TCI for short, lies southeast of Mayaguana in the Bahamas, and northeast of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). It is the third largest of the British overseas territories.
We arrived at South Side Marina in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (“Provo”) after a 19.5-hour (112 NM) sail from Acklins/Crooked Island. We bypassed Mayaguana completely since the weather was in our favor. This was our longest sail yet…and it absolutely felt like the longest day/night of my life. Considering what’s ahead of us en route to the DR and PR this long passage was good practice. Conditions leaving Acklins were calm, comfortable and with following seas. Which allowed Brent and I to shift in and out for some sleep down below.
Customs and Immigration
Arriving into TCI at about sunrise we were welcomed by red and blue flashing lights of the local police. They didn’t board us, but we had a very lengthy chat/interrogation over the radios making sure we were legit and checking in. South Side Marina is actually a port-of-entry, so it made the process of clearing in super easy. It was nice not having to chase anyone down, they came straight to us! And supplied us with all the necessary paperwork – score! It’s true you can do a short 7 day permit. However, we ended up just paying for a full 90 day, $350, its not cheap but we had boat guest and really wanted to make the most of our two week stay without a 7 day deadline looming over us.
We don’t have pets so no hassle or additional fees. But what we’ve heard is it’s apparently a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of pet policy. There were several small dogs at our marina strolling the docks with their owners. I guess play at your own risk.
Clearing out, we let Bob know the day before. Customs and Immigration met us at the marina and we paid the $50 departure fee. Easy peasy!
South Side Marina
This marina is fantastic! Bob Pratt, the owner, is super kind and knows just about everything since he’s been a resident for 40 years. Reg slips are $50 a day. Which is incredibly reasonable. We anticipated much higher rates due to it being TCI. Floating docks, mediterranean style, Internet (one time fee) $5, electric $0.56 per KW, water $0.15 per gal, laundry $5 per wash, diesel $5.40. Plus, an amazing outdoor shower with the hottest water! Also on site is Bob’s Bar, we had an amazing meal here and the sunsets look incredible! Wednesday night is Expat night so it gets really busy. There’s a huge bocce ball court and its a lot of fun to play. Bob will even referee it for you! Note: the inlet into SSM can be quite shallow, we anchored out at Sapodilla Bay till high tide and even then we bumped the bottom on our way in. Follow the markers!
Provo/Grace Bay East, Central, and West
Grace Bay is the hub of Provo! Most of the hotels, resorts, shopping, restauraunts etc. are found in this area. Here’s all the ground we covered during our stay 🙂
Our first day/night in Provo we were on a mission for three things: Sushi, a barber for Brent, and grocery store. Luckily we found ALL three within distance of each other.
Graceway IGA – The largest supermarket in the Turks and Caicos. It’s high-end and offers prepared food, alcohol, and an onsite coffee shop. Somethings were more expensive than others but it was so nice being back in a regular grocery store.
Smart – More of a local grocery, the prices were better however less variety.
Pablo’s Barber Shop – Raúl gave Brent a cut and shave for $14!
Yoshis – A slightly upscale sushi restaurant yet reasonably priced, surprisingly given its location is on the main street in Grace Bay. We had this huge sushi boat of 4 rolls for the two of us. Was so good to get our sushi fix after a few months without it.
Our first boat guest of the season also joined us for 6 days from Georgia! Such a fun and memorable week in Provo with my sister and brother in law – Lindsey + Shawn. Being able to share this adventure with friends and family continues to make this experience even better – love making these memories!
Most international flights come into the island of Providenciales (airport code PLS). The airport is located towards the west end of the island in the downtown area.
Sapodilla Hill – Short hike. It’s a little tough to find as there is no trail head marking or signs pointing you in the right direction. You can kinda see a trail, which is not maintained, winding down the hill. Offers a great ocean view of Sapodilla Bay, the main anchorage for sailboats and overlooks the turquoise lagoon of Chalk Sound National Park.
Smiths Reef – Powdery white beach with a fantastic reef just a short swim away. So many fish and other amazing ocean life to see. Mostly secluded, and a little off the beaten path, but super worth it!
CocoVan Airstream – Delicious food and drinks under a canopy of palm trees, served from a 1974 Airstream kitchen. We ordered several things to share so we could try a little bit of everything. They make a yummy cocktail called the Airstreamer: Tequila, mango, and lime!
Scooter Bob’s – Rental car, they’ll come pick you up! We got a weekly break for renting over 5 days ($40) and well worth it since its sorta impossible to get around the entire island by foot or taxi, which would be crazy expensive ($20-40 one way). We got a 4 passenger Toyota Vitz and took advantage of having a set of wheels by driving every inch of Provo.
Thursday night Fish Fry – If you’re on the island on a Thursday the fish fry is a must for some yummy island fare! Plantains, conch fritters, lobster mac ‘n cheese and fish. Prices were really reasonable and nice portions. There are vendors and a band playing while you enjoy strolling around. We got to meet up with sail friends SV Sparidae
Little Water Cay – Secluded cay with a beautiful view, we went dinghy exploring and snorkeling here and were surprised to find that it’s also home to the few remaining Rock Iguanas – a little skittish but friendly.
Shay on the Beach – Location! Location! Location! Great spot, the deck has great views and a fun area for some afternoon corn hole and rum punches. They also have a great brick oven that makes some tasty pizzas!
Da Conch Shack – Fresh seafood with a beautiful beach setting. We ate here twice, lunch/dinner. You MUST get the Pirates Pot! It’s a stew of all sorts of seafood: lobster, conch, shrimp, white fish, scallops. It was EXCELLENT.
Island Scoop Ice Cream – Flavors are delicious and the home made waffle cones have a nice spice to them. They have late hours (10p) so you can skip the mediocre dessert at the fancy restaurants.
Turks Head Brewery – Love this local beer! You get a bird’s eye view of the brewing process from grain to packaging, then finish with beer flights. There are 3 tour times available; 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. Tour takes about 30mins and $10 p/p. Also a great place to go even if you don’t want to take the tour. Just grab a drink at the bar and snack on some popcorn.
Malcolm’s Beach/Reef balls – Tough drive and quite the adventure getting here but oh so beautiful and remote! Adjacent is the Amanyara private resort, where the very wealthy vacation. Rooms start at over $1k per night! What attracted us here were the Reef balls and snorkeling. Reef balls are concrete hollow domes specially designed for reef restoration. Just don’t stand on these it can kill the coral development.
Hobie Cat – Rented from WaterPlay Provo. $75 for the hour, and additional $25 after that. Our boat guest hadn’t been sailing before so this was a great introductory. So much fun! We had some nice wind that day so we were moving pretty quick and got to do a bit of tacking. We heard the SUP rental through the mangroves is really awesome but it was too rough out that day to go.
Ocean Club Cabana Bar and Grill – Post Hobie cat, adjacent to the WaterPlay Provo is Cabana’s. We had a great lunch and took advantage of their pool and floaties! If your on the beach look for the pink umbrellas just east of the main part of Grace Bay Beach.
Somewhere Cafe – Tropical atmosphere with a Tex Mex theme. Located right on the beach with an upstairs patio. Weekly drink specials and daily happy hour (4-6p). Highly suggest the pulled pork tacos! Yummy.
Mr. Groupers – Unfortunately we didn’t make it here BUT every single person we talked to in Provo mentioned this place as excellent and inexpensive! If your looking for the best local restaurant with Bahamian and Caribbean fare, this is it!
Club Med Day Pass – We found out about this on our last day in TCI. Really wish we had known this because it’s a FANTASTIC value! All day dining/open bar with access to pool, activities, and water sports (Hobie Cat included ^^) It’s $80/person for access from 10am-6pm! They also offer a night pass – adults only.
The Landing – ($$-$$$) Great ambiance! We stopped here twice for drinks only but the food smelled amazing every time. The tables are in the sand, surrounding a fire pit and the bar is built from a real sail boat – really cool place! Open after 5:30p daily.
We had an unforgettable stay in Provo! Blinding-white sand, colorful reefs, crispy conch fritters. You can dive, snorkel, stroll, dine, dance, do everything, or just do nothing.
Last season we were deterred by many to “skip” TCI due to cost, inconvenience, anchorages, pet restrictions, etc. However, our time here has been a breeze and we’re so happy that we decided to explore this for ourselves!
Up next, our good friend Cap’n Don has arrived from Florida and will be joining us for some passages to the DR. We are stoked to have him with us again!
Cheers from The Caribbean! (Sounds so cool to finally say that!)