Turks and Caicos 2016 – Day 6

A very windy final day on Grace Bay!  The waves were crashing this morning as I set out for my beach walk.  I didn’t make it as far as I have previous days because I couldn’t find much hard-packed sand to walk on.  Breakfast this morning was at Bay Bistro, located directly on the beach at the Sibonne resort, right next door to The Sands.  I walked over and enjoyed French toast while I watched the waves roll in.  Despite the winds, the water was still a beautiful green (with some whitecaps mixed in).  After breakfast, I quickly slathered on the sunscreen and made my way to the pool.  The beach was way too windy to be comfortable.

Grace Bay Beach at Sunrise
Grace Bay Beach at Sunrise

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and so did this vacation.  My late check-out forced me out at noon.  I made one last stop at Potcake Place and then it was back to the airport.  The nice thing about a small island is that even after driving around all week, I didn’t use much gas.  Good thing, because gas was $4.70/gallon!  (As a side note, I had been influenced by what I read online in previous years to rent a right-hand drive car so I would remember to drive on the left.  This year, I rented a left-hand drive car, and it was SO much easier!  The only thing to think about is which side to drive on.)

My flights home were uneventful.  I am a big advocate of Global Entry, but the lines going through immigration in Philadelphia were so short, it didn’t do much to expedite the process today.  I hate leaving a full suitcase lying around, so I immediately unpacked when I got home.  Tomorrow will involve my favorite post-vacation activity: grocery shopping (I’m not kidding; there’s something about coming home to an empty fridge and then going shopping to fill it up).  For tonight, there is nothing like being home in your own bed after several days away! 🙂

Final View of Grace Bay
Final View of Grace Bay

 “The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.” ~Wendy Wonder

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Turks and Caicos 2016 – Day 5

My last full day of vacation (don’t worry… I plan to squeeze in a few hours of beach time before I leave tomorrow!) started with another long sunrise beach walk.  I decided to give Shay Cafe another try for breakfast, and I’m glad I did.  The breakfast sandwich was served on a huge, flaky croissant.  Together with the iced coffee, it managed to tide me over ‘til dinner.

Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach

Then it was back to the resort for some beach and pool time.  The clouds looked pretty threatening, but it didn’t actually rain until mid-afternoon.  I seized the opportunity to go back to Potcake Place to visit with the potcake puppies.  Most were sleeping when I got there, but they woke up once they realized they had visitors.  I went back to the beach for a little while once the clouds cleared, but by then the wind was really picking up.  I headed out for an early dinner at Las Brisas.  The restaurant is part of Neptune Villas, and the deck looks right out on Chalk Sound… what a view!  It was incredibly windy, and even though it was a warm wind, I wished I had brought my sweatshirt with me.  I really wanted to have the tres leches cake for dessert (not something you can get everywhere, and it’s one of my favorites!), but they didn’t have it today.  The waiter convinced me to try the coconut rum cake instead, and it was just as delicious!

Dinner view from Las Brisas
Dinner view from Las Brisas

By the time I got back to The Sands, the wind was whipping and howling and the sky was completely overcast.  I headed out to the beach to dip my feet in the water again, and I could just make out a few people way down the beach.  Definitely not a night for a long stroll on the beach.  As much as I love to fly, I don’t do well with a lot of turbulence, so I’m hoping the winds die down before tomorrow afternoon!    

Turks and Caicos 2016 – Day 4

Another perfect, albeit hot, day at the beach. I started the day with an hour-long walk along Grace Bay. I love being up and out for sunrise even when I can’t actually see the sunrise. The beach is always so much quieter at that hour…

Pelican Beach
Pelican Beach

I had been planning today’s morning adventure for weeks. I stopped at Caicos Bakery (seriously the best baked goods on the island!) and picked up a custard-filled beignet before heading to Pelican Beach, at the far eastern end of the island. I visited Pelican Beach last year, and it is by far my favorite beach. It’s not built up at all, and there are very few people around. I think I saw maybe a dozen people the whole time I was there today. The water is an unbelievable shade of blue, and the beach is covered with conch shells. It was the perfect spot for a breakfast picnic! After breakfast, I walked to the far eastern end of Pelican Beach, where you can see across the Leeward Going Through channel over to Little Water Cay (home to the infamous rock iguanas).

Then it was back to The Sands for some beach time. The water was relatively calm today, so I took out one of the kayaks for a paddle. The kayak has a glass bottom, but alas, I didn’t see any marine life during my paddle. Since the humidity was bordering on oppressive today, I opted to head out for the afternoon.

Potcake Place is a non-profit organization that rescues potcake puppies from around the island and offers them for adoption, many going to families in the U.S. You can stop by and visit with the puppies at the shelter. It has become a frequent stop on my visits here. Today there were about 8 puppies out; most of whom were sleeping. They also took in a half dozen new puppies today. I’ll be back tomorrow to see if I can hold some of the newest arrivals! I browsed around a few of the gift/souvenir shops in “downtown” Provo and then grabbed an ice cream cone before heading back.

Grace Bay Sunset
Grace Bay Sunset

Dinner tonight was at Somewhere on the Beach, a local favorite for obvious reasons. I ate there last year and it was one of my favorite meals! I enjoyed a frozen mudslide and pulled pork quesadilla overlooking the Coral Gardens reef. After dinner, it was back to The Sands for another beach walk and beautiful sunset!

Turks and Caicos 2016 – Day 3

Today may be the “pick of the week”… sunny skies almost all day, reasonably calm water, and temperatures in the low 80s.  What better way to spend it than visiting three beaches?

Sapodilla Bay
Sapodilla Bay

I started the day with a long walk on Grace Bay Beach this morning.  The sky was cloudy, but there were some breaks.  I set off toward the main hub area of Grace Bay.  The Sands is ideally situated with vacant lots on either side, so the beach feels like you have room to spread out.  Not so going in either direction.  The resorts sit almost on top of one another and were it not for the different colors/styles, it would be hard to tell where one resort’s beach area ends and the next’s begins.  

After my beach walk, it was time to get ready for a day of fun in the sun.  I ate breakfast at the resort restaurant, Hemingway’s.  The restaurant is situated directly on the water with deck seats overlooking the beach and Grace Bay.  By then, the sun had come out and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of eggs Benedict while I watched the waves roll in.  After breakfast I spent a couple of hours on the beach reading and swimming.  The water temperature is warm, but not exactly bath water.  Since I’m not a salt water person anyway, a few minutes at a time was plenty for me.  Leaving the beach, I spent some time by the pool before setting off for the afternoon.

Breakfast at Hemingway's on the Beach
Breakfast at Hemingway’s on the Beach

 Providenciales is mainly a flat, scrubby island, but the beaches more than make up for the dull inland landscape.  This afternoon, I decided to head to two of the quieter beaches on the south side of the island – Sapodilla Bay and Taylor Bay.  On my way, I made a quick turn down the aptly-named Picturesque Lane to see Chalk Sound.  The water is a milky blue/green color and absolutely stunning.  I spent a morning at Taylor Bay two years ago, and I stopped by Sapodilla Bay last year, so I knew the water would be crystal clear for hundreds of yards out.  This time, I climbed Sapodilla Hill before heading to the beach.  The hill has many old inscriptions left by sailors on the rocks, some dating back to the 1700s.  From the top of the hill, you have a bird’s eye view of Sapodilla Bay and Chalk Sound.  The beach at Sapodilla bay is very narrow and had a lot of visitors today, so I walked the length of the beach and then headed over to Taylor Bay to swim.  

Tonight was the Manager’s reception at The Sands.  All the crackers and cheese, veggies, chips and salsa, and conch fritters you can eat… plus bottomless rum punch and/or Turks’s Head beer!  I settled in on a chair by the pool and starting chatting with the woman next to me.  She was a retired middle school German teacher from New Jersey, also traveling by herself, and we spent the better part of an hour talking about teaching and travel.  The perfect ending to the evening was another gorgeous sunset over Grace Bay!  

Sunset on Grace Bay
Sunset on Grace Bay

Turks and Caicos 2016 – Day 2

Paradise isn’t quite as paradise-y when it’s windy and rainy.  Fortunately, while the wind was persistent all day, the rain was mostly showers off and on breaking up the “monotony” of the sunshine.  

Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach

But before we jump into today, let’s recap last night.  My room was 76 degrees when I got here yesterday afternoon, and hadn’t cooled down at all when I got back from dinner.  They sent over someone from maintenance who spent literally an hour doing something with the water tank in the bathroom.  He assured me I was all set and the room would cool down. It didn’t.  Instead, I spent the night tossing and turning in 76 degree heat.  Now, when it is cold at home, I love to be toasty warm.  I keep my heat set at 72 degrees all winter.  But when it’s hot out, I am a big believer of turning on the a/c and piling on the blankets.  Needless to say, sleep was a bit elusive last night.  

Nevertheless, I jumped out of bed at 7 this morning, got ready, and ironed all my clothes for the week.  I’m kind of obsessive about non-wrinkled clothing.  Then I went for a short walk on the beach before heading to Shay Cafe for breakfast.  I had read great reviews and was eager to try it for myself.  I opted for the strawberry crepes, which sound a lot better than they were.  As I saw other people’s egg sandwiches coming out, I was envious.  I should have gone healthy.  After breakfast, it was back to put on the sunscreen and hit the beach/pool.  

The Sands at Grace Bay
The Sands at Grace Bay

The weather kept me busy moving inside and out all day (luckily, an A/C tech was able to get the room cooled down this morning).  We’d have an hour of sun, followed by 15 minutes of showers, followed by a half hour of sun before another shower set in.  The wind was whipping all day and the waves were crashing.  I’m not a big salt water person, so I much prefer the chlorinated water of the pool anyway.  I managed to finish my first book of vacation this morning and start my second.  I love being able to read for hours at a time!

Dinner tonight was at The Caravel.  The Caravel is fairly new, and is well deserving of all of its great reviews!  The fish tacos were served in little pillow-shaped taco shells with a trio of dipping sauces – sour cream, a spicy ranch, and an even spicier salsa.  A sunset walk on the beach was the perfect ending to the day!

Sunset on Grace Bay
Sunset on Grace Bay

Turks and Caicos 2016 – Day 1

Paradise. That’s the only word that comes to mind to describe Turks and Caicos. Warm weather, sun, and sand. Exactly what this trip is all about. This is my third visit to TCI, and a week of relaxation, sun, and reading is just what I need. I have thought about visiting other islands (Grand Cayman was a top contender for this trip), but in the end, I love Grace Bay Beach (the main “resort” beach in Providenciales) and the familiarity of visiting a place I love.

Early morning flight out of Boston
Early morning flight out of Boston

But let’s rewind about 16 hours. My day started at 3AM. Yes, you read that right. After booking my flight back in September, American Airlines (in their infinite wisdom) decided to change my flights, leaving me with just a 45 minute connection between two terminals in Philadelphia. Thankfully, when I called them last week, I was able to switch to an earlier flight out of Boston, leaving at 5:30AM. So, all is well, right? As it turns out, we taxied out to the runway, only to return to the gate 15 minutes later due to a computer glitch. Fast forward an hour, and we finally took off at 7AM. The EXACT TIME my original flight was scheduled to leave.

So, now all is well, right? Not so fast. Board the flight in Philly, taxi to the runway, and… return to the gate. Again. This time for some mechanical paperwork that wasn’t done. Fast forward another hour and 15 minutes, and I was finally on my way to Providenciales. Where I picked the slowest immigration line. I started with about 100 people in line behind me and by the time I got through there were maybe 10 people left. Off to pick up the rental car (I had a surprisingly easy time adjusting to driving on the left this time), and by 4:15 I was happily in my room at The Sands drinking rum punch and Skyping with my family in Florida.

Grace Bay Beach
Grace Bay Beach

I quickly dipped my toes in Grace Bay before heading out to the Flamingo Cafe for dinner. I was really looking forward to a frozen drink, but alas, they had very limited flavors, and I was “forced” to make do with a rum and coke to accompany my jerk chicken wrap. I hadn’t been to Flamingo Cafe on my previous trips, but I always read good things about it. The setting was perfect – right on the water with views up and down Grace Bay Beach. Were it not for a line of clouds on the horizon tonight, it would have been a perfect sunset. After dinner, I stopped at the Graceway Gourmet IGA to pick up a few snacks to have on hand in my room. Prices here are at least double what you pay at home. I plan to eat out for most meals, but I do like a few snacks on hand for the mid-day and late-night munchies!

Dinner with a view at the Flamingo Cafe
Dinner with a view at the Flamingo Cafe

I’m pretty sure I’ll be calling it a night very soon. Turks and Caicos recently decided to observe Daylight Savings Time permanently, meaning they are on Atlantic Standard Time year-round. My body only thinks it is 7PM, but after a full day of traveling, I’m ready for some much-needed sleep!