In search of the ultimate beach lover’s destination, I made my way to Turks and Caicos to soak up the sun on Providenciales Island. Known for its pristine beaches and quintessential island vibe, Providenciales is an ideal getaway for visitors seeking absolute relaxation.
I booked my stay for nine days giving myself ample time to thoroughly discover all the island has to offer; from the most luxurious hotels and restaurants, to tourist must-do’s and local favorites. I left feeling accomplished, refreshed and perfectly tanned.
The beach is the island’s best quality. Providenciales is home to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Grace Bay Beach. Grace Bay is a picture perfect, 38-mile stretch of powdery white sand and exquisite turquoise water. I went during peak season at the end of March. Although it was the busiest time of year, the island maintained its calm. The island’s top-notch resorts are concentrated on a stretch on Grace Bay Beach. That may sound like a recipe for tourist overload, but the beach is long and wide enough that it never feels crowded. Despite its budding tourism industry, the island remains quaint and charming.
WHERE TO STAY
The Amanyara Resort is ultra-luxury incarnate: natural beauty and unparalleled tranquility. Set on Provo’s undeveloped western shore, the resort is nestled away on an 18,000-acre nature and wildlife preserve called Northwest Point. The Amanyara is a remote haven that seems like a world away from the touristy Grace Bay Beach and well removed from the developments of the Eastern part of the island. The resort borders the pristine reefs of Northwest Point and is acclaimed as the diving Mecca of Turks and Caicos and home to some of the best reef and wall diving in the world. Reaching the resort entails a twenty-five minute drive from the international airport of Providenciales, through the fishing village of Blue Hills and ending in a bumpy dirt road leading up to the resort. The Amanyara defies traditional luxury of the West Indies and redefines it with an Asian flare.
Its Zen architecture and natural landscaping took my breath away. The Amanyara is peaceful and serene, a sanctuary of private villas spread out acres around the resort. There are no screaming children running around, in fact I didn’t see any resort guests until I entered the pool area, which still felt surprisingly quiet and empty. The beautiful but small Amanyara beach has full dining and bar service brought right to your beach chair and an array of water sport activities offered. Although the beach was nice, Grace Bay Beach is still the best beach, in my opinion, in terms of the water and sand. The pool at the Amanyara is out of this world and is where I spent most of my day. Make sure to order a fresh coconut from the pool bar—they bring it to you with a straw and a spoon so you can drink and eat it. I swear it was the best coconut I ever had. The food served at the pool was excellent, and just a short walk away you can go to the beach side café for other menu options with a great view of the beach. On a rugged bluff with a panoramic view of the ocean, the Amanyara pool has the best sunset on the entire island. I was lucky to see a rainbow right before the sun was about to set. Watching the sun go down and the sky change colors while swimming in a warm infinity pool overlooking the ocean was priceless.
WHAT TO DO
Water sports such as diving and snorkeling are an obvious choice for visitors seeking fun. While I spent plenty of time swimming and snorkeling off the islands coastal reefs, I wanted to try something different. The highlight of my trip was horseback riding through the ocean. I went on a private tour through Caicos Corral. They pick you up from your hotel or resort and bring you to their stable located to the west of Grace Bay Beach near Turtle Cove. You stroll for about a mile on the waters edge alongside a pristine beach adjacent to Smith’s Reef (a popular snorkeling reef on the island). On the way back, you have the option to ride through the water, which was my favorite part. It was a truly amazing experience. The water is crystal clear you can see straight to the bottom as you glide through the water up to your knees. Our guide informed us that they often see reef sharks, stingrays and fish along their route. I didn’t see any reef sharks but I was lucky enough to see a stingray and some fish while riding through the water. We went right before sunset and the sun was glistening on the water giving it a beautiful turquoise color. There was something therapeutic about riding a horse through the ocean on a secluded and quiet beach. I was at peace and in the moment. I highly recommend this excursion while visiting Turks & Caicos. It was a unique and memorable experience.
WHERE TO EAT
Providenciales, Turks & Caicos Islands
Dining under swaying coconut palms gives the island ambiance and reminds you that you are on vacation. Set amidst Sunshine Nursery, the largest tropical palm tree grove on the island, Coco Bistro is located in the heart of Grace Bay and waking distance from most resorts on the beach. It gives the option of dining in its lounge area as well as its main restaurant. Serving fresh local cuisine, the menu is creative and the food is flavorful and delicious. The menu is Caribbean inspired fusion mixing local flavors with hints of West Indian, Asian and Italian cuisines. My favorite dishes were the Avocado and Lobster Spring Rolls with Thai Mango Salad and Sweet Chili Sauce, Spicy Lobster Soft Tacos with Fresh Guacamole, and Pineapple Tomato Salsa, the Blackened Mahi with Red Thai Curry Sauce, and the Tiger Shrimps with West Indian Coconut Curry served over a bed of Jasmine Rice with Spicy Banana Chutney. I found most restaurants on the island to be over-priced and mediocre, but Coco Bistro provides a great culinary experience in a unique setting. It’s a foodie gem in the heart of paradise.