//
you're reading...
The Caribbean

Tips for planning a trip to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

Welcome to the Turks and Caicos Islands

Welcome to the Turks and Caicos Islands

It’s been a few months since we returned from our week-long vacation in Providenciales.  However, we have not stopped talking about this island paradise, and look forward to the day we will be able to go back to Turks and Caicos to explore the other islands.

Planning our trip to Turks and Caicos was fun and challenging at the same time.  It was fun because Providenciales has so many outstanding resorts to choose from.  Yet it was a little daunting because we knew absolutely nothing about the island.  Our families and half of our friends had never even heard of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI).

We write this blog post to help other travelers who are considering a trip to Providenciales (also known as Provo), or are in the stages of planning their first trip to this Caribbean island.  In this post we will share our experience with hotel booking, transportation, restaurants, a few activities around the island, and budgeting.

Hotel booking

After narrowing down our choices to a few resorts that we were interested in staying, it was time to decide from which company we would book our accommodation from.  We looked into the following options:

1. Direct booking from the hotel website:  We highly recommend that you “Like” their Facebook pages to learn about the most recent promotions.

2.  Turks and Caicos Reservations website:  Aside from their competitive pricing, we like the fact that they add perks such as a free car rental, vouchers for a spa treatment or dinner, and various outdoor activities when your booking reaches a certain dollar amount.

3.  Luxury Link:  On this site you can bid for vacation packages.  Currently, for TCI we see a listing for Beach House, Blue Haven Resort, The Alexandra, Gansevoort, and Point Grace.  Come take a look every few weeks, as vacation packages up for bid are always changing.  Note: this is a referral link, and if you register for an account we will both receive a $50 credit.

4.  vacationist:  Updated in May 2014:  The Alexandra Resort and Blue Haven Resort in Providenciales are currently featured on this travel booking site.

5.  Jetsetter:  This site runs “flash sales” that offer discounted hotel rooms from around the world.  In the past year I have seen Seven Stars Resort, Gansevoort, and Villa del Mar as a part of the Jetsetter’s flash sales.

Villa del Mar

Villa del Mar

In the end, we purchased a seven-night stay at Villa del Mar from the Jetsetter.  It saved us hundreds of dollars, and we could not have been happier with our choice.  Regarding booking with Luxury Link and the Jetsetter, we have read a mixed-bag of reviews on the internet about the consistency of their service.  Personally, we have booked from both sites, and our vacations went without a glitch.  What we did when we saw discounted rooms for Villa del Mar at the Jetsetter website was call the hotel directly, and double-checked the fact that they were running a sale and working together with the travel company.  After purchasing our stay, we waited a few days and confirmed our reservation with Villa del Mar.

Getting there

We live in the Atlanta area, and our two options are to fly direct with Delta Airlines, or with American Airlines with a lay-over in Miami.  Although the Delta flight is pricier than American Airlines, I preferred a direct flight, especially since Atlanta is only 2.5 hours away from Provo.

Car rental

We did some research on Avis, Hertz, and Grace Bay Car Rentals.  After debating whether to have a car for only a few days or for the entire length of our stay, we decided to rent from Grace Bay Car Rentals for the whole week.

Johnny’s US driver’s license was sufficient to get him driving on the island.  For insurance coverage, we elected the one offered by our Visa Signature credit card (the card we used to pay for the rental car).

Our car was available for pick up at the airport, and after signing a few papers and receiving a map and directions to get to Villa del Mar, Johnny was off driving on the left-hand side of the road.  Please note that we were responsible for paying the parking fee as we were leaving the airport.  Ours was only for $2.  On the day of departure, we parked the car at the airport, and left the key with a parking attendant.

Cell phone usage

Our service is with AT&T.  Before we left for Provo we activated the World Traveler plan.  It simply reduced the charge per-minute for international phone calls.  Johnny and his parents, however, ended up using face-time via WiFi that is provided by our hotel.

Credit card and ATM service

Most establishments that we visited in Provo accept credit cards as a method of payment.  The only places where we had to pay cash were: The Conch Farm, Cheshire Hall Plantation, parasailing (which we did on the spot), and gift shops when the transaction is below a certain dollar amount.  We were able to pay with a credit card at the gas station in Grace Bay. However, we tried filling up at another gas station on our way back from Chalk Sound and found out that they only accept cash.

Currency-wise, Turks and Caicos uses the US Dollar.  However, we still made sure to use a credit card that charges no foreign-transaction fee.

When we were low on cash, we went to the ATM machine owned by Scotiabank right next to Graceway Gourmet in Grace Bay.  Since our bank is affiliated with Scotiabank, there was no fee to withdraw money from their ATM (your mileage may vary).

Dining

Provo offers many great dining options.  The restaurants that we tried during our stay include: Seaside Cafe, Las Brisas, da Conch Shack, Danny Buoy’s, Upstairs Bar & Grill, Fresh Catch, The Deck at the Seven Stars Resort, and Gilley’s at the airport.  We also bought prepared dinners from Graceway Gourmet‘s deli department on a few occasions.  A plate of rotisserie or fried chicken with two sides costs about $10.

da Conch Shack

da Conch Shack

Da Conch Shack, located in Blue Hills, is on CNN Travel’s list for being one of the World’s 50 Best Beach Bars.  As soon as you arrive at the parking lot, you know you will have fun here, as the conch-shell walls themselves will put a smile on your face. The seafood was definitely fresh, although we felt that the dishes were a little overpriced.  We sat on a bench right on the beach, and devoured conch fritters, grilled lobster, fried shrimp, a slice of rum cake, and washed them all down with rum punch.  We left da Conch Shack not only with full stomachs, but also with brightly-painted conch shells that we bought as souvenirs from a local vendor.

We feasted on lobster dishes almost everyday when were in Provo.  On average, the price of a grilled lobster tail is between $36-$37.  I can not tell if it costs more during dinner time, as we rarely went out in the evening due to bad weather.

Steamed fish from Fresh Catch

Steamed fish from Fresh Catch

I am not sure if it has anything to do with my Indonesian upbringing, but my favorite dishes on the island come from the locally-owned Fresh Catch at Salt Mills Plaza.  I love the way they seasoned their food, and my husband Johnny absolutely enjoyed the steamed fish in the picture above.  A spring roll lover that I am, I gave their lobster spring rolls a try, and ended up ordering them for two days in a row.  The butter sauce that goes along with their grilled lobster was very savory, and the dish costs only $21.

Shopping

We bought our week’s worth of supplies from Graceway Gourmet, an upscale grocery store that is conveniently located in the heart of Grace Bay (near the Seven Stars roundabout).  As prices of goods in TCI tend to be a bit more expensive, we tried to only purchase perishable items that we could not bring from home.  For instance, if you must use insect repellent, remember to pack it, as items like this can be very pricey.

Ports of Call

Ports of Call

For gifts and souvenirs, we visited the shops at Salt Mills Plaza, The Regent Village, and Ports of Call.  FOTTAC (Flavors of the Turks and Caicos) at The Regent Village was one of our favorites, and this was where got a bottle of the famous Bambarra Rum for ourselves, and beautiful soaps for our mothers.

Activities

We were rather disappointed that we could not spend more time at the beach nor island-hop because of Hurricane Sandy.  Instead, we used the wet and windy days to drive all over the island, and toured places such as the Cheshire Hall Plantation and The Conch Farm.  On sunny days, Johnny managed to do horseback riding with Provo Ponies, parasailing, and some snorkeling.

1.  Provo Ponies

Horseback riding with Provo Ponies

Horseback riding with Provo Ponies

Johnny reserved a spot with this company a few weeks before we left to go on our trip.  They offer morning and afternoon guided rides on Long Bay Beach Monday through Friday.  Johnny chose to do a 90-minute ride for $90.  You can also do a 75-minute ride for $75.  Of all the activities that Johnny has done on the island, he regards the time that he spent with Provo Ponies as the most memorable, and does not mind doing it again when we return to TCI in the future.

2.  Parasailing with Captain Marvin’s Watersports

Parasailing above Grace Bay

Parasailing above Grace Bay

Johnny’s decision to parasail was made on the spot right after he finished snorkeling at the Bight Reef (in front of Coral Gardens resort).  Turks and Caicos is the kind of place that you would want to admire from up above and under the water.  Although Johnny was a little nervous in the beginning, he was glad to be able to scratch it off of his bucket list of things to do.  We paid $75 and left a $5 tip.

3.  The Conch Farm

The Conch Farm

The Conch Farm

We were rather confused about the status of this farm.  Even though we heard rumors that it was closed, we stopped by out of curiosity. Not long after we got out of our car we were greeted by a gentleman who conducts tours of the facility.  We had a little bit of free time before Johnny’s riding session with Provo Ponies, and thought that it would be interesting to see how conchs are raised.  Although the farm is not running in its full capacity, it was still a neat experience to be able to hold a live conch, and learn how to distinguish a male from a female.  Tours are $12/person, and lasted about 20 minutes.

4.  Cheshire Hall Plantation

Cheshire Hall Plantation

Cheshire Hall Plantation

The ruins of the Cheshire Hall Plantation can be a little tricky to find.  If you have a car, chances are you have passed it a few times as it is located off of Leeward Highway.  At first we made a wrong turn to Hospital Road.  It turned out that there’s an unpaved road right next to the Cheshire Hall Medical Center, with an obscure sign pointing to the old plantation.  Our tour guide, Phillip, led us through the ruins, while explaining the origins of this former cotton plantation and its significance in the history of Turks and Caicos.  The entrance fee to the plantation is $10/person.

5.  Exploring the beaches of Provo

Grace Bay

Grace Bay Beach

Grace Bay Beach

If you are on your first trip to Provo, chances are you will be staying at one of the hotels in the Grace Bay area.  The crystal blue water, gentle waves, combined with the softest and purest sand that stretches for miles are all the reasons why Grace Bay is consistently voted one of the best beaches in the world.

Pelican / Leeward Beach

Pelican / Leeward Beach

Pelican / Leeward Beach

If you continue to walk east past the main Grace Bay area, you will find that the water gets clearer and more turquoise.  The Pelican Beach near Leeward is definitely one of our favorite spots on the island, especially since there’s hardly anyone there.

Princess Alexandra National Park

Snorkeling at the Bight Reef

Snorkeling at the Bight Reef

The north side of the island is also home to the Princess Alexandra National Park.  Smith’s Reef and the Bight Reef, which are a part of this national park, are two great snorkeling spots.  It is not difficult to locate the Bight Reef, as it is only a few feet from the shore, across from the Coral Gardens resort. And since the Bight Reef is quite shallow, it makes for an excellent experience for beginner snorkelers.  Smith’s Reef is located further west, near the Turtle Cove Marina.  Marine life is supposed to be abundant in this particular spot.  However, on the day we were there the sea was getting rough as the hurricane was approaching.  Needless to say, Johnny did not get to spend much time in the water.  The rocky beach at Smith’s Reef also made it a little challenging for swimming, although it did make for beautiful photographs.  While sitting on the beach, we watched the Undersea Explorer pass by, which would have been a great option to enjoy the undersea world without having to fight the rather strong current.

Chalk Sound

Chalk Sound

Chalk Sound

Sapodilla Bay

Sapodilla Bay

Moving on to the southwest coast of Provo is the must-see Chalk Sound, a lagoon with the brightest turquoise water, and dotted with hundreds of small rocky islands.  While in the area, we visited Sapodilla Bay and Taylor Bay.  These two beaches offer the utmost serenity, and you can walk far out into the sea because the water is so calm and shallow.  After a long day at the beach, Las Brisas Restaurant is the perfect place to wind down while taking in the beautiful views of Chalk Sound.

Turtle Tail

Turtle Tail

Turtle Tail

We also made time to explore Turtle Tail and the Juba Sound area.  We saw a flamingo playing in the water at Juba Sound.  At Turtle Tail, we would park our car at empty lots next to vacation villas to take walks on small beaches and rocky bluffs.

With so many sites to see, and not enough sunny days during the week, we did not quite make it to all the beaches on the island.  For a more comprehensive list of Provo’s beaches, please click on this link, which will direct you to the Visit Turks & Caicos Islands website.

FYI

While late summer and early fall can be a great time to visit the island due to less crowds, keep in mind that a number of businesses (restaurants, smaller hotels, and shops) close during this time of the year.

The airport in Provo is small, and it can get crowded and chaotic very quickly.  Some of the worse times for travel appears to be Saturday afternoons.  Although our flight did not leave until 2PM, we got there at around 10 AM, were first in line for check-in, and got through security in minutes.  By 11.30 AM long lines were forming everywhere, and the gates were standing room only.

We hope that the information we have written in this post can be of some use to those who are not familiar with the island of Providenciales.  If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us or leave us a message in this blog.

To view more pictures from our trip, you are welcome to read our past blog post, or view our Flickr page.

Disclaimer: we are NOT affiliated with any of the companies that we mention in this post.  Additionally, all information presented here is based on our stay from October 20th until the 27th of 2012.

About these ads

Discussion

23 thoughts on “Tips for planning a trip to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

  1. What a detailed trip plan. Looks like an awesome time.

    Posted by Trips By Lance | July 23, 2013, 8:50 pm
  2. Love your blog! Great information and pictures! Thanks for all the great information on Provo….wonderful advice for first time visitors.

    Posted by Patty | July 24, 2013, 3:12 am
  3. Looks so awesome there!! Good info! I love to travel :)

    Posted by ashley | July 24, 2013, 5:40 am
  4. if you ever think about going to Grand Turk, let me know. My wife and I just returned there after a week long vacation. Quite the opposite of Provo, but in a good way

    Posted by Corey E | July 25, 2013, 2:59 pm
    • Thank you, Corey. We definitely would love to visit the other islands in TCI.

      Posted by fallequinox2006 | July 28, 2013, 1:17 am
    • Hi Corey! W
      ondering about Grand Turk vs. Provo. We are going to be staying in Provo but not near the grace bay popular area, instead the chalk sound area. But I still would love to know what grand turk is like for a possible future trip. Can you elaborate on how it is different?

      Posted by Mrs. O'Brien | May 29, 2014, 6:49 am
      • Hi Mrs O. I would say that Grand Turk is less commercialized, touristy, and busy than Provo. On Grand Turk, unless you’re into diving or doing nothing, there’s not much to do. My wife and I went to GT exactly for that reason…we wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle. There are no large scale resorts or hotels on GT…the only time the island is busy is the days when a cruise ship stops that the cruise center. Even then, if you are on the other side of the island you hardly notice the influx of people. We did go to the cruise center on a day when a ship was in port and it was a nice change of pace from the calm and serene lifestyle of an ordinary GT day. I wouldn’t go to GT with kids, unless they wanted to dive. Restaurants on GT are only open during certain hours, and closed on some days, and there are only 2 grocery stores. I loved everything about GT and would go back in an instant.

        Posted by Corey E | May 29, 2014, 8:17 pm
  5. Too funny – my husband and I were down there when Hurricane Sandy hit also. We still found plenty to do. I think you have covered everything really well. We prefer to stay in small villas when we travel and have used Homeaway.com very successfully. It’s nice to have a kitchen, living room and separate bedroom and a lot of times it’s actually cheaper than a hotel!! We usually cook our own breakfast and lunch but splurge and go out for dinner. We have been to several caribbean islands, but TCI is my favorite.

    Posted by Doreen Fraser | July 25, 2013, 4:03 pm
  6. Great Information– headed there for the first time in November.

    Posted by Angie | July 25, 2013, 4:50 pm
  7. Thanks for sharing these details! I am planning a trip for my family this June 2014 – can’t wait!

    Posted by Julie | January 9, 2014, 5:41 pm
  8. Hey guys, thanks for mentioning us on your blog post, that’s great! And so very happy that you had a lovely time here in the islands. If you’re thinking of traveling again, we’d be happy to get in touch, and be sure to issue a Travel Reward just for choosing to book with us – thanks again! Val, Turks & Caicos Reservations

    Posted by Val | February 9, 2014, 1:04 am
  9. Such awesome tips, thank you for sending me your link!

    Posted by andiperullo | May 22, 2014, 12:14 pm
  10. headed to provo, where did you find the big map? That makes an awesome photo! Helps the friends know where you are, LOL.

    Posted by Mrs. O'Brien | May 29, 2014, 6:51 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Best of: Providenciales, Turks and Caicos | TheDessertEngineer and TheTravelingCupcake - July 23, 2013

  2. Pingback: Caribbean Getaway from Richmond, VA // Turks and Caicos | - September 9, 2014

  3. Pingback: Our First Trip: Turks and Caicos | Six Traveling Chicks - September 14, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Twitter

Flickr Photos

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

Southern Belle Farm

More Photos
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 36 other followers

%d bloggers like this: