At first glance, you may have to blink a few times to convince yourself that what you’re seeing is real. The crystal-clear turquoise waters and bright white sand beaches of Providenciales (nicknamed Provo by the locals)—the most developed and populated island in the Turks and Caicos—offers one of the most idyllic beach vacations. Lying off the southeastern tip of the Bahamas, it’s easily accessible from the United States and only a three-hour flight from Miami. Famous Grace Bay Beach, consistently voted one of the world’s best beaches, is dotted with luxury resorts, shops and restaurants. Mornings on Provo begin by watching the sun rise above the water from your balcony, followed by a leisurely walk on the beach to search for treasures, like sand dollars. It’s not uncommon for vacationers to camp out on the powdery, soft sand until the sun goes down while keeping their eyes peeled for the resident dolphin, JoJo, who’s patrolled the pristine waters for years. It’s pure relaxation at its best.
While some may view the covetable Turks and Caicos Islands as financially inaccessible, Royal West Indies Resort (royalwestindies.com), located directly in the middle of Grace Bay Beach and tucked between high-end resorts, extends affordable luxury to the everyday traveler. Surrounded by lush, manicured gardens, the British Colonial-style condos feature studios and one-bedroom suites, some offering those desirable oceanfront views. All are spacious—ranging from 565 square feet to more than 1,000 square feet—and suites are fitted with large balconies, perfect for sipping coffee or having breakfast as you watch the sun come up. Families will enjoy kitchen amenities like a fridge and microwave; one-bedroom suites have a full kitchen.
The resort boasts three pools designed around how you want to vacation: Choose from a main pool meant for boisterous kids and families, or a quiet pool area for reading a book or peacefully floating on a raft. Post up on the beach where there’s drink service for those wishing to imbibe in local favorites, like rum punch, or explore the pristine waters on complimentary kayaks, stand-up paddleboards or a Hobie Cat. The resort also offers bicycles to explore the area, a DVD and book library, and babysitting services upon request—in case you want to hit the links at the nearby 18-hole Provo Golf Club (provogolfclub.com) or set your credit card on fire at the duty-free shops. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the resort’s on-property restaurant, Pelican Bay Restaurant & Bar (pelicanbaytci.com), where guests can indulge in international cuisine with a Caribbean flair. The restaurant is known around the island for its special culinary nights, such as “Lobster Fest” on Wednesday nights, where you can load up on as many Caribbean lobsters as you can stomach, or every Friday, you can partake in “Surf & Turks,” for seafood and chicken prepared in jerk sauce. “This resort is really about simple pleasures and bringing families closer together,” says RWI managing director Jeffrey Boland. “Many of our staff have been with us for 18 years.”
ELEVATE YOUR VACATION
Those who wish to escape the crowds and elevate their vacation experience can rent private, midrange to luxury villas and guest homes that are spread across the island of Provo. Choose from spacious villas in the West Indies Villa Collection (royalwestindies.com/west-indies-villa-collection), which are designed for large families and groups that are traveling together, or vacation like a celebrity by choosing an over-the-top getaway from the Luxury Villa Collection (luxvillacollection.com), featuring villas with opulent amenities that cater to every need, from a private chef and butler to airport pickup.
For eye-popping views of the island’s stunning turquoise water, choose the Grouper Court Guest House in Turtle Tail, which is situated on an acre of tropical land facing the ocean. With four bedrooms and bathrooms and a professional kitchen, this guest house will tempt you to spend your days dipping in the freshwater swimming pool that overlooks a garden or gazing at the ocean from the expansive terrace.
Or, go further inland to the Leeward neighborhood, where the two-story, modern Emerald Villa is nestled on the banks of a canal that mimics the color of the turquoise ocean. Fitted with six bedrooms, a full kitchen, a decadent pool area and views of the canal, many never feel the need to leave the villa.
LIVE THE ISLAND LIFE
When you’re finished relaxing, Provo offers endless activities. The Turks and Caicos Islands are home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world, and visitors shouldn’t miss the chance to snorkel or dive the vibrant coral reefs that teem with marine life. Choose a snorkeling tour with Silver Deep (silverdeep.com), where experienced guides will take you to float above several reefs that are only accessible by boat, or take a 25-minute plane ride to Grand Turk, the capital island of the Turks and Caicos archipelago, where you can set off on an ATV for an off-road experience to a lighthouse and other historic sites. Don’t miss a day at popular Da Conch Shack (daconchshack.com), where you’ll join a lively crowd to indulge in fresh conch (they’ll pull the conch right from the water and cook it for you), live music and flowing rum punch.
Whatever you decide to do on vacation, you’ll be planning your next trip to the island before leaving. Those turquoise waters and dreamy beaches will always pull you back.
For reservations, call 800.332.4203.
Angela Caraway-Carlton is a Miami-based freelance writer, travel and lifestyle expert, and television producer. Her works have appeared in Indulge Magazine, Time Out, Elysian, Aventura, South Florida Luxury Guide and Modern Luxury Weddings South Florida & the Caribbean. Caraway-Carlton has covered lifestyle trends in South Florida and beyond for more than a decade.