Before leaving for Turks and Caicos, I knew the islands had a reputation for being a playground for superstars and celebrities, like Alicia Keys, Drake, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
My own stay started at Seven Stars Resort and Spa, on a picture-perfect stretch of beachfront on Grace Bay in Providenciales. Although it’s not the largest island in Turks and Caicos, Providenciales is the most developed and where most travelers stay. My suite overlooked the ocean, and as I sat on my balcony enjoying the warm breeze, it was easy to see why A-listers have flocked to the island. Though the location and amenities were outstanding, the highlight of the resort, for me, was the top-notch customer service. By the second day, the entire staff knew my name and my favorite drink order: an almond milk latte in the morning, a piña colada after 11 a.m.
The food was fantastic, with the resort’s main restaurant, Seven, serving gorgeous cuts of lamb and steak, along with a tender rum butter lobster dish. The property also features a tasting room with over 2,500 bottles of wine, and it recently introduced a state-of-the-art hydroponic garden where the chefs grow their own produce for the freshest salads and greens.
But I didn’t come all this way just to stay at the hotel. I knew there was plenty to explore out in the food and entertainment scene. For your next trip to Providenciales, consider these local experiences in addition to your resort stay.
Tour the Turks Head Brewery
For an island so small (Providenciales is only 23 miles long and four miles wide), I was impressed that it has its own brewery, Turks Head. Delroy Lightbourne, the driver who picked me up from the airport, proudly described the local establishment and the names of the beers, which referred to local colloquialisms.
“The beers are brewed right here on the island and named after how we talk on the island. For example, there’s I-Ain-Ga-Lie, Gon-Ta-Nort and Down-Da-Road, and I-Soon-Reach.When islanders are telling stories, they say ‘I-Ain-Ga-Lie’ before they tell a fib,” he said, laughing.
The Turks Head beers include an IPA and a light lager that are both refreshing on a hot day, and visitors can head to the brewery for a tour and beer tasting Monday through Saturday, or ask for the beers at their resort bar.
Check Out the Fish Fry
Every Thursday night from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., residents in Turks and Caicos gather for a fish fry at Stubbs Diamond Plaza, which is only a five-minute drive from the hotel zone on Grace Bay. Guests can expect to chow down on traditional island fare like conch, peas and rice, baked macaroni and plantains.
“Everyone looks forward to the Thursday night fish fry,” Ronel Charles, a bartender at Seven Stars Resort and Spa, told me. “If you’re there, make sure you try Bambarra Rum, which is the official rum of Turks and Caicos. Try it in a rum punch or straight on the rocks.”
Admission to the event is free, and the fish fry includes live music and dance performances, with cash-only food and crafts vendors.
Bungalows, Tattoos and Private Motus: The Sublime Ease of Island-Hopping Around TahitiReason #1 to put it on your list: it’s closer to the West Coast than Europe
Stop by the Farmers Market
Like the nearby Caribbean islands (which Turks and Caicos is technically not included in), food here is imported. But Reginald Thomas, a representative of the country’s Department of Agriculture, explained that officials are trying to encourage locals to farm by supporting them with educational programs, subsidies and the newly opened Kew Village Market.
“We’re trying to rephase farming back on the islands,” he told me. “One way is by encouraging a farmers market. Every other Saturday locals come from all over the island to sell their food and crafts.”
If you decide to visit the market, expect fresh fruit and vegetables along with handmade crafts. Remember to bring cash.
Try the Local Nightlife
Turks and Caicos is typically a quiet island. You won’t find all-night raves and bar crawls here, and for many travelers, that’s the draw. By 9 p.m., most vacationers are enjoying a dinner under the stars or nursing a glass of wine on their balconies. Partying is left to other islands in the vicinity; but if you look hard enough, there is a nightlife scene on the island.
“While there are very few true nightclubs,” Lightbourne told me. “There are a few restaurants that play music and turn into lounges. People come to Turks and Caicos to relax, but for those who want to listen to some music, there are a few places to be found. ”
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.