Providenciales Is the Perfect Place to do Nothing!
By Tab Hauser
GoNOMAD Senior Writer
Providenciales in the Turk Caicos Islands makes a perfect beach break if you just want to just “veg”. The single reason to fly here is for its seven and half-mile fine powdered beach. In Providenciales, you will find no rainforests to hike around, no zip-lines to wiz down, nor a bustling market to shop in. This is the best place to do nothing!
Life Here is Truly a Beach!
Of the hundreds of beaches I have endured all over the world for the sake of journalism, I can say, the north shore of island of Providenciales is definitely on the “top ten” list.
For seven and a half miles you can walk on sand from Blue Hills to Northwest Point. Centered, is the beach at Grace Bay where you will find a dozen or so lower-rise hotels and condominiums to rent.
There are not many islands with a beach like this. If you are a fan of the long sandy beaches of Aruba, Providenciales is better because you see 75% less people and fly two hours shorter.
This beach here reminds me a bit of Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, but again, with fewer people and congestion around it.
What is nice about this north shore beach is its soft sand that eases you into the very gentle surf that is protected by an outer reef.
It is also good for walking. This is because the sand is packed down enough near the water’s edge as to not sink your feet in.
My routine for my five-night stay was I would walk every other morning on the to town to pick up lunch supplies at the Graceway Gourmet supermarket. After dinner on most nights, we would walk back to the villa via the beach with the bright stars shining above.
Among other advantages of Grace Bay is the lack of people interrupting your book or nap to sell you a bracelet or a massage. An added bonus is that it is illegal for personal watercraft (wave runners/jet skis) here so there is no annoying buzzing offshore.
Watersports for the Less Lazy
If you have the urge to leave your lounge chair, there are plenty of water-based things to do. Most resorts and condos have stand-up boards, kayaks, and catamarans for you to use that are included in the rate.
For the more ambitious you can take half-day snorkel trips. Most go to coral reefs off the nearby islands as well as a stop at Little Water Cay to see the friendly iguanas there.
Providenciales is also a diver’s paradise. The islands are home to the third-largest barrier reef. There is good diving amongst
the hard and soft corals as well as down the walls. As a protected area, there are lots of fish to be seen. In past visits, I have used Provo Turtle Divers. This is the island’s oldest operation. I like their smaller size groups, staff, and dive sites on West Caicos. www.provoturtledivers.com
A Quiet Island
Providenciales is for laid-back couples and families. Here you won’t find any chain restaurants, bustling markets, or clubbing into the wee hours. There are a couple of simple petite casinos in Grace Bay.
Shopping is relegated to a few jewelry and souvenir shops. Pre-pandemic there was a Thursday night outdoor fish-fry with live music.
You can rent a car for a drive around stopping at beaches on the west and south side and to view the mansions there. (try www.sidetosiderentals.com to support a local business) For a different type of land tour consider Paradise Scooters. Here you follow the leader on Vespa’s for half a day stopping for lunch. www.paradisescooters.tc/
Getting to Providenciales
Providenciales is 575 miles southeast of Miami, just below the end of the Bahama chain of islands and north of the Dominican Republic placing it in the Atlantic Ocean. Getting here is easy with many flights direct from the northeastern United States and Chicago taking a smidge over three hours.
For all things Turk Caicos including Providenciales go to www.visittci.com
Lodging in Providenciales
The best way to stay in Grace Bay is at a condominium resort. This is because you get the best of both in having a full resort with the roominess of a condo.
We chose The Somerset on Grace Bay because it is a full-service five-star boutique hotel. Here you never have to wake up early to compete for lounge chairs and umbrellas at the pool or beach.
The resort has a restaurant, spa, full gym, lap, and regular pool. It is also within a 10-minute walk to four good restaurants and 30 minutes to the center of town. (or a ten-minute bike ride using Somerset’s free bikes, helmet and lock)
We also liked the Somerset because the east side of the property on the beach is undeveloped. This means a beach void of people to your right.
We stayed in “Residence Five” which is a spacious two-bedroom duplex, having a large modern kitchen. We saved money by choosing this garden view unit because it was only a three-minute walk to the pool and beach. www.thesomerset.com/ (You can book direct or look for deals at some of the wholesalers they register with.)
While Grace Bay is a very laid-back town in the form of entertainment and shopping, it does excel in food. Coming here for the last several years, it was easy to find a good meal. Most restaurants have a strong seafood base.
Bay Bistro (200 yards from The Somerset by sand) had the best pecan-crusted conch. It had a taste that was a cross between a scallop and lobster. Other hits were its coconut-crusted grouper and seared yellowfin tuna. The half roast chicken was perfect for the non-seafood diner. Seating is on the patio or with your feet in the sand with a reservation. https://baybistrorestaurant.com
Lobsters at Pelican Bay
Don’t miss the Pelican Bay Wednesday “Lobster Extravaganza”. For $75 you can eat all the grilled Caribbean
lobsters you care for. Also served is steak, a pasta station, fried conch, and fish. For those not interested in the buffet, you can order off the menu. Try their delicious baby back ribs in a Caribbean style BBQ sauce www.pelicanbaytci.com
Caicos Café dish of wild boar with Orecchiette pasta was a true taste of Tuscany. (I don’t say that lightly). Other pasta and seafood dishes were all a hit. Their conch chowder was the best I had on the island. www.caicoscaferestaurant.com
Shay Café in town serves up a very good breakfast. We ordered two crepes. One breakfast style with eggs, cheese, and bacon and the other savory with bananas and Nutella. Each order came with two crepes. They close at 2 PM after serving lunch.
Da Conch Shack was our only dinner miss in Providenciales. I have been coming to this “feet in the sand” casual conch and fish house for years.
We started with their rum punch, which lacked “the punch” part and a conch chowder that was bland. For the main course, the cracked conch was served in bite-size pieces that were chewy having a fried coating flavor rather than that of the conch. The chicken tacos were overcooked. For dessert, the key lime pie while nice and tart was about two inches wide and not worth the $12.
The in-house made rum cake was excellent. Perhaps they had a bad day, but others that we met said it was not worth the $28 taxi ride each way.