Trip Report: A Turks & Caicos Villa Vacation
by Wendy Crum
We delighted in bumping along remote dirt roads to out of the way beaches and coves, each with their own different flavor and attractions…be it white powdery sand, abundant tropical fish, or a bit of local flavor like the colorful snack bars along the far western part of Grace Bay beach, miles from the tourist crowd. Our kids loved a small waterfront restaurant called “Da Conch Shack” on Blue Mountain Road where waiters waded into to underwater pens in the shallows just offshore, fished out live conch, extracted the meat on the spot then sent it into the kitchen. There was something quintessentially Caribbean, without being too touristy, about eating outdoors, having Conch Fritters there at sunset, with Bob Marley songs drifting out over the beach. We later toured the Conch Farm at the northeastern tip of the island, a fun activity to do with this kids.
One of the highlights of our trip was a hike along the shore starting at the channel to the ocean from Turtle Cove. There the beach was sandy up above the high tide mark, while below that there were sheets of flat coral from which small tidal pools had been scoured out by the tireless surf. Our kids called them “Jaccuzzi’s” and plopped down into them, shrieking with delight when the surf broke over them. Just beyond the flat coral one could step into the water and swim out 20 yards or so to shallow coral beds with schools of tropical fish – ideal snorkeling territory. A group passed us on horseback, a fun idea for next trip. Nearby in the Turtle Cove Marina area was the popular Sharkbite Café where we warmed up afterwards with soft drinks and fish & chips for the kids, while the two of us eased back with a few tasty rum punches. The café hangs out over the water of the small harbor, and kids can throw French fries into the water to the waiting fish – very entertaining.
While we sought out out-of-the-way treasures, we were grateful for modern conveniences like wifi in our villa, and the excellent IGA Supermarket on Leeward Highway. Expecting a small Caribbean grocery store, like the ones we had encountered in previous trips to Virgin Gorda and St John, we found instead a thoroughly modern and large store, with creature comforts like Dunkin Donuts ground coffee, Honey Nut Cheerios, Baguettes and Brie, fresh veggies, Roast Chicken, and a huge selection of wines and spirits from around the world. We ended up making about one trip a day to this fine establishment, perfect for keeping our villa stocked for the “feasts” we prepared daily. We ate in most nights at the dining room table from which we could take in the sunset out over the water. These leisurely dinners, and the board games that followed them, created the type of quality family time that doesn’t always happen at home when we are juggling business demands, after school activities, and homework.
A week in the Turks was just what the doctor ordered. The direct flights meant that we weren’t strung out from travel, and made it easier to book flights on both ends that were convenient. We found everything we needed on the island, including peace and quiet. If we were to go back for a couples getaway I’m sure we could have an entirely different experience, one featuring romantic dinners at gourmet restaurants, a round of golf or tennis at the Provo Golf and Country Club, and scuba charters to nearby reefs…but this year was all about family time, and the island of Provo proved to be an ideal playground.
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