The Caribbean is a great location for a sunny, beach vacation with family. All the islands in the Carribbean have their own charms, making it difficult to choose which one to visit. I recently traveled to the island of Provovenciales in the Turks & Caicos and was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to do for kids. Beyond the beaches, you can soak up sport, culture, and great food!
Turks and Caicos, a country made of 40 different islands and cays in the Caribbean, is a great location for your next family beach vacation. These islands are known for their beaches, they have perfect conditions for snorkeling and scuba diving. But there is so much more to do there. Your family has many options to really enjoy all that the Caribbean has to offer.
The last time I traveled on a beach vacation to the Caribbean, I wanted to sit in the sun and read. All day long. That was in January, right after an exhausting month of December where I wanted to soak up every bit of the sun before heading back to the cold winter at home. Can you relate?
My most recent Caribbean beach trip was the exact opposite. I wanted to experience and see all that I could. The gorgeous blue waters of Turks & Caicos’ Provovenciales beaconed me to come and play in them. And that’s exactly what I did.
Turks & Caicos boasts some of the best diving in the Caribbean. With crystal-clear water, coral reefs surrounding the islands and many walls, once of which – the Caicos Wall – drops over 7,000 feet, it is easy to see why. And if you are not a diver (like me), you can still enjoy these waters by snorkeling out near the reefs.
On a sail with Sun Charters, we had the opportunity to snorkel. And though I hadn’t snorkeled in over 10 years, with a little instruction, I was back in the water in no time. The water is the perfect temperature and offers the right amount of clarity that you can skim along the top, quietly observing the sea life below you. We saw all kids of colorful fish – even found a few Dorys (my mom reference here – we’re big Finding Nemo fans). I saw a conch crawling along the bottom, a few sea urchins and the coral was so beautiful, in all sorts of shapes and patterns. The salt content is so high, we were able to swim with only a mask and flippers and we stayed on the top of the water with little effort. It was so exhilarating to see all the beauty under the water.
Continuing on our sail with Sun Charters, we docked on a small island for another hour. This private beach had no one but us on it. There was a sand bar nearby to snorkel out to, but we opted to walk along the beach and relax in the sun. When it was time to head back, the sail went up and we slowly made our way past the dipping sun. Watching a Caribbean sunset from a sailboat has to have been one of the most relaxing things I have ever done while on vacation.
Eco-Kayak Tour in Turks & Caicos
A great way to learn more about the eco-system on Turks and Caicos is on an eco-kayak tour with Big Blue Unlimited. After a quick kayaking lesson, our guide led our group of 2-person kayaks through the mangroves. While only in 2-3 feet of water, it was a great way to see so many animals – turtles, pufferfish, even a few small nurse sharks.
Next, we headed across the bay to Iguana Island, home of the indigenous Rock iguana. Even though it’s an endangered species, Turks and Caicos has over 50,000 Rock iguanas, the healthiest population of Rock iguanas in the Caribbean. After a tour of the island along the boardwalk, observing several male and female iguanas, we played on the beach for a bit, even coaxing a male iguana closer with a few pieces of fruit. OK, truth be told, that was our guide’s idea but fun for me to catch a video while backing away as quickly as I could.
Kayaking was fun, easy to learn, but I would be lying if I didn’t also tell you that going back to the marina was hard. Paddling into the wind took more effort but wasn’t impossible. This is a great activity for children, just make sure you are pairing them with a strong adult. Big Blue Unlimited offers stand-up paddle boarding, kiteboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving as well.
da Conch Shack
A trip to Provo is not complete without a visit to da Conch Shack. Located right on the beach, you can’t beat the view. We enjoyed their specialty – conch (pronounced “konk”) – in several ways, both fried and frittered. They also serve grouper, snapper and lobster when in season, all locally caught. The rum punch is flowing and the music is relaxing. It made for a terrific lunch.
What I loved the most was having the opportunity to learn more about conch. Having a conch farm right down the beach, we were shown how the conch is caught and harvested. The empty shells are tossed back in to the ocean for more conch to move in. It’s a great opportunity for children to see this important trade of the islands.
Horseback Ride Through the Turks & Caicos Surf
I’ve been pretty lucky to have had the opportunity to horseback ride several times while on vacation, in several different locals. But never have I had more fun on the back of a horse than I did swimming in the ocean on Provo. Riding a horse thru the clear blue waters was everything you picture in the movies – exhilarating, wet, and laugh-out-loud fun.
Provo Ponies takes you on a guided tour through back roads and onto a private beach where the horses can’t wait to swim. Prepare to get wet, typically up to your knees, on a ride. I found it to be cool and exciting, and you could tell how happy the horses were to be in the water too. This was definitely an experience I will never forget, so if you have the opportunity, try it.
Because Provo Ponies only takes 2 excursions out a day, and it is so popular, you will want to book your ride in advance of your trip to ensure you have a spot.
Island Fish Fry in Turks & Caicos
Every Thursday evening, the island of Providenciales hosts an Island Fish Fry. Local vendors and restaurants offer tasty meals (fish, conch, and chicken) as well as great souvenirs. A band plays island music and locals, as well as tourists, can’t help but dance. It was a great opportunity to experience the culture of Turks and Caicos in such a celebratory way. Each of us enjoyed different meals, so we all had a variety to taste. And most recently, the Island Fish Fry was named the “Most Popular Cultural Experience on Turks and Caicos” by TripAdvisor.
With this much to do on Providenciales, you will never be bored. However, don’t mistake the power of a good book on these pristine beaches. In fact, send Dad with the kids to enjoy some activity, so you can soak in some good relaxation. On Provo, every one is pleased.
While visiting Turks and Caicos, we stayed at the Ocean Club Resorts in Providenciales. This resort has great accommodations for every size of family. Learn more about our time there by clicking here.
Don’t miss these 10 Tips for traveling to Turks & Caicos.