Providenciales: Your Home Base For Island Hopping
The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are perfect for island-hopping (see 5 reasons why). But regardless of your travel plans, you’ll probably spend some time on the island of Providenciales, home to the country’s main international airport. As the center of tourism, Provo (as it’s informally called) has the most development and commercialization. However, there are numerous opportunities to get away from the resorts clustered in Grace Bay and see some really beautiful hidden spots. You’ll need to reserve a rental car before you arrive in order to get around (I recommend Grace Bay Car Rentals). If you do decide to island-hop, one or two nights on Provo is sufficient to get a sense of the spirit of the island.
Most of the tourism infrastructure is centered around Grace Bay, which has a long white-sand beach and dozens of high-end resorts. Spend an hour or so walking along the beach just to say you’ve been, but I honestly didn’t think it deserved the hype it gets. There’s public parking at this location if you’re coming by car.
If you’re looking for a good breakfast in the area, you can to go to Caicos Bakery. When I arrived, the nicest lady with a strong French accent helped me pick out exactly what I wanted. And man, the pastries were good! It looked like they had coffee, but I decided to try the Lemon2Go Coffee Shop instead, which was a bit expensive but their iced latte was very refreshing.
One restaurant I went to that clearly catered to vacationers but was still quite good was Las Brisas. They are located at the Neptune Villas overlooking Chalk Sound, which in my opinion is a much more beautiful area than Grace Bay. I just had a burger, fries, and a drink, but they were all delicious. The nearby Sapodilla Bay Beach is also worth a visit.
This restaurant is also a short walk from one of my favorite hidden spots, which brings me to…
The Road Less Traveled
My absolute favorite spot on Provo is literally off the beaten path; you’ll have to climb up a hill through brush on a trail that barely exists anymore, and the sign marking the trail head was lying flat on the ground when I went, but the views from the top are absolutely worth it. I’m talking about Sapodilla Bay Hill, which offers 360-degree views of Chalk Sound to the north, Sapodilla Bay to the west, and the open ocean to the south.
Another interesting place is Blue Hills Road. It only takes a few minutes to drive along, but it felt like a local stretch of homes, businesses, churches, and other buildings relatively untouched by tourism.
If you’re looking for local cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere, consider da Conch Shack. Like the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands are famous for conch, so don’t leave without trying some! This place has a lot of outdoor seating and is a few miles away from the main hotel strip, so it wasn’t crowded at all for dinner the day I went.
There are also a bunch of hole-in-the-wall places scattered across Provo. For lunch one day I ended up eating a grilled fish combo at a mom and pop restaurant a few blocks from the airport. Visit one or two if you’re feeling adventurous and looking for something closer to a homecooked meal!
Where to StaY
As I mention in my other post, the Turks and Caicos Islands aren’t really a cheap destination. With that said, there are still some options if you’re trying to avoid the high prices of beachfront resorts. First and foremost, check Airbnb. I couldn’t find anything for less than about $100 per night, but you might be able to find a better deal.
If you have an island hopping “layover” in Provo (e.g., you arrive in the late afternoon and leave for another island early the next morning) and you don’t want to rent a car, you might stay at the Sunset Ridge Hotel. It’s a bare-bones hotel that’s literally a two or three-minute walk from the check-in area at the airport. You might have to walk a bit to find food, but there are some restaurants further down Airport Road to the east. It still cost me $175 for one night, so consider the cost of a rental car when making your decision.
These are just a few ideas for a stay on Providenciales! It’s a beautiful island and one that most visitors to the Turks and Caicos will at least pass through. Be sure to check out some of its more remote corners! And if you’re going to come here, you might as well make the short journey to another island as well! My recommendation is Grand Turk (read more here [coming soon]).