With its perfect climate, gorgeous white-sand beaches, and turquoise water, many associate Turks and Caicos Islands with luxurious celebrity vacations. Celebrity visitors have included Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bruce Willis, Will Smith, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Prince, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Janet Jackson, Lebron James, Rhianna, Lionel Messi, and even more recently, the Kardashian sisters. Needless to say, this gorgeous island has earned its place as the top beach of 2018!
Grace Bay Beach, specifically, has earned the coveted first-place position as the world’s best beach (check it out here), so of course, we had to check it out! We traveled to Grace Bay for a quick 30-hour trip (2.5 hour flight from Charlotte, NC…we arrived at 11 a.m. Saturday, and went through customs, got a cab for a 15 minute ride, checked in, and was on the beach by noon!) in July of 2018, and while expensive, we could easily see why this was voted the top beach of 2018!
Grace Bay is located just 15 minutes away from the international airport in Providenciales, which is an island in the northwest Caicos Islands, a portion of the British Oversees Territory that spans all of Turks and Caicos. The beach itself is somewhere between 3-12 miles long, depending on who you talk to and how they measure. Grace Bay is often advertised as “12 miles long”, however, that 12 miles only applies if you measure the entire northern coast of Providenciales, or Provo for short. Regardless, the beach is very long, which is helpful in that it spreads out the guest population so that no area of the beach is too overly crowded – a huge plus in our book!
We stayed at the Coral Gardens on Grace Bay (check it out here) in Povo for our 1-day weekend getaway trip and were not disappointed! This boutique resort is a condominium-styled resort and was more than we had hoped for when we booked a last-minute trip – literally 2 days before our arrival date. We stayed in an oceanview suite condo that had a full kitchen, complete with Keurig, coffee pot, blender, stocked cabinets of dinnerware, and all kitchen appliances. If we had stayed longer than the 1 day we would have gotten groceries at the local store and made meals and drinks here to save money since it would have been so easy to do so. Definitely a good option to have! The full master suite included a king bed, a small bedroom “deck”, TV, and spacious bathroom, complete with a Jacuzzi tub. The condo also had a half bathroom down the hall, a washer and dryer, a fully furnished dining room and living room, and a breakfast bar at the kitchen counter, allowing for lots of space in the condo itself. The condo was fully furnished and included multiple TV’s and wifi, and we felt right at home. The best part of the condo, was, admittedly, the large balcony, which looked out over the pool and the ocean. Most of our time that we spent in the condo was actually spent outside on the balcony, relaxing in the lounge chairs or at the balcony table, taking in the views. Not only did Coral Gardens come with a beach (as a beachfront property), it also has 2 pools for guests to use – TWO! The office provides fresh towels, free book rentals, and a small selection of sunscreen and toiletries for purchase if you need it – convenient if you want to get on the beach ASAP and don’t want to waste time stopping at the store for sunscreen! (Pro Tip: if you’re checking a bag, throw sunscreen in there to bring with you – sunscreen is always WAY expensive on islands, like $25/bottle expensive!)
Even more perfect than the lodging was the location. Coral Gardens has probably the best location on the beach, hands down. Not only is it a quick 15 minutes from the airport (which is important when you only have 30 hours on the island), but it also is located right in front of a reef (The Bight Reef) that provides amazing snorkeling! You really get the best of both worlds in that you have this incredible, pristine, white-sand, turquoise-water, smooth beach, and then just 50 feet from the shoreline is an amazing reef that provides awesome snorkeling! You don’t even need to spend money to book a tour and spend time on a boat to get there! We brought our own snorkel masks and snorkeled for free, but it looked like they had rentals available on the beach as well. The reef itself is protected by buoys and you can’t go into the protected area, but you can swim around it and see lots of wildlife and coral. Even swimming around the area still means swimming overtop of the “unprotected” area without buoys, so you still get to dive down and get up close and personal – just don’t touch! Coral Gardens offers guests fresh towels and lounge chairs, and the beach attendant will set up chairs for you. He’s also the guardian of the reef, so if you go into the protected area he’ll blow his whistle at you – don’t say you weren’t warned 🙂 The good news is, we talked to the beach attendant who said he has been working at Coral Gardens for 12 years and had never seen or heard of shark sighting in those 12 years. There are small patches of reef closer to the shoreline too, so it’s a perfect spot for kiddos to learn to snorkel in shallow water too. Be sure to bring or buy sunscreen that doesn’t damage reefs!
All in all, the condominium location was perfect for us! While the accommodations were amazing as well, the location was really the sweet spot for us, and we would 100% return to Coral Gardens again and again! With only a quick 15 minute ride from the airport, ocean front views and access, and a protected reef it really was everything we could have wanted! We were also pleasantly surprised to find that it really wasn’t super crowded and we were really only sharing the beach with Coral Gardens guests. Coral Gardens is kind of off to itself, so we weren’t sharing the beach with resorts on either side of us because there were none 🙂
We would highly recommend Coral Gardens to anyone visiting Grace Bay. Pro Tip – go during “off season” when it is cheaper and less crowded. June-November is typically regarded as off season due to the potential for rain and hurricanes, so you do run that risk, however, when we went in July the weather was perfect and we had no rain. The temperature stayed around a perfect 88 degrees, sunny with a breeze, and amazingly refreshing water. For it being off-season the weather was pretty perfect!
If you’re headed to Turks, or thinking about heading that way be sure to check out Coral Gardens on Grace Bay in Providenciales! Their suite options include 1, 2, or 3 bedroom suites, all ranging from $260-$900/night depending on the room and season – truly something for everyone!
A few other things to note:
- As you have probably heard, Turks and Caicos is pretty expensive as far as islands go. We loved having the convenience of having Somewhere Café located right next to Coral Gardens, and while we utilized that advantage, it was more expensive than the US. Since we were prepared for this it was fine, but it is something to note to be prepared for. At
Somewhere Café we had breakfast for $51 (before tip), which included a breakfast sandwich, burrito, side of potatoes, and 2 coffees. We also got virgin Pina Coladas for about $6 each and put our own rum in them. (Pro Tip – buy alcohol at Duty Free airport stores in the US before you leave…it’s WAY cheaper, and then all you have to pay for are mixers when you get to the island! We paid $16 for rum in the Charlotte airport, and then $2 on the island for every glass of coke we got to mix it with. Alcoholic drinks on the island looked like they tended to range between $12-$16 each.)
- We had dinner down the street at Mr. Grouper for $78 (before tip), which included a coconut grouper plate and a coconut snapper plate, conch fritters, and 2 water bottles. Again, definitely a bit pricey, especially for a plate that doesn’t include steak or lobster.
- Taxis are typically large vans on Turks and Caicos. For the 15 minute ride to and from the airport we paid about $25 each time. For a ride home from dinner that was only a mile or two away it was about $14. The taxi from the airport was actually a shared taxi van with another couple, so don’t be surprised if they group you together when you get there for taxis.
- As mentioned before, we had a fully functioning kitchen with all the appliances. Had we stayed longer, we would have gotten groceries and made a few meals ourselves instead of eating out. Definitely a good option to have! Since we had a blender we also would have picked up Pina Colada mixes and made our own to bring to the beach with us if we had made a trip to the store – gotta take advantage of your options!
- Conch is a staple food in Turks and Caicos – they even have their very own conch farm, which is the only one in the world! Be sure to check their conch out in some form while you’re there, whether that is conch fritters or ceviche or something else! Lobster is also big here, unfortunately, the season that we went was not lobster season, and as such, it was illegal to catch lobster at that time, so no restaurant served it. If you end up going to Turks and getting a chance to try it please let us know what you thought!
*This post was a collaboration with Coral Gardens on Grace Bay, but all opinions and photos are my own.