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Family vacation to Turks and Caicos

So beautiful! It’s the first thing I say when people ask me about our recent trip to Turks and Caicos. At times, I felt like I had to pinch myself – is this real?? It was absolutely what our family needed after a busy fall and holiday season.

The first thing you notice flying into Providenciales, the main island of Turks and Caicos, is the turquoise crystal clear water. From the air, you can easily see the reef surrounding the island, making it one of the best snorkeling and diving destinations. It also makes for calm, relatively shallow waters, which is great for kids and those who aren’t fond of bashing waves (that would be me!).

We rented a lovely condo with a beautiful view of the ocean in Grace Bay – the front wall consisted of sliding doors which we would pull wide open to the let the warm breezes in.

We could hardly wait to hit the beach, which was minutes from our condo. The sand so white and powdery and the water beautiful and warm. A “snorkeling trail” was located in the warm Atlantic waters right in front of our resort – we considered this a bonus as we saw people from other resorts hauling their snorkeling gear down to our beach.

A perimeter of bouys on top of the water and plaques on the bottom of the ocean guided you along the outside of the reef – you weren’t allowed inside because of the fire coral. But, you were still able to see lots of fish – of all colors, shapes and sizes. The parrotfish, angel fish, sting rays, barracudas and so many others I don’t know the names of.  And sea turtles were hanging out in the long grass happily munching away as we viewed them from above.

One of the sweetest moments for me was when my youngest daughter said to me with such excitement, “Mom, did you see the fish with the blue eyeshadow??”

The underwater world is amazing, and I’m trying hard to improve my snorkeling skills, so I can enjoy this experience with my family. The older three girls were like mermaids, diving down to get a closer look, with no fear whatsoever.

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They are so adventurous and free spirited. As someone who is not entirely comfortable in the water, I admire that about them. Next time (we’re already talking about next time!) they would like to be certified for scuba diving. That scares the heck out of me. Not sure I could join them on that little adventure!

I have never visited a destination where a whole host of water sports were so easily accessible…literally, at your front door. Boats offering parasailing, tubing, and banana boating are cruising the waters in front of the resorts and have sales people on the beach, but they weren’t pushy or rude.

To celebrate our young friend’s birthday we all went parasailing. Here is the view from about 200 feet above the reef.

They were brave enough to bring the Go Pro camera and get these great shots.  As my husband and I get older, we are a little less fearless,  but we both enjoyed how beautiful and peaceful it was from way up there! We saw a sting ray from above and because the island is so small, we could see all the way across the island and the Caribbean Sea on the south side.

One of the biggest highlights was learning to kite surf. This is a fun, yet challenging sport which combines the skills of wake boarding and flying a kite. We started with a 4-hour lesson from TCKitesurfing and it gave the kids the basics and by the end of the lesson they were up on the board, though not for long. They all agreed flying the kite was the hardest part, believe it or not.

This is something my husband has wanted to try for years, and I’m so glad he finally had the chance. He loved it, and wants to go back – the experts say you need about 12 hours of practice until you are comfortable enough to head out into the deep waters.

Turks and Caicos is quickly becoming a destination for this sport, as the water is warm (you spend hours in it), it is shallow (easier to handle the gear when first learning) and there is usually lots of wind.

While the older girls tried kitesurfing, my youngest and I decided to head into Salt Mills for a little shopping. This area is definitely worth an afternoon of strolling and browsing, but don’t expect designer labels and chain stores. Instead, there are smaller, locally owned stores with nice beachy clothes and beautiful artwork.

I highly recommend Anna’s Art Gallery and Anna’s Too – these were our favorite stores in this area and we could have spent a lot longer in there!

We finished our vacation with a very fun 4-5 hour boat tour with a company called Island Vibes.

They picked us up on the beach in front of our resort and took us out to snorkel at a deeper part of the reef. Unfortunately, the weather had turned up a lot of sand in recent days and we didn’t see a lot. We actually had better snorkeling closer to shore. Then, we motored over to a very secluded white sand beach called Half Moon Beach. There are iguanas on the island and it’s a cool place to just chill for an hour. The kids (and some adults!) had a blast going down their rooftop slide and jumping off the boat.

One of the crew  members – Joey – taught my husband and the kids how to dive for sand dollars and we were so excited every time they popped up out of the water with their sea treasures, which you hold between your fingers (like a cigarette) because they are so delicate.

They also prepared a wonderful conch salad right in front of us! It was interesting to see how they remove the “meat” from the conch shell.

Conch is a mollusk (similar to an oyster) often served in salads and ceviche all over the island. It is definitely an island specialty!

I believe they mixed it with diced tomatoes and lime juice and it was a delicious snack with tortilla chips, but  there really wasn’t enough to call this a lunch. To go with the salad, they also gave us unlimited amounts of soft drinks, water and their special Rum Punch, which was delicious and not something I normally drink before noon – but hey, we were on Island Time!!

There is so much more to Turks and Caicos than I am able to write here. It was our first visit, and I have a feeling we will definitely be back. To me, it truly was… paradise found.

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Have you been to Turks? What did you think? Any other suggestions for a great tropical family vacation destination? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Michelle
 

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