The Perfect Week in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

There is so much to fall in love with in Providenciales, the only touristy island in the Turks and Caicos, but there are certain experiences you just must do. The Turks and Caicos are a true paradise, and Providenciales (Provo, to locals) is home to one of the world’s most stunning shorelines, the 12-mile Grace Bay Beach. Other top experiences in the Turks and Caicos include DIY snorkeling, an island fish fry, or taking a homeless “potcake” dog to the beach.

Lower Bight Road, Grace Bay, Providenciales TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
With 21 suites, all of them larger than 1,000 square feet, set among grassy dunes on a less-developed swath of Grace Bay, Beach House is both intimate and roomy. Condo-like in their dimensions and layout, every suite has a kitchenette and a large balcony with a daybed. A few of the suites face the pool, but most have an ocean view that looks out on a white-sand beach and snorkeling reef just beyond. There’s adventure on the beach, with a list of water sports, and at the table, with a variety of ceviches and Kitchen 218’s signature sticky toffee pudding.
Blue Hills Road
Conch is as ubiquitous on Turks and Caicos restaurant menus as palm trees on the beaches, and at Da Conch Shack, you’ll find it prepared any way you can imagine. Of course, there are the classic dishes of conch fritters, conch chowder, and conch salad, but you’ll also find entrées such as curried conch and conch creole. The breezy beachfront restaurant on Provo also serves fresh catch, local lobster, and non-seafood items like steaks and burgers.
Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
If spending the day lounging on idyllic white sands and swimming in cerulean seas aren’t enough without some snuggle time with adorable puppies, plan a visit to Potcake Place, in Grace Bay. This volunteer-run nonprofit is dedicated to rescuing and finding adoptive homes for local dogs, most of which are a regional breed called “potcakes.” The center has around 50 dogs in foster care at any given time and places about 500 per year. Visitors can stop by the shelter, located in Salt Mills Plaza, to help socialize the dogs by taking them out for a day on the beach. A kit with food, leash, and other items is provided.
Hemingway’s Restaurant has the best sunset views of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Grace Bay, from a pier-like patio. The restaurant at the Sands at Grace Bay Hotel makes blended-just-right Pina Coladas topped with an extra dollop of rum. Sip and keep watch for the resident dolphin JoJo, who has been patrolling the turquoise waters off this picture-perfect crescent of sand for more than a decade – there’s even a bell to ring if you see him, although who knows if it’s the same dolphin. After you get tipsy, order dinner. In addition to conch, the restaurant is known for steak and fresh-caught fish cooked only in olive oil. At lunch, the fish tacos are my favorite dish. There is live music twice a week.
#20 & 21 Saltmills Plaza Grace Bay Road, Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
On the main road through Grace Bay, this is where locals and return visitors go for the best fresh sushi in town. And while it does amazing sushi and sashimi, including some innovative rolls all ordered off iPad menus, I was really impressed with the seafood ramen noodle soup bowl. The environs are sophisticated and noise level not too loud. A great romantic dinner choice.
Grace Bay TKCA 1ZZ, Turks and Caicos Islands
The centerpiece of Turks and Caicos is Grace Bay, on the island of Providenciales (known locally as Provo), where the miles-long sugar-sand shore routinely tops “best beach” lists for the Caribbean and the world. The inland area along this stretch of northern shoreline is where you’ll find most of Provo’s hotels, shopping, and restaurants. Grace Bay is part of the Princess Alexandra National Park. It has calm waters and a sandy seafloor with no rocks or corals to step on, making Grace Bay the perfect place for swimming, splashing along the shoreline, parasailing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Ocean Drive
Creamy travertine floors and castle brick walls of pearl-stone tiles fuse with Asian antiques and dark teak furniture in the Caribbean-meets-Indonesian design at Villa Balinese, on an elevated crescent fronting Providenciales south shore. From the original local art to the antique Moroccan vases and curved bamboo chairs, it makes a bold and seductive statement throughout -- and best of all, every piece of furniture in this villa rental is hand-picked and meticulously placed by its owners. With just three bedrooms, but 4,200-sq-ft of space and 30-foot vaulted ceilings, it’s impossible not to be transfixed by the Alice-in-Wonderland dimensions and sexy stark vibe encountered here. Entering the grand entrance foyer, the eye is drawn almost immediately to the impressive sunken living room, where a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass windows slides open onto a grand marble pool terrace with panoramic ocean views. The infinity pool running the length of the house was constructed with emerald-colored tiles, creating a vibrant contrast with the turquoise-hued sea it disappears into. A 50" plasma TV, which can be raised with a remote click from a recessed hiding place and swiveled to face the pool, is another one-of-a-kind design example. There is no beach access on-site, but the crystal-clear sea running parallel to the property can be reached via a ladder dock. Please note that children under 12 are not allowed, but this property works great for couples or older families.
Dolphin Avenue
My favorite experience in Turks and Caicos was going out in the ocean with a guide to catch conch. Once the spot was chosen, we jumped overboard and dove into the blue water. My friends and I were not able to dive down deep enough, but the guide did it with ease. He stayed down for more than a couple minutes, and happily surfaced with armfuls of conch. Back on the beach, he showed us how they crack open the shell to retrieve the meat (in the photo), and then prepared us raw-conch salad. It was delicious!
Grace Bay Road, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
Housed on a 1,100-foot stretch of beachfront, Grace Bay Club is as stylishly current as it was in 1993, when it became the first luxury hotel to open on the then nearly empty sands of Grace Bay. From its original 21 rooms, the upscale property has grown to 82 suites, each of which features ocean views, a private veranda or patio, and chic interiors by renowned designer Thom Felicia. Guests can also look forward to superior service, including a personal concierge available day or night via a provided cell phone.

When hunger strikes, there’s the oceanfront Infiniti Restaurant & Raw Bar, which boasts sea-to-table fare and the longest bar in the Caribbean, as well as several other family-friendly venues, including The Grill. If it’s pampering you seek, make time to visit the spacious Anani Spa, where you’ll find six treatment rooms, including one just for couples. A spa tent is also available for beachfront massages.
Northwest Point, TKCA 1ZZ, Turks & Caicos Islands
Found in the northwest point of Providenciales, out beyond the fishing village of Blue Hills and far from the development of Grace Bay, Amanyara lives up to its name: a combination of the Sanskrit word for peace and Arawak for place. Not surprisingly, the feeling is one of secluded serenity, with rooms and public areas designed as pavilions that blur the distinction between indoors and out, and a level of service that borders on telepathy. Situated on the edge of Northwest Point Marine National Park, the resort makes an effort to help guests better understand the surrounding natural environment. On-site is a Nature Discovery Center with programs that range from a turtle initiative to an Adopt-a-Coral project. But if that seems overly eco for some guests, they can rest assured that among the routine sounds at Amanyara are the whack of tennis balls and the popping of corks from some of the world’s more expensive wines.
Airport Road
Book a horseback-riding tour along Provo’s white-sand beaches with Provo Ponies, which is owned by the affable Camille Slattery and located on the southeast end of the island. They offer two guided rides Monday through Friday (one in the morning, the other in the afternoon), while Saturdays are reserved for lessons on their properties, and horses get the day off on Sundays. Book well in advance during the busy season (December to May), as this is a highlight of many people’s holidays. Note this place can be hard to reach, so if you don’t have a car rental, choose their transport option from Grace Bay Beach for an extra $10 per person. Also expect to spend about three hours on the horse.
Airport Road
Book a sunset charter on Atebeyra, a boat that comes with a rum-running history (she ran booze during prohibition) for a unique evening excursion. The boat can also be chartered for day trips to the outer islands where you can spend the day lazing on deck and snorkeling in the gin clear sea.
Osborne Road
Grand Turk has some of the world’s top dive spots with clear deep-blue water and an intoxicating and diverse underwater world to explore. Novice and experienced enthusiasts should book a few days at Bohio Dive Resort to experience the best the island has to offer underwater – from swim through mazes to deep trenches. At Bohio dives are catered specifically to guests needs, and if you don’t have PADI certification you can either get it here (definitely not a bad spot to earn your stripes) or sign up for a novice intro dive that doesn’t take you deep enough to hurt yourself. Visibility here averages about 100-feet, which is excellent, and thanks to a beachfront location that drops-off into the mile-deep Columbus Passage just 300 yards offshore, diving here doesn’t require a boat ride. Experienced divers, however, will want to pop onto the boat to explore dramatic wall dives and historic wrecks, not to mention bountiful marine life, located just a short boat ride from the resort. Additionally, the resort offers accommodation, dining and a range of activities from horseback riding to kayaking.
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