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Updated: Jan 21

A tropical getaway is only 4 hours away from Toronto. A place where you can go for the long weekend. An island where you can easily explore within 2-3 days, depending on what kind of vacation you're looking for. Whether you're looking for a nice beach to get sunkissed or a beach to go for a swim, in Providenciales, you will find plenty of options to choose from.

Turks and Caicos Islands is one of the best places to go for beaches. I've heard that Grace Bay Beach has been crowned one of the best beaches in the world, for many years in a row, so I wanted to check it out and see for myself. I ended up on a spontaneous road trip around the island, exploring the many beaches and taking in all the views (The view from the plane was stunning!), sandy toes, and a much-needed dose of Vitamin D. One of the perks of visiting Turks and Caicos is that they get sunshine almost all year long!

Though Turks and Caicos is a very expensive destination, it is possible to do it on a budget (like we did). Everything is in US Dollars. We opted to stay at a hotel near the airport. I did not mind not having direct access to the beach, since I tend to go to the hotel to shower and sleep only. I spend the majority of my day outside, to try to make the most of time, wherever I go. We scored a deal at only $190 CAD/night at The Lodgings Hotel.

Tours can be costly, and can even go up to $500/person. Some of the most popular activities include jet skiing and a tour of the shipwreck.

A car rental is much needed for the best experience, especially if you intend on visiting multiple places. I found that even locals had a hard time getting around by taxi, as it is very limited. There are no buses on the island. Wi-Fi can also be on/off at the airport, thus it is best to book your rental before you arrive. You will find the booths upon arrival.

We reserved with Avis at the last minute, but they were sold out (this was not posted online), thus we had to get another booking with Economy Car Rental (Caicos Wheels). The car cost us $80 USD per day. Though we had no issues with the car, I found the car to be old and not in the best shape (compared to another rental we tried at SIXT during our stay). It took about 30 minutes for me to adjust to driving on the island, as the driver is on the right-hand side and they drive on the left side of the road. However, some car rental companies offer cars with the driver seat on the left-hand side.

The flight arrived around noon, which left us with half the day to start exploring. By the time we freshened up at the hotel, we were only left with 2.5 hours to spare before sunset. So our adventure began. We started with the South Coast.

Our first stop was Taylor Bay Beach. The entrance may be a little hard to find. You'll find most cars are parked on the side of the road. You have to find your way to the beach (there are not any signs). Make your way down the small path on Ocean Drive (by foot only, no car access, but again, the street is not marked either).

On our first attempt, we ended up at a tennis court and later realized we had to walk back through another pathway. The beach was not too crowded, and you will find villas with direct access to the beach. I suggest downloading offline maps so that you have a better sense of where you're going.

Our next stop was Sapodilla Bay Beach, where we found it to be much more crowded. You can find beach chairs, inflatables, umbrellas, and locals blasting music and selling alcohol, and coconut water. This beach is right across the Neptune Villas. It was not at all our vibe, so we just snapped some pictures and left within 10 minutes, but it is still worth a visit. The sand felt very nice and soft, and the water was crystal clear. Parking is on the road.

Not far from the beach, you will find Sapodilla Bay Hill, a protected historical site with rock carvings left by shipwrecked travelers, dating back to the mid-1700s-1800s. You can find inscriptions of symbols, dates, buildings, and ships on the rock carvings.

I loved coming across random peaceful spots on our drive to stop. Some places in the residential neighborhoods offer breathtaking views, but you just have to find them! We found an empty lot by the water for sunset. We also pinned a bunch of places on Google Maps to stop at along the way. You can find the places we had saved here.

A grocery store stop was a must, though the prices were excruciating, for example, a small box of Ferrero Rocher was going for as much as $30 USD. Everything is imported from Europe and the U.S., but there is a wide range of international snacks offered as well, such as chips and cookies from the Philippines.

We met a local there and she recommended we try Taste Buds for dinner. They serve local cuisine and are right by the airport. If you visit during the day, you get a great view of the runway. It's the perfect spot to go plane-watching.

They also have dominoes that you can play while waiting for your food. I ordered a lobster burger for $25 USD (no fries included), and was shocked to see how generous they were with the lobster meat! My friend ordered a plate of chicken pasta for $15 USD, and had leftovers to take home.

On our second day in Turks and Caicos, we set off early in the morning and started our day with a hike at the Bird Rock Trail. The hike only took us 30 minutes, before we reached the view of the water. The trail breaks off at some point and you need to go through the rocks to get to the other side before you get to the water). It was a peaceful and beautiful spot!

Afterward, we continued with stops at Emerald Beach and Leeward Beach. I especially loved Leeward Beach, for the beauty of the landscapes, the softness of the sands, and the shades of blue of the clear waters. Leeward Beach is simply gorgeous! Guess what? It ended up being our favourite stop on our trip. We made our way back three times in 4 days!

We then made our way towards Grace Bay Beach, the landmark that made me come to the Caribbean. To my surprise, I was not as impressed by the beach as I thought I would be, though I loved the shade of blue and how beautiful the water was. You can find beach chair rentals, beach volleyball, and water sports.

The beach is crowded, as it is the most popular. There is ample parking space, and the water will leave you in awe, but I've seen better beaches. I also do not like crowded places, and as this place is quite popular, inevitably, it was busy, despite us getting there early in the morning.

We stopped at Graceway Grocers to grab a quick bite for lunch. This gourmet supermarket was also one of my favorite supermarkets on the island. They have free Wi-Fi, hot foods for purchase, and a selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, breads, and desserts.

We also checked out Lemon 2 Go nearby for their samosas made with Trini spices ($4.50 USD for one), and Turkberry, located in the Saltmills Plaza, where we grabbed some frozen yogurt ($8 USD for a small). We stopped by Crest & Berry, a super cute and new aesthetically pleasing acai spot (it's a nice place for any time of the day really, but I would come here for breakfast!) Their acai bowls are $20 USD. Nearby, you will find the Ports of Call Resort which makes for a great pit stop as well, since they have shops, cafes, and a nice mural with which you can snap a picture.

The second half of the day was spent exploring more beaches and cooling off from the heat with a swim at sunset. We stopped at Four Boys Beach, Babalua Beach, Smith's Reef, and Sunset Beach. Our last stop, Sunset Beach, was quite hard to find. We initially ended up at the entrance of Rock House, a property that costs over $1,000 a night to stay.

We had dinner at Bugaloo's, which sits right on the beach.

An order of conch fritters (so delicious!) and garlic buttered shrimp with peas and rice, came up to approximately $55 (USD), which I found to be overpriced, despite it being tasty.

The restaurant would be best enjoyed during the day as there are picnic tables right in the water and you can enjoy the view. However, at night, though the ambiance is nicely set and cozy, the experience is different. You can find the restaurant lit by string lights, plenty of seating and you can hear the sounds of the water.

On what we thought would be our last day, we headed to the local side of the island. Think, of the side of the island where you can see locals dressed up and walking to church, the side where you see a huge contrast from the big white villas and the rich. Instead, you will come across colorful churches, no restaurants, and landmarks where you get the place to yourself. Exploring this neighborhood on the island was one of my favourite activities. I preferred the peaceful escape, how life seemed to be more slowed down and relaxed.

Our early drive started with a stop along Blue Hills Rd, where we enjoyed the serenity by the sea. We passed Kimcha Village Bird Sanctuary and made our way to Wheeland Beach, before continuing to Northwest Point National Park.

We stopped by the hotel to freshen up, and then made our way to the airport. Our flight was delayed, but we ended up missing the flight and found ourselves sitting at the airport for hours, questioning what we should do next.

On that particular day, we didn't seem to be too lucky with the hotel rates, as the cheapest we could find was costing us close to the same rate we had paid for 2 nights. We decided to exit and ask how much a taxi would cost to get there first since it is located in Turtle Cove and we had already returned our rental. Staying overnight at the airport was not an option, since the airport closes around 8 pm.

Once we exited the secure area, we asked around for help and one particular airport worker came to our rescue. She introduced us to other locals in the community and before we knew it, we connected and became friends with the Filipino community. We were treated to a feast and a party and ended up staying late, talking, and having a good time. In those moments of pure bliss, I felt that life was reminding me of something I had forgotten: the joy of life comes from spreading kindness and love to others and building a strong community despite our differences.

The next morning was the first day I managed to get out for sunrise on my trip. The wonderful woman we met at the airport had now become our friend, and she took us to Long Bay Beach for sunrise.

It was a beautiful way to end our trip and the best way to bid farewell to an unexpected journey. We stopped for breakfast at The Market at Blue Haven, before proceeding back to our favourite beach and the supermarket to grab some lunch for the plane.

Regardless of the types of activities you choose to do on your trip to Turks and Caicos, whether it's jet skiing, kayaking, or taking a tour of the shipwrecks, I hope that this guide helps you find the right beach for you to relax and get your dose of Vitamin D.

Turks and Caicos Islands was beautiful, unexpected, expensive, yet so worth it. You may want to venture out of Providenciales to the other islands, but if your time is limited like mine was, you will find that Providenciales is enough.

Have you been to Turks & Caicos? Let me know!


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