These beautiful Caribbean islands make for a wonderful winter sunshine break
If you’re on the hunt for a dose of winter sun, you can’t do much better than a visit to the Turks & Caicos islands. While several islands (40 tiny ones in total) make up the chain, the main one – and home to the international airport – is Providenciales. Here, you can find Grace Bay Beach, where a swathe of whiter than white sand meets a sparkling topaz blue ocean.
The picturesque surroundings, year-round sun – temperatures rarely dip below 26 degrees – and proximity to the US also mean that Turks & Caicos are also a serious draw for major celebrities. Rolling Stone Keith Richards and model Christie Brinkley all own villas on the islands, and the Beckhams have also holidayed here. And it’s not hard to see why the Caribbean destination is such a popular option…
Most hotels are concentrated along Grace Bay, which is where you’ll find Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa by Sandals. Comprising five separate villages, each with their own style, restaurants, pools and personality, this is all-inclusive luxury for everyone.
If you’re travelling with little ones book into a family suite in the Italian Village and take them along to the Pirate Island aqua-playground. Longing for a romantic getaway instead? Indulge in a Key West Village stay, where the pool is adults-only, the grounds are laden with white picket fences, and the hibiscus abounds.
There are a staggering 24 dining options across the resort. Make sure you visit Kimonos, a Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant, or try Soy, where the sushi matches the standards of the top restaurants in London.
Other resort options include The Palms Turks & Caicos home to an array of luxury suites, all of which have king-sized beds – many of which enjoy ocean views – or the Amanyara, one of the most exclusive properties in Turks and Caicos, complete with a pristine 1km private beach lapped by turquoise waters rich with marine life.
See local wildlife up-close and personal
While it’s tempting to remain resort-side, ways to venture out and discover more of the Turks & Caicos Islands are well worth exploring. Kayaking into the mangroves is a popular option. Here you’ll spot sea turtles, and (small) sharks from your boat, and meet the vast population of iguanas on Little Water Cay (pictured above). You can also book a boat to North Caicos and Middle Caicos.
Outdoors enthusiasts can also enjoy an exciting eco kayak tour along Little Water Cay in the Princess Alexandra Nature Reserve. Explorers are given the chance to paddle around the best in marine biology, including vegetation like mangroves and flora and animals like sea turtles, Lemon Sharks, and even the Turks & Caicos national bird, the Brown Pelican, flying overhead.
Afterwards, tour guests can visit the Rock Iguana Sanctuary to see endangered lizards in their natural habitat.
Catch your own dinner
Book a scavenger hunt and go on an underwater voyage with snorkels for local delicacy the conch (that large Disney-esque shell you thought you could hold up to your ear and hear the sea through as a child). The delight when you find one is second to none.
Once you do, your captain deftly cracks them open and whips up a flavoursome ceviche and salsa for you to tuck into with a beer or soda – meals don’t come fresher than that! Afterwards it’s off for more exploring as you go in search of sand dollars – a very flat sea urchin – and sea shells.
Explore under the sea
If you love scuba diving, this is your dream location. There are roughly 40 miles (547 km) of barrier reef surrounding Turks and Caicos and the marine life is abundant. Popular dive sites include French Cay and Molasses Reef (pictured above).
If you have your diving certificates you can book in for scuba diving outings with the resort, and if not, you can pay an extra fee to learn and earn them.
A double destination holiday
A popular way to travel to Turks and Caicos is to fly via Miami, another great winter sun option. Alternatively, British Airways fly to Turks & Caicos via Antigua on Thursdays and Sundays, with a travel time of just 12 hours from London.
Words: Annie Vischer