By Jeremy Jauncey; Founder, Beautiful Destinations
Less than a two-hour flight from Miami just below the Bahamas chain are 40 stunning coral islands that make up Turks and Caicos—home to some of the best beaches in the world and one of my favorite hotels, Amanyara. Originally inhabited by Taino and Lucayan Indians, Turks is a reference to the native Turk’s head cactus, and Caicos is from the Lucayan term “caya hick,” meaning string of islands. There are eight populated islands, but you’ll want to stay at the gateway island of Providenciales (Provo), home to expansive Grace Bay Beach, with luxury resorts, shops and restaurants.
Amanyara sits upon a yellow sand beach overlooking reefs of the Northwest Point Marine National Park. Its private open-air pavilions and villas put the focus on the surrounding landscape, with many offering direct access to sea. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your partner, the intimate Deluxe Pool Pavilion offers a glass sunroom, private pool, with a sun deck and private garden. For a boys weekend, Amanyara’s decked-out six-bedroom Villa has direct beach access, private swimming pool, personal bar, dedicated chef and housekeeper. Some suites even offer a private gym to stay on your fitness grind with bonus exceptional views. Dining on a Caribbean seafood and organic produce from the resorts’ aquaponic vegetable garden paired with locally inspired spa treatments help round out a complete wellness retreat.
Most activities in the destination take place in Provo’s pristine, turquoise water. Divers are spoilt for choice, as the islands lie right on the edge of two undersea mountaintop plateaus with steep walls throughout. The ocean floor drops as deep as 7,000 feet—the opportunities to explore are endless, literally. In the coral-filled waters, you’ll make friends with Hawksbill turtles, humpback whales, ray, bonefish; not to mention hundreds of migratory bird species. If diving isn’t your thing, Turks and Caicos offers every other water activity imaginable: snorkeling, kite surfing, parasailing, sailing and cruise tours. Charter a boat and break out the Dom Perignon for a deep sea fishing trip where Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Wahoo await. You can also hop around surrounding islands including Grand Turk, allegedly where Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, and Middle Caicos, the largest island in Turks and Caicos where you’ll find Conch Bar Caves, named after a nearby village. Bird watching, safari tours, horseback riding are also nice alternatives if you’re looking to stay dry.
The only conch farm in the world is located in Provo, where they “raise Caribbean queen conchs fit for a king.” Conch is a rising food star in the United States, and many top chefs are sourcing from Turks and Caicos. Da Conch Shack restaurant is famous for its conch and has been named one of the world’s best beach bars. From conch creole and curried conch to coconut conch stew, you won’t be able to order just one dish. For epic views, Magnolia Restaurant and Wine Bar that sits on a hilltop above Turtle Cove Marina is famous for its fresh, local cuisine, sits amidst the largest palm grove in Provo. It’s within walking distance from most resorts and provides the perfect setting for dining under the stars.
The best time to visit Turks and Caicos is April and May when there are fewer crowds. While the weather is pleasant year-round, there are threats of hurricanes June through November.