The day before I left for my trip, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, was voted the #1 island in the world by Trip Advisor. I thought, "Lucky for me". Though to be honest I wondered if I would feel the same. My family is from the West Indies and I've been to some of the nicest Caribbean islands out there, so I have very high standards when it comes to Caribbean travel. After my trip, I can confidently say that Turks & Caicos was one of the top vacations of my life. It's a magical place that feels good, is a taste of luxury and yet so laid back at the same time. Here are 9 things you can do to ensure that your Turks & Caicos trip is one for the books.
The People - Every local that we encountered on our trip was happy and welcoming. In Turks & Caicos, you don't feel the pressure of being hustled into doing or buying anything like you do on some other Caribbean islands. You absolutely feel welcomed with open arms & invited to relax and partake in what the island has to offer. Be sure to venture out and interact with locals. Not only will they add to your great memories, but they can also help guide your trip and make it exactly what you want it to be.
Culture & Cultural Fusion - There aren't a ton of Turks & Caicos Islanders who live in the USA so I didn't know much about the culture before arriving. What I found is that TCI culture is sort of a mix between Jamaica, Bahamas and Haiti, with its own personal flavor going on. The TCI accent, the warmth of the personalities, the food, the laid back island vibe, it's all in the people. It's sort of a melting pot of western Caribbean influence that's hard not to love.
The Food and Dining Experiences - I didn't know what to expect from the food in Turks and Caicos, but I can confidently say that I did not have a bad meal. Not once! In fact, everything was really delicious. Here are a few meals that made me smile from the inside out:
-Crackpot Kitchen - If you want a taste of authentic Turks & Caicos food, be sure to check out Crackpot Kitchen by Celebrity Chef Nik. I had the Tamarind BBQ ribs with rice and peas and roasted corn, but there were all kinds of amazing things on the menu, including amazing ice cold drinks that will cure the steamy Turks & Caicos nights. We were also delighted by the live soca cover band that made the dinner under the stars even more enjoyable. Crackpot Kitchen is one of the spots where the locals go on the weekends, which is all the sign we need of a good spot!
-Grace's Cottage - One of Providenciales island's most fine dining restaurants, Grace's Cottage was a delight to all the senses. Caribbean flavors met gourmet technique with the array of dishes that I devoured. We started with spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce. For the main course my lady had a seafood pasta which was perfectly rich in flavor. I had the coconut curry shrimp with jasmine rice, which I couldn't get enough of. I literally left nothing on the plate. And for dessert, the apple tart with butter pecan ice cream was cooked to perfection. This is a must-have dining experience when visiting Turks and Caicos. You won't be disappointed!
Thursday Night Fish Fry - Speaking of food, some of the best food I had was at the town fish fry. Locals and visitors unite for a night of dancing under the stars, dining from local vendors, watching the Junkanoo show (a mini-carnival show with costumes with live band) and ice cold cocktails. So much fun! My favorite was the jerk chicken and festival from Jerky's Hut.
The Somerset on Grace Bay - The Somerset is simply phenomenal. This five-star resort has everything you would want from a Turks & Caicos vacation. From spacious, beautifully designed villas to top of the line service, finger-licking good food to access to multiple pools and the renouned Grace Bay beach, I can't imagine staying anywhere else when visiting Turks & Caicos in the future (and there absolutely will be future visits!) They remember all of the details, down to having sunblock available by the pool. All the things that make you scream, "I LOVE THIS PLACE!" If you can, definitely opt for an ocean-view villa so that you can watch the sunset every night!
Grace Bay Beach - Grace Bay Beach is voted one of the top beaches in the world, and rightfully so. It's some of the most clear water I've ever seen. It's crystal blue and easy flowing for as far as you can see, seducing you to float all day long. Not to mention, the sand is white and powdery soft. What more can you ask for?
Sunset on Grace Bay - The best thing about Grace Bay beach is the sunset right into the sea. We timed the sunset every night, around 7:00-7:10pm. As the sun plunges into the horizon, the sky fills with shades of oranges, purples and pinks. A beautiful, picture perfect experience that you'll never forget.
Water Excursion - No Caribbean trip feels complete until you take a boat out. And Turks & Caicos has amazing turquoise water. You can see the 3rd largest coral reef in the world, snorkel with exotic fish, stop at a remote island to see iguanas and their sneaky camouflaging ways, catch fresh conch for conch salads and dive into the Caribbean Sea from a water slide at the top of the boat, all while listening reggae, soca and hip hop. Thank you Island Vibes Tours for the experience.