It started as an on-the-whim Valentine’s Day gift for Monica. It’s a holiday we’ve never really celebrated so the surprise factor when she opened the envelope that held two tickets to the gorgeous islands of Turks and Caicos her reaction was perfect!
Yes! Home run. 🙂
Neither of us knew much about the island besides it being extremely picturesque and not as traveled a destination as other places in the Caribbean. Excellent. We were going to Providenciales (Prov-ah-den-c-a-leez [or something close to that pronunciation])!
Turks and Caicos looks exactly like postcards of paradise. The skies and waters are cotton candy blue and the white sand that blankets the ocean floor feels like powdered sugar.
About our unique experience, however, it was a very good one. We learned a few things about ourselves on the first day, one being that there’s no need to be terrified of driving on the “other side of the road.” Cheril was really nervous about this aspect as we hadn’t originally planned on renting a car but decided to at the last minute for the sake of convenience of getting around the island. We didn’t see a single traffic light on the island. They use traffic circles that you enter counterclockwise unlike in the states. That took a little getting used to as did the turning signal and the wiper controls being on “opposite” sides of the steering wheel. Every time Cheril went to put on a turning signal she hit the wiper blades instead! By the time she got used to it we were back in NJ and she was then doing the same thing at home because she’d finally got used to the Turks and Caicos way!
It was fun and took away a fear of driving in British territories going forward.
We opted not to stay at an all-inclusive resort because 1) we didn’t want to be around a bunch of families with children, 2) we are on meal plans that would probably make the value of paying for an all-inclusive disappear, and 3) we like to go against the grain and experience things in our own way even if that includes a little frustration because out of that comes “happy accidents” like getting really lost on the first day and our data plan not working on our phones AND the GPS in our rented car being in Chinese (we think)!
Really? Ugh. Paradise was seemingly not off to a good start, lol, but we quickly realized that it was us not making the best of the situation and nothing else. Our surroundings were still gorgeous, people were still friendly and we were not stuck in the snow-ridden state of New Jersey. How dare we let a lack of technology trample our experience. We checked ourselves. There was life before Google Maps and the island isn’t that big. How hard could it be to figure it out with a paper map and relax? Not hard at all after we got our minds right. It was smooth sailing after that little stint (self awareness is priceless and attitude is everything)! We were better off w/o the data plan anyway because it forced us to stay offline when we were not in our villa.
One other thing we took away from that fiasco is that you’ll get help faster from T-Mobile if you say something on Twitter than call their 800 number—and that Sprint will try to steal you as a customer if they see your complaints!
@Cherilnc Check us out, we have great offers for you! Let’s chat at 1-800-224-0560 to look into your options in making the switch! *JC
— SprintSales (@SprintSales) March 17, 2015
Hilarious! Anyway, we rented a villa off Leeward Highway that was close to a supermarket, gym and minutes from the beach. The first day we checked out Grace Bay, which is where all of the major resorts are and where most people stay. It was nice and had quite a few restaurants, but as we suspected, had more people than we wanted to be around. We decided to drive just a short distance away to a harder-to-find and more private beach near Taylor Bay–tip provided by our property manager. Sometimes all you have to do is ask for these things and locals will gladly tell you. All other lazy beach days were spent at this secret little spot.
Monica, being several months into her fitness journey was happy to have the beach to ourselves. She hasn’t worn a bikini in years but thanks to her commitment to healthy living and fitness, she did so this time. She’s still losing weight (almost 30lbs so far) and is working toward her first fitness competition but so far so great!
A bonus about this beach was the water was incredibly shallow not to mention warmer and much calmer. We could walk so far out and the water would still only be at our knees.
While there we did meet a handful of folks, one from France, another from Germany (both of whom said there were three dolphins in the water but see didn’t get to see them) and one other guy from Australia, whose dog decided to rest at Cheril’s feet as we chatted about the island and travel in general.
He was a cutie. In between beach days we took an escorted tour of the island, which really wasn’t much to see beyond a string of resorts. We did, however, stop at a horse farm and the world’s only conch farm.
These little guys are pretty popular in the Caribbean and it was interesting to see how this self-sustaining farm worked and the life cycle of the conch.
If you’re ever there, it’s worth a stop. Another thing to do if you’re on the island is to check out Cheshire Hall Plantation. As its name suggests, it’s a historic site that houses the remains of a cotton plantation from the 1700s. It’s not a feel-good tourist place, but it’s history and we wanted to see it.
The first day we went, the tour guide wasn’t there and the folks at the front said we could go in on our own for the $10 entry fee. No thanks. We went back the next day and she was there. It was worth going back for as she was very friendly.
Other than those two places, there wasn’t much else to do but water sports. If you love snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, etc., you would be in heaven! We do none of those things at the moment but will be prepared to partake the next time around. We’re tired of missing out on water fun!
What we did do, however, was para sail!
This was frightening and exhilarating all at the same time!
We highly recommend it if you’ve never tried it!
It was truly a beautiful getaway. One thing to note is that Turks and Caicos isn’t a cheap vacation. The price of goods are almost double the cost here in the states (bug spray for example, was $20), dinner for two excluding alcohol averaged $120-$150, etc. This island isn’t for the budget conscious but is a great little departure if you can do it. There are other islands nearby that though we haven’t been too for more than a day, we’re sure are cheaper options than Turks and Caicos. On the flip side, if you REALLY want to throw money in the wind and want to be alone besides waitstaff and a butler, there is another part of the island called Amanyara that might be up your alley. You can’t get to it in a regular rental car and will likely need to be shuttled the 30-minute dirt road drive in a Land Rover. We didn’t want that experience. It would be too far away from the regular people, which is a part of traveling that we treasure.
There’s a richness to mingling with the local people that’s lost when you lock yourself away in a corner of the island. But every vacation is different and sometimes the alternative is what you want. That’s the beauty in traveling—the experience is what you make of it.
We spent five days and four nights, which was just enough time to unwind but not so much that we got homesick. Many people say they never want to leave, but we love our life at home and aren’t trying to escape it when we go on vacation. Our trips are for enrichment and expansion. We enjoy the beauty of them but look forward to coming home.
Turks and Caicos was splendid but we probably won’t go back. We very rarely visit the same place twice unless we have family there. There is just too much world out there to see for repeat vacations. Have you been to the island? If so, what was your experience?
More photos in the gallery below:
That’s all for now. Until next time…