It’s not quite Providenciales’s celebrated Grace Bay—the Atlantic surf rolls in with a little too much force for that—but North Beach, on remote, undeveloped Salt Cay, is one of the prettiest stretches of sand in all of the Turks and Caicos. Salt Cay also has the advantage over its more famous counterpart in that just about the only thing on it is the tiny Castaway, whose guests almost always have miles of pure white sand and turquoise ocean entirely to themselves. About a mile and a half from “town” lies a scattered settlement of fewer than 200 people who make up most of the island’s residents. Castaway, which consists of four suites in two beachfront cottages, offers a Crusoe-like experience, except with a meal plan and Wi-Fi. Each suite has a net-draped king bed, to which two more single beds can be added, a full kitchen, and a deck where in season it is possible to watch migrating whales parade by.
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Salt Cay, once made prosperous as a major harvester of sea salt but then nearly abandoned when that industry went belly up, is one of those places isolated enough that just to arrive makes visitors part of the community. The community center is usually Porter and Haidee Williams’ Island Thyme Restaurant, which not only serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day except Sunday, but also frequently organizes entertainment such as holiday parties, bingo tournaments, and low-stakes poker games. It’s not on the water, though, so for oceanside sunset drinks head to the Coral Reef Bar & Grill, which is especially popular with the diving crowd, in large part because the restaurant’s owner, Debbie Manos, also owns Salt Cay Divers. The other Salt Cay restaurant is Pat’s Place, where Miss Pat serves up local cuisine and stories of life on the island. At all three, make dinner reservations before 3 p.m., because if there aren't any, the restaurant might not open that day. January through March, whale-watching is a must. It can be done from shore, but Crystal Seas Adventures gets visitors out among the giant beasts.
Need to Know
Rooms: 4 suites. From $245 low season, $349 high season; 3-day minimum. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:There is no on-site hotel restaurant, but Porter’s Island Thyme restaurant, owned by the same folks that own Castaway, offers a continental breakfast delivered to the cottages and a meal plan at its restaurant, which is a half-hour’s walk. Surprisingly, considering its location, online ratings by travelers make Porters Island Thyme the number-one restaurant in the Turks and Caicos, which means word about its coconut shrimp and almond-crusted snapper has been getting out. Spa and gym details: No spa, gym, or pool, but the mile-and-a-half walk or bike ride into town can be a good workout. And, there is all that ocean.
Who’s it for: Adventure travelers, especially honeymooners, who want to get off the beaten track and don’t mind going without air-conditioning. Our favorite rooms: Any of the four suites, which are very similar, including in the lack of air-conditioning (which is considered a plus, as it discourages visitors who would be happier in a five-star resort back on Provo). Getting around: From Provo, the only direct access to Salt Cay is via Caicos Express Airways, which flies a few times a week. It is also possible to connect by Caicos Express or community ferry through Grand Turk, the political and cultural capital of the Turks and Caicos. On island, there are no rental cars or taxis, so get around by bike, $20 per day or $100 per week, or golf cart, beginning at $100 per day or $600 per week.