Walk along the white sands of Grace Bay Beach and you’ll soon discover why this exquisite stretch of sand has been recognized as one of the top beaches in the world. Pure. Clear. And, oh so blue. I had an opportunity to spend a few days in Providenciales on Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean and found these charming islands to be the perfect escape – thrilling water sports and fabulous dining with a laid-back vibe and fewer crowds.
Ocean Club Resorts – A beautiful way to relax
Located on gorgeous Grace Bay Beach are the two Ocean Club Resorts – the original, opened in 1999 and the 4-star Ocean Club Resorts West, built in 2003, located within a mile of each other. You can “stay at one, play at both,” which means you can enjoy all of the services and amenities at both resorts, connected by a convenient shuttle. Discover deluxe beachfront suites with one, two and three bedroom accommodations, fit for a family with superb fine dining as well as delicious casual fare. Indulge in a spa treatment, enjoy complimentary bikes/ paddleboards and three pools, grill your own at the poolside barbecues or work out in the fitness center. The resorts caters to families with a full range of fun. Kids turn into explorers as they find plants and animals with SEAFARI. Live music, rum punch party and tons of water activities add to the experience. Or just relax with a tropical drink on the sun-kissed beach under one of their signature pink umbrellas.
Delicious dining options
Opus, their fine dining restaurant serves a full menu of fresh seafood and steaks in a romantic atmosphere. Start with Caicos Conch Ceviche and savor the taste of the sea. I dined on the Black Angus Rib Eye steak with roasted bacon, cherry tomatoes, and bleu cheese. Divine.
Solana, at Ocean Club West, offers fabulous cuisine with Asian influences, right on the beach. Recommendations include the mini-cranberry and conch salad and mouth-watering coconut snapper, paired with Elouan Pinot Noir. For dessert, the chef prepared a dessert ensemble of chocolates and fruits, the perfect ending.
Get out there!
OCR can arrange for a variety of water sports activities to get you out on the water. We kayaked through the mangroves with guide Jill Swann, owner of Total Adventure Company. Jill pointed out the various ecosystems in water so clear we could see the turtles, baby sharks and various schools of fish. It was quiet and peaceful as our kayaks glided through the water.
On another excursion, we explored Pelican Reef, part of the world’s third-largest Barrier Reef and cruised along the Caicos Cay island chain with Captain Matt of Sun Charters. We sailed out to Ft. George Cay while sipping on rum punch and nibbling on chips & salsa. The snorkeling brought colorful marine life, including sea turtles, coral gardens and rays. At the Cay, we discovered a true desert island as we went beachcombing for sand dollars and shells. What a delightful way to spend the day. Sun Charters also offers a sunset sail, public sail and snorkel as well as night sails.
Cocovan – Dining out of an airstream
Here’s an idea…why not convert a vintage Airstream trailer into a food truck? That’s just what the chefs at Cocovan did, serving delicious island fare, right next to their upscale flagship restaurant, Coco Bistro. This contemporary menu offers tapas-size servings, created by Executive Chef Stuart Gray. Enjoy Spicy Tuna Tartar, Peking Duck Tacos and Fried Shrimp Mac & Cheese Balls. Save room for dessert because the deep-fried Churros coated in cinnamon sugar with chocolate sauce are outstanding. And there’s a great kids menu.
Local Fish Fry on the beach
Every Thursday night, the locals gather from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. to enjoy an evening of “all things TCI.” Visitors, too, feel like a part of the island as they munch on lobster mac & cheese, conch salad, sweet corn and more. Shop for artisan, hand-crafted artisan gifts, and enjoy coconut drinks and live music. If you’re on the island on a Thursday, don’t miss it.
Da Conch Shack
You can’t believe how many ways there are to enjoy conch, the island’s plentiful shellfish. Conch fritters, chowder, salad, curried conch and coconut conch stew reign supreme at Da Conch Shack, named one of the world’s top 50 Best Beach Bars.
Bond with a cute little Potcake pup from Potcake Place, the rescue dog center. Stop in, see the puppies and take a little doggie out for the day for a walk on the beach. They provide everything you need.
All too soon my adventure to Turks & Caicos was over. I came back tan, relaxed and thrilled to discover Ocean Club Resorts as my new island escape. For more information, go to visittci.com.
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