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TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

arizona
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TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

We just returned from our first trip to Provo. It was everything we had hoped for and more. The water really IS that incredible turquoise color! Although we usually begin thinking about a new place to visit after a trip, we could definitely see ourselves returning here.

For a little background, we are a family of 4, (dad, mom, 2 boys ages 11 and 9) traveling with great friends, a married couple. As a family, we've visited Kauai, Oahu, St John, St Croix and Curacao.

In a nutshell:

Accommodations: Grandview Condo 5 days/Villa Osprey 5 days

Favorite restaurant: Hemmingway's

Favorite beaches: Pelican Beach/Leeward and Bambarra Beach in Middle Caicos

Favorite meal: Surf and turf at Villa Osprey

Favorite activity: Being in the water anywhere on the island!

I'm going to post this trip report by subject as separate replies to the original post, because it is verrrrry long. That way you can skip over anything that doesn't interest you. Oh, and a big THANK YOU to everyone on this site who patiently answered our questions and helped us plan a great trip!

arizona
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1. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Accommodations

We stayed at Grandview Condos #301 (VRBO #86223) for the first 5 days. After that we moved to Villa Osprey (villaosprey.com) in Silly Creek on the south side for the last 5 days. We enjoyed the experience of staying at two different places. It was almost like having 2 vacations!

Grandview: We really enjoyed staying here. It's a small complex, only 18 units, and less than a third were occupied while we were there. There is an onsite manager who will help with anything you need. We thought it looked even better than the pictures on vrbo. Grace Bay Club is to the left (if facing the ocean) and Royal West Indies to the right.

A parking space is assigned and there are electric gates that close at night. We always felt very safe here. The porch has a screened in area with a table and chairs, and also a small outside area with a bench and a grill. The views are gorgeous from every room except the 3rd BR with twins for the kids. The 2 masters are equal, except that the bathroom upstairs is bigger and has a Jacuzzi tub.

The stretch of beach is very nice and uncrowded. The landscaping is lush and well-kept. The pool and hot tub are good size, and we never shared them with anyone. We were literally steps away from Mango Reef at RWI for a quick lunch. There is a public beach access road that is right next to the condo. Occasionally we would hear conversations from people who were parking there. but only if we were out on the balcony. It wasn't disruptive or too noisy at all. We would definitely recommend this place.

Villa Osprey: This villa faces the ocean on the south side of Provo. We loved the privacy, the location, and the layout of the house. Two masters are at either end, with the third bedroom next to the second master. The main master is a little apart and must be accessed from outside. The other rooms may be accessed either from inside the house or from outside. The decor is very attractive. This is not a new house, but has been nicely renovated.

The gazebo was one of our favorite spots. There was always a cool breeze blowing through there and we could enjoy the beautiful sunsets and see the moon rising.

There is currently construction going on next door and we received a substantial discount because of this. Also, the owners will soon be replacing some of the louvered window units that would not open or close and the a/c units that were very loud. The management company was very responsive to anything we asked about; for example, we asked about kitchen towels as we could only find two. When we returned from our exploring the next day, a set of new towels was waiting on the porch.

We loved being right on the water. We didn't miss at all the sandy beach--there is a small dock with water access.

Upon request, Villa Osprey will provide a cell phone for use while you're there. The one we got already had minutes on it from a previous guest and we found it very helpful to have a phone.

arizona
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2. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Beaches

We wanted to see different parts of the island and I got to see everything on my list, and more. Having two drivers was great--on the days my husband went diving, the rest of us went out exploring on our own.

I posted earlier about seeing Jo-Jo the very first day right in front of the Grandview. My husband put on his fins and grabbed the camera and was able to swim next to him for a short time. I also posted about my quest to see the giant red starfish--I did see a red starfish the very first day but no more after that.

Coral Gardens:

We snorkeled here for a couple hours one morning. The best thing about Coral Gardens is that you can see a lot of fish so close to the beach, so it's a great place for novice snorkelers or young ones. I saw two turtles on the west side out by the sea grass. We enjoyed snorkeling here, but didn't really like the narrow beach and all the activity.

North/Middle:

This was a great excursion. We took the 10:00 ferry to North and rented a 6 passenger car from Suzie at Pelican Rentals. (Mark didn't have what we needed, so he referred us to Suzie.) After about 10 minutes there were problems with the transmission and we had to call Suzie. She was very prompt in replacing the car but it did slow us down a bit.

We decided to drive straight to Mudjin and work our way back. We missed the turn to Mudjin and decided to go ahead and drive to Bambarra Beach to have our picnic. I'm really glad it worked out that way--Bambarra is a great place to picnic! There are picnic tables and shade from the pine trees. The beach there is gorgeous. Do take bug spray if you go--this was the only place we found that had a lot of mosquitoes. There were two other couples there when we arrived. One was just leaving, and the other decided to walk out to the cay in the distance (never more than waist-deep water), so we actually had the beach to ourselves while we were there. This is where I found the conch shell that is now my avatar, it was just laying there at the water's edge. I turned it over and it had the most beautiful, brilliant color--I was so happy!!

After our picnic, we drove back to see Mudjin. There were a few people there when we arrived, then they left and we had it all to ourselves. This is a beautiful beach and I'm glad we came, but we were disappointed that the sea was too rough for good snorkeling. We had to get back for the 4:30 ferry, so we didn't have time to explore the paths and see the praying hands and stairs cut through the cliff. I guess we'll have to do that next time.

We stopped by Whitby beach on the way back to the ferry. Another beautiful spot and would be a great place for beachcombing.

Malcolm's Beach:

I was a little wary of going to Malcolm's Beach but my friends really wanted to check it out. I had the mistaken idea that it was very isolated and almost impossible to get to, as well as somewhat dangerous. This was not the case at all. On the way back we clocked it and it was 8 minutes to get back to the main road (Millennium Highway) from the beach. It is very close to Amanyara and we saw several people from the hotel walking the stretch of beach up to Malcolm's and beyond. We did not feel unsafe at all. Only one short stretch of the road was really bad, the rest was doable as long as you drive slowly. We ended up making a wrong turn, so I'm going to include directions for first-timers:

Take Millennium Highway until the pavement ends. (There is a sign that says Northwest Point on the road that continues straight. Don't go straight.) Turn left. Follow this road till you get to the cell towers. Straight ahead there might be a gate blocking the road; open it and continue straight. This is the worst part of the road, it's a pitted, sharp descent, but quickly flattens out again and you're there. Interestingly, the only paved part of the whole road is the parking lot at the end!

West Harbor/Bonefish Point/Pirate Caves:

We didn't stay long at Malcolm's Beach because we also wanted to see Bonefish Point and see if we could find the Pirate Caves and carvings. This drive turned out to be longer than I thought it would be, it was almost half an hour of driving from the turn off the main road to the end. I'm really glad we went though, it's beautiful.

When you get to the beach at the end of the road, the pirate caves are to the left. If you've brought your water shoes, it's easy to wade around through the sea grass to get there (water is about waist-deep). You can also get there walking on a rocky path, you'll need shoes. When you come to the cave by water, there is a hole through one of the caves and a ladder to go up to the top. The carvings are pretty easy to find. From the top here, the view is beautiful. In one direction you can see back to the Silly Creek area and turtle rock; straight out, the land ends at Osprey Rock; and back around to the other side is Bonefish Point. Very beautiful. We never did find my giant red starfish here, but my son found a beautiful, tiny starfish that we took pictures of and then had him put back, as it was still alive.

Here are directions on how to get here for first-timers:

Take Millennium Highway heading west. 1.3 miles past the high school, there will be a dirt road on the left. There is a large sign there announcing a new housing development. Follow this road forever (no, just seemed that way, it's really only 30 minutes!) and it will end at the beach.

Pelican Beach (Leeward):

This was our "secret" beach. Yes, I know that it's not really a secret, but it felt that way to us, both because we were the only ones there and because of the incredible beauty. The guide book says that offshore dredging is responsible for the brilliant turquoise color; whatever the reason, the turquoise of the water here is second only to Chalk Sound.

When we first got here, we checked out this beach, then went on around to the beach on the Leeward-going-through side. Here we found a conch fisherman gathering conch and throwing them up to his buddy on the shore, who was gathering them in a box. We really enjoyed watching and talking to him. We gathered a few conch shells ourselves (empty ones, of course!) and then went back to Pelican Beach. There is not much shade here, just two palapas that are missing most of the palm fronds, but we made it work. We were in the water most of the time anyway.

We went to Pelican Beach because we had heard that it was a good place to gather shells, but we stayed because it was knock-your-socks-off gorgeous. We would have liked to have made a second trip here, but we ran out of time...

arizona
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3. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Activities

Sailing:

We took a half-day (9-1) sailing trip with Captain Tim of Sail Beluga. He built the Beluga himself, and is justifiably proud of it. We first went snorkeling at the Leeward reef--the snorkeling was great! The water was so clear, there were many fish and the coral was very healthy and beautiful. It seems most of the excursions come to this spot, as we also saw CDT boats here. After snorkeling for about 45 minutes, we went sailing. We went along the coast up to Pine Cay and then turned around and sailed back. It's very enjoyable to be sailing along, using only the wind for power and I wish we could have gone further.

Next time, for variety, we'd like to try Caicos Dream Tours.

Banana Boat Ride:

The beach attendants at the resorts have cell phones programmed with the number for Sugar Ray, the banana boat operator. It's $30pp and the ride is about 30 minutes. Our crew had a blast!

arizona
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4. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Food

My friend brought a cooler full of frozen meats/sauces. I brought a cooler full of dry ingredients/spices. We generally ate two meals in (usually breakfast and dinner) and had lunch out. The main reason we do this is that we really enjoy our leisurely dinners at the condo/villa.. The kids can play in the pool while we're preparing the meal. (A 3-hour long elegant meal in a restaurant is hard on the kids after a busy day of activities!) Another reason is that what we save on food allows us to stay at a nicer oceanfront house/condo. We ate some great stuff that week--our friend is a wonderful cook!

Our best dinner in was surf and turf. Our friends drove to Five Cays to the fishery and bought lobster tails that had just been cleaned. They were just caught hours before! Our friends were able to get a short tour of the fishery, they said everything was super clean. We paired the grilled lobster tails with filets brought from home. Yummmy!

If you want directions to the fishery, let me know.

Restaurants

I'm listing the restaurants where we ate in order of our favorites, based on location, food and value:

Hemmingway's: Ate here twice, both times from the lunch menu. We loved the fish tacos and the fish and chips.

Mango Reef: (Lunch) Very good food, the best rum punch we had all week!

Da Conch Shack: This is a must do for the island vibe. The conch fritters were excellent and my son loved the cracked conch. Our only disappointment was the pitcher of rum punch--it was mostly water and punch. I'd recommend the individual rum punches over the pitcher!

Magnolia's: Our friends watched the kids and DH and I went out for a sunset dinner on our last night. The food was very good and the setting was nice. The service was efficient but lacked warmth. The sunset was not the best this night due to the clouds. So we decided to skip dessert and go to O'Soleil for a dessert drink and to listen to Nadine and Daniel for a while. This turned out to be a great decision. It was still happy hour (6-8) when we arrived and I had a wonderful chocolate martini for about $7. We really enjoyed NaDa, just wish we had thought to ask about buying a CD.

Bay Bistro: This was a very nice lunch and a good rum punch after a day at the beach. Beautiful location.

Salt Mill's Diner: We had breakfast here before we caught the ferry to North Caicos. It was pretty good. We were told by a local that they have an egg sandwich for $5 that is a very good value, but we didn't try it.

Somewhere on the Beach: We had lunch here after snorkeling at Coral Gardens. The food was pretty good and convenient but don't think I'd make a special trip here.

Grill Rouge at Grace Bay Club: The setting here was very nice, but the food was mediocre for the money. The exception was the shrimp wrap my friend had--she thought it was excellent.

arizona
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5. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Misc.

Car Rental

We went with Grace Bay Car Rentals. Maxim met us at the airport with a Honda Odyssey, the old style. It wasn't quite big enough for the six of us and all our luggage, so we requested an exchange. They gave us a Toyota HiAce, which was great for us. Roomy, easy to get in and out of and it was in good shape. They didn't charge us more, even though it was an upgrade. Highly recommend Grace Bay Rentals. Both guys quickly got used to driving on the left and having right-hand steering.

Diving

My husband dived with Caicos Adventures and Provo Turtle Divers. He would dive again with either outfit. If you'd like more details, send a PM.

People

We really enjoyed the local people. We found them to be very friendly, even the most reserved warmed up once we broke the ice with a smile and a hello.

Safety

We were cautious but never felt unsafe anywhere we went. We tended to be out and about pretty early, and back at our own condo/villa to watch the sunset, so we weren't out late at night. We used the alarm on the villa when we left, but not when we were home and had no problems.

Weather

The weather was pretty warm while we were there, but there were always nice breezes to cool us off. And the water temperature of 82 degrees was wonderful! We had one morning of rain. It was the morning we moved from the condo to the house, so it didn't impact any activities. I loved watching it--great blowing sheets of rain, coming down while the sun was still shining and lasting only a few minutes, then another wave coming through.

Face to face with an "intruder"

One morning at 4 a.m. I was awakened by a strange sound. It went "Click, click, click, click, zzzjjjjhhhh," over and over. Once my brain processed that the noise was coming from inside the house, over by the nightstand, I went to get a flashlight and check it out. When I shined the flashlight on the back of the nightstand, I just had to laugh. There was a good-sized crab trying to climb up the wall and over the nightstand. The clicking was the sound of the feet against the wall and the nightstand as it moved up. The 'zzzjjjjhhhh' was the sound when it couldn't quite make it up and over the nightstand and started to slide back down, just like slow motion.

I decided I would 'rescue' this poor crab, so I went to get a shopping bag and some tongs. I quickly learned that the crab did not WANT to be rescued and that crab wrangling isn't for me. So he just scurried over to the living room and I closed the door to wait for the guys to get him out in the morning.

We never could find the crab the next morning, so we figured he somehow got out while the doors were open to the pool. The next morning, at 4 a.m., guess what woke me up? "Click, click, click, click." I just smiled because now I knew what it was. However, I was determined to get a picture, because when I told my story the day before, there seemed to be a fair amount of skepticism on the part of my listeners (they deny this, of course). I did get some pictures and they make me laugh every time I see them! I opened the door to the pool area and the crab, who I had named Louie, ended up click-clicking his way outside into the landscaping.

I've since learned that this was a land crab, which only returns to the water to reproduce. So he was in no need of my rescue efforts to return him to the sea. :-) In fact, he probably thought that I was the intruder!

It was a great trip! I'm happy to answer an questions.

Between our friends and us, we took over 2,000 pictures!

Here's a link to about 100 of them:

http://azislandgirl.shutterfly.com/

Ronkonkoma, New York
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6. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Great report and pictures....I guess now you know why we're all addicts!

Connecticut
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7. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Wonderful! Wonderful! Great pictures and so happy you had a great vacation.

Washington DC...
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8. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Terrific pictures!

Pelican Beach is actually around the bend from those beaten up umbrellas-you were on Leeward Beach. How do I know? The beach is also known as "Blamona's" Beach!!!!! Anyway, I'm good at sharing! ;-)

You did quite a few adventures, most people wouldn't go looking for pirates carvings and conch shells--Ihope you brought that beautiful colorful one back and have it on display.

Sorry you didn't find your big red starfish--you'll just have to go back.

I love the Louie story!!! OMG! how funny, and great that you got a picture of him, I would have been dissapointed not to see him.

Welcome to the "Turquoise" club!

Mullica Hill, New...
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9. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Sounds like you had a great trip! Thanks for posting directions to some of the more outlying areas.

Next time I eat crab louie I will think of your "friend".

Finger Lakes Wine...
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10. Re: TCI Trip Report: Turquoise is my new favorite color!

Great trip report! Loved looking at all of the pictures too. Thanks for sharing. Hey...I have NADA playing in the background! Having a TCI experience. All I need is some sand!

Thanks again for taking the time to write all of this. When are you returning????? I know you will.

Mike

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