By Candyce H. Stapen
Turks and Caicos' Providenciales
Providenciales, affectionately called “Provo,” features one of the Caribbean’s best beaches: 12-mile-long Grace Bay Beach. Despite the fact that Provo’s been discovered and low-rise condo-hotels are opening along Grace Bay Beach, there’s plenty of room on the sand as well as on the island, population about 24,000. And you won’t encounter traffic jams or cruise ship hordes in this getaway haven. Provo, one of our favorite Caribbean destinations, offers a slow-paced, beach getaway with eco-adventures and great food.
You can snorkel and dive the Princess Alexandra Marine National Park, just off-shore from Grace Bay Beach. A few of the dive sites feature reefs with walls that drop to 95-feet. The reef between Provo and Little Water Cay offers good snorkeling. Big Blue Unlimited, one of Provo’s outfitters, offers diving and snorkeling outings.
If you’re curious about conch, then visit Provo’s Caicos Conch Farm, the Caribbean’s only such facility. On the tour you find out how the popular critter morphs from larval state to white shelled prettiness. To find out how the local staple tastes try da Conch Shack, a seaside eatery where kids can splash in the water and watch the cooks split the conch from their shells while waiting for really fresh conch chowder and platefuls of breaded or stir-fried conch.
Our two favorite places for lobster: Coco Bistro and Anacaona. If you can, book a table in Coco Bistro’s palm tree shaded garden. Other favorites include the shrimp satay and the blackened mahi mahi. Grace Bay Club’s Anacaona sits beachfront. In addition to the lobster, highlights include the vegetarian spring rolls and the wild Chilean sea bass.
For something special, arrange a private, torchlit dinner served on tables set-up in the sand.
The Grace Bay Club also features a Very Important Kids Club. When enrolled, children receive a welcome terry robe to keep and a special treat each afternoon of their stay. At Kids Town, the children’s program, ages five to 13 enjoy complimentary morning pool games, kite building and beach walks. In the afternoon, you may sign your kids up for kayaking, snorkeling and excursions to the conch farm. Although the original hotel remains adults-only, the resort offers roomy two and three bedroom villas (condos), each with a kitchen plus even larger estate units.
Among the newest properties on Grace Bay Beach is Seven Stars. The luxury resort consists of three buildings containing a total of 115 studio and one to four bedroom condominiums, each with a kitchen. The resort features attentive service, a large pool and up-market accommodations. The staff navigates the grounds by Segway so they can minister to your needs quickly.