In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). And in a few months, the Caribbean will start to call its Siren Song. So for those of you lucky enough to answer it, you might consider a visit to Joana Vaz-Pinto’s beloved home in a group of islands called the Turks & Caicos: Providenciales.
5 Things: Providenciales—Turks & Caicos
Joana of Myseastory
I had never even heard of this place until my husband came across a job opportunity here, but spending a few years living in a Caribbean island sounded like a fun adventure. Nearly 5 years later, we’ve settled in Providenciales—the main island in the Turks & Caicos—and we often feel as though we live in a paradise.
Truth be told, we love it here: the summer never ends, there are no traffic lights, we rarely have to drive more than 10 minutes anywhere, and our 19-month-old daughter is always barefoot for playdates at the beach or the pool. (And when we do start feeling a little island fever—it does happen—we get on a plane, and in 1 hour we’re in Miami for a shopping and city fix!)
Of course, we love it when our friends come to visit. I’m always excited to show off what’s best to see on island—and these are by far my favorite spots to take them.
We love eating out, and these days we prefer places where one can decide to go last minute without making reservations—with our toddler daughter. Somewhere is perfect for lunch after snorkeling in Coral Gardens or for an early dinner watching the sunset. Their pulled pork tacos and guacamole are to die for. Da Conch Shack is also very laid back—and right on the beach—a little further from Grace Bay, but worth the trip. And it’s the perfect place to be introduced to conch; their cracked conch is always a hit. On Saturdays, they make the best pizzas on island at Via Veneto. Get the bresaola pizza. It’s cheese-less and surprisingly delicious!
Turks and Caicos is not the best place to shop—everything is pretty expensive due to high import taxes—but if you need a little shopping fix, head over to Grace Bay Road where you’ll find a few cute stores. Start with an iced latte at Lemon 2 Go (and flowers, why not). Then stop at Anna’s Too for great beachwear. Finish at Paradise Arts, where you’ll find amazing art pieces made by local artists. I especially like all of their hand-made ceramics.
Exploring beaches is my favorite activity on island. Grace Bay Beach is as beautiful as they say, but there are a lot more beaches worth a visit, so I recommend renting a car for a day or two and driving around the island to stop at Leeward Beach, Long Bay Beach, Sapodilla Bay, Taylor Bay, and to uncover a few more hidden spots. Then there’s every water-based activity you can think of—from horseback riding on the beach to stand-up-paddleboard yoga.
Grace Bay Club is my favorite place to stay on island: they have a great kids’ club (my daughter goes to swimming class at their pool every weekend) and an infinity bar and lounge where we love to head for drinks and light dinner. The location is perfect—on a great stretch of sand and in walking distance to most restaurants. The Beach House is on the same beach, but a little further from most restaurants, and I love the boutiquey feel of this place.
And then there’s Parrot Cay, where we try to escape to every now and then. The only downside is that it’s a 30-minute ferry away from Providenciales: so once you’re there, you can’t really leave for a dinner out or an activity outside the resort. But it’s on a private island, with great service and delicious food—perfect for kids, but very relaxing, too.
Turks and Caicos is super laid back; it’s all about chilling at the beach and pool, sipping rosé (or, better yet, drinking rum punch), and nibbling on local delicacies like cracked conch. There’s no need to bring your high heels, but make sure you bring a good hat and sunglasses—that sun can get really hot. (Don’t forget to drink lot’s of water whilst you’re here.) I always suggest bringing an underwater camera or an iphone case, because it’s so fun to take those pictures underwater everyone will be jealous of. Make sure you pack a good sunscreen and a mosquito spray, too. And try to wear long pants at night to avoid a few bites…