*This is part of a series of posts about my Turks and Caicos Vacation from April 2013.
Today was a very relaxing day. This was exactly the type of vacation I needed to get back to the slow pace of life. It was cloudy which was nice because the sun can be a bit intense sometimes. It was still warm enough to go swimming and spend time lounging outside reading a book.
One of the best parts of staying at Ocean Club East was that it was at the end of Grace Bay. This provided a more secluded feeling since there was an open part of the beach right next to the resort. It feels as if you are the only people there.
I went on many walks down that beach. If you walk around the end of the beach you will come to Leeward Beach. Also, a very nice place to spend some time. When I was visiting Leeward beach was empty which made it a nice place for adults to spend time swimming or soaking in the sun.
One thing I appreciated about Ocean Club East is that I never had to fight over chairs, tables, or umbrellas. There was always enough for everyone. Other guests were respectful and not too loud. Since some of them live there for a few months out of the year they are willing to share some of their favorite places. Suggestions from “the belongers” were always spot on. I would suggest that you spark a conversation with people who seem like they have a set tan and are used to the slow pace of life.
That night I went to eat at Coco Bistro. If you read any of the travel sites this is the one restaurant that according to reviews that you must go to when visiting Provo. I took their advice.
It was raining the night I went but they still kept my reservation. They have a large outdoor dining space and only a small space inside. It was a bit cramped but the restaurant was doing the best that it could trying to keep everyones reservations. They looked completely shocked that it was raining because the weather is usually perfect.
I would highly reccomend coming here. The food was very good, local and fresh. Plus, the service was top notch. It has a feeling of an oaisis with the palm trees that line the restaurant.
This was the most expensive meal that I had while I was on vacation. But, it was worth it. I would suggest ordering an appetizer, main, and dessert. You can always bring some of it back to your place to eat as a late night snack.
For an appetizer I tired both the lobster spring rolls and the conch two ways; both delicious. You cannot make a bad choice with the selection that they have on the menu. Conch when prepared well is something that I could eat almost every day.
I tried the special drink that they had which added to the fun of the special dinner. The drinks here are fun, tropical, and mixed well. I might stop by next time I visit Turks and Caicos just for a drink at the bar.
For mains I tried the lobster and grilled wahoo which was on special for the night. They put whatever fresh fish they may have on the special. So, it is a safe bet when you order. The lobster, since it was lobster season in Turks and Caicos, was fresh and locally caught as well.
I cannot tell you how fun it is to order these items off a menu and have them be fresh and local. When you are on vacation, learn about local foods before you go. That way, you know what to order off the menu. In the case of Turks and Caicos, go for the local fish, conch and lobster (when in season). Do not order beef. Do you see any cows on the island?
For dessert I had the coconut sorbet. It is made in house and was a refreshing way to end the night.
I cannot wait to go back and sit outside at Coco Bistro. Although, Coco Bistro is not on the water the food makes it a can’t miss on a Turks and Caicos vacation.
because fresh and local is best.
Day two started with a leisurely breakfast in my room. The nice part about staying at the Ocean Club is that they have full kitchens. I sat on the patio and enjoyed the perfect weather when eating my toast with guava jelly.
It is important when you plan a vacation to Turks and Caicos to not over schedule yourself. It is nice to be able to do whatever you feel like on that particular day. I only did two planned activities and had three restaurant reservations and thought it was the perfect amount for a 7 day vacation. If you are going during Spring Break you may want to make more restaurant reservations since it gets very busy on the island.
I then set off to get some booze for the week. I headed to the Wine Cellar which is by the IGA on the highway and looks like a castle. They are open from 9am-6pm and not on Sundays. I leave Minnesota and still can’t buy liquor on Sundays.
I choose Turks Head Lager a local beer made on the island and white wine. The Turks Head was $41.99 for a case and the wine was comparable to what it costs me in Minneapolis. It felt amazing to be able to sit in a lounge chair, drink a beer, and read a book.
Most of my day was spent at the beach on a floatie. You can get them at Target for $4.00 before you go and I highly recommend it.
Remember to put on sun screen and a lot of it, reapply every so often.
I was enjoying the beach so much that I ate a late lunch at the Cabana Bar again. I had the ocean burger which is a fish sandwich slathered with a great tartar sauce. The Cabana Bar is a very relaxing place to lunch and the drinks and service are great.
The service I had was great and the drinks are good as well.
That night I planned a sailing trip with Sun Charters. Before the trip, we ran into some Potcakes which are the local dogs on Turks and Caicos. They are called Potcakes because they were fed the caked on food that was leftover from the cooking pot. You can adopt a Potcake or help by donating or being a courier. There is also the Potcake Place located in the Saltmills shopping area where you can get more information.
After playing with the potcakes, I set out on the sunset cruise. It was relaxing and a great way to meet other people staying on the island. Junior kept the rum punch flowing and we sailed down Grace Bay beach and back. I would highly recommend going sailing with Sun Charters.
Sun Charters would be a perfect boat to book for a sea bound wedding or for a family get together. I have heard that both weddings and family reunions are popular on the island due to the fact that there are many large rental properties. The owner of Sun Charters was very nice and seemed like he would be willing to accommodate a customizeable charter.
It was past dinner time but I was hungry and headed to The Upstairs which is in a little shopping mall near the main part of Grace Bay. I had a delicious dinner and met Kenny who grows “tomatoes” and you know other things that grow in the ground. The service was excellent and the food was good. I tried the jerk chicken pizza and wrap.
I would highly recommend The Upstairs during the first part of your stay. The portions are large and make great leftovers.
If you are used to sleeping in the city. You will sleep like a baby when you are here.
because keep the rum punch flowing.
Over the next week I will be writing about my latest vacation to Turks and Caicos. This was the first out of country, seven-day, tropical vacation for me. Now, I see why people flock to beaches during the long winter months in Minnesota. I guess I could say long Spring months now, since it is snowing in MAY!
Turks and Caicos is located in the Caribbean close to Cuba. I chose Turks and Caicos because it was a less touristy place than Mexico or Jamaica. Also, I wanted to be able to explore the island and eat at many different places versus an all-inclusive type vacation.
Most of the research for this vacation was done on Trip Advisor. I do have to say that most of the reviews were accurate and the suggestions from the destination experts were very helpful. I read the travel forum for Providenciales or Provo as the locals call it, the specific island I stayed on. I also used the Provo Bums website often http://www.provobums.com/html/links.html for links to local businesses.
You will have to make reservations for certain restaurants and excursions before you go. Many restaurants and businesses will not take reservations by email. Be prepared to make a few phone calls to Turks and Caicos before your trip.
Also, many places do not take American Express or credit cards at all. It would be smart to bring cash. It came in handy for me and it was easy because everything was in US dollars. I have heard that the credit card transactions fees are fairly high so I would open a Visa card without foreign transaction fees to eliminate the problem. Don’t forget to call your credit card companies to let them know that you are going on a trip.
I had a hard time finding any information about Provo other than on Trip Advisor. So, I thought I would share detailed information of my trip to help you, if you decide to plan a trip to Turks and Caicos.
The flight from Minneapolis to Turks and Caicos was only about 5 hours in total with Delta. I could see myself traveling here for a long weekend in the future because the travel was very easy. It was made even easier with the Delta application on my phone which updated which gate I needed to get to because the layover was a quick one.
I would suggest bringing only a carry on bag even for a week. Honestly, you need a few swimsuits and a few cover-ups. Everywhere on the island is casual and I ended up walking right from the beach to a meal several times. You can buy sunscreen when you get there at the local grocery store for about $10 and you don’t need make-up. I spent most of my time relaxing in the water or on the beach.
Once I got to the airport in Turks and Caicos, I was very underwhelmed. It was dirty and not updated. It was not a good first impression. Let’s all hope that they do make the updates that are scheduled to happen. The airport was the only ‘bad’ part of this vacation.
When you get there remind yourself that you are now on “Island Time” and things will not happen fast. Stay calm and remind yourself you are on vacation and not in a race. It can take a while to get from the airport to where you are staying.
If you are picking up a rental car at the airport go to the desks with the Avis, Budget and Thrifty signs. I saw a Grace Bay Car Rentals worker there even though there was no sign.
I chose to go with Avis because of the rate. The car was tiny but had good gas mileage. It only cost about $35 for 7 days of driving wherever I wanted to go on the island.
Before you go you may want to look up a map of the island online. The one that they give you does not have road names on it which makes it a bit harder. We picked one up at our resort when we got there that was much more helpful. Remember, most likely you cannot access google maps when you get lost.
When driving take it slow. People go above the speed limit they do not mind going around you. Once you get a handle on the roundabouts and driving on the other side of the road you can go above the 40 mph. Oh yeah and the cars are in kmp, have fun with that.
I made it to Ocean Club East at the end of Grace Bay. Check-in was a breeze and the staff were friendly and helpful. The room had fresh flowers, a full kitchen, and a washer and dryer. If you stay here I would recommend a third floor room because of the high ceilings and the view from the porch. You do have to walk up the stairs though. The porches are the best part of the rooms, my room had a table to eat at and a lounge chair. At the Ocean Club each room is different so if you find one you like request it the next time.
You can contact the resort before your trip and let them know your travel plans and any requests that you may have. They were very helpful and had my room ready when I arrived at the resort even though check-in was at 4:00PM.
I was very hungry and decided to go the Cabana Bar at Ocean Club East for lunch. You do not need reservations here and can just walk up and pick a table. I ordered the drink special and the fish tacos. They were both great! I liked the grilled fish that was in the tacos and the balsamic that was served with the salad. The service was friendly.
The view from here was unreal, it is right on the beach. I was unsure if the water would be a beautiful as it was in pictures online and it was.
Since the rooms at the Ocean Club have a full kitchen, I made a stop at the IGA which is the one on the highway to get some groceries for breakfast and some snack items for between meals. I thought the prices were not outrageous but what you would expect for being on an island. Some items are much more expensive, others are the same. If you are smart and buy some items that are different than when you buy at home, you will get out of there without spending a huge amount. I got eggs, butter, bread, guava jelly, and a few other items. Most of them only about a dollar more than what I pay in Minneapolis.
For dinner I made a stop at The Flamingo which is between Ocean Club East and Club Med. You do not need a reservation here. I would recommend either the curried grouper or the jerk chicken. Remember to wear bug spray when you are out at night. The Flamingo is right on the beach has great sunset view.
Providencailes does not have a night life. It is a place where people go to relax and get a good night sleep. Most of the people at the Ocean Club were either retired or families. If you want to go to a club or dance all night coming to Provo may not be your cup of tea.
Day one was the beginning of a very relaxing vacation.