Zika has globetrotters in a bit of a frenzy, and rightfully so. Did you hear about the Harper’s Bazaar senior digital editor who was diagnosed with the virus after vacationing in Jamaica? Chrissy Rutherford, who lives in New York, first realized something was wrong when the skin on her face was beginning to break out with an odd rash days after her sunny JA vacay. Crazy, we know! While concerned travelers may be avoiding Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the USVI (destinations where local mosquitos are transmitting the virus) it is ok to visit Turks & Caicos. To-date, the 40 low-lying coral islands are Zika-free, making their white sand beaches ideal for a sweet summer getaway. Now, onto where to eat, sleep and play when you go.
Ocean Club Resorts, Deluxe Beachfront Suites
The Pool at Ocean Club
Nestled on Grace Bay beach in Providenciales, the tourist hub of the Turks & Caicos islands, are Ocean Club Resort’s cozy and affordable beachfront accommodations. And lucky for you, the resort it comprised of two properties: Ocean Club and Ocean Club West, condominium style sister suites that offer the casual comforts of home. Stay at one, play at both—seriously, it can be done—it’s the resort’s policy! When you’re done sailing, snorkeling, diving and indulging in spa treatments, park under one of Ocean Club’s signature pink umbrellas and just chill. (Rates start at $229)
Opus, Seaside Cafe, Da Conch Shack & Island Fish Fry
Happy Waitress at Da Conch Shack and Rum Bar, Providenciales
OPUS: Sampling the local fare is hard to avoid in Turks and Caicos. Thankfully, there is a noticeable absence of globalized fast food chains so you’re obligated to allow your palette to taste the many flavors up for grabs. Dinner at Opus, one of Provo’s premiere restaurants, is a must at least once during your stay. The oceanside eatery provides a generous selection of fresh seafood; think snapper, grouper, conch and seasonal lobster, prepared the Caribbean way.
Brownie A La Mode at Opus, One of Provo’s Premiere Restaurants
Start with the Turks & Caicos conch ceviche, for your main course, do the whole snapper roasted in lemon capers and shallot butter, and for dessert, go with the brownie a la mode, it’s delicious!
Poolside Eats at Seaside Cafe, Ocean Club Resorts
SEASIDE CAFE: If you stay at Ocean Club, you’ll eat at Seaside Cafe more than once. Order the Beer Battered Tempura Shrimp if you’re not counting calories. If you are, go with the broiled fish over fresh greens—the raspberry vinaigrette dressing is divine.
Infamous Conch Salad at Da Conch Shack, Providenciales
DA CONCH SHACK: You can’t visit Providenciales and not eat at Da Conch Shack. The legendary beachfront restaurant and bar is a local fave and prepares the most diverse selection of conch on the island. From a ceviche- esque conch salad to crispy fritters served alongside a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, you must give their sea snails a try!
Sipping Coconut Water Spiked with Coconut Rum at Island Fish Fry, Providenciales
ISLAND FISH FRY: Every Thursday, from 5:30pm – 9:30pm, the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board hosts an Island Fish Fry, which according to locals, is the place to be. The family-friendly event features local food and drink vendors, live bands and entertainers, cultural acts and most importantly, natives, who bring a distinctive vibe to the festivities. Purchase a plate from Jerky’s or Froggies On Da Beach — the lines are long for a reason.
Caicos Conch Farm, Sunset Cruise, Kayak Through The Mangroves and Provo Ponies
CAICOS CONCH FARM: Caicos Conch Farm is the first and only commercial conch farm in the world. Even if you have zero interest in sea snails and could care less that Conch is the islands’ biggest export, the farm raises thousands of Queen conch just offshore and the congregation of massive shells is quite fascinating. The tour only takes 30 minutes—no excuses! When you’re done, delight yourself in a rum punch from Da Conch Shack. You earned it.
The Stable at Provo Ponies in Providenciales
PROVO PONIES: Confession: I fell in love with a hairy fella named Ike in Providenciales. After my Dominican Republic fiasco, I vowed to never ride a horse off American soil again, but then I met Ike and couldn’t resist. If horseback riding through the tepid shores of the Caribbean has been on your bucket list, check it off with Provo Ponies. When you go, tell Kelly and Kristen I sent you. One-hour sessions are $96 per person, 90-minutes, $118. Remember to wear long pants, sneakers and a good bra. Bring your camera, the tour guides are kind enough to snap pictures for you!
Baes On A Boat
SUNSET CRUISE: “This is what we have to offer. The water, the beaches… If you don’t get out here and enjoy this, you’re doing yourself a disservice,” says Captain Tibi, as we set sail aboard Sun Charters, a locally loved tour operating company that’s been serving the Turks & Caicos Islands for over 20 years. Enjoy wine and cheese over girl talk and good music before diving off the side of the catamaran in search of precious sand dollars. If you’re opposed to diving, slip on some snorkel gear and take a peek at Provo’s diverse marine life—things are sweet under the sea. Wether you travel with your significant other, girlfriends or in a large group, don’t leave the island without spending a day with Captain Tibi.
An Immaculate Provo Sunset
Kayaking Through The Mangroves of Providenciales
Kayak Through The Mangroves: Here’s the truth, kayaking is a workout that takes upper body and abdominal strength. Even if you are in shape, your limbs may be sore after a day spent boating through the shallow waters of the Turks & Caicos islands, but the workout is well worth it. Traveling by kayak is the ideal way to explore the winding mangrove channels, where wildlife species exists that you won’t find anywhere else in Provo. Big Blue Unlimited Eco Tours offers an off the beaten path trip into the wilderness of remote cays, tidal creeks, nature reserves and secluded beaches.
Yes, We Know, That’s a Big Iguana!
Photos by Metanoya Z. Webb exclusively for Globetrotting Stiletto Inc.