Turks & Caicos
The main attractions on the Turks and Caicos include diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, fresh seafood, isolated white-sand beaches, deep-sea fishing, bird sanctuaries, spas and the deluxe hotel experience.
The Turks and Caicos are best suited to those who want watersports, solitude and relaxation. Those seeking abundant nightlife and lush tropical vistas might be disappointed.
Aside from the Turks and Caicos' spectacular white-sand beaches and unbelievably blue waters, a view from the air reveals little that's inviting about the mostly dry, scrubby, sparsely populated chain of Caribbean islands. Their real appeal lies below the water—one of the world's largest networks of coral reefs provides exceptional diving and snorkeling, while the turquoise inshore flats and deeper aquamarine offshore waters guarantee world-class fishing.
Resting serenely to the southeast of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos are beyond being "discovered" yet still remain off the radar for the average Caribbean island vacationer (truth be told, the islands are surrounded by Atlantic, rather than Caribbean, waters).
Those who do visit typically head for Providenciales (known locally as Provo), the largest, most developed and most westerly island in the Turks and Caicos island chain. Provo has exploded in recent years and has many luxury hotels and many good restaurants, but no cruise ships stop there, and although the skyline is now creeping upward, no one could mistake it for Aruba. You won't find fashion franchises or fast-food outlets; for many locals, dressing up means a clean T-shirt that doesn't promote a brand of beer.
The second-most-important isle, history-steeped Grand Turk, is the island capital and was thoroughly trashed by Hurricane Ike in September 2008, although residents and developers alike worked diligently to restore it. The most visible damage that remains today are the ruts in the paved Causeway that connects North to Middle Caicos.
The rest of the inhabited Turks and Caicos islands have a real outpost feel to them—but they all have their own annual festivals, which provide a great time to gather on the beach, renew or start friendships, and eat some local specialties.
The Turks and Caicos islands are a pleasant destination, but before you go, make sure you have a solid understanding of what's there and what's not: Those who want to delve into the undersea world or lounge on the beautiful beaches—and want little else—won't be disappointed. The same goes for vacationers seeking hotel luxury beyond the dreams of Croesus. Those who are looking for lush Caribbean island scenery or who can't appreciate a slow-paced, quirky island atmosphere should spend their vacation somewhere else.
Sights—Historic Cockburn Town, Governor's House and St. Thomas Church (Grand Turk); the romantic ruins of Cheshire Hall plantation (Providenciales) and Wades Green (North Caicos); the beautiful stalactites of Conch Bar Cave System (Middle Caicos); Grace Bay beach (Providenciales).
Museums—The story of the Lucayans, displays of the Molasses Reef shipwreck and the early history of the islands (sisal and cotton plantations, salt raking) at the Turks and Caicos National Museum (Grand Turk); the National Environmental Centre for its exhibits on flora and fauna (Providenciales).
Memorable Meals—Da Conch Shack's conch fritters and conch salad (Providenciales); seared tuna at the Magnolia Wine Bar (Providenciales); cracked conch at The Sand Bar (Grand Turk); Mediterranean dishes at Lemon Cafe (Providenciales).
Late Night—A night dive off the coast of Grand Turk; karaoke at the minigolf at Fun World in Providenciales; cocktails at The Lounge on Grace Bay.
Walks—A stroll along any of the beaches, especially at Grace Bay.
Especially for Kids—Caicos Conch Farm to learn how the shellfish is raised and harvested; Little Water Cay to marvel at the minidragons (also known as rock iguanas).
GANSEVOORT Turks + Caicos
A sleek boutique property unlike any other on the island, Gansevoort Turks + Caicos marries Caribbean cool with urban chic in a way that only New York’s hippest hotel mainstay can. Indulgence takes the front seat at our completely modern beachfront retreat where every room boasts stunning ocean views and Grace Bay, often touted as one of the best beaches in the world, is quite literally in the backyard.
PARROT CAY by COMO
Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos is the northern Caribbean’s pre-eminent private island. It combines unspoilt nature with relaxed style and the award-winning COMO Shambhala Retreat, offering yoga, Pilates and Asian-inspired therapies. Accommodation includes beach side villas as well private residences for absolute privacy away from the main resort. The island’s two restaurants serve gourmet and easy dining as well as healthy COMO Shambhala Cuisine. Water sports, diving and island adventures complete the Parrot Cay experience.
Information on Parrot Cay in particular:
According to legend, Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos, was originally named Pirate Cay, as it was the hideaway for the female pirate Anne Bonny during the 1720s. But now, Parrot Cay is a privately owned, 1,000-acre/405-hectare island and home to the exclusive five-star Parrot Cay & Como Shambhala Retreat (http://www.parrotcay.como.bz).
Parrot Cay Island is within view of North Caicos, but for most tourists and visitors, access is by boat from Providenciales. The upscale resort offers private villas, hotel accommodations, haute cuisine, yoga retreats and an ayurvedic doctor. Celebrity sightings are common (several A-list celebs have villas on the island), and seclusion, security and luxury are paramount.
REGENT PALMS on Grace Bay
The 72-suite Regent Palms resort in Turks and Caicos is one of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets. Located on the flawless white sands and sparkling sapphire waters of the Grace Bay Beach, our luxury resort offers maximum pampering and indulgence.
Enjoy exceptional luxury and comfort in our beautifully appointed suites. Oceanfront, oceanview and gardenview suites feature hand-tufted king bedding, full bath, private balcony/terrace, sitting area, full-size sleeper sofa, high speed Internet access and cable television. Large, luxurious full-size suites are available up to three bedrooms, all featuring a full kitchen with Viking appliances and a washer/dryer. Junior suites feature kitchenettes. Amenities include a 25,000 square foot spa, infinity pool, Fitness Center, non motorized water sports, tennis and shopping boutiques. A dedicated children's' club provides fun and excitement for our younger guests. Vacationing at this beachfront resort is truly a relaxing Caribbean retreat.
Regent Palms's signature dining experience at Parallel 23, an award winning AAA 4-Diamond restaurant offers a special 'al fresco' ambiance dining experience in a state-of-the-art display kitchen with wood-burning oven complemented by an extensive wine selection, and our delectable international and tropical cuisine featuring flavors and textures from around the world using organic, fresh and local ingredients. During the day, you can enjoy a tranquil and peaceful time at our award winning 25,000 square foot spa with 17 treatment rooms featuring Sothys and Zents' products, also offering beauty salon services such as manicure, pedicure, hair styling, makeup and our extensive bespoke menu of signature and unique indigenous island treatments that promise rest and relaxation.