Why I love the Turks and Caicos (Part 1- The First Trip)
I've made a few Facebook posts this week that referenced the Turks and Caicos, so I thought I would make a blog entry to explain what it is that I love so much.
My first trip to the islands was in 2007 with my husband. He had a job offer on Provo (Providenciales, the most inhabited island), so we had done a lot of research before going. We studied the islands and learned a lot of facts:
1. History- Located between the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos were originally inhabited by Lucayan and Taino Indians, until Christopher Columbus landed on Grand Turk in 1492. After centuries of going between French, Spanish, Bahamian, but mostly British rule, the islands ultimately became a British crown colony, which it remains today. The islands have been sparsely populated for centuries, and only became a tourist destination in the 1980's.
2. Economy- The economy relies mostly on tourism, with around 30,000 residents welcoming over 200,000 tourists per year. Currency is the US dollar, the official language is English. There is also fishing, a conch farm (the only one in the world), and finance ("zero tax" jurisdiction) to name a few other sources of income.
3. Other things I cared about- The islands are safe. Very little crime. There is a modern hospital as well as many independent practitioners on the island.
4. Things to do- The islands are a haven for water sports- snorkeling, scuba, fishing, etc. There is even a live reef right off the beach at one point where you can walk right out and see some of the best snorkeling I have anywhere. There is also a small casino on Provo, and I love roulette!!!
5. Where to stay- There are a number of high luxury resorts on Provo situated on beautiful Grace Bay (see pic below). There are also homes and condos to rent. Beaches and Club Med are the only all-inclusives, but this is one island that is great to get out and explore.
The facts were all interesting, and positive, but it wasn't until we got there that we fell in love. The food. The people. The atmosphere. The most beautiful beaches I've seen.
We rented a car and drove all around Provo. We never felt in danger or afraid. We got help from plenty of friendly locals guiding us when we lost our way. And we stumbled upon my favorite local beach bar in all of the Caribbean... da Conch Shack!!
Cold drinks. Caribbean music. Fresh conch (And I mean fresh!! Pulled out of the crystal blue water right beside the restaurant!!). Perfect cracked lobster (fried lobster... and yes, it's delicious!!). Literally feet from that indescribable water. It was amazing.
Unfortunately, the job was not what we had hoped and my husband had to turn it down. The silver lining was that we had immersed ourselves into learning about an island and fell in love. In fact, we loved it so much that we started looking for real estate down there. At one point, we almost pulled the trigger and bought a parcel of land on Middle Caicos. But that is an adventure for another blog....