Calm, crystal clear water, 230 miles of pristine white sand beaches, some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world and unrivalled diving, these are just some of the reasons Turks & Caicos, or ‘TCI’ as it is known, is a perfect Caribbean destination. TCI is an archipelago of forty coral-fringed islands and cays (of which only 8 are inhabitable), located in the northern Caribbean 575 miles southeast of Miami. Unlike some of its volcanic neighbours like St Lucia, the islands are relatively flat and easy to navigate around.
Where to Stay
From arriving in ‘Provo’, Parrot Cay by COMO is a 35 minute journey by private boat through aquamarine waters. The 1,000-acre resort is located on its own private island and was the original hotel to attract glamorous travellers to the islands, with Donna Karan, Bruce Willis, Keith Richards and Christie Brinkley all owning houses on the estate to rent. Parrot Cay itself is extremely pretty and stylish with its understated, white-washed and teak Hamptons-style decor, generous terraces facing the sea and lush gardens leading down to the water. If you don’t want to break the bank on one of the six villas, there are 72 rooms ranging in size from one to five bedrooms – a butler comes with any of the two-bedroom plus options. Make sure to request one of the higher room on the first floor which are more private and have better views. The hotel has a delicious Asian-inspired Lotus restaurant by the sea and a rather disappointing Terrace restaurant in the poorly designed main building. There’s a reef out at sea which protects the shallow bay making it a perfect play area for little kids, as well as big kids who like to walk, talk and wade along the mile-long beach. Should you grow tired of the sea, there is also a gorgeous infinity pool with an eclectic mix of sunbathing, beautiful strangers.
Accessed by a bumpy, unpaved road through landscapes of Provo’s nature reserve, Amanyara is a secluded haven which feels, like most Aman’s, more like a private retreat than a resort. Once through the towering entrance hall, there is an enormous reflecting pool, which leads onto a dramatic 164-foot infinity pool extending fantastic views over the turquoise waters. The 38 pavilions, as well as 16 three-five bedroom private villas, which blend into lush vegetation, are decidedly romantic and are virtually self-contained, with many having their own infinity pool and butler on call. Our favourite pavilion is 115 which has its own private stretch of beach. The spa which is housed in one of the villas, is also one of the best on the island offering an array of pampering options. Whilst kids are welcome at the hotel, they would be incredibly bored – Amanyara is best suited to couples looking to spend time with one another in a secluded, luxurious setting.
Best for Families
Set on eleven acres of beachfront, the Grace Bay Club was the first all-suite luxury resort on the island when it opened in the 90s. The hotel is now split into three parts with all rooms boasting ocean views – The 21 room Hotel is adults only but is getting rather dated and tired, The Villas are a spacious family-friendly option and The Estate is a luxurious entity within the resort (also due to be updated) offering more service and privacy. The Grace Bay Club is the most family-friendly resort on the island, with an exciting kids programming which allows parents to enjoy the adult-only parts of the hotel. The Grace Bay Club has a nice spa (not as nice as the Regents Palm down the road, which is one of the best in the Caribbean), the Infiniti Bar & Restaurant which offers the most romantic setting on the island, as well as a chic lounge set around an outdoor fire pit.
Where to Eat
The aforementioned Infiniti restaurant headed by Wolfgang von Weiser, who has elevated Caribbean cuisine by offering local flavours with a sophisticated flair. The setting is unbeatable under the stars, surrounded by flaming torches, overlooking the Grace Bay Club’s stunning beach.
Coco Bistro is considered by most to be the best restaurant in Provo, set amidst the largest palm grove on the island. The restaurant offers fresh local dishes and excellent cocktails.
Da Conch Shack & RumBar is the most popular beach bar on the island and usually voted as one of the best in the world. The restaurant’s speciality is their conch, which comes straight from the nearby conch farm and served fried, grilled, raw or as a ceviche. The bar, which throws some unforgettable Sunday parties with live DJs, is just inches away from the ocean, offering their signature Conch Knocker – a tasty rum concoction with ‘secret ingredients’. It is a great place to soak up the local vibe.
What to See & Do
Besides tennis, golf, yoga and horseback riding, all of TCI’s activities are based in or around the water. Thanks to an abundance of coral reefs and incredible water visibility, diving is some of the best in the world, as is the fishing. The best dives are by the Northwest Point, near the Amanyara and if you are not into diving there are great places to see sea life right off the beach.
Turks & Caicos can be reached via a weekly direct flight on British Airways from London to Providenciales (known locally as ‘Provo’) as well as direct flights from NYC, Miami and other cities.