Providenciales, Turks and Caicos is a beautiful island. It has some of the best beaches i’ve ever visited, and the people are super friendly! One thing I did notice on my first (of many) trips though, is that it is not immediately obvious where to go to experience local culture and food. Grace Bay is ranked one of the best beaches in the world, and has many luxury hotels and condominiums on its beachfront, but they are generally European style. Check out some of these places to get a little local flavor.
Da Conch Shack
Da Conch Shack is a beachfront seafood restaurant with amazing fresh seafood and a beautiful view. Visit on a Wednesday evening to enjoy the live band. Be sure to try one of their many conch dishes, as they are caught fresh and pulled from their shells right on the shore. Also worth trying is the curried lobster! If you visit during the day, there are normally beach vendors there selling jewelry and conch shell souvenirs, which are also collected and cleaned right by the restaurant.
Froggies is located in Blue Hills, which is one of the original settlements on Providenciales. It doubles as a local seafood restaurant and an ATV rental business. Sounds like a weird combination, but it makes for a super fun afternoon. Ask if you can try the Turtle Stew!
Bugaloos Conch Crawl
Bugaloos serves lunch, dinner and drinks to all that are looking for a good time! Almost every day of the week, there is some kind of entertainment there, whether it be live music or karaoke night. It is located on the beach, so there are excellent views, and it is right next to a fish plant, so your seafood will always be fresh.
Mr. Grouper’s is a small, unassuming restaurant, away from the main tourist hub of Grace Bay. They serve most of your typical island dishes, but I personally recommend the fried grouper (obviously). Enjoy it with the local rum punch, and maybe live music if you’re lucky.
Thursday Night Fish Fry
Every Thursday night, the Turks and Caicos tourism board has a local fish fry. Several of the island’s local restaurants will set up stalls right near the water at Bight Children’s Park and sell all of the island favorites, and of course plenty of Rum Punch. Enjoy all the food, live music, and fellowship amongst locals and fellow tourists. Make sure you get there early to find a good parking spot that won’t require a 10-point turn to get out of, and bring cash! There are no ATMs on site and most of the vendors do not take credit cards.
Smokey’s on the Bay
Smokey’s is actually Bahamian food, but it is delicious! My favorite dish from there is the Oxtail Stew. If you’re there during lobster season, you should also try their grilled lobster.
Sea Breeze Taxi & Tours
Check out Darnley, who runs Sea Breeze Taxi and Tours. He’s a native of the Turks and Caicos, and will take you all around the island to give you an authentic island experience. He’s a friend of mine, so tell him I sent you!
Places to Stay
Turks and Caicos, while beautiful, is a SUPER expensive place to vacation. Food and drinks will typically be more expensive than you’re used to paying, even at the smaller, local restaurants. Room accommodations are especially expensive, particularly if you’re trying to stay directly on the beach in Grace Bay.
If you’re willing to walk a little bit, you can save quite a bit of money by staying at a smaller hotel, set away from the beach. Here are some suggestions, in order of shortest to longest walk from the beach:
Villa Del Mar is a low key property, with spacious and modern condos with fully equipped kitchens in every unit. There are two pools, one for families and the other for adults. It’s about a 3 minute walk from the beach, and is walking distance to Grace Bay Road, which has plenty of food and shopping.
Caribbean Paradise is not as modern or spacious as Villa Del Mar, but still clean and comfortable. They are willing to cook breakfast to order near the pool, and there is a small restaurant next door. It is about a 5-10 minute walk to Grace Bay Beach.
Ports of Call is probably one of the island’s most affordable hotels. The rooms are plain, but clean and comfortable. It is also located on the same property as the Shops of Ports of Call, so you have access to plenty of amenities, such as restaurants and bars, a spa, hair salon, ice cream parlor, dive shop, cigar lounge and several gift and clothing stores. It is about a 5-10 minute walk from the beach.