Turks and Caicos Travel Tips

If you’re looking to vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, particularly on Provo, the most populated island in the chain, here is my “thumbs up and thumbs down” along with a few tips and tricks to consider.

Thumbs Up:

Grace Bay – Picture the most amazing Caribbean travel magazine ad and you’ve got Grace Bay: powder white sand and crystal clear turquoise water that’s bathtub warm. This is where most of the resorts are located.
Chalk Sound Pontoon Cruise – book it at Las Brisas restaurant located at the Neptune Villas on the south side of Providenciales and spend a couple of hours with Captain Lorenzo and Master Diver Duarte on an informative and leisurely cruise around the shallow waters (ranging from approx 1 to 12 feet) of Chalk Sound National Park.
You’ll snorkel at a small reef, swim around a sunken airplane, visit a small island inhabited by iguanas and hover over the blue hole, a bottomless phenomenon. $50 for a 2 hour tour.
Caicos Dream Tours an outstanding water excursion company that goes out of their way to give you an amazing experience (price ranges depending on what you want). Three thumbs up for these guys – read my blogpost on them here.

Conch Farm (Provo) – you’re gonna eat a lot of it so why not educate yourself first? Take a guided tour and learn how conchs are raised from egg stage to adulthood in this sea farm located near the TCI Ferry terminal. $10 per person for a 20 minute tour.

Undersea Explorer – if you have anyone who wants to witness reef life without getting wet, this is a great option. $50/person for a 1 hour tour.

The people – any place where the people use “yah mon!” as a standard reply is a good place to be. We were always met by gracious people with a can-do attitude and a willingness to please.

Grace Bay Car Rentals – efficient staff who met us at the airport with a vehicle; easy drop-off and pick-up arrangements. Try and get a 4×4; the roads are “interesting” in spots.

Da Conch Shack – best conch on the island, without a doubt.

TCI Ferry – $30/per person round trip to the North Caicos Island terminal.

From there you can rent a car and go exploring North and Middle Caicos for the day. We didn’t have time to do all the things we could’ve done, but below are some notes on places we visited and would recommend:

Dragon Cay at Mudjin Harbour

Daniel’s Café at Conch Bar on Middle Caicos – great tasting conch ($20/plate) and Daniel is an absolute hoot.

Bambarra Beach – no facilities, remote location on Middle Caicos. Paradise

Thumbs Down (but manageable if you’re informed and prepared):
Mosquitoes and sand flies (aka “no seeums”) – take bug spray (or me, as I seem to attract them leaving the rest of my party to enjoy themselves bug-free.)

Dehydration and heatstroke – it’ll getcha good. We received sage advice from an islander who said, “There’s lots of sun here; don’t try and get it all in one day.” Too bad he told us one day too late. Drink tons of water, and no, beer doesn’t count as water. Take more sunscreen than you think you’ll need. You’ll pay double for it here. And always take Immodium. Doesn’t matter where you travel, always take Immodium.

Shopping – There are a handful of upscale stores but for the most part, Provo’s shopping consists of small shops loaded with typical tacky souvenirs and rayon clothing made in places far, far away. TCI should not be considered a shopping destination. (Some people might think this should be moved to the “thumbs up” section of this post.) I spent $140 in 10 days. I can drop that on a pair of shoes at home in less than ten minutes.

Higg’s Café (next to North Caicos Ferry Terminal) – Don’t bother; there are better places to eat elsewhere. We were desperate.

The much ballyhooed Tikki Hut – (I didnt even bother with a picture). Big bucks, no whammies, and lousy service. $100 for 4 people (3 were kids) for lunch.

The Airport – arriving is no problem, but departing is another story. We were advised by our flight crew to arrive 2 to 3 hours early because of lineups and slow check-ins. Our hotel recommended we get there 1.5 hours before departure. We should’ve listened to the flight crew. Below is a picture of when the crowds had thinned out a bit.

Taxi rates – from our hotel to the ferry (about a 10 minute ride) cost $40. They charge by the person.

Crime – some say it’s on the rise. We found out that two armed robberies occured only a day after we were in the very locations (Taylor Bay and Jai’s Duty Free Shop).

Our car rental guy gave us some tips on crime prevention:
1) Don’t leave anything in your car. As in nothing.
2) Leave the doors unlocked. If the idiots are intent on breaking in, they’re going to break in. Save yourself the hassle of dealing with shards of glass everywhere.
3) Stay away from remote areas and beaches such as Malcom’s Road, Northwest Point and now, thanks to these thugs, Taylor Bay and nearby Sapodilla Bay
4) If you do venture into remote areas, always, always carry a cell phone.

Author: Twyla Campbell

World-wide wanderer, CBC Edmonton AM Restaurant Reviewer, Member of Edmonton’s Slow Food convivium, oenophile, epicurean explorer and a freelance writer whose works have appeared in several magazines and newspapers including More, Above & Beyond, Avenue (Edmonton), Up Here, Northern Flyer, Opulence, City Palate, the Edible Prairie Journal, The Edmonton Journal, Slow Food Canada, Lifestyle Alberta, and on Slow Food Edmonton’s website. Grant MacEwan University (Professional Writing Program) Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree (in progress). I’m a Tweeter @wanderwoman10

7 thoughts on “Turks and Caicos Travel Tips

  1. What an informative post. It sounds like you had an amazing holiday. I have never been anywhere like this ever. No beach resorts. No white sands. No crystal bathwarm water. It all sounds like heaven. What does conch taste like?
    🙂
    Valerie
    What were your accommodations like?

  2. Valerie: yes, the beaches are incredible. If you’re searching for postcard perfect, white powder sand and “gin-clear” water (as they are fond of describing it), then TCI is the place. And as far a conch goes, it tastes very much like squid.
    I wrote extensively about our accomodations in a previous post (Northwest Point Resort and The Veranda). Most of the resorts are on Grace Bay, but there are plenty of nice resorts around the entire island.

  3. I stumbled upon your blog by chance, while looking for information and reviews about Northwest Point resort, where we are going (My husband, myself and our 20 month old baby boy) for 10 days at the end of the month. Thanks for such informative posts. I must say that I do not like very much the idea of having cockroaches and ants in the kitchen, but well… Any recommendations to make the best of our trip (on a budget… and with a developmentally delayed little guy, who does not walk yet?)
    Very nice blog, by the way 🙂

  4. Hello Raphael…I hope you enjoy your stay at NWP. My #1 tip would be to take more sunscreen than you think you’ll need (as well as sunburn relief spray). It’s very expensive to purchase it in town. If you’re staying 10 days at NWP, you’ll be needing to stock up on groceries at the IGA and you’ll need a rental car. Food is expensive too, be prepared for that. There’s not much to do out at the Resort other than to stroll the beach and to play in the pool (which is very nice, but whose deep end is over 6 ft; it has a nice graduation though – no sudden drop off). If you go into town, consider spending some time on Grace Bay at the public beaches but take a portable umbrella as the beaches have limited shade huts (palapas), also take water,a cooler with ice and snacks, etc. There is a grocery store close to Grace Bay but I cant remember the name of it. Eating at restaurants is expensive. Be very careful of the intensity of the sun, it’ll sneak up on you quick. Provo is VERY laid back…you’ll spend a lot of time just playing in the water. The beach at NWP is good (or better than Grace Bay) for beachcombing; your son will like that I’m sure. Good luck and have fun!

  5. Great blog! We are going to the Veranda and renting one of the 4 bedroom places in March! I’m so glad to hear your review. Dumb question but are there any cigar shops???

  6. Hi Sean, thanks for stopping by my blog. I found a great article on shopping in Provo: http://www.wherewhenhow.com/turks-caicos-islands/magazine/shopping/

    It looks like you’ll find your cigars! The article mentions “Wines & Spirits” its a store, but I’m not sure where. I think its by the big grocery store near the Grace Bay resorts. The Veranda staff will be able to shuttle you there or help with questions. Jai’s Duty Free shop might have them too.

    I’m jealous – missing TCI big time right now. If you can, book a day tour with Caicos Dream Tours and make sure you ask for Sean Dean to be your captain. If you’re going with a group, you will have a great time on his boat.

    Have a wonderful vacation on Provo, and stay safe!

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