By Vivian Yip
Many families choose to book all-inclusive resorts when visiting Turks and Caicos with kids. But I feel if you never leave your resort or dine out here, you’re completely missing the point! To help others navigate Providenciales, I curated a short and sweet itinerary that should suit almost anyone traveling with kids. I’ve spent a total of 24 days exploring the island and feel pretty well versed in the activities that you can enjoy during a short stay. Here are some highlights and suggestions on how to maximize your stay.
I recommend staying in Grace Bay if you are limited on time as most things are close to this area. Also, please pack reef-safe sunscreen (Stream2Sea is a good brand). I also recommend renting a car to make the most of it. So, without further ado, here are my five perfect days in Turks and Caicos with kids!
Wake up the to gentle winds blowing across the island and slowly make your way to the ocean-facing restaurant, Somewhere Bar, for a lip-smacking Mexican style breakfast and maybe even slurp on a breakfast cocktail. But bring gear because kids will love swimming in the reef right in front of the restaurant to look for turtles, stingrays, and colorful fish! If you are interested in getting under the water, there is a Snuba company that operates here to help children get a glimpse of what it is like to be a scuba diver. The minimum age for the excursion is eight years old and you should book in advance.
Once you’ve exhausted yourself from chasing the fish and swimming around the reef, gather your things and head to Hemingway’s for a nice lunch where you can enjoy a beachside view and contemporary cooking. The spectacular panorama over Grace Bay and fresh cuisine is what makes this place so popular. Still, save room for dessert! After lunch, head to Island Scoop for some local flavored ice cream and maybe even an espresso. Heck, make it an affogato. By now, you’re surely wanting to have a fresh shower (and maybe a nap)!
For dinner, dress up, put on some bug spray and head out to your dinner reservation at Coco Bistro, where you can dine under gigantic palms and enjoy the eclectic menu that both tourists and locals love You’ll need a reservation most times of the year.
Maybe another day in the sun isn’t for you. I know for us, we like to take a break from the sun (especially by the second day) because usually after the first day, you’re feeling pretty hot and pink!
Start your morning with a sweet or savory dish (like an Eggs Benedict or chocolate croissant) at Shay Cafe (Grace Bay) then do something different and good for the community by volunteering at Potcakes K9 Rescue and walk their puppies (across the street from Shay Cafe at Salt Mills Plaza). These are puppies that need to get socialization with different families so they can be adopted. Take pictures for Instagram and make all your canine-loving friends jealous of your sweet pooch. (The line up can start as early as 9 am & they open at 10 — DO NOT use Google OR Apple Maps to search for K9 Potcake place, they are both wrong). Drop off puppy by 12:45 pm. Don’t forget to make a donation or purchase a souvenir!
Puppies are a lot of work and now the hunger pangs are setting in! Grab your car and head to Bugaloo’s about 15 minutes away! At Bugaloo’s, kids can put their toes in the sand while you listen to live music and look out into the turquoise sound. This is my favorite place to eat in Provo. Order the whole fried snapper with peas and rice or coconut shrimp. Look out for the conch diver that lets you eat fresh conch off his boat and bring a tip for the jar!
Rent some beach gear and drive a few minutes away to Sapodilla Bay to enjoy the quiet and serene cove where waves are gentle and the cove is shallow. It’s a great place for young kids! You can rent jet skis, SUP’s, kayaks, order beers and grilled lobster from the beach vendors. Chairs and umbrellas are also available to rent. Seriously, just lay there till dinner (or look for Taylor beach, even more pristine, just down the road from Sapodilla Bay but you have to be more adventurous for this one). Taylor Beach is completely void of any commercialization and you may find that you’re the only one there. The shore is even more gentle here! There are no bathrooms and no vendors selling drinks (or anything for that matter)! Take your time to relax & unwind. Eventually, the sun will set (get off the beach before sunset because of sand flies) and make your way home to freshen up.
For dinner, head to Coco Van, the more casual food truck sister restaurant to Coco Bistro. Order one of everything on the menu. No reservations are needed, and it starts to get busy around 6:30 pm. Mr. Grouper is also another great dinner option if kids love seafood! The coconut crusted grouper is to die for!
If you’re staying in Grace Bay, chances are you’ve got a spot on the beach. If not, you’re definitely near the beach. Our kids loved spending the morning just playing in the sand, keeping it simple. You can make an easy breakfast of toast and jam then play in the waters for a while. After all, the only time crunch you’re on is when your belly tells you it’s time to eat again.
When lunchtime approaches, put on some shorts, a t-shirt and a hat and check out Da Conch Shack. This is a local favorite and their cracked conch is the best on the island! There are several friendly dogs that hang out on the beach here, which kids can play with while you wait. After lunch, take a visit to Turks Head Brewery . If you’re interested in a kid-friendly tour of the brewery followed by a guided beer tasting, call ahead ($15 adults, $10 kids, beer flight included). One of our favorite things to do is to buy their pre-mixed drinks in a can and you can take that in a cooler with you for whatever beach you’re on! It is generally a bad idea to bring bottled anything (glass) onto the beach!
For dinner, there is a great spot called Provence. It’s a modern spot with excellent French cuisine.
Full-Day Boat Excursion
Hiring a boat for the day is one of the best gifts you can ever give your family! We’ve used two companies in the past and recommend them both. It will be about $750 plus gratuities for the afternoon, but your family will remember the adventure for years to come, so the memories alone will be worth it. Either Catch a Wave Charters or Grace Bay Watersports will take care of you. Definitely have them take you out to Pine Cay, where you’ll experience waters so blue, you’ll wonder if it is even real. Then, snorkel the reefs just off of Leeward Beach and see if the conditions are right to try freediving for conch. A savvy captain will have all the ingredients on board to prepare a fresh conch salad with your fresh catch (make sure you mention when you book)! Rum punch is usually part of the parent package, but be careful, it will creep up on you quickly! We hired a photographer to capture our fun day on the water and to grab some pics on secluded beaches. I highly recommend this excursion.
On your last day in Turks and Caicos with kids, you might want to skip breakfast and get out to do some exercise! I booked a kayak tour to Little Water Cay (Iguana Island) with Blue Collective, then paddled to the mangroves at high tide under the care of a guide to see the baby lemon sharks, turtles, upside-down jellyfish, and barracudas. About 4 hours long, this is the perfect outing for beginners and kids alike!
When you’re done, you’ll be famished. Stop for a snack at Patty’s Place, which serves “Juicy Beef” patties — authentic and adored by Jamaicans. If kids are really hungry, make it a “beef mega” stacked with tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. You’ll probably want to get out of the sun for a bit now, so stop by Turk Berry for some frozen yogurt.
It’s your last night, so make it count. Book a beachside table at Bay Bistro ($50 surcharge) and have a romantic/memorable dinner right on the beach. The food here is great and the service is nice. Wines are reasonably priced too.
If you have more time…
You have to take a ferry there and it’s a GORGEOUS ride out there. For scuba divers, there is no better operator than Dive Provo. On our last trip, we did 10 tanks and never repeated a site once. if you’re lucky, get to scuba “the wall” at West Caicos — but only when the conditions are perfect.
I wish my five perfect days in Turks and Caicos with kids never had to end! I’m still looking forward to the next time we return to see its beauty once more.