With Jacob now in daycare, and shifting into full fledged toddler mode, Ariel and I decided it was time for another trip for just the two of us.
Unlike our trip to Bermuda though, which ended up being more of an adventure than we had intended, our goal this time was to just relax on a beach and try to stifle our instinctual need for exploration. We really just wanted a break, especially after going through a nearly incessant two month cold that Jacob couldn’t shake until literally the day before our departure date.
So we carefully put Jacob to bed at his grandparents, dropped Sammy off at his dog daycare/hotel, packed up our things, and headed to the airport the following morning for a 9 am flight to bright and sunny Turks and Caicos.
Unlike our past trips, we really were able to just chill out and stay put. Part of this had to do with the fact that we were both getting over our own colds and were just utterly exhausted from the last two months. But also, despite having a great time in Bermuda, we kind of saw it as a bit of a missed opportunity to re-gather our strength. As parents heading into a second year of parenthood, we certainly still are always on the lookout for new adventures, but sometimes it’s nice to get home from a vacation feeling refreshed instead of exhausted.
Because of that, there’s not much to report on from this trip. Turks and Caicos is as beautiful as you’ve heard. Grace Bay is a really beautiful beach, and the water is as incredible as you’ve seen in pictures. A lot has been made about TripAdvisor rating Grace Bay as the “number 1 beach in the world” – I don’t know about THAT, but it is certainly one of the nicest I’ve ever seen on the Atlantic side of the planet.
We stayed at the Royal West Indies, which isn’t exactly a resort. It’s more of a “condotel” where people own properties and rent them out by the night. There’s a concierge, and pools, and an on-site restaurant, and of course beach access with chairs and umbrellas. This was a pretty popular idea in places like south Florida especially before the advent of services like AirBnB. Anyway, this place was literally half the price of the true resorts and it was 100% the way to go. You’re going to Grace Bay for the beach and water, not the accommodations.
And it’s not like the rooms were bad at all, ours was really nice! It even had a little kitchenette with a toaster, microwave, fridge and sink. This came in handy when we decided to have some toast with brie (that we had picked up at the grocery store) for lunch on our balcony. Here’s a pro-tip for Royal West Indies – try and get yourself on the third floor facing facing the beach. The view isn’t completely clear of obstructions, but at least you’ll see some of the beach and beautiful water.
We only left the hotel grounds a few times (aside from walks on the beach), to go to dinner each night, and to do an amazing sunset cruise on Friday night. Also the day we landed, the hotel gave us bicycles (for free!) that we were allowed to use for up to two hours. So we rode into town to do some grocery shopping – I was thrilled to once again find a kosher bottle of wine in a remote place.
The boat ride with Sail Provo was the highlight of the trip. Unfortunately, Grace Bay beach does not have a clear view to the west, so while the sunsets were all beautiful, we were never able to see it go down below the horizon. The boat ride allowed us to have that chance, although of course there were some clouds that robbed me of my obsession with seeing the sun’s orb going into the water. I did get to make kiddush on a catamaran, at sunset, which checks off another unique place to do that.
After the sun went down, the entire horizon and sky lit up in all different shades of purple, red and orange, which is just my favorite thing in the world. You should definitely do this and Sail Provo is a good choice. They picked us up at our hotel, and served rum punch, beer, chips/salsa, and pretzels. They even let one of the passengers fish off the back of the boat, and she caught a fish!
Each night we went to a different restaurant – Infiniti, Coco Bistro, and Seven. All were excellent and within walking distance of our hotel (although Seven was a little farther so we took a taxi). The rest of the time we spent on the beach, although of course I had to have a little side adventure of my own.
Because I’d been so sleep deprived and stressed I somehow forgot to bring my backpack with my computer, Kindle, and all the non-clothes necessities I bring on every trip. This meant I had to be one of those idiots in the airport who buys a toothbrush and deodorant for roughly 1,000% more than it costs anywhere else. But there was nowhere to get a Kindle, and the book selection at Newark Airport leaves…much to be desired. And I still had no way to conjure up a computer.
So I had to scramble to deal with work stuff (luckily the hotel had a computer for public use), and ended up getting a taxi over to the Unicorn Bookstore in Providenciales to buy a book (which also gave me a chance to get a book for Jacob like we did in Bermuda). Amazingly, they actually had a copy of The Fall of Gondolin by JRR Tolkien, which I’d never read so I figured, why not. Be advised, if you show up in Turks and Caicos without something to read, the Unicorn is pretty much your only option. It’s not exactly Barnes and Noble, but you will find something for sure. And the woman who works there is really nice!
Other than that little sidequest, it was so nice to just stay put for a few days, while being surrounded by beautiful scenery. Even though the sunsets were a little bit obstructed, each evening at twilight was truly incredible. The water was the perfect temperature and so clear and clean. The sand was a joy to walk through, very fine and very white so it never got too hot to walk on barefoot. And because it’s is so clean there, and the sand so white, and the ocean so shallow, all the way out to reefs, the water is just a pure turquoise for way farther out than you see in most tropical places. Finally, having the reefs there means the waves are quite subdued which makes it even more relaxing to just hang out on the shore.
One other thing about Turks and Caicos – aside from being a beautiful place, unlike many other destinations in Caribbean, is quite safe. This means you can leave your hotel and feel comfortable walking places on your own. It also means you can actually go to where local people live and not feel like you’re in a Potemkin Village at your resort.
The only exception to this was when we went to the Casablanca casino, which was right next to where we stayed. That place is weird and there was a really not cool vibe (and not just because the drink server walked by us three times without offering us anything). They also have some pretty sketchy “special offers” where you can get a voucher for $50 in chips for $10. Turns out that 5 of those dollars are for “drink service” (which we never even got!) and the remaining $35 (in addition to the $10 you spent) only act as “doubling” money – so you STILL have to add your own money to use it. I actually don’t think this is a bad deal at all, but it’s not how it was presented to us which is really wrong. We also had an issue when someone else grabbed one of my chips at the roulette table and the croupier acted like *I* did something wrong. At that point we just bailed. Unless you have a major need to gamble and feel extremely confident in your Spidey sense (and really why even bother going somewhere like that on a vacation), I would recommend avoiding this place.
Finally – let’s talk about the airport. It’s…not great. It kind of looks like a lost terminal at La Guardia. I don’t care about the lack of jetways or whatever, but it is tiny and cramped and the only lounge is obscenely expensive and not included with Priority Pass or any of the airlines. There’s not much to do there once you’re past security, and even though the air conditioning was set to 70, it was 82 degrees once the place starting filling up. The chairs are really uncomfortable, and at peak time you may not even get a seat!
So yeah, just try to spend as little time as you can at the airport.
All in all though, we really had an amazing time in Turks and Caicos, and will probably head back there again. Forget the expensive resorts though, just find somewhere close to the beach and spend your time there. Royal West Indies is a great option. And DEFINITELY do a sunset cruise!
Post Script: Turks and Caicos have a really cool glowworm phenomenon that takes place on the third night after a full moon. They have boat rides that take you out to see this and supposedly the water lights up all around you. We missed it by one day because I had no idea this thing exists – so make sure when booking your flight to check on that. I can’t tell you if it’s worth it, but if you’re going to go, you might as well go when you can see something as unique as that!