Dreaming of Caribbean escape with miles of unspoiled beaches, crystal waters and world-class cuisine? You’ve come to the right place. Turks and Caicos, a British protectorate with Jamaican influences and the American dollar, boasts the third largest barrier reef in the world, making for calm, clear ocean and excellent snorkeling and diving. Though the islands may not have the high energy activities on offer in Barbados or the Bahamas, what you get in Turks is sheer, blissful, relaxation.
Stop 1 – Breakfast with a View
Where: Your beachfront villa
When: In time for sunrise (7am)
Why: There’s a whole lot of fun (and relaxation) on the agenda for today, so start early with a breakfast of fresh fruit and coffee on the pool deck of your villa. For immediate vacation gratification, jump in for a quick swim before you sit down to eat, it will wake you up and help get your mind on island time. If you’re still deciding where to stay, villas along Long Bay beach are perfectly positioned to catch the sunrise, while those along Grace Bay are ideal for sunset watch.
Stop 2 – Fun in the Sun
Where: Grace Bay beach
Why: When a beach is voted “Best in the World” several years in a row, it’s probably worth checking out. Whatever visions you have of Grace Bay – that white sand, that ombré turquoise water – they’re all true, and then some. Depending where you are along the beach you’ll either get a deserted stretch of sand – save for the occasional strolling couple – or you’ll be sharing with other holidaymakers. But get one look at the ocean as the sun brings those colors to life and you wont really mind who else is on the beach with you. All you need is your book, your chair, and a hat and you’ll be set for several hours. Keep one eye on the ocean for JoJo the dolphin – he has been patrolling the waters along the bay here for 25 years and is a favorite with visitors.
Stop 3 – Conch for Lunch
Where: Da Conch Shack
Why: Conch is the national dish of Turks and Caicos – they farm it here, cook it every which way, and it’s even on the islands’ flag. Every local you meet tells you that you can’t leave without trying it, and they mean it. For your first initiation into the sea snail world, there’s nowhere better than Da Conch Shack. Charming and just the right side of ramshackle, the outdoor restaurant on Thompson beach is the definition of a barefoot beach bar. The staff is friendly and the beer is cold. This might also be a great time for your first taste of the local Turks Head beer – named after the Turks Head cactus with its bright red top. Not a beer drinker? If it’s not too early in the day, the rum punch is famous across the island. When it’s time to order, start with conch fritters, or conch ceviche, then try the classic jerk chicken with rice and peas.
Stop 4 – Snorkeling Adventure
Where: Along the barrier reef with Island Vibes
Why: To understand the soul of Turks and Caicos you have to head out to the open ocean. Island Vibes Tours have been sharing their love of the waters around Turks and Caicos since 2009, and they know the cays like the back of their hand. Jump on your tour boat right from the beach (they’ll come right up to the shore alongside your villa to get you) then sit back and watch the beach fade into the distance as you head out to the barrier reef. Once there, you’ll enjoy a guided snorkel tour into the depths, looking out for Parrot Fish, majestic rays and more, before climbing back on board for the next stop – Little Water Cay, home to a population of rock iguanas and not much else. Head inland to see the iguanas in their natural habitat, then wander the beach and enjoy the Robinson Crusoe feeling of being alone on a real desert island. Island vibes makes one last, important stop on the way back home, dropping anchor in deep water, giving you the chance to practice your acrobatic skills from the rooftop diving board. Water babies will be in heaven.
Stop 5 – Sunset Drinks
Where: Infiniti Bar
Why: After all the excitement of an afternoon on the high seas, you deserve a sit down, so stroll along the beach for a sunset cocktail at Infiniti Bar at the Grace Bay Club. The space has a sun-kisssed Ibiza vibe, with oversized rattan lanterns and deep comfy seats clustered around glowing firepits. And yes, you can even make your own S’mores. Aside from sweets you’ll find other small plates on the menu if you’re feeling peckish. Sit back with a champagne cocktail and toast to your day in paradise while the sky turns from blue to pink to orange. Is there a better feeling than this?
Stop 6 – Dreamy Dinner
Where: Stelle at the Gansevoort
Why: With billowing white drapes and chic cabanas dotted around a stunning pool area, the outside space at the Gansevoort hotel seems to have jumped straight out of the pages of Vogue, into your vacation. Arrive early to give yourself time to wander around and enjoy the glamorous surroundings, but your destination is Stelle restaurant, which serves up what might be the best food on the whole of Provo. Start with a deliciously fresh cocktail – we love the melonlemonade spiked with vodka – followed by a market fresh salad with creamy goat’s cheese and baby beets, or tuna tartare. Asian dishes are a focus here so try the rich Wagyu beef rendang or yellow fish curry and if you have room for dessert, go for key lime pie, and island specialty.
Where to stay in Turks and Caicos