Turks and Caicos has captivated travelers for years with its porcelain-white beaches and quirky personality—the country is under British rule but uses the American dollar, they drive on the left but steer on the right, and the food staple is a mollusc. Plus, the country is looking more affordable, accessible, and adventurous than ever in 2016, especially during summer's low tourist season. Here are five reasons you should take your family to Turks and Caicos.
1. Rates Are Down (way down!)
Venturing to the 40-island chain in the off–season, June through October, will yield major cost benefits—standard hotel rates are discounted up to 30% for the five-month window. Also, major U.S. carriers are opening up the destination like never before. JetBlue is operating direct flights from Fort Lauderdale, New York and Boston while United just opened up a new line from Chicago to Providenciales. And don’t fear booking a trip to the Turks during hurricane season. While the chain is in the Atlantic hurricane belt, it hasn’t seen a significant storm since Hurricane Ike in 2008.
2. Turquoise Will Take Over Your Instagram Feed
The urge to snap a photo of the ocean vistas, sunrises and sunsets, low-lying waves, and scattered mangroves will be irresistible. While exploring the third-largest coral reef system in the world, find the perfect overhead shot from the Sun Charters sailboat. Keep an eye out for the endangered rock iguanas on Little Later Cay and bring an underwater camera for deeper immersion with Big Blue Unlimited. When the kids ask how the water is so clear and vibrant... it’s all thanks to the crushed pink coral the sand is partly made of. (It’s also due in part to the lack of plankton and algae in the warm waters).
3. The Small-Island Shellfish and Spice Aesthetic is Everywhere
When you venture to the Turks, you’ll most likely stay along Grace Bay, a 12-mile stretch of beach that is on nearly every ‘best beach’ list you can find. In neighboring Blue Hills is the weekly Fish Fry, where locally-owned popups fry and grill late into the night. Here, and across Provo, they produce some of the Caribbean's best seafood, especially conch and snapper, that is caught daily and sustainably. Try the golden cracked conch, curried conch, coconut conch and conch fritters at Da Conch Shack with some locally-made Bambarra Rum and PeppaJoy hot sauce.
4. Adventure Resides Inside, Outside, and Above the Water
Select your adventurous family activities wisely. Turks and Caicos boasts one of the largest cave systems in the Caribbean on Middle Caicos with underwater lakes and Lucayan artifacts. On Provo, stand up paddleboarding is made easy when the waters are tepid, and windsurfing in Grace Bay makes for a more rambunctious ride. It doesn’t matter if you stay in the resorts of Grace Bay, the home rentals in Turtle Cove, or the ultra-luxe Amanyara to the northwest, kayaking and sailing (and now fly-boarding) are ubiquitous on the islands. All businesses are run by belongers (island natives) thanks to island statutes.
5. Families Can Give Back. And Adopt!
We’re talking about adoption of the canine variety here. While shopping for snorkeling gear and sun dresses in the Salt Mills area you’ll see Labrador-German Shepherd puppies prancing around on leashes. They’re coming from Pot Cakes: the only animal population control effort in the Turks. Here, locals and tourists volunteer to walk puppies for an hour and they also adopt dogs out to the U.S., Europe, Canada, and beyond. Tortuous as it may sound, Pot Cakes enlists the help of volunteer travelers to serve as couriers, taking puppies to new homes in far off places (I wouldn’t be able to give the pup up). Lend a hand while in Provo and try not to let the kids get too attached.
© 2016 AFAR Media