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40 ISLANDS AND CAYS
 
(2013 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: VALERIE MARSHALL AND ADAM SAUNDERS



Each time we visit the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands we learn something valuable about the many cultures that have made them such a wonderful tourism destination.

With its rich history of early Lucayan settlement and the subsequent influences of Bermudian salt-rakers and the French, Spanish and British settlers over the years, a kaleidoscope of cultures has developed. Many visitors return regularly to appreciate the evolving entertainment and restaurant scene in Providenciales as well as experience the world-class tour operations offering ocean sports and activities.

Worth the Extra Effort

The Turks and Caicos Islands is known as one of the finest dive destinations in the world and the well-qualified operators in Grand Turk are busy year-round. In fact, since we last visited Grand Turk, much has changed. With the opening of the cruise port and the recently renamed White Sands Beach Resort and Santa Maria Casino, travellers who are prepared to take an extra short trip by air are able to access some superb vacation options.

Grand Turk is the government capital of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Cockburn Town is a delightful old-century town with homes reminiscent of Bermuda from whence its first settlers came about three centuries ago. Pristine beaches, donkeys and horses wander through the streets while colourful bougainvillea bushes add to the quiet charm of this small island getaway. The cruise port generates a bustle of activity several days a week with passengers choosing from among the numerous options available to them: Jeep tours, casino visits, water sports, dive and snorkelling tours with any of the several excellent operators.

Accommodation Choices

Providenciales is the best known of the Turks and Caicos Islands. An easy flight from Toronto, Ottawa or Montréal, Provo offers a tantalizing range of hotels and accommodation to suit all budgets. Many of the hotels feature well-equipped, self-catering suites. Several properties now offer all-inclusive packages however we suggest you check before booking.

Returning to Provo on this occasion we appreciated the hospitality in the newly renovated Ports of Call Resort. This part of Provo is an easy walk to world-famous Grace Bay Beach where we could relax watching the parasailing activities out over the ocean or sip a rum punch beside the courtyard pool. It’s
also very close to the Cuban Crafters Cigar Store
and Factory where we observed skilled cigar-makers hand-roll cigars. Later, we found ourselves close to
the Caicos Café, which had changed owners since our last trip. Dinner under the stars was well worth the wait for a table in this popular spot so close to our hotel.

For a second week we enjoyed the magnificent suites in the new Windsong Resort. This charming, small boutique property is right on Grace Bay Beach close to the reef where guests can enjoy superb snorkelling. Poolside, Jojo’s Café, with its quiet bar, full restaurant, and the opportunity to dine on the dunes, offers a romantic and relaxing ambience.

Dining Venues

Since our resort was a short taxi ride from the central Grace Bay area, we chose, one evening, to walk along the beach. Attracted by the music playing at the nearby Somewhere Café, we sampled a Mexican menu and discovered this little spot has a great atmosphere—well worth the walk! 

It was hard to choose from so many excellent dining possibilities. Since we had not previously experienced the Vino Tiempo Wine Bar and Cigar Lounge, our host, Tony Garland, spoiled us with a tantalizing array of appetizers accompanied by a fine selection of wines. A well-recognized wine connoisseur, Tony operates the island’s Wine Cellar on Leeward Highway and also handles operations at the Pelican Bay Restaurant(in the Royal West Indies Hotel), to which he invited us to partake in their Jamaican Jerk Sunday (one of their special theme nights). On a warm Sunday evening with strains of Bob Marley’s music provided by Keno, we savoured the fine food and atmosphere.

Out on the Ocean

We were also invited to join Silver Deep on a glow-worm tour, which was quite remarkable. For a few nights each month the full moon draws the incredible phenomenon of mating glow-worms to the surface and, for about 15 minutes, it looked like there were stars in the water. Throughout the boat tour Silver Deep’s merry crew entertained us. This well-established company operates a number of family-
orientated tours including one to Iguana Island (Little Water Cay). Owned by Arthur and Paola Deane, we discovered that Captain Arthur is sought after as one of the
finest deep-sea fishing guides in the Caribbean. A fishing trip with Arthur is definitely on our bucket list for our
next visit!

Island-hopping

A number of islands are only about 10 to 25 minutes by air from Provo however all can also be reached by boat. We took a short ferry ride to North and Middle Caicos where getaway experiences include small villa rentals and local restaurants as well as peaceful, clean beaches and lush vegetation. It appears these islands receive more rainfall than Provo and, as a result, boast a thriving agricultural community. We lunched at the Silver Palm Restaurantwith owner Karen Preikshat, who, with her husband “Poach” Misick, also owns a number of self-catering suites, which are well suited to a gentle-paced family vacation.

Both Karen and Poach are committed tour guides who drove us across the causeway to Middle Caicos to explore the enormous Conch Bar Cave network. The largest island in the Turks and Caicos, the sparsely populated Middle Caicos has a history that dates back to the Lucayans. Next to North Caicos, Parrot Cay is home to the exclusive Parrot Cay Resort and Spa.

At the time of writing, development was well underway for expansion of the airport, which, with the increased number of tourists visiting the islands, will be a valuable improvement. However, it is usually only a short taxi ride to most of the Provo hotels and the lift to Grand Turk and the outer islands by Air Turks and Caicos is an easy transfer.

We are always sorry to leave this beautiful group of islands with their steady offshore breezes; soft, clean, sandy beaches; friendly taxi drivers who remember your name; and courteous greetings from locals as you pass them on the street.

Travel Planner

For more information, visit:

Turks and Caicos Tourist Board: turksandcaicostourism.com

Grand Turk: turksandcaicos.tc/grandturk/index.htm

North Caicos Everything: northcaicoseverything.com

Ports of Call Resort: portsofcallresort.com

Windsong Resort: windsongresort.com

Silver Deep: silverdeep.com

 
 
 
 
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