Turks and Caicos has become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean, and really…what’s not to love! It has those beautiful beaches that the Caribbean is famous for and (I think) a perfect compromise for those wanting to experience the natural beauty of the Caribbean while still having some luxury. For me, it’s a good middle ground between beautiful spots like the Virgin Islands that are pretty rugged without a lot of amenities and (in my opinion) overbuilt/touristed islands like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
I’ve got a pile of info for you in this post, so I’m going to start with a random smattering of travel tips before getting into more specific info about where to stay and some restaurant recommendations.
Turks & Caicos Travel Tips
The most visited (not on a cruise ship) island is Providenciales (Provo) and it’s probably where you’ll want to go. It has beautiful beaches and plenty of places to stay. While the cruise ships go to Grand Turk, they don’t come to Provo because of the reef.
Provo (and TCI in general) is one of the most expensive islands in the Caribbean. While islands in general aren’t cheap, TCI is still near the top price wise so be prepared to pay more than usual for everything (hotel rooms, rental cars, gas, and food), but don’t worry, good deals can still be found!
Most of the resorts and condos on Provo are on Grace Bay. This 12-mile beach is home to many accommodation and dining options so this is where the majority of visitors gravitate, however because it is such a large beach, it never feels overly crowded.
TCI is a British Overseas Territory so you’ll need a passport but they do speak English (duh!) and accept American dollars and the majority of tourists are Americans so it’s very accessible.
Most flights to Provo connect through Miami but there are a few direct flights through major airports (DFW, etc.). Many of these airlines only fly out once a week or so though (usually on Saturdays) so if you can, plan ahead and snag one of those. Minimizing your connections not only means less time in airports but less chance of missing your last flight!
Saturday is the most popular day to arrive and depart the island, so plan plenty of time at the airport. It’s recommended to leave for the airport three hours before international flights and you’ll probably need it. I’ve never been in a more crowded airport than the tiny one on Provo!
They drive on the left side of the road. It sounds scary at first, but if you drive slow and stay focused, you’ll get used to it pretty fast. Also, if there are two lanes, the right one is for passing/faster speeds (reverse of in the states).
Taxis charge per person (usually $10-$20) so it’s not cheap to get around that way. Rental cars are about $60/day. Do the math. If you only want a car for a day or two, it’s very easy to arrange. There are a few rental companies located in Grace Bay and they can send a shuttle to pick you up.
There are a lot of good restaurants on Provo but a lot of them require reservations (and book up during busy times) so plan ahead. If you arrive early enough, it’s possible to get in a lot of places without a reservation though.
High season (most expensive and crowded) is winter, but we were there in March (spring break) and it was crowded! The weather is pretty temperate all year long. During hurricane season (officially June-November, but mostly late July through October), the crowds really thin out and you can get great deals but a lot of restaurants and such close down for repairs and time off.
Bring a Go Pro, waterproof camera, or waterproof case for your phone. Most of the things you’ll do in the TCI involve water and you’ll definitely want pictures!
There’s a super nice grocery store on Grace Bay, which is pricey (not out of line with other Caribbean islands) but has all of the brands you’re used to and a really good selection.
The locals (called “Belongers”) are super friendly so be sure to chat with anyone you come across to really get a feel for the local culture.
The TCI is home to the world’s third largest barrier reef so snorkeling/diving is a must do here. If you want to experience diving, you should get certified before you arrive. If you’re not certified, don’t worry. There is plenty to see just by snorkeling.
Conch and lobster are major staples in the TCI. Lobster season is spring/summer and conch is available all year long. Try Da Conch Shack for some of the island’s best.
If you’re looking for shopping, you’ll find it in the shopping centers along Grace Bay. The Thursday Fish Fry is also a good place to pick up souvenirs made by local entrepreneurs.
Grace Bay, the most popular beach in TCI, is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and perfect for a laid back do-nothing beach vacation. The resorts on Grace Bay have plenty of umbrellas and beach chairs and you’ll find nothing better to do in TCI than wile away hours with a good book and rum punch.
Where to Stay in Turks & Caicos (on Providenciales)
Grace Bay: If you know anything about Provo, you’ve heard of Grace Bay. And for good reason. Grace Bay is the most beautiful beach in the Turks and Caicos and the hub of tourism on Provo. This stunning 12-mile beach on the north shore of Provo seems to be home to about 90% of the shopping, dining, and accommodation options on the island. It’s highly likely that this is where you’ll end up staying. It’s the only area of the island where you can easily walk to shops and restaurants from where you’re staying so it’s also possible to get away without renting a car if you’re staying here.
Leeward: This northeast portion of the island is largely residential so it’s much more quiet and low key than nearby Grace Bay but it has some perfectly lovely beaches.
Chalk Sound: Located on the southwest side of the island, Chalk Sound is a stunningly beautiful place to stay. In addition to Chalk Sound national park, Sapodilla Bay and Taylor Bay are also nearby and are some of the island’s best beaches. This area has the majority of the island’s rental villas but it’s also quite a ways away from all of the amenities of Grace Bay.
Long Bay: This is probably Provo’s second most famous beach and a great place to stay if you’re looking for a world-class beach with a little more quiet and seclusion than Grace Bay. It’s world known for kite boarding and this is also where Provo Ponies does their rides, but otherwise you won’t find any shops or restaurants in the area.
Turks and Caicos has also gotten a reputation for being super expensive and while it’s definitely not a cheap island, you can find a wide range of accommodation options to fit any taste and budget. Here are some options in every category:
All Inclusive Resorts
If an all-inclusive is your style, Provo has a couple of options.
Luxury Beach Resorts
If you’re looking for a little luxury, Turks and Caicos can’t be beat.
The Venetian: For something a little more “old world,” the Venetian offers everything you’d expect from a luxury beach resort with the option to book a 3 bedroom/3 bathroom “condo” for extra space. Check pricing and read reviews here.
Amanyara Resort: For a truly lavish experience, book a villa at the Amanyara Resort on the northwest point of the island. It will cost you but you’re unlikely to find its equal in the luxury department anywhere else. Check pricing and read reviews here.
More Affordable Luxury Options
If you’re craving nice digs but still working with a budget, don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of options.
Ocean Club West: I personally recommend Ocean Club West as this is where I stayed and we had a great experience. The pool and restaurant area was great but more importantly there were plenty of chairs and umbrellas out on the beach (those adorable pink ones!) and the staff was very friendly and attentive. Their sister resort, Ocean Club, is also a good option although a little less centrally located. Both of these resorts have individually owned units that you can rent through VRBO for a cheaper rate. Check pricing and read reviews here.
Still looking for more luxury beach resorts on Grace Bay? Try Grace Bay Club and The Somerset. If you’re willing to go off the beach for a discount, try the Oasis at Grace Bay.
Villas, Condos & Vacation Homes
If a resort isn’t your style, but you still want all of the amenities, Provo is home to some truly amazing villas and vacation homes (at all prices!).
To find exactly what you’re looking for (location, size, and budget), search here.
Where to Eat on Provo
If you’re anything like me, a big part of your vacation probably revolves around food! If you’re staying on Providenciales (Provo) in the Turks and Caicos, you’re likely going for some pretty serious beach bumming time, but hey, all that lounging in the sun can make you pretty hungry, so I’ve rounded up 12 great dining options on Provo broken down by category. Here’s the best everything from beach bars to fine dining, to cheap eats:
For the quintessential beach bar experience…
Da Conch Shack: You can’t go to TCI without stopping by Da Conch Shack. On the north shore (quite a bit west of Grace Bay so you’ll need a car if you plan on going) Da Conch Shack is literally a shack on the beach which serves up, you guessed it, conch! Sit with your feet in the sand, sip on a rum punch, listen to live music, and of course, feast on conch or lobster.
Kalooki’s: Far away from the resorts of Grace Bay, Kalooki’s will give you a real local experience. Feast on Caribbean classics, order a cold drink, soak up the views, and stare out at that beautiful ocean.
For fine patio dining near Grace Bay…
Caicos Café: Right across the street from Grace Bay on a charming deck is probably one of the best restaurants on Provo. Everything here is fabulous, from the conch fritters to the desserts. I had the homemade tortellini with 5 cheeses, pumpkin, and pecan and was blown away.
Coco Bistro: Nestled in a little palm tree grove near Grace Bay, Coco Bistro’s open air atmosphere looks to have an amazing vibe and an even greater menu. I didn’t get to try Coco Bistro because it was booked up for a month when I was there so be sure to plan ahead!
For casual beachfront dining…
Hemingway’s: Located at The Sands on Grace Bay, Hemingway’s is a chill little beach café serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. The food is good, reasonably priced,
Sea House: Located at Ocean Club West, the Sea House is another great beachfront dining option on Grace Bay. Plus, this is the place to find those adorable pink beach umbrellas, and who can pass up that photo op??
For tasty local food at reasonable prices…
Caravel: Caravel is famous for their fish tacos. They’re served in crispy round shells and loaded with toppings. It’s a simple dining room but great for a low key meal with great food.
Shay Café and Lounge: Shay Café doesn’t make too many people’s “must do” list when it comes to Provo dining but that’s mostly because people don’t know about it until they arrive. But it has a great location in the middle of Grace Bay, serves breakfast as well as lunch and dinner, and is so reasonably priced and friendly that many people end up making it a daily stop.
For fine beachfront dining at the resorts…
Seven: With indoor and outdoor eating areas, this super swanky restaurant at the ultra luxurious Seven Stars Resort features amazing beachfront atmosphere and excellent food, but it comes with a price! This is the place to go to for a special night out but expect to pay resort prices.
Kitchen 218: The food here gets raved about but the atmosphere and service are nothing to be downplayed either. Located at the Beach House, this place has both an upscale and relaxed vibe that’s perfect for a special night out after a full day on the beach.
For an early morning or midnight snack…
Caicos Bakery: This little French bakery in the heart of Grace Bay is exquisite and definitely deserves a stop by at least once. Go early in the morning if you want donuts, but this place is chock full of pastries and tarts and you can even buy bread by the loaf to take back to your condo.
Melt: For the ultimate ice cream experience, you’ve got to check out Melt. Located in one of the shopping centers along Grace Bay, Melt serves up some of the most fun ice cream concoctions around. Many of their sundaes come in martini glasses and in addition to their indoor “bar” they have a great outdoor seating area.
More posts about this area:
P.S. If you want to follow along on my travel adventures in real time, you can follow me on Instagram (@caitylincoln). My post captions are full of travel tips and I have a ton of story highlights and videos with great info. And share my account with your travel loving friends! Your support really helps me keep this blog running!