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Take Your Points to Paradise: Turks and Caicos

Samantha Korenfeld

When many people think of the Caribbean, they think of places like Jamaica and Costa Rica. But when I told friends and family I was taking my Southwest points (and my boyfriend) to Turks and Caicos, I was met with lots of confused looks from people who had never heard of it.

I, admittedly, discovered it when browsing Southwest-friendly destinations outside of the U.S. but once I Googled pictures and saw the crystal-clear water, amazing ocean life (turtles!!!), and pristine beaches, I was ready to pack my bags.

Where to Stay

The Tuscany and The Venetian, Grace Bay

I am a die-hard Airbnb fan, but when I began my search for places to stay near Grace Bay (rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) I didn’t find anything that ticked all of the boxes: I was looking for something that felt luxurious but comfortable, was centrally-located, and included an ocean view.

Once I decided Airbnb was a bust, I begrudgingly switched over to searching for hotels but was bombarded by all-inclusive resorts which were 1) insanely expensive 2) not my thing—I want to explore local cuisine, not eat chicken strips and fries. Finally I landed on two sister hotels, The Tuscany and The Venetian, and fell in love at first sight!

When we first walked in to The Tuscany with the incredible property manager, Colleen, my boyfriend laughed in disbelief for about ten minutes. The views, the decor, and the natural beauty of it all was just unreal. It was like living in a painting.

The Tuscany and The Venetian are side-by-side condo hotels on the coast of Grace Bay. Each condo comes with a pristine, 180-degree ocean view, an assigned parking spot, a full, state-of-the-art kitchen, a washer and dryer, a Jacuzzi tub, a screened-in patio or balcony, and access to a beautiful private pool. Until you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to describe how magical it is to lay in a plush, king size bed with the windows open and enjoy a light ocean breeze as you watch the sun set. But trust me—that alone is worth the trip.

In addition to the modern decor and amenities and the luxurious vibe of the resorts, The Tuscany and The Venetian go above and beyond by providing you with things you may not have known you’d need, including a free local cell phone (great for calls, maps, and more), lots of bottled water every day, and a truly private beach that feels like your own slice of the island—no crowds necessary.

Getting Around Town

Scooter Bob’s Island Rentals

Providenciales (or “Provo,” as it’s called by locals) is absolutely navigable by taxi, but if you want to do some off-the-beaten-path exploration, you’re gonna want a car. After a long and amazing day of lounging around The Tuscany, we did some comparison shopping and happily decided on Scooter Bob’s. They had the best prices, the most vehicle options, and Scooter Bob himself drove us to the airport on our last day. What more could you ask for?

Exploring the Island

Hidden Gems and Guided Tours

Another big perk of staying at The Tuscany and The Venetian is that they’re also perfectly located within Provo so that the furthest you’ll need to drive to get anywhere is about 15 minutes. Whether you’re looking for a guided tour or prefer to discover new places on your own, there are tons of great places that await you:

  • Taylor Bay
    This off-the-beaten path beach is now one of my favorite places ever. You have to drive through some windy roads and walk a short footpath to get there, but once you do you’ll see pristine white sand, few (if any) other people, and crystal clear water that’s about 3 feet deep as far as the eye can see. We had the most relaxing day of our trip there, listening to music on a waterproof speaker, laying down in the water, and snacking on chips, salsa, and local beer. It’s the perfect hidden paradise.

 

  • Big Blue Collective
    If you’re an adventurer, Big Blue Collective is the place to help you dive in to all the island has to offer. From snorkeling trips to day-long boating excursions, Big Blue is dedicated to creating ocean-safe excursions that don’t compromise on fun. The customer service is unparalleled too—when it became obvious that I couldn’t hang with our snorkeling tour due to seasickness, the crew dropped me off back at the main office, gave me some Gatorade, and refunded half of our tour fee without us even asking. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences and great service!

 

  • Turks and Caicos Reservations
    If planning your trip activities before your trip stresses you out (or you’re overwhelmed with options once you get there), Turks and Caicos Reservations will help you plan your entire trip, tailored precisely to your preferences. Owner Val has planned everything from transportation to day trips for casual travelers and celebrities alike, and is an expert on Provo. If you’re looking for a friend “in the know” on the island, Val is the guy!

Where to Eat

Locally-Owned, Must-Try Restaurants

While the all-inclusive resorts offer onsite dining, local cuisine is where it’s at. Our favorites were:

  • Hideaway Grill and Chill
    This place is fantastic. Whether you choose the island’s famous “crack” (fried) conch or opt for the owner, Diane’s, homemade jerk chicken, you are in for a treat. This one-woman operation offers ocean-fresh options cooked to order at the most reasonable prices you’ll find on the island. Stop here as many times as you can and enjoy an amazing meal in the sunshine.

 

  • The Snack Spot
    Have you ever had fried lobster? No? Visit the most unassuming of restaurants, The Snack Spot, and thank me later. Here you’ll get island comfort food like rice and peas and fried plantains alongside just-caught seafood for an amazing meal at ridiculously cheap prices, including $5 beers at the bar next door.

 

  • Turks Kebab
    Okay, so mediterranean food isn’t exactly authentically local, but this little restaurant blends island flavors with Turkish and Greek dishes beautifully. We visited here a few times for a (delicious) rum punch, go-to favorites like hummus and baba ganoush, as well as seafood dishes and even pizza. The service was always fast and friendly, and the open-air patio makes for a picturesque meal at any time of day.

If you’re looking for a place that has all the beauty and soul of the Caribbean without the fist-pumping party atmosphere, take your Southwest points and your Summersalt swimwear to Turks and Caicos—you won’t want to come home!