Silk Sand,Turquoise Waters- Turks and Caicos
Updated: May 26, 2020
Relaxation, Sun, and Water- What else could you ask for?
Have you thought about going to Turks and Caicos for your next vacation? Listed below are a few things that you might consider when planing when visiting the turquoises waters of TCI.
“How do I get there and when is the next flight!”
Turks and Caicos Islands
A highly recommended location for your Caribbean travels are the islands of Turks and Caicos. These islands are to the west of Cuba and north of the Dominican Republic. One of the best things about Turks and Caicos is how many airlines fly there. So if you are trying to use your airline points (see our other post on airline points and how to maximize you vacation on how we used our Southwest companion pass to go around the US south and Turks and Caicos.) Turks and Caicos is a standalone country and you do need a valid passport when traveling there.
Grand Turk or Providenciales?
Turks and Caicos are made up of smaller Cayes (pronounced like keys), some only accessible by boat. We’ve vacationed on the islands on two different trips and have only stayed in the main area near Providenciales. We stayed in Providenciales because: it has the most to offer (restaurant/activities/scuba/snorkeling etc), and two because it’s cheaper and easier to access the larger airport. Grand Turk also offers an option for flights. With a size of 6.95 square miles, and a major hub for cruise ships, Grand Turk offers a condensed version of the islands with a large tourist occupation.
On Providenciales, plan your vacation near Grace Bay. Grace Bay offers the most amount of high end resorts, restaurants, and activities you look for in a Caribbean vacation.
The water around Turks and Caicos are the best in the world and one of the best in the entire Caribbean. With underwater visibility up to 100 yards, your introduction to the world of scuba diving needs to start here. There are plenty of scuba and water sports around Grace Bay, some that can take you out into the ocean without any certification (but it’s beneficial to get PADI certified). The water around Turks and Caicos is crystal clear turquoise and warm throughout the year.
Where to stay?
We’ve stayed at multiple locations around Grace Bay: Beaches (family resort), Sibonne Beach (smaller independent hotel), and The Sands at Grace Bay (larger resort very close to town). Most if not all resorts in Turks and Caicos offer all inclusive features at the hotels for convenience. At Beaches and Sibonne Beach we decided to go with the all inclusive nature of the resorts in lieu of venturing out. If you decide not to rent a car try to stay as close to downtown Grace Bay as possible as walking to and fro to your resort is not really feasible. Although on the map it appears close to eateries, the heat and distance quickly tack onto your travels.
Beaches- a family resort closely related to the Sandals franchise the only difference is Sandals is for adults only, Beaches is for families *smaller children. Beaches offers many activities for the family and has many things structured around Sesame Street. Many of the onsite activities were free of charge (included in the resort pricing) and many options at the resort were all inclusive. I highly suggest the all inclusive features at this resort due to it’s location and multiple restaurants on site. The negative aspects about this property are that it’s VERY young family oriented. When we traveled here we traveled with pre-teen/teenage children and they quickly became unenthusiastic about the environment (not to mention the adults in the party as well).
Sibonne Beach offers a smaller resort vibe with comfortable rooms. After leaving Beaches we stayed at Sibonne Beach (and continued to extend our vacation here) for a good portion of our vacation. There is only one restaurant on the property (and offers a very tasty conch soup (the local delicacy from the sea)). One of the best perks of staying on Sibonne Beach (and in general at a smaller resort) was the ease of pick up when doing water sports (such as scuba diving). We had a scuba company pick us up every morning on the beach of the resort from their boat and quickly set off to a new underwater adventure every day. If looking to try new restaurants/food then you will need to rent a car.
The Sands at Grace Bay is a medium sized resort with a single restaurant on site Hemmingways. The rooms are large, and most of them have a nice closed in terrace to sit outside. One of the best aspects about this location is the proximity to downtown Grace Bay. The shops and restaurants are easily walked from the resort but heels are still a struggle.
Car Rental- WORTH IT
It was fairly easy to rent a car (albeit expensive) near Grace Bay and the Airport. The national language in Turks and Caicos is English so renting a car and navigating is fairly easy for English speaking vacationers. The only thing to consider while driving in Turks in Caicos is that they drive on left (opposite from the U.S.) but the cars they import are from the U.S. making the steering wheel on the left (same as the U.S.). This feels a little jarring in the beginning but most of the streets are only two lane roads. If you have the curb always on the left you will be driving the correct way. By having a car you are able to explore more, go to more restaurants, and be more independent. There was no UBER or LYFT when we were there. They did have taxi's but we had issues (including one taxi not showing up for our check out and almost making us missing our flight!)
Shopping and prices in TCI
The shopping in Grace Bay is overpriced (like most things on a small island due to importing most of the goods) so don’t expect to get a deal.
A well worth restaurant visit in Grace Bay is Bella Luna Ristorante and Pizzaria. The pizza restaurant is on the bottom floor of a nicer restaurant on top. The Italian restaurant is open air next to tropical palm trees, so another lather of bug spray would be prudent.
If snorkeling is more on your list of activities then stop by Smiths Reef. It’s an easy shore swim next to a plethora of restaurants. When you get to the beach be aware that the cabanas are not free and the hotels and locals at the beach are looking to charge you for the pleasure to stay there. This is where the art of the haggle comes into effect and sometimes walking away works in your favor.
Overall rating 8 out of 10. The island is expensive due to the amazing water. If you need to splurge this is a good place to do it. Limit your time to five to six days here so that you walk home with at least some money in your pockets.