No such thing as off-season travel in the Turks & Caicos

Off season travel is becoming more and more popular, but the Turks & Caicos are a land for all seasons. Photo: THe Sands at Grace Bay Photo: Bob Taylor

TURKS & CAICOS, June 1, 2013 – When astronaut John Glenn returned to earth off the coast of Grand Turk Island in 1962, he brought international attention to the region. Needless to say Glenn’s landing was a splash for the Turks & Caicos  that changed these islands forever.

Twelve miles of white sandy beach

Six years later the airport opened in the capital city of Providenciales, or Provo as it is called by locals, and large scale international tourism was on the horizon.

Despite the influx of travelers, however, the chain of 41 islands has been extremely sensitive to overdevelopment, choosing to upgrade infrastructure while maintaining its pre-Glenn ambience. It’s a recipe that has made them one of the most desirable destinations in the Caribbean.

So careful have the residents been about protecting their “pristine” image that the main road wasn’t paved until six years ago and only now is the airport in the process of upgrading to accommodate the increase of international travelers.

There are two sets of islands in the archipelago, of which roughly 25% are inhabited. The Turks derive their name from the indigenous Turk’s head cactus while Caicos comes from the Lucayan term caya hicameaning “string of islands.”

Rock iguana takes some sun

Before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 the Lucayan and the Taino Indians comprised the native population.

The Turks make up the northern cluster of islands, while the Caicos are to the south. Most of the tourist activity these days centers around Grace Bay where luxury hotels offer all the comfortable amenities a visitor desires while retaining an atmosphere of seclusion and a respect for the environment.

Amenities include kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, nature walks, parasailing, paddleboarding and, of course, golf. Boasting the third largest coral reef in the world, combined with an abundance of conch, it is little wonder that water activities are among the most popular.

Reef Peepers, one of several popular outfitters in the islands, offers a variety of excursions. Half-day snorkeling programs includes snorkeling, gear, searching for conch, a visit toHalf Moon Bay, lunch and drinks.

Diving in the TCI

You can also try TI Reef Adventure on Grand Turk for easy snorkeling sessions, adventures with stingrays, and deep sea fishing.

Half Moon Bay, also known as Iguana Island, is a favorite outing because it is the home of the rock iguana which is the smallest creature of its type in the Caribbean.

As might be expected in an area so linked to the sea, there is a passion for shellfish, especially conch. It is virtually impossible to go anywhere and not find conch on a restaurant menu in one form or another.

In fact, the Caicos Conch farm is the only commercial conch farm in the world.

Arguably the favorite hangout on Provo is Da Conch Shack, which harvests its own conch for its signature white meat delicacies of conch fritters, conch salad and scorched conch. You can even watch as they pull lunch or dinner directly from the water before preparing it within minutes.

Da Conch Shack, TCI

You would be hard pressed to find food fresher than that.

Jerk chicken is also a popular island dish. Smokey’s has the reputation for the best jerk chicken, plus you can play a round or two of miniature golf before or after your meal.

The islands feature a wide range of accommodations that cater to just about any budget.  The more upscale properties can be pricey, as with any resort, but they are not what you would term as extravagant. The Sands atGrace Bay features multiple swimming pools, a small luxurious spa, spacious rooms, superb dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a twelve mile stretch of white sand beach to boot.

Situated just eighty minutes by air fromMiami, the Turks & Caicos are easy to reach, especially from the east coast of the U.S. Little wonder 70% of the visitors come from theUnited States and another 20% arrive fromCanada.

Fresh conch salad

Driving can be tricky until you get accustomed to using the left side of the road, but the ability to use U.S. dollars and American electrical outlets quickly compensates for the driving adjustments.

Off-season travel is increasing in popularity for many people, but when it comes to theCaribbean, off-season is really a misnomer.

In a land of eternal summer and sunshine, it really doesn’t matter when you visit. As a result, the so-called off-season in the Turks provides the same wonderful weather at a reduction in price.

They are the best of two worlds, luxury and comfort amid island life the way it used to be. As John Glenn might say, “the Turks & Caicos are out of this world.”

Contact Bob at Google+

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) which offers tours and travel information for people who share his wanderlust spirit.  

Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@magellantravelclub.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his liston Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

 

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