A few months ago Johnny and I had the good fortune of being selected as winners of a contest run by Turks & Caicos Vacation Planning. We received a 7-night stay at the Le Vele Resort on Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales (Provo). We couldn’t be more excited to leave behind Atlanta’s frigid weather and exchange it with the warm breeze of the Caribbean. This was actually our second time in Provo, as we visited for the first time in October 2012 to celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. During our week-long stay in 2012, the weather did not cooperate due to hurricane Sandy making her way through the Caribbean. On the contrary, on our most recent trip there was not a single rainy day (although it did get windy some of the time and the water was quite rough). Our days consisted of island-hopping, lounging around on various beaches, snorkeling, and eating as much fresh seafood as our stomachs could handle.
We arrived on a Thursday, and we were in and out of the airport in a matter of minutes. Once again, we rented a car from Grace Bay Car Rentals, and it was already waiting in the parking lot. They now have a small office on top of the hill and we did not have to pay any parking fee upon exiting the lot.
We headed straight to Mango Reef at the Alexandra Resort for some much needed lunch. When we left Atlanta that morning the temperature was 11F, but now we found ourselves basking in the sun while sipping Pina Coladas.
Next, we stopped by Graceway Gourmet to stock up on a few grocery items, and popped in at Fresh Catch to pick up some appetizers for later that evening. We couldn’t wait to check-in to our hotel and see what our home for the week looked like. We were met by Le Vele‘s General Manager, Mr. Clayton Thomas, and he walked us to our ocean-front one bedroom suite. Wow! The unit had a super spacious patio, and we could see and hear the ocean from every single room. Talk about being spoiled…
We started our first full day in Turks and Caicos with a one-hour excursion to Little Water Cay (locally known as Iguana Island). We booked our tour the day before with Caribbean Cruisin’. The total price for 2 people was $130.80, and it included all taxes and admission fee to the nature reserve. Once we got to the island, the first 20 minutes were spent following and listening to a park ranger, and the last 40 minutes we were free to roam around the island on our own. We walked all the way to the north side of the cay, and were rewarded with beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and a beach that’s dotted with driftwood.
Feeling thirsty and a bit hot after our short adventure on Iguana Island, we decided to get a fresh smoothie from Lemon2Go. Afterwards, we walked across the street to Salt Mills Plaza to enjoy some rolls at Yoshi’s Sushi Bar.
Later on that evening, we met up with Val and Susan Kalliecharan of Turks & Caicos Vacation Planning at Hemingway’s Restaurant. It was a pleasure meeting them in person, as they are such gracious and generous people. We talked about their children’s upbringing in the small island nation and how they got their business started. We also learned that Val and I have a common interest in music. I am a pianist, while Val regularly plays the steel drums at local venues.
The first half of the day was spent on Sapodilla Bay, Johnny’s favorite beach in Provo. He couldn’t stop talking and reminiscing about Sapodilla Bay ever since we got back from our first trip 2 years ago. Unfortunately with so many new homes being built in the area, we noticed that the trees that we took pictures with during our last visit were gone…
Staying on the south side of the island, we decided to satisfy our curiosity and try out the much talked-about Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl. We also had never been to the Five Cays Settlement, so this gave us a good excuse to explore more of Provo. Bugaloo’s definitely had a nice vibe, and we really liked their Coconut Cracked Conch. I ordered a lobster dish, which they later told me they were out of, so I ended up with a plate of fried shrimp.
To put our hotel suite’s gourmet kitchen and outdoor grill to good use, Johnny volunteered to cook dinner of surf and turf for two. We purchased lobster and steak from Graceway Gourmet, then marinated them with cilantro lime butter. It was well worth the effort, as it was one of the most delicious meals I had while on vacation (hope Johnny reads this and will continue to cook for me).
It was an easy and lazy Sunday as we drove to Blue Hills to enjoy some beach time and take a few pictures at the pier.
Somehow I also ended up swinging at the playground right next to the pier.
I read that there’s a newly opened restaurant in Blue Hills called Kalooki’s, located where Horse-Eye Jack’s used to be. We love authentic Caribbean food, so we chose this local eatery as our lunch spot for the day. Fortunately it turned out to be a great pick because we absolutely loved their dishes, and felt so welcome by the warmth and hospitality of their staff members. Johnny’s BBQ ribs had a distinctive tamarind flavor, and I became a fan of the Lobster Bruschetta and Steamed Fish. Too bad I already devoured half the fish before I realized I had not taken a picture of it. For dessert, we took home a slice of bread pudding with a scoop of ice cream.
We returned to our hotel early and got plenty of rest because we were very much looking forward to the next day…
Finally, we got the chance to take a ferry ride to North Caicos and had an awesome time getting to know North and Middle Caicos. We hopped into a Land Rover that we got from Al’s Rent-a-Car ($75 for the day), and off we went venturing on these two islands.
Our first stop was Mudjin Harbour on Middle Caicos. Dragon Cay looked amazing, but we couldn’t reach it with the high tide and crazy waves. Hiking Crossing Place Trail was fun (even more so in flip-flops), and one of the highlights was squeezing into a cave to reach the Secret Beach.
We went “click happy” (a.k.a. took too many pictures), and soon realized that it was time for a break at Mudjin Bar & Grill.
We headed back to North Caicos and spent the rest of the afternoon checking out a couple of sites such as the Flamingo Pond, Horsestable Beach, and Pumpkin Bluff Beach. We accidentally found ourselves on Pumpkin Bluff Beach as we were (unsuccessfully) trying to locate Three Mary Cays.
North and Middle Caicos, we shall return to admire and see more of your natural beauty…
Johnny woke up early to get himself ready for an activity that he had really been looking forward to: SNUBA Turks & Caicos! SNUBA is a great opportunity to have a diving experience without being certified. Jodi, the owner and a very talented SNUBA guide, led our group of four to see the wonders under the pristine waters at the Bight Reef. The SNUBA dive took us 20 ft below the surface and lasted for approximately 40 minutes.
The next destination on our itinerary was Cooper Jack Beach. Cooper Jack on south Provo is not a place that a lot of tourists come to visit. However, Johnny and I really enjoyed the change of scenery, being surrounded by green hills and rock outcrops.
Another local dining establishment we would like to try was Mr. Grouper’s. I had been craving for lobster spring rolls for a while, and luckily they had that on their menu. We also ordered grilled shrimp on the skewer and grilled wahoo.
After lunch, we planned on relaxing on Long Bay Beach. On the way there, we stopped by what I would consider to be Provo’s roadside attraction: The Hole. Well, what should I say about The Hole? We found it while driving along a neighborhood in the Long Bay Hills area. It’s a natural sinkhole that’s about 60 ft deep, and we could see water at the base.
While Johnny had previously been on Long Bay Beach with Provo Ponies, this was my first time going to this beach. We did spot one kite surfer and had some fun with our (conch) shell phones.
I started to get cranky upon realizing that it was our last day in Turks and Caicos. For the first time during the week we actually used our hotel’s beach chairs and umbrellas. We tried to soak up as much sunshine as we could on Grace Bay Beach.
I couldn’t leave Provo without eating Kalooki’s Lobster Bruschetta one more time. So we went back to Blue Hills, sat on Kalooki’s deck surrounded by coconut trees, and watched what our server called the “big screen TV” of aquamarine water with programming “only available on the local channel.”
Just like on our first trip to Provo, we concluded the day with a walk along Leeward Beach. So long Turks and Caicos, we will be back soon! Very, very soon…
Check out our Flickr page to view pictures from our trips to Turks and Caicos.
Other blog posts I have written on Turks and Caicos: