I recently visited Turks & Caicos Island, and while I wanted to go on the adventure with friends, none could go. The opportunity to have an affordable flight to make a quick getaway was too good to pass up, so I decided to travel to the tropical island solo.
Turks & Caicos is a British overseas territory amongst the coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean. Located southeast of Florida and just north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Turks & Caicos is comprised of 7 main islands and over 40 smaller islands and cays. The residents speak English and the currency is in US Dollars, however, the cars are driven on the left side of the road to add to any additional confusion.
I went during the first week of December 2019 and stayed for 4 days. After finding an affordable flight with United Airlines from Boston, MA with a layover in Newark, NJ, my next task was to find somewhere to stay. The main island and where the airport is located is on Providenciales. Hotels are not cheap here, with most having rooms to be around $400-$1000 a night if you wanted to be next to the beach. I then searched Airbnb and was able to find a studio apartment in a gated community about 5 kilometers from the famous Grace Bay Beach. I decided not to rent a car as I figured I could run, bike or take taxis, but in hindsight, I would suggest renting a car as there is no public transport so renting would be a more affordable option to explore on your own time more of the island. Considering the first day when I arrived I took a shared van/taxi to my Airbnb and the two-mile drive cost $38. However, I did learn of a very new “Uber-like” ride-share option called Conch Cab that was able to provide me many reasonably priced trips back and forth from the tourist areas to my more private and secluded Airbnb.
I arrived at the airport around 2 pm, met up with Airbnb host and got the studio key, and ran to Babalua Beach for a late afternoon swim. At sunset, I walked back and grabbed jerk chicken take-out at Chinson’s Grill Shack and had a delicious meal at the complex patio and pool. I fell asleep to old Friends episodes on Netflix to prepare myself and figure out how I’d get around the island in the next few days.
I woke up around 6 am and ran around the neighborhood that my Airbnb was located in passing many million-dollar villas and soon to be constructed private properties. Coming back before 7 am I took a quick dip in the community pool before showering and getting ready to head over to Grace Bay Beach. My Airbnb host graciously offered to drop me off at the Graceway Gourmet grocery store near the beach where I was able to stock up on water, snacks, and sunblock before trekking my way to Club Med Turkoise. I opted to purchase a day pass to the all-inclusive resort for just under $100. This pass included access to all pools, activities, buffet lunch and drinks, and happy hour from the hours between 10 am – 5 pm.
I bounced around from the pool to take a trapeze lesson, to a scuba diving lesson back at the pool, to an aquatic exercise class, to the all-inclusive lunch with wine, then a brief stop to the beach and volleyball courts, then back to the pool for fish tacos and tequila sunrises as I made my way over to the happy hour bar with live music. Although, I wish I had a friend to chat with I made myself friendly to the elderly group next to me at the pool to help me save my seat throughout the day and then made conversation with a young professional couple from NYC traveling with their family for an early Christmas gift. So I was never really bored or alone. Although my pass ended at 5, I was able to sneak a few more cocktails with the young couple before venturing back for slumber around 10pm that evening.
I awoke at 6 am again for a short run before ordering a Conch Cab to take me to Turtle Cove for 8 am to catch a snorkel cruise with Island Vibes Tours. The half-day snorkel excursion in the 3rd largest coral reef includes knowledgeable and friendly tour guides, with a well-equipped boat with a built-in diving board and slide, a visit to Iguana Island, fresh conch salad and lunch with rumrunners, beers, and soft drinks. I highly recommend this experience. And to top it all off, on the cruise I met a group of women celebrating a 40th birthday and they invited me to join them for dinner at the well-known da Conch Shack that evening.
I had a half-day before I was to fly back to the northeast and wanted to do a bit more sightseeing and to go horseback riding with Provo Ponies to Long Bay Beach, but unfortunately, the morning brought rain and I lost the ability to take in some last relaxing moments on the Island. I did go for a run and by lunchtime, the sun was out so I got one more dip in the pool before I decided to walk the 2 miles back to the airport.
A beautiful but brief solo escape that was enriching and relaxing. But I do have some takeaway remarks:
- Rent a car.
- Airbnb’s are ok but often located in secluded neighborhoods.
- The big resorts are mostly along Grace Bay Beach and this is where most of the nightlife is as well.
- If you opt to stay off the tourist strips, purchase day passes to an all-inclusive resort to still get the experience.
- Conch Cab is the another affordable way to get transport about the island.
- Take a snorkeling excursion with Island Vibes Tours, you won’t regret it.
- If you travel solo, don’t be afraid to be friendly with your neighbors at the beach, pool, or restaurants. You never know who you’ll end up meeting!