Our trip is May 7-16. We wanted a full week for a rest and relaxation vacation. I began our investigation for the vacation with talking to my DH to see where he might like to go. Our greatest vacation has been to tropical/warm areas and our greatest experience was snorkeling in Grand Cayman. This was our first experience so we bought our own equipment through Joe Diver on line and we have been very happy with it. We swam with the stingrays ( i even kissed one) and snorkeled at the reef. It was the most amazing experience when we saw a vivid green moray eel come out of his den right at us, mouth open with long teeth trying to scare us away. So, we knew we wanted to be able to snorkel again with great wildlife opportunities. We have since snorkeled in Costa Rica, Hawaii, Mexico and Catalina Island but none came close to what we saw in GC. We could go to GC again but we want to try someplace different. We checked out cruises but not enough time is at port. After checking out the cruise lines and where they dock in the Caribbean, I came across Santa Domingo, Jamaica (been there), and the Turks and Caicos. I remembered seeing a show on the Travel Channel long ago about TCI and then remembered how beautiful it looked so I started my investigation. Someplace different, check. Warm and tropical, check. Possible relaxation, check. Beachcombing, check. Now the big question undoubtedly was fishing? My love of fishing started as a little girl when my dad and I used to go. He would tell me I had to help clean the fish and I would agree. Although I was young, he would give me a spoon and that is how I would scale the fish. My DH had never fished til he had met me and now his love of fishing is rivaling mine. So now the BIG question was...Blue Marlin? CHECK! We have not caught one yet but have fished for them in Cancun, Hawaii, Florida and Costa Rica. This will probably be the last time we will try. So with DH's agreement, Turks and Caicos, check.
So with a destination, I logged onto Trip Advisor. I have used it for years to plan our vacations and people have been spot on for their recommendations. I get to know the area so well in advance that by the time we get to our destination, I know my way around, I know where we will eat, I know what we will do and I have never been disappointed. One time, a group of us met up in Hawaii for a dinner as we had talked so much on TA that we felt we knew each other. Another time on a cruise, we were in an elevator and I recognized a couple that I had talked to and never dreamed out of 5,000 people we would run into them!
So now the question was, what island and when. We find May is a great month to travel. I have raised my kids and love them dearly but now it is just DH and me and we like not having to deal with places that have a lot of children. Kids are still in school in May and spring breaks are over. After reviewing the island we decided Turks was out as there were too many cruise ships docking there. When I read about Provo, this island seemed to be perfect with uncrowded beaches, opportunity to visit other islands for a day, yet, close enough to restaurants for good dining. When I looked up Provo, TA had Grace Bay as the #1 beach destination in TCI. Sounds good to me! Next, lodging on Grace Bay. We wanted a condo so we could cook our own food (lunch and breakfast), close to restaurants via walking, close to a grocery store but on the beach. We may or may not rent a car at this time so walking distance was a must. Once again, TA rated a condo #1 which was on the west side of Grace Bay (less congested), 10 min. walk to Turtle Cove and restaurants, 10 min. walk to a grocery store and 15 min. walk to Bight Reef and restaurants. So I researched the Aquamarine House and read the reviews and this seemed perfect! I emailed them and in a short amount of time I had a response on $$ and availability. We settled on a date in May that they offered, I had my choice of several condos and chose the one right for us, paid for half and we were ready to get our airfare. I had been watching airfare for approximately a month and knew what a good rate would be. We had the option of leaving from Chicago or Detroit as we are smack dab in the middle of both. I researched once again on TA and found what people had paid last year and when I was sure that this was the best deal I could get, I booked the airfare from Detroit. We decided to start the vacation in the middle of the week as we found a couple airlines only fly in and out on the weekends and it can get very congested. Also, flying on a Tues, Wed, or Thurs, you can get a better deal. So US Airways it was for $588.00 each. There were 2 flights going out of Detroit, one at 6:30 a.m. and the other at 8:20 am. They both had layovers in Charlotte but arrived at the same time in Provo, at 2:35 pm. So 8:20 it was with a 1 1/2 hr layover. Perfect. We have never had a problem with US Airways but we have numerous issues with American so we will no longer fly American any longer. Mechanical issues seem to be their forte' as well as losing luggage. Our trip to Costa Rica was delayed causing our trip to be delayed 24 hours as they only flew there once a day and they lost our luggage for 3 days. Another time flying back from Vegas I had to spend the night in Chicago due to mechanical problems and again they lost my luggage for 2 days.
Since we live 2 1/2 hours from these major airports, we go the night before and get a hotel that participates in a "Park and Fly" program. It is a package that offers free parking for a period of time if you stay at the hotel either at the beginning or end of the trip. They always offer free shuttle to the airport and we can usually find one that offers free breakfast, too. So for the duration of our trip, 10 days, our car is parked free. We have never had a vandalism issue. Our hotel bill is a total of $104.00, a cost that is less than parking at the airport for that duration and we will have a good nights sleep as we are only 1/2 mile from the airport. Far better than getting up at 2:30 am for a long drive and stressed about what would happen if we get a flat tire or have car problems.
I will continue to post our pre trip preperations.