Visiting Turks and Caicos with the Family

scasesandscups's picture
Kids: 
12 years
10 years
7 years
4 years
Author: 
Parent
Date: 
2013-08-10
Description: 

Turks and Caicos are known for having some of the best beaches in the world, and while that should be enough to entice a visit, there is so much more.  Turks and Caicos are just a short flight from the eastern US and just a tiny little hop from Florida, making them an ‘oh so convenient’ Caribbean destination.  The islands are also fairly new in the tourism industry, so the most beautiful beaches in the world are not overcrowded and you can still find many places in the islands that are completely untouched.   Yes, it really is paradise.

Where to Stay:

Provodinciales, an island at the end of the chain of islands that make up the Turks and Caicos is the perfect choice Provodinciales, or Provo as it is called by the locals, is conveniently located near the airport and has tons of activities for families to enjoy.  Ocean Club Resorts is an ideal choice for families, both for its affordability and amenities that appeal to families.

The all-suites property has one, two, and three bedroom options, with each suite offering a private screened patio to take in the tropical views. Each suite offers a full kitchen, and washer/dryer combo, as well.  On property, gas grills are stationed at the ready in the pool area, so that families can host their own cookout while the kids continue to swim.  The full kitchen and grill options allow families to save a bit of cash when it’s time to eat.

Activities onsite are plentiful, in fact, there is no need to leave the immediate area to enjoy a variety of activities. Onsite the hotel offers two pools, tennis, ocean sports, and, of course, the beach. Ocean Club Resorts offers a full service dive shop and activities concierge, so you can plan just about any adventure on land or sea that you can imagine.  Kite surfing, bike tours, kayaking, and paddle boarding yoga are just some of the activities available. The resort also offers the use of amenities at both Ocean Club West and East, so if you run out of things to do on one property you can head over to the other. 

Just for the kids, the resort offers a scavenger hunt Seafari, inviting kids to grab a Seafari Guidebook that teaches about native plants, invertebrates, reptiles and birds found on the islands.   There are about a dozen restaurants (including a bakery and ice cream shop) that are within walking distance of the hotel, as well as many shops and boutiques.  A grocery store, drug store, and bank are also nearby, and a line of well-loved bicycles are just waiting for someone to take them into town. 

Where to Eat:

Food is delicious and plentiful in Provo, with every imaginable type of cuisine available for the choosing.  Of course, seafood is an island favorite, with a special emphasis on enjoying the local delicacy-conch.

1.       Cabana Bar and Grill: Casual dining at umbrellas covered tables with the beach and the sunset as the view. Enjoy seafood, sandwiches, salad, and pizza.  For a special treat, join the Friday night “Feet in the Sand” meal that includes dining on the beach and ends with a smores feast around the fire.

2.      Da Conch Shack: Conch is king in the Turks and Caicos, and this is the place to try all the different varieties of the delicacies. Sample conch fritters, conch cerviche, and conch chowder, all while enjoying one of the most beautiful and private beaches on the island.

3.      Pizza Pizza: After a meal full of conch, a taste of home might be in order. Pizza can be picked up to take back to your hotel, or eaten in the two story patio. Kids can burn off some steam in the sandy playground in the courtyard, and grab some ice cream at the adjoining shop after dinner.

4.      Giggles Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe:  Treats of all kinds, including candy, ice cream, milkshakes, and slushes, can be found here.  Enjoy your treats in the patio surrounded by pirate statues and informational signs about the pirate history of the islands.

5.      Caicos Café: Casual, but elegant atmosphere that feels like sitting in a tree house in paradise. Mediterranean food with an emphasis on pasta and fish is served.

What To Do: A Three Day Family Itinerary

Day One: After settling in your luxurious hotel, you might want to take a few minutes to explore the beach and take in the relaxing sea air.  A big part of the draw of the Turks and Caicos is the ability to kick back and do nothing. When the kids are ready to dig into learning about the islands, head over for some time indoors in the National Environment Centre.  This attraction is great for any kids who love science and nature, and allows visitors hands-on exploration of the coral reefs and ecosystem of the islands.  

Afterwards, you can explore the reef up close without even getting wet with a ride aboard the Glass Bottom Semi-Submarine. Enjoy the colorful tropical fish and beautiful Smith Reef as you glide along in the air conditioned submarine.  An informative guide is onboard to offer insight and education about the things you see as you peer out into the clear water.

End the day right where you began it-on the beach. “Feet in the Sand” dining at Cabana Bar and Grill allows you to enjoy your meal right on the beach surrounded by the warm glow of torches, and the beautiful sunset. When dinner is over, the kids-and adults-will love gathering around the fire to make delicious smores.

Day Two: Conch is king in the Turks and Caicos and there are many ways to explore this unusual sea creature on the island. The abundance of conch still available in TCI is due, in large part, to only conch farm in the world located on the eastern tip of Provo. A series of buildings and circular pens resembling a hybrid of a greenhouse and a water treatment plant are located on a prime piece of Provo real estate and make up the farm.  Tours begin in a small room off of the open air gift shop where guides use diagrams and photographs to introduce the life cycle of the conch. Tours continue throughout the farm where you can see the growth of the conch from a tiny creature to a huge, slimy being.

After learning about how conch is produced, it seems only fitting to have a conch feast. Da Conch Shack has just the right atmosphere for enjoying this island delicacy. On the menu is every kind of conch dish that can be imagined, included conch fritters and conch cerviche. While waiting for your food to be prepared, you can enjoy the beautiful beach or shop from the beachside souvenir stands that, of course, feature conch shells of all shapes and sizes. Da Conch Shack also offers an entertaining demonstration of how conch is removed from the shell.

 

Day Three: After exploring all that the island has to offer, it’s time to hit the water. The best way to explore the small islands surrounding Provo is to hop aboard the Atabeyra, a 77 foot schooner that will customize a trip to take you to parts of the area that can only be seen by boat. Stop for a brief snorkel around the third largest reef in the world, before continuing to Pine Cay where you can snorkel above a shipwreck or scramble on the chalky cliffs on the edge of the island. A final must be Little Water Cay, which is also known as Iguana Island. Rock Iguanas make this uninhabited island home and can be found wandering over the boardwalk, climbing in trees, or hanging out on the beach to meet the boats as they arrive.

Explore another ecosystem of the islands with a Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) or kayak tour of the mangroves. Water Play Provo offers tours through the mangroves where a vast biological array can be seen. While floating gently through the water, it is a peaceful tour through root systems that provide homes for both land and sea animals.

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