MY TIME IN TURKS & CAICOS

By Alicia Price

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I reclined in a wooden patio chair in the rear of the AirBnB, as the sun tenderly caressed my skin. “Chasing the sun around the world” has become my personal mantra during my travels, so catching this sunset was pure bliss. I closed my eyes as I listened to the rustling of the ocean against the rocks on the shore. This moment could not be any more perfect. This was paradise.

The possibilities are endless in Turks & Caicos, with there being just about anything to feed your passions and your appetites. I proudly boast that this was one of my most memorable vacations because along with experiencing several “firsts”, I satisfied my curiosity of learning more about the culture. Plans are already underway to return to the island. However, for now, I’ll share a few gems from my previous visit.

I opted for an AirBnB in Providenciales and a rental car because I did not want to limit myself to only the resort and its surrounding area. I wanted to see the neighborhoods, visit the local shops and - to some degree - live like a resident. Full transparency…yes, being mobile to get to every restaurant on my list was a necessity.

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Parasailing
The best views of the beach were from a 500 foot ascension; completely unrivaled. For 15 minutes, time stood still as I was deeply immersed in peace. This was a first time experience, and I have been chasing that feeling ever since. The boat arrived at the scheduled pickup time on Grace Bay Beach and cruised on the water for about two hours or so, pairing the groups together for liftoff. The hosts were well trained, coupled with a very apparent sense of humor after “gently” dunking me in the ocean several times before bringing me back aboard.

There are a handful of companies that offer parasailing and other water activities such as snorkeling, tubing, jet skiing, etc. Whatever your preference is, I’d definitely recommend getting out on the water in some fashion.

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ATVing
The “course” began on a paved neighborhood street that transitioned into a rocky path. The path lead to a shrubby lined maze through to the beach…where I managed to bury one of my wheels into the sand. Long story. During brief down times, the tour guide told stories ranging from the local school bus route to the immigrant boat remains that lined the shore. Off-roading, specifically in the Caribbean, has become a favorite pastime. I find that I get more out of these experiences, including the initial shock that I struggled to keep up with the 60-year-old guide!

The ATV tour was hosted through Froggie’s. All necessary safety gear was provided. The speed of the tour is per the customer’s request and the path traveled was safe.

Day Trip to Middle Caicos
Turks and Caicos is made up of 3 islands; Providenciales, Middle Caicos and Grand Turks. Middle Caicos is the least populated of the 3. However, the island arguably hosts the most breathtaking views.

The most active of the trip’s activities took place here. I explored a conch cave and hiked to the highest point of the island. This is where I met Gee, the cave’s guide. She had a soothing voice and a warm spirit, and told the history similarly to an elderly aunt who has lived a full life. Conch Bar Cave does not have developed paths, stairs or lighting so the experience was much more adventurous than the typical tour attractions.

The hike was unplanned. I stumbled upon it while eating at a beachfront restaurant that served an amazing mango lamb burger, might I add. The highest point on the trail was at a partially enclosed area. Located there was a bronze casting of Praying Hands, the ideal spot to listen to the soft surf sounds and take in the birds-eye view.

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The island is accessible by a quick ferry ride. Renting a car is a must for getting around. I’d only recommend a day trip to Middle Caicos instead of an overnight stay. There isn’t much to do that isn’t accomplishable in one day.

Now, on to my favorite part….the food!

The seafood is freshly shipped – daily - to the island, and the rum distilled locally…a dynamic duo. Every craving was quenched by a perfectly flavorful dish. Needless to say, I ate well. There are a variety of restaurants scattered throughout the island and I surely did attempt to eat at as many as possible A few of my favorites were Mango Reef, Mr. Grouper and Da Conch Shack. Each provided a different setting; from beach views to the intimate, family owned, as well as those off the pier.

I am a sucker for good food AND a good time. Providenciales is a master of both.

Tuesday nights were for the beach, barbecue and bonfires at the Grace Bay Club. I was serenaded by a sultry voice singing the classic blues while watching the beach sunset over an all you can eat surf and turf buffet. Does it really get any better than that?

Thursday evenings were for the community with the weekly Fish Fry. Over a dozen food vendors and cultural acts gather at Bight Park for a showcase of entertainment and culinary amazement. The local restaurants set up booths with their best sellers, ranging from lobster mac and cheese to island corn straight off the grill. Performances were interspersed through the evening ending with the liveliest junkanoo parade through the park.

I left Turks & Caicos full, in every way possible.