First and foremost, bring bug spray! We were bitten so badly by something that we couldn’t sleep due to the itching! My husband looked like he had chicken pox, it was that bad! We never actually saw any insects, but have bites all over our legs and feet so they are here. Don’t make the same mistake we did and put on some bug spray!
This was our first visit to the island and we loved it! Not sure if we’ll ever be back, since we travel very frequently and prefer to go to new locations every time, but it’s definitely one of our favorites! We were here during Christmas weeks, one of the busiest times on the island! We never actually planned on coming to TCI, but we had a ton of Delta miles and we priced out several locations and this came out to be the cheapest by a lot of miles so we came here! This whole trip was planned in less than a month, so not much was left in terms of reasonable accommodation.
We were here for a week and mistakenly spent the first few nights at Sibonne. Man, what a dump! When searching for hotels, we were only finding very expensive (over $400/night) so we booked Sibonne. After getting here, we realized that several of the resorts had rooms for around $400/night still available, but they just weren’t showing up in the search we did, on third party sites like kayak and hotels.com. It was too late to change, so we sucked it up and stayed there. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone! And yes, we did use the pool at Somerset next door and the beach area at Regents, but we didn’t just go there and sneak in. The employees at Somerset allowed us to use it, since there wasn’t a single guest at the beginning of the week (they were booked for later in the week when we had left Grace Bay already) and just had us order drinks poolside which we did. The guy at Regents was awesome and when we couldn’t find a table at the pool bar, he set up some chairs for us and allowed us to eat at their beach area and told us to come back anytime. He also gave us towels to take on our snorkeling trip, which left from their hotel, after seeing the holes in the ones from Sibonne, we didn’t ask him, he just offered and told us to put them back when we came back which we did. Awesome service at both of those hotels, even for non-guests, something to keep in mind!
After that hellish experience, we stayed at the not yet popular Atrium (condo complex) in Leeward. It’s not right on the beach, but it is very new and modern. One of the best pools on the island (with sun directly on the pool during the day, something we found to not be common around here) and the rooms and amenities are very modern. Definitely a nice looking place, but at that price, you might want to get a hotel right on the beach, especially if you don’t have a car. They must have just opened recently, since they were still working out the kinks with the place. It’s not a place I’d recommend for a weeklong traveler, because they don’t supply soaps, shampoo or any other things you might get at one of the other beach resorts at this price. Don’t get me wrong, the place is beautiful and our one bedroom, 1.5 bath condo was really beautiful, but lacked the typical hotel amenities and we had to go out and buy things (like soap) that normally come standard in hotel rooms. If you’re here for a long trip or with a large family, this is definitely the place to consider.
We initially did not rent a car, but the 2nd day here we rented one for the week from Avis. Best decision ever. So many people just hang out by their resort all day, and we got to explore the entire island. We’re explorers and love to have cars wherever we travel and highly recommend one here, if only to go to the supermarket/restaurants. The cabs are not cheap and not always reliable! For an entire week, we paid $270, can’t beat that! Also, we found that you do not need a Jeep or SUV here. We had a regular car and had no issues getting around, don’t waste the extra money. Most of the locals had regular cars as well and somehow got around with no issues.
Lemon Café ($58)-There is a reason they are rated #1! Really good food, great atmosphere and service. We went for lunch and paid under $60 for 2 appetizers, 2 drinks, and an entrée. Definitely one of the better priced places! Highly recommend this place, you won’t be disappointed!
Mango Reef ($48)-Another one of our favorites., located at the Alexandra resort. The location can’t be beat, you are sitting right by the beach with a view of the amazing water. Again, we came for lunch and the total was around $60. My husband really enjoyed the oxtail stew, something he’s never had before. Our server was very nice and engaging and the view was unbeatable. Another highly recommended place!
Conch Shack ($65)-So we went here after seeing an ad on tv and reading the reviews. We were not pleased! The location wasn’t that great, quite a bit of a drive actually, and we found out that conch is not our thing...that is until we went to Daniel's (reviewed later) and found out conch really is good if prepared correctly, they just don't make it right here. We came for dinner and were the only ones here, around 6pm. We did buy a conch shell from the guy on the beach, gotta support local businesses!
Hemingway’s-Located at the Sands resort, this restaurant is another one of our favorites. Again, you sit on the deck overlooking the ocean and the prices are the most reasonable we have found at a hotel restaurant. We came for an early dinner (around 5:30), and they were still serving lunch. We didn’t mind and ordered the fish tacos and curried chicken sandwich. Both were excellent, as was our server. Definitely come here for the food and views!
Saltmills Café & Diner ($32)-We came here for breakfast one day and it reminded us of an East coast style diner. Reasonable prices and typical breakfast foods. Definitely check them out!
Pizza Pizza ($42)-Now this one was a shocker. We’re originally from the East coast (NYC area) and know good pizza, so we weren’t expecting much from this place. I had the pasta (vodka sauce) and it was awesome. Very flavorful and they added a ton of garlic like I asked. My husband had the kitchen sink pizza and he was very pleasantly surprised. He said it was one of the best he’s ever had. The only downside? Service sucks. We were one of 2 couples in the restaurant and couldn’t get the waiter to bring us our drinks. Finally, 20 minutes after our food arrived did we get drinks. Other than that, good place for dinner one night!
Jimmy’s Dive Bar ($54)-We came here on Christmas for lunch, not because we wanted to but because a lot of the other places were closed for the holiday. The servers were very friendly and nice, but the food wasn’t that good. Typical American bar grub, nothing spectacular. I wouldn’t come here unless everything else was closed.
Calico Jack’s ($54)-We came here for dinner. The food was good, but they are extremely slow, even by TCI standards. There weren’t that many people, and the waitress was getting flustered with the few customers she had. They also don’t bring your food out at the same time as your dining partner, so you may get yours 20 minutes after which seemed to be the case with most of the tables.
We did a snorkeling tour with Caicos Dream Tours. It was a lot of fun, you’ll get to go conch diving, see a ton of marine life and hang out on a beautiful private beach. Highly recommend it!
We also took the TCI ferry to North Caicos and rented a car from Al’s car rental, which was delivered to the ferry terminal there. We then drove all over Middle and North Caicos. If you want to see Flamingos up close, skip the Flamingo pond in North Caicos and look for the smaller one in Middle Caicos. They were much closer and easier to see. Also, Daniel’s Café is a must stop while there. Daniel and his son Devon are very friendly and accommodating. Great food, great atmosphere, can’t get better than that! They also know how to make conch properly, it was some of the best food we had on the trip!
If you go, skip the Tiki Huts, that is if you can even find them. They are down a rocky dirt road and really nothing to see. The beach there was filthy, with garbage strewn everywhere. We’re lucky we didn’t get a blow out! What you shouldn’t skip is the beach in front of the Hollywood hotel in North Caicos. That was our last stop before heading back to the ferry and we loved it. Not a soul in sight and the hotel owner’s dog followed us to the beach and laid with us!
Also, the causeway (road from North to Middle Caicos) is terrible. It’s half paved for some reason and has huge potholes so you have to drive very slowly and hope your rental car makes it. There’s also nothing to see on this road, which makes it that much more boring!
Of course, Grace Bay is beautiful. It’s not really crowded until you hit Beaches. That’s where everyone and their mother seems to hang out and it’s definitely not our cup of tea! The rest of the beach was pretty much deserted, with only a few people here or there. More crowds arrived the day before Christmas, but we were leaving the area at that point to go to Leeward so it didn’t really matter.
Pelican Beach-This one was beautiful. We stumbled upon it by accident and were the only ones there. It’s close to the Atrium so we ended up hanging out here during our stay.
Sapodilla Bay-We did drive to Chalk Sound and Sapodilla Bay but weren’t too impressed. I know everyone seems to recommend it, but it wasn’t something we’d ever do again. Pelican is so much more beautiful!
Mudjin Harbor, Middle Caicos-Yea, it was pretty to look at but I wouldn’t call it the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t functional since you couldn’t step near the shore without getting pummeled by the waves. Best viewed from up top. We stumbled upon a beach in North Caicos by the community center that was completely deserted. That was by far one of the best ones we’ve seen.
The worst part of the trip? Seeing all the homeless dogs. You won’t see them on the main drags and in tourist areas, but turn into a residential neighborhood and you will see many of them. Some were so skinny, their bones were sticking out. Many of the females were pregnant or had pups, so sad to see. We bought some dog cookies and gave it to all the dogs we saw. We also fed the really skinny dog some human food. Poor thing looked like he hasn’t eaten in weeks. I wish people would take care of their dogs better. I know they have a SPCA there, but they can only do so much.
Overall, we had an awesome trip. It was colder than either of us anticipated, kind of reminded us of San Diego weather. If you come in the winter months, definitely bring a sweatshirt of jacket for the evenings! We were very glad to have them, especially since many of the restaurants have only outdoor seating.
If you’re interested in seeing photos of our trip, they can be found here: