The Turks & Caicos islands are unashamedly upmarket and low-key, with unspoilt surroundings and uber-stylish hotels frequented by the rich and famous. The stunning beaches have been voted the world’s best, while the attractive capital, Grand Turk, is full of colonial houses and atmospheric inns, plus the country’s own national museum. But it’s the island of Providenciales (known as Provo) that is the main tourist hub with its collection of hotels and restaurants and championship golf course.
What to see and do
With such a selection of beautiful beaches and the proximity of one of the world’s longest coral reefs, it’s not surprising that the natural attractions of the Turks & Caicos take centre-stage. The islands are a luxurious chill-out zone, but they also offer a gastronomic treat for holidaymakers wanting to eat out, with a string of fine dining spots. Cruise ships tend to dock at Grand Turk, which has its own cruise centre offering duty-free shopping, bars and restaurants. It also has a swimming pool, said to be one of the largest in the Caribbean, and a FlowRider surfing simulator.
Where to eat
Try the Terrace restaurant at the chic Parrot Cay resort (www.parrotcay.como.bz) or the Anacaona restaurant at the Grace Bay Resort (www.gracebayresorts.com), said to be the only gourmet oceanfront restaurant on Provo. Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort has several restaurants including French and Italian, while Da Conch Shack (www.conchshack.tc), set on a sandbank above Blue Hills Beach serves up fresh seafood – primarily conch – caught by local fishermen.
Where to drink
The Birdcage Bar at the Osprey Beach Hotel (www.ospreybeachhotel.com) set just a few feet from the beach attracts locals as well as tourists, while Smokeys on the Bay enjoys a true beach setting and holds fish-fry evenings every Wednesday. The Infiniti Bar at the Grace Bay Club (www.gracebayresorts.com) claims to be the world’s first infinity bar and the longest in the Caribbean at 90ft, while Danny Buoy’s (www.dannybuoys.com) says it is Provo’s first and most authentic Irish pub.
Where to stay
Luxurious hangouts include Amanyara (www.amanresorts.com), and Parrot Cay (www.parrotcay.como.bz), set on its own private island, and the Meridian Club (www.meridianclub.com) on the privately-owned Pine Cay. Point Grace (www.pointgrace.com) is a lavish boutique property set on sweeping Grace Bay while cheaper alternatives include the Royal West Indies condo-resort (www.royalwestindies.com) and Turtle Cove Inn (www.turtlecoveinn.com).
The islands’ aquatic attractions can be explored on snorkelling and diving trips or whale-watching tours, while golfers can stride the greens at the championship golf course on Provo (www.provogolfclub.com). One of the more novel draws is the conch farm on Provo, said to be the only one in the world, while the 200-year-old ruins of the former cotton plantation Cheshire Hall (www.tcmuseum.org) offers a historical insight into the islands.