With its sparkling turquoise waters and pristine beaches, Tiffany Dowd discovers laidback luxury in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
I know I am on final approach to Providenciales when I hear the “oohs” and “ahhs” of fellow passengers pressed up against the windows. As a frequent visitor to the Turks and Caicos Islands, I too let out a self-indulgent sigh each time I catch a glimpse of the translucent turquoise waters surrounding this island paradise. Even the clouds seem to reflect these beautiful shades of blue, and it always takes my breath away.
The British Overseas Territory of Turks and Caicos is a chain of 40 pristine islands just south of the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean, only 885 kilometres southeast of Miami. Only eight of these islands are inhabited, with ‘Provo’ being the favorite destination for sun-seekers and beach-lovers.
The island’s famous powdery Grace Bay Beach, which spans 19 kilometres, is like no other. It is easily one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world where days begin with long strolls by the sea and end with brilliant sunsets dipping below the horizon.
I’m staying at The Palms Turks and Caicos, set in the heart of Grace Bay, a refreshing retreat with its white-washed coral stone architecture and open-air courtyard, lined with palms trees gently swaying in the breeze. With only 72 rooms and suites each decorated in Caribbean tropical décor, the views of the beach and turquoise sea give new meaning to the term ‘picture window’.
I start my day with morning yoga followed by a light breakfast in the tranquil garden wondering if I should continue my unstructured day by the serpentine pool with its swim-up bar or under a hatch-shell cabana at the beach. One thing I do know is that afternoon naps on my balcony lounge bed will become my daily ritual.
I find myself lounging outside in the outdoor relaxation area of The Spa at The Palms, staring at the reflecting pool wishing I could stay here all day. As the largest spa on the island, with 2322 square metres of tranquil space, the spa is a heavenly haven to indulge the senses. The therapist takes me to a secret garden for a ritual called Zareeba using a giant clay pot of steaming herbs to detoxify the body. The mystical brew leaves me in a wonderfully meditative state from before my mother-of-pearl scrub.
Later that evening, the candlelight is flickering at Parallel23, and we’re feasting al fresco on Caribbean fusion cuisine of coconut-marinated conch ceviche, spiny lobster and sweet tropical desserts. The setting could not be more perfect under the starry sky with each table abuzz with a sun-kissed couple or family enjoying an elegant meal.
While Grace Bay remains the epicentre of most of the luxury resorts and restaurants on the island, there’s a new resort that is luring visitors from Grace Bay to the sandy white beaches of Long Bay.
I check into the The Shore Club Turks and Caicos, it’s Caribbean chic surrounds giving me every excuse not to leave for days. Complementing 106 ocean-view suites, six luxury villas and two stunning penthouses, there are also three restaurants, eye-catching pools, a bevy of bars, the Dune Spa and a complimentary kids’ club.
The new Sui-Ren restaurant has become an island favorite with a unique menu of Peruvian-Japanese fusion cuisine from chef Daniel Delgado.
I wake up early each day rewarded with the most brilliant and fiery coloured sunrises I have ever seen.
The ocean views beckon for a morning swim in waters with bath-like temperatures, and in the afternoons, I admire the avid kite-surfers who jump and glide across the waters of Long Bay, taking advantage of the warm breezes.
Turks and Caicos boasts one of the largest reefs in the world, making it a scuba diving and snorkelling paradise. On any given day you will spot sea turtles, sting rays and even wild dolphins. Some of the best snorkelling on the island is right off its beaches.
While Turks and Caicos is no longer the Caribbean’s best-kept secret, one thing I know for sure is that you’ll leave feeling like you’ve truly got away from it all.