Turks and Caicos Islands exist in a world of vivid color where, somehow, nature’s hues seem more deeply saturated than in other places on Earth. The aquamarine of the ocean is deeper, the white of the sand more sparkling, the pink of the bougainvillea hotter and brighter. That cranked-up beauty is one of the reasons Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI for short) have become, over the past couple of decades, a favorite of travelers and expats looking for low-key luxury in the Caribbean, especially on the island of Providenciales, one of just eight inhabited islands in the 40-island archipelago.
For all their beauty, Turks and Caicos Islands are still being discovered by tourists, which gives them a very different feel than other Caribbean hot spots like the Bahamas or Aruba. In Turks and Caicos, you won’t have any trouble finding an open lounge chair along their wide, pristine beaches. In fact, Providenciales was sparsely populated just a few decades ago, filled with dirt roads and nary a resort in sight.
Modern Providenciales is now beautifully developed in a way that enhances, rather than overwhelms, the island’s natural beauty and culture. The island boasts an enviable infrastructure and growing local population, but also prioritizes conservation. In fact, much of the island’s land is protected, either by national parks or nature preserves. Turks and Caicos Islands’ uninhabited cays and pristine reefs give the islands some of the region’s best diving opportunities.
It’s refreshing that in welcoming tourists, Providenciales has managed to retain its local flavor while becoming home to some of the best luxury accommodations in the Caribbean. Among those accommodations is the Grace Bay Club, which has the most beachfront of any resort on the island. Each of the 82 suites has a view of Grace Bay’s dreamy turquoise waters and powdery white-sand beach, which extends as far as the eye can see in either direction just feet from the resort.
At the Grace Bay Club, quiet luxury is emphasized everywhere, from the cell phone that guests receive that connects directly to a personal concierge who’s available day and night to the expert massage therapists at the Anani Spa to the private verandas and patios attached to every suite to the exquisite interiors designed by star American designer Thom Filicia.
A sophisticated aesthetic permeates the resort. You feel it when you’re lounging on a sun shelf in one of the sleek and modern pools or sipping a rum punch while watching the spectacular sunset over Grace Bay at the resort’s 90-foot-long shiny black Infiniti Bar, dubbed the world’s first “infinity-edge bar” for the hypnotic way it reaches toward the ocean.
Turks and Caicos Islands are also rightly known for their cuisine, and Grace Bay Club expertly interprets the local island flavor, from the raw bar to its fine dining restaurants. One standout is the resort’s pop-up restaurant, which changes every year to reflect the hottest food trends. The latest iteration is Kone, which serves sweet and savory treats in crunchy cones, like the spicy ahi tuna tartare with juicy pear, which is not only tasty but perfect for on-the-beach munching.
Providenciales has its share of great restaurants away from the resort, too, like the fine-dining hot spot Coyaba Restaurant, helmed by chef Paul Newman, where guests can sit under the stars in a lovely Caribbean garden while tucking into innovative riffs on island fare, like slow-braised guava- and tamarind-glazed baby back ribs.
Other eateries veer in a more traditional direction, like Bugaloo’s, a wooden shack that’s as popular with locals as it is with visitors. Bugaloo’s is perched at the edge of the ocean in an area of Providenciales called Five Cays Settlement, where little fishing boats bob gently with the tide and jetties piled with rocks and conch shells extend across the sand.
Arrive after sundown and you’ll find the restaurant’s open-air deck packed with people and ringed with palm trees strung with white lights. Across the sand, you might see a band playing island-infused pop hits or performers like “TCI James Brown,” who channels the Godfather of Soul in a red-sequined jacket as he jerks and shimmies across the stage. Couples dance barefoot in the sand, while kids spin in gleeful circles.
Bugaloo’s menu is packed with island fare, like coconut fried shrimp; fried spiny lobster; rich, pepper-flecked mac and cheese; cool, crunchy coleslaw; and conch every which way—fresh and citrusy scorched conch, conch salad, crispy coconut conch, and conch fritters. You can also sample cocktails or the pleasantly bitter Turks Head beer, an island brew.
This easy convergence of old and new, traditional and modern, local and tourist, is one of the many reasons Turks and Caicos Islands are such a joy to visit. So pull up a beach lounger, bury your toes in the sand, and soak it all in.
Grace Bay Club