Powder sand beaches, warm breezes and luxury accommodations await visitors in Turks and Caicos
By Katie McElveen
Ready to fall in love at first glance? Consider a visit to Turks and Caicos, where sea and sand conspire to create a mesmerizing watercolor that stretches all the way to the horizon. Even better, this 40-island chain located 575 miles southeast of Miami is chock full of watery diversions — the snorkeling and diving is some of the best in the world — as well as golf, kiteboarding, hiking, history and even a bit of cliff diving. Resort choices abound as well, ranging from luxurious high rises to small boutique properties, all-inclusives and everything in between. Travel Impressions, a AAA preferred travel partner, provides a great selection of properties to match your style and budget.
The crescent-shaped island of Providenciales (Provo) is this British territory’s most developed. It’s here you’ll find the justifiably famous Grace Bay Beach, where, past the low-key beach bars and expansive resorts, you can still find long stretches of empty sand. It’s also the jumping off point for some top-notch snorkeling: Smith’s Reef, which is accessible directly from the beach, is known for its population of green turtles and Eagle rays.
Another option is to take the one-mile boat ride to the massive barrier reef (it’s the world’s third largest), where both snorkelers and scuba divers can take in an underwater landscape alive with sea turtles, rays and rainbow-hued fish swimming through waving sea grasses and fragile coral branches. Island-hopping snorkelers might want to consider West Caicos Marine National Park, where crystal-clear water showcases the island’s caves, coral formations and colorful reef fish. Daredevils can get their thrills jumping from the cliffs, which can reach 25 feet in height, into the warm ocean water. Fishing is another popular activity, particularly on the Caicos side of the channel, and it’s easy to see why: marine flats surrounding Provo as well as East, South and Middle Caicos are tailor made for bonefishing; optimum spots for deep sea and bottom fishing can be found just minutes off shore. Getting around is easy, too — use the network of ferries, flights and roadways to explore on your own or book an excursion with a tour operator.
Beyond varied landscapes, uninhabited beaches and natural wonders, the islands surrounding Provo are filled with history. South Caicos once exported more than a million bushels of sea salt a year. Today, the ruins of homes and structures from the region’s salt-producing era dot both South Caicos and the surrounding cays. Located in Cockburn Town on Grand Turk, the Turks and Caicos National Museum delves into the mysterious history of the Tainos, the island’s earliest inhabitants. Additional exhibits include armaments from the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest European shipwreck excavated in the Western Hemisphere. Just around the corner, Her Majesty’s Prison served as the nation’s only jail from the 1830s until 1994. Large and lush, North Caicos was the center of agriculture in Turks and Caicos during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Wade’s Green Plantation offers remarkable insight into this era of the nation’s history.
Book a suite at Ambergris Cay resort and you’ll arrive in style: jet setters are delivered to this pampering hideaway aboard the resort’s own private plane. Each of the 20 villas and 10 suites have direct beach access, private plunge pools and outdoor showers. All-inclusive rates include not just meals and all beverages but use of bikes, golf carts, motor boats and other watercraft, as well as castaway picnics, spa treatments and other activities.
Resembling a rambling, gingerbread-clad beach cottage, Beach House is an all-inclusive with a difference: There are just 21 suites, allowing guests to have an experience that’s as indulgent (think Champagne bar) as it is private. The location, a prime stretch of sand on Grace Bay Beach, can’t be beat. But in case you want to explore, the resort also offers access (and transport) to the company’s sister resorts.
Book a suite or villa at Sailrock Resort, and the only crowds you’ll encounter are wild donkeys, pink flamingoes and hummingbirds. That’s because this secluded stay is located on South Caicos, one of the lesser-developed isles in Turks and Caicos. Lodging options range from expansive Ridgetop Suites to elegant villas. Beyond the beach, there are wildlife excursions, a pool and lots of water activities.
With its marble floors, ornate moldings and custom mahogany furnishings, The Palms Turks and Caicos evokes a classic British estate, albeit one set on Grace Bay Beach. The resort’s 72 suites are arrayed around a stunning serpentine infinity pool set with sun pods, a hot tub “island” and a hidden sun deck. For dinner, be sure to book a table on the candlelit terrace of the resort’s AAA Four-Diamond Parallel 23 restaurant.
Experience a different side of Provo, literally, at The Shore Club. It’s the first resort located on Long Bay Beach, a nearly three-mile stretch of sand that fringes island’s east coast. Suites have breezy, white-on-white interiors and natural stone accents. Multi-bedroom villas have full kitchens and private butlers. Don’t miss the resort’s Dune Spa, where holistic treatments can be provided in a cabana on the beach.
Guests at The Sands at Grace Bay have to deal with a vexing problem: spend their days on the beach or floating in one of the three free form pools that snake through the property and feature canals, waterfalls and grottos. Complicating the decision is the full-service spa, tennis courts and free use of bikes. Luckily, there is no wrong answer — just endless sunshine.
It’s all about location at Seven Stars Resort & Spa, a posh high-rise resort that offers easy access to some of Provo’s best shopping and dining. But you might not want to leave the resort, which sits on 22 beautifully landscaped acres set with pools, lush gardens and outdoor dining venues. Rooms and suites have marble baths, outdoor terraces and full kitchens or kitchenettes.
How To Visit
Though Turks and Caicos does not require visitors to quarantine, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of arrival. Proof of emergency medical insurance and medical evacuation insurance (“medevac”) that would cover you in case of COVID-19 illness while staying in the Turks and Caicos Islands are also required.
Ready for a tropical escape? Call 800-750-5386 and book your getaway today!