As you glide through the clouds, and the glittering blue waters come into view, you know you're about to begin a great escape. Made up of 40 islands, Turks and Caicos has a lot of unchartered land and sea to explore. Although Providenciales is the most developed island of the 40, there are no major brand businesses. No large coffee chains, nor for the most part, hotel chains. Sorry, points users, your airlines miles may get you to the Turks, but you'll have to shell out a lot more than a few sand dollars you found on the beach for your accommodations. But with endless creamy sand to guide you along Grace Bay beach, Provo feels like a place you can really sink your feet into, forever. Which is why we've vacationed there several times. Nothing more fashionable than a bikini and flip flops are required, as the days are hot and the vibes are relaxed. So stick a straw in a coconut, cut up some fresh watermelon, and meet us in Turks.
We've been dreaming of returning to the island since our last trip there, so when a great flight deal emerged on Jetblue, we hopped on it immediately. Having already been, and dubbing it our favorite Caribbean island, we knew we were bound to have a blissful vacation. There are so many luxurious and splurge-worthy properties to stay in on the famous Grace Bay Beach, such as Leading Hotel of the World's Grace Bay Beach Club, but the one with the most panache is the newly built Shore Club on nearby Long Bay Beach. With high ceilings and an airy lobby, one feels an instant rush of beachside luxury at its finest. Each pool is a glamorous oasis of its own. The suites are beautifully finished and the decor is shore chic. All of the staff members were one step ahead, happy to make each stay as comfortable and effortless as possible. Sitting right on the water, the resort offers postcard quality views of the beach, morning, noon, and night.
Although there can be no complaints made of the property, Long Bay Beach is known as the windier side of the island, which explains the number of kite surfers. Only a 10 minute drive from the resort is our favorite beach, Grace Bay. With miles of silky sand to walk upon, it's the best beach for a good evening stroll, and even better turquoise water to snorkel in.
Every day of our stay, we walked upwards of four miles on the beach, sometimes stopping at the scenic and laid back Somewhere Cafe for breakfast or lunch.
Besides Somewhere, our favorite lunch spot was Retreat Kitchen on the second floor of the Ports of Call plaza, near the Seven Stars resort. We can't emphasize enough how grateful we were to have a delicious and healthy option at a Caribbean destination. The small and cute eatery serves homemade, plant-based dishes. Each day they offer a special salad, soup, summer roll, and zucchini noodle bowl, so you're palate is never bored. Options such as Thai sweet potato soup, spicy kale and roasted butternut squash salad, and red pepper pesto zucchini noodles are all tasty, satisfying meals. Anti-everything shots, made fresh with turmeric, ginger, orange, hemp seed, and more, are a must order to start each meal, as well as a great way to hydrate your cells on a sun filled vacation. Open from 9 AM to 3 PM everyday except Sunday, Retreat Kitchen is the perfect spot for not only health conscious travelers, but for anyone looking to have a genuinely good meal. May we also suggest the banana walnut muffins? Gluten-free, vegan, moist, and gooey, they are addicting.
Conveniently located next door, Retreat Kitchen's sister yoga studio offers many daily classes for those looking to practice their zen on the island. If tennis is your thing, we recommend Rey Garcia of TCI Tennis Academy at the Provo Golf Club. Rey's rates are competitive, and his teaching method is thorough and comprehensive. Your backhand will thank you.
Since Providenciales has a limited amount of on-land activities, many days of our vacation consisted of lounging around and working on our tans. We did manage, however, to sprinkle in a few active things to do.
Below is a sampling of our days in Provo:
To start each day, we drove to Lemon 2 Go coffee shop for the best cup of coffee on the island. (If you're based in Grace Bay, you do not need a car. Everything you would need is on one main street. However, since the taxi to the airport and back is such a large expense on its own, it's not much more to have the convenience of your own car on the island. There is also free parking at every hotel and in Grace Bay downtown. But keep in mind that driving is on the left side of the road!)
After coffee, we walked around a bit, exploring the boutiques and the Potcakes Puppies store, where visitors can have a play-date with a shelter puppy for an hour to provide it some love. We then geared up in our bathing suits and sunscreen and laid out beachside.
When the sun would become too strong and our hunger pangs would make themselves known, we'd venture to Retreat Kitchen for lunch. On the one day we ventured to lunch elsewhere, we ate at Grace Bay Club's Infinity bar, where although decent, the views outshine the dishes.
After lunch, we'd either return to the beach, or lay pool side with a good read. Another great option, which we did on our first trip to the island, was a snorkel excursion with Caicos Dream Tours. A cryptic but compelling sight the half-day trip takes you to is the begotten development of Ritz Carlton's Molasses Reef on the island of West Caicos. Financed by the Lehman Brothers, construction of the uber exclusive resort-to-be halted in the midst of the financial crisis in 2008. Besides views of half-completed mega villas, starfish and stingrays await willing snorkelers.
The best early evening activity is a long walk along the beach, when the sun isn't as strong. We usually walked for about two hours each day.
For dinner, we frequented CocoVan, popular Coco Bistro's sister glam airstreamer. Although we've read glowing reviews of the Bistro, the high prices have kept us at bay. So when the more affordable and casual alternative opened, we decided to try it out. It was so good, we couldn't think of even going anywhere else for our dinners out. Set in a beautiful and whimsical palm grove, CocoVan is both a delicious place to eat, and a fun setting to dine in. We tried out a lot of the plates over the course of our trip, so we feel we can safely say that everything on the menu is amazing. We cannot say enough about this spot, from the staff to the environment to the creative options, every aspect is spot on.
On our first trip to Provo, we tried out Gansevoort's Stella restaurant for dinner one evening, but it was the elegant design of the hotel that really stood out.
When we didn't feel like eating out, we walked to Graceway Gourmet for fruits and veggie snacks. While we've always felt very safe in Turks and Caicos, we usually made sure to be back in our room before late. We didn't mind though, as a day in the sun is both rejuvenating yet exhausting. Having vacationed in a plethora of islands, including St. Barts, Curacao, Aruba, St. Thomas, St. John, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, Saint Martin, Barbados, and the Bahamas, we've found that Providenciales offers the most beautiful and walkable beach, as well as the most exclusivity.