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My wife has some amazing childhood friends who get together for a girls’ trip every year.

This year, when our Indiana friends found a JGOOT deal to Turks and Caicos, to we turned that into a 3-family “friendcation”. Here is a summary of my thoughts on Turks (or as they like to call it on the island – TCI).

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first…

Not for the budget traveler
Turks and Caicos is often compared to Hawaii because of the unbelievably beautiful beaches, and that they are. Unfortunately, lodging prices are also similar to Hawaii if not higher. (I’d say 3x to 5x as expensive as many other beach locations in the world. If you excitedly book a trip to Turks because you found a cheap flight, you’ll be in for a bit of sticker shock once you find out what you’ll be paying to stay there.  If white-sand beaches is all you’re after, you could stretch your dollar a lot farther at dozens of other locations with water just as shockingly blue, and sand just as white. (Maybe not quite as clean and beautiful as Grace Bay, but not nearly as crowded either.)

Everything (except fish) is more expensive.

  • Dry/canned goods at the grocery weren’t bad. They were only 40% to 60% more expensive than in the 48 states.
  • Produce/Dairy etc is about double the cost of similar items in the US.
  • If you’re a red meat fan, loyal domestic beer drinker, or fan of soft drinks, be prepared for sticker shock. Going to the grocery store to save on dining expenses is futile. You’re looking at 300% to 400% more than US prices… At the grocery store.  (BTW: Hero of the trip award goes to [name shall remain redacted to avoid a $50,000 fine and 2 years in prison] for sacrificing valuable luggage space to smuggle 20 lbs of frozen-solid ground beef to the island so we had burgers as soon as we got there.)

OK, with the money disclaimer out of the way – here is what I loved about Turks and Caicos.

Unbelievably beautiful. I’ve seen a lot of white sand beaches, and as far as public beaches go – Grace Bay really is amazingly beautiful. I looked for both Google Images and Flickr collections, and neither of them do justice to the beauty of Grace Bay.

Plenty of beach-front options including resorts, AirBnB/VRBOs, and private villas (Don’t be fooled though. “Villa” is just a fancy word for “house”.)  As beautiful as Grace Bay was, we didn’t spend much time there because we had a beach-front house right off of Smith’s Reef with far better snorkeling.  The kids could be on the beach, while the adults sat comfortably 50 feet away on the deck or in the pool.

Our dining experience was mixed:

  • Sharkbite bar: Meh. Being on the marina (and the very polite local young man who served us are about the only positive things about it). Not worth a special trip, but served as adequate nourishment for four exhausted divers who just finished diving.)
  • The Conch Shack: Rustic, good food served on paper plates & in plastic cups, but directly on the beach. Very cool and reasonable prices. Worth a lunch visit for sure, and I imagine a sunset casual dinner would be very nice as well.
  • Coco Bistro: Fine dining. Great ambiance (except for not being on the beach) & service, but food seemed sub-par for the price. More details here.
  • Mr Grouper’s: Much more casual and rustic, but don’t let the curb appeal fool you. Delicious food. The unanimous favorite of our group. More details here.

Amazing SCUBA and snorkeling. OK, so I stated earlier that Turks is a bit expensive if all you’re after is sitting on a beautiful beach with an umbrella drink in-hand. But if you are passionate about diving/snorkeling, or fishing – Turks is well worth the price.  Our house was about 100 yards from Smith’s Reef – which is just one of several great snorkeling spots around Provo, and again – pictures don’t do it justice.  I’ve been to several top diving/snorkeling destinations around the world, and Turks is officially my favorite. (Not so much for the quality/color of the coral (meh), but for the abundance of more rarely seen wildlife.  (Which I attribute to not being overly crowded with pesky humans.)  I wrote more about our diving experience here.

Fishing for all ages. Admittedly, I’m not a fishing expert. (Some annual guys’ fishing trips, sure, but I’ve never experienced anything like bottom fishing in Turks and Caicos.)  I can’t speak to how this compares to bottom fishing in other locations, but I’m sure it’s similar.  Here is a more detailed post (with pictures), but suffice it to say – bottom fishing will keep all parties active and interested, and unlike deep sea fishing, it doesn’t have to chew up your whole day.  Of course, if you rent a house/condo with a kitchen – will make for the freshest “farm-to-table” dinner possible.

Happy Travels!

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