Relaxing on an island in the sun

Relaxing on an island in the sun

MARILYN JONES heads for Beaches Turks and Caicos on Providenciales, in the northwest Caicos Islands


Image in public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I'M NOT used to relaxing when I travel. Mine is usually an orderly march of what to see, where to go, and what landmarks to catch sight of. My travels have taken me all over the world, and this day, as I watch my eight-year-old granddaughter fling herself yet another time down one of the waterslides, I find myself unwinding, a new concept in travel for me.

This experience is my first time at an all-inclusive resort, a destination within a destination. I am at Beaches Turks and Caicos, a Sandals property. Relaxing on vacation is almost foreign to me and takes some time to get used to. What I mean by relaxing is there are no schedules here except when the glass bottom boat is sailing next, or the Cookie Monster is baking cookies with the young set.

The resort is 15 minutes from the Providenciales International Airport and a world away from the stress of traffic, standing in line, digging out an admission fee, or worrying about how much to tip at a restaurant. All-inclusive means all-inclusive and frees adults and children to enjoy all the resort amenities without constantly digging for a wallet.

Turks and Caicos beach

The Lie of the Land

There are five “communities” included on the property: Italian Village, Key West Village, French Village, Caribbean Village, and Seaside Village spread along a 12-mile stretch of pristine Grace Bay with its white sand beach and almost surreal turquoise waters.

As you can imagine, many activities centre around watersports: swimming, snorkelling, sailing, scuba diving, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and Pirates Island Waterpark.

You may wonder what there is to do for those who can't swim. I am not a strong swimmer, so I can tell you that there is plenty to do without getting too wet. My favourite activity is the lazy river, where I sit in a round tube and float along a meandering waterway through the waterpark. The glass bottom boat is another favourite. My only complaint is that it needs to be longer for anyone as fascinated as I am with what's under the water's surface and not snorkelling.

The view from SKY restaurant


From a cotton candy snack at Bobbie Dee's to breakfast at SKY, a rooftop restaurant featuring exquisite breakfast fare, including beignets and crepes, with a view of Grace Bay, there are 21 dining options, including upscale adults-only restaurants, fun family-oriented dining options, and food trucks.

Gathering around a grill with other families, my family and I watch in amazement as the chef chops, grills, and serves a delicious meal of exotic spices and perfectly grilled beef, chicken, shrimp, and fish. The Teppanyaki cooking style by skillful chefs is entertaining with tricks while cooking on an iron, flat surface grill.

There are endless activities for toddlers to tweens and teens, featuring Sesame Street characters, an Xbox Play Lounge, and a teen disco. Several Caribbean Adventures with Sesame Street include Puppet Building with Bert and Ernie, Letter of the Day with Grover, and Exploring the Moon with Grover. And plan for the Friday evening extravaganza with a Sesame Steet parade, stage show, and street fair.

Cotton Candy for the asking

Exploring Turks and Caicos

Although more than enough activities are available at Beaches, some guests like to explore away from the resort for a few hours.

A coastal and marine protected area called Princess Alexandra National Park is just a 10-minute walk up the beach from the resort.

The national park has 6,600 acres of protected marine and coastal land, including sites like Grace Bay Beach, Bight Beach, and Leeward Beach. Some of the area's most impressive barrier reefs are here. There are several diving sites in the park's reef system, including the famous Leeward Reef, home to yellowtail snappers, nurse sharks, hawksbill turtles, and other sea life.

Thirteen miles of beach allow plenty of opportunity to spot sea life. You only have to walk a few feet into the water to encounter starfish, sea urchins, reef fish, damsels, and grouper.

Beaches Resort offers off-site tours, including a Turks and Caicos bus tour. A British Overseas Territory comprises two island groups: the Turks Islands and the Caicos Islands. There are eight major islands. Six are inhabited.

Christopher Columbus reached the islands in 1492. According to Columbus, many of the islands, along with the rest of the Bahamas chain, were inhabited by an indigenous people, the Arawakan-speaking Lucayan Taino.

Within a generation of European contact, the Lucayan Taino had died off from the ill effects of colonisation, including introduced diseases and enslavement by the Spanish. In 1512, Ponce de León found the islands all but uninhabited by native people. Few Europeans lived there until 1678 when settlers from Bermuda arrived and established a solar-evaporated salt industry. Royalist sympathizers from the United States came to the Caicos Islands after the American Revolution (1775–83) and established cotton plantations worked by the African-descended enslaved people they brought with them.

An excellent way to learn more about the destination is the Turks and Caicos National Museum, located on Grand Turk. Here, different subjects are covered, including history, the salt industry, slavery, shipwrecks, and many other topics, while maintaining an archive of historical documents and images.

Late night dining, dancing, and stage performances

If you go:

Water sports, volleyball, basketball, pool tables, Xbox Play Lounge, tennis, fitness centre, entertainment including live shows, ten pools, four whirlpools, and one scuba diving pool await guests in addition to the magnificent beach.

Beaches can be your source of vacation fun or the base for exploring the islands. Go, have fun, and make memories with your family.