adding a hefty sum if you’re not staying at an all-inclusive.
Our all-inclusive package at Beaches took care of food, drink and loads of sports, both water and land. Sadly the on-site spas (yes, there are two) charge extra, as do some of the wine choices at a few of the restaurants, of which there are a dizzying 20 to choose from. From American style dinners to full on Teppanyaki experiences, it was all on the house, as much as you can handle. While a few of the buffets are a little meh, most meals are a la carte and more than decent. One memorable meal was a Filet Mignon garnished with crispy onions and rich demi-glaze, or another evening dining beachside we loved the fiery Green Curry Red Snapper with fluffy rice and red peppers.
Most food is seasonal and fresh but it seems at times it’s almost impossible to keep up with demand. While breakfast consisted of canned pineapples swimming in sugar water, a Pina Colada ordered poolside will almost always be garnished with a fresh wedge of fruit. And other times it gets downright monotonous. In what seems like a retelling of that scene in Forrest Gump, the menu often rotates around conch: conch fritters, conch curry, conch tacos, conch with grits, conch ceviche, conch chowder, even conch with eggs at breakfast.
I may have resorted to a few liquid lunches, mostly just on sheer laziness- swim up bar, check. Swim up restaurant, hell no! Bartenders have a full premium stocked bar to distract you with, and rooms come equipped with fridges stocked with local Turk’s Head beer, full-size bottles of champers, wine, rum, scotch and well, you could very well just get lost in your room, which suits my fair skin jusssst fine!
Will your next beach vacation be at Turks and Caicos Islands? Tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.