Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Break: Turks and Caicos

Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos, January 2015
Turquoise:  semiprecious stone, typically opaque and of a greenish-blue or sky-blue color...  A perfect description of the waters of the Turks and Caicos.  It was so brilliant, it looked photoshopped.  Coming from cold, grey Michigan winter weather we had the feeling of Dorothy emerging into the colorful world of OZ.  The Turks and Caicos (TCI) are a British overseas territory, two island groups in the Caribbean.  Their main source of income is tourism, due largely to the amazing beaches (of which 12 mile long Grace Bay Beach is the most famous) and to the fact that the temperature is an average of 85 degrees year-round.

Our week-long vacation was day after day of sunning, beach and eating amazing seafood, interspersed with only a little sightseeing and exploration.  When possible we rent a house or condo on our vacations.  We like the extra space, privacy and use of a kitchen, which saves us money on food.  That is not to say we don't go out to eat.  We do, at least once a day.  But sometimes it's nice to have your morning coffee or lunch in the privacy of your own terrace or pool.  We stayed at Grace Bay Townhomes.  It wasn't right on the beach (the prices in were very expensive), but we were within a 10 minute easy stroll right onto Grace Bay Beach between two resorts where you could rent chairs or catch boat tours.   

The highlight for me was visiting the Caicos Conch Farm and learning about conch mariculture, raising conchs to provide jobs and a low cost source of protein.  We learned how the conchs are raised to maturity and were introduced to two live conchs that came out of their shells to say hello as if on cue.  

The idyllic beachside setting of most of the restaurants on Grace Bay could make a romantic out of anyone and we enjoyed a number of fantastic dinners at restaurants like Bay Bistro and Hemingways on the Beach.  But it was the barefoot beach bar hangouts that made me never want to leave: Bugaloos and Da Conch Shack, right next to each other on the other side of the island.  You could while away the whole afternoon and evening drinking beer and munching on fried conch, listening to a dreadlocked Reggae singer. Da Conch Shack is listed in the book, 1000 Places to See Before You Die, a book whose pages are being checked off as fast as I am able.