Welcome to Provo: the experience of a lifetime awaits

29th March 2018 9:30 am

Spectacular beaches, luxury holiday destinations and some of the best food in the world…Providenciales offers it all. As the most developed hub island in the stomping grounds of Big Blue Collective, today we’re going to guide you through everything you need to know about this arresting corner of Turks and Caicos- though we still say it’s time to come and see Providenciales for yourself!

Sunny beaches in Turks and Caicos

Chances are you’ll land any trip to the Turks and Caicos on Providenciales, as almost all international flights come into this island. Fortunately, it’s also home to some of the top beaches in the area so if a day of surf and sun sounds like the perfect vacation for you, you know where to head. Leeward, Bight, Taylor Bay and Grace Bay beaches are all breathtaking in their natural beauty and perfect for soaking up the sun. Needless to say, the area is jam packed with adrenaline- pumping water sports, diving, snorkeling and adventures as well, so it’s perfect for an active holiday that will get your blood pumping. Be sure to drink in the beauty of the reefs in the area while you enjoy. Take a relaxing time out and sip cocktails on the beautiful Providenciales beaches to round out a day of fun in the sun.

What can I do in Turks and Caicos?

Sun and surf isn’t all Turks and Caicos offers, however- imagine a ‘necklace’ of delicate limestone islands nestled in a crystal-clear, turquoise lagoon, and you have an idea of the natural marvels awaiting you at Chalk Sound National Park. Take to a personally chartered boat to see the area from a different angle, and truly drink in the depth and beauty of this pristine, secluded island area. Or head out to the sheltered wetlands to get in some paddle boarding and kayaking while baby sharks, turtles and starfish play around you.

Avid golfer? Don’t worry, you can still practice your swing. Provo Golf Course actually rates as one of the best in the Caribbean with a scenic par 72 course waiting for you to tee off. Turks and Caicos island tours– including Big Blue Collective’s eco-tours– can easily be booked [why not let us help with your watersports in Providenciales too?]. There’s also quad tours, cycle tours and even horseback riding through the area. Bird watching and hiking this spectacular are both incredibly rewarding.

Alongside the beaches, natural beauty and watersports, there’s ample opportunity to explore the arts and handicrafts the island is becoming famous for. Jewelry and fashion is also a surprising niche, with silk scarves, stunning silver jewellery and their own fashion brand becoming the flavour of the day. Gourmet coffee, seashell crafts and so much more will call to your pocketbook- don’t be afraid to splurge a little.

Indulge in some spa time if you’re staying at one of the larger resorts, or have fun on the [often complimentary] non-powered water equipment. It’s worth noting that almost all resorts on Providenciales are family friendly, which is rare for the Caribbean. If you’re looking for a little more privacy, consider renting a villa for your stay. The area’s nightlife isn’t the best, but you’ll be too tired from a day of adventure to care.

Provo is packed with things to do, from sampling craft beers to exploring the conch industry, visiting the historical sights of the island, meeting the local ocean wildlife and exploring her beauty spots so come prepared to enjoy- you may need to come back again and again to fit it all in!

Why visit Providenciales?

Besides the splendid scenery, beautiful beaches, heart-racing water sports and unparalleled experience of the world, you mean? Don’t worry, there really is more! The ancient home of the Taino aboriginal peoples, historical Provo was home only to a handful of intrepid sea salt ‘miners’. With the rise of the 1700’s, this largest of the Turks and Caicos islands saw cotton and sisal plantations spring up, but they were short lived. Emerging from a dark period, the island surprisingly made a resurgence as a destination for sponge farming, only to again fade away until the 1980s, where it’s most natural industry- tourism- has helped power development in the area. Basking in warm sunshine, surrounded by beautiful ocean, it’s surprising it didn’t become a destination sooner given the tasty food, awe inspiring natural beauty, achingly beautiful ocean and pleasant climate.

There’s a considerable upside to this for you, though. The area’s infrastructure is all modern and welcoming, and the locals are friendly  and used to tourists, so your trip to Providenciales is guaranteed to be wonderful.

How do I get to Providenciales?

Getting to Provo couldn’t be simpler- you fly in to the island’s international airport. Domestic flights to two of the other Turks and Caicos islands, as well as provision for private planes, are also offered here. You likely won’t need a visa, although it’s always best to check with your local authorities. The area isn’t blessed with a public transport network, but you can easily hire a car or take a resort-linked taxi [avoid the illegal local ‘jitneys’] wherever you want to go. Local drivers are slightly better than found in the rest of the Caribbean, but don’t expect model behaviour, and US visitors to Turks and Caicos do note- they drive on the left, like in the UK, despite many US vehicles, so it can get a little muddled! Signage can be limited in some areas, too, so be sure to snag a free map at the airport or opt for a guided tour of Providenciales and surrounding islands instead. If you happen to want to cruise in on a yacht, go ahead- stays longer than a week to need a crusie permit, but many marinas are open to you.

What is there to eat on Provo?

Provo is the home of fine dining, so come ready to enjoy! A mouth watering cafe, bistro or restaurant always lies just around the corner for you to explore. You’ll find an abundance of Mediterranean, French, Italian and Contemporary Fusion cuisines alongside Indian, Japanese, Chinese and even Thai offerings, although [naturally] Caribbean fusion is also very much on offer. You simply have to sample a proper Caribbean BBQ to complete your Turks and Caicos dining experience! The only thing you won’t find is chain restaurants- so come prepared to experiment, your tastebuds will love you for it.

race Bay is packed with top-notch restaurants linked to the luxury resorts in the area, but be sure to reserve a spot so you aren’t disappointed. Take a tip from us- don’t fill up on your main course if you have any kind of sweet tooth! The islands is well known for its delectable focus on dessert, and you’re sure to enjoy sampling the decadent wonders available to you.

Fishermen, opt for a deep sea fishing adventure and have the restaurant cook your catch for you- what’s better then succulent, fresh caught tuna or mahi-mahi? One you caught yourself, of course! Naturally, there’s a focus on tasty fresh seafood in the islands, but if you want a taste of Provo, opt for a prepared Queen Conch snail stewed, in a salad, or even as a fritter. If you truly want to taste authentic Turks and Caicos cuisine in its totality, however, head out to the North and Middle Caicos as well.

Let Big Blue Collective help you plan the ultimate water sport and island hopping adventure in the exquisite Turks and Caicos and, of course, Providenciales itself- it’s an experience you’ll remember forever!

 


Filed under: Tourism, Travel

Why You Need to Visit the Turks and Caicos More Than Once

19th March 2018 3:05 pm

A Caribbean vacation is often a checkmark on a person’s bucket-list. Unfortunately, the majority of visitors will realize, as they board their flights or cruise and depart for home, is that the Turks and Caicos Islands isn’t a one-and-done destination. Spending a week there simply isn’t enough to fully explore, experience, and appreciate the TCIs in a week.

While it’s a small country, the TCIs has a huge list of things to do—and it’s advisable that you spread these across multiple trips. Otherwise, you’ll either have an extremely tight itinerary, or end up living in the Turks and Caicos for half a year (which is a great idea, but is a topic for another day).

Before you book your first trip to the TCIs, read this article to learn how you can spread your activities to multiple trips to maximize your Caribbean experience.

First TCI Trip: Dip Your Toes

Providenciales (or Provo) is the place to start. It’s everything you have ever dreamed of in a Caribbean escape, and you can experience the Turks and Caicos in a broader sense.

Providenciales’ 5-Star Resorts

Provo is the most developed island in Turks and Caicos (most visitors fly into Provo airport) and has some of the most highly rated resorts on travel review sites. You’ll discover that the common theme of these resorts are ocean bay views and luxurious five-star treatment.

Many resorts offer beautiful accommodations such as full-service kitchens and personal chefs, private balconies and pools, multi-room suites, and exciting vacation packages that include amazing activities.

You can expect to be treated like a VIP whenever you are at these resorts. In fact, you just might run into one, as celebrities, corporate executives, and government officials can often be found vacationing and staying at a Provo resort.

Beautifully Maintained Sandy Beaches

Ranked consistently as having some of the best beaches in the world by Condé Nast magazine and World Travel Awards, Provo is also the location of gorgeous scenery, breathtaking sandy beaches, and stunning ocean views.

You’ll also find a lot of activities that can give you a wonderful introduction to the natural beauty of the Turks and Caicos Islands, such as kayaking eco-tours, and snorkeling around the coral reefs.

Strong Tourism Infrastructure

Provo is a great place to try a Caribbean adventure because it has a well developed tourism industry. You’ll find most of the country’s top businesses, vendors, and restaurants on Provo. You can even try activities you’re not familiar with such as kiteboarding, and trust that your instructor or guide is certified, capable, and trustworthy.

Next TCI Trip: Dive Into the Deep End

Where Provo is a natural TCI entry point, other Turks and Caicos islands can offer more unique opportunities to explore and understand the culture of the country.

Dive and Snorkel Secluded Sites

When we say “dive into the deep end,” we mean that both figuratively and literally. Providenciales obviously has many diving opportunities, but Provo is only one island. There are dozens of dive sites around the various islands where you can explore other reefs, shipwrecks, and even underwater walls.

In fact, you can spend an entire trip diving the Turks and Caicos even if you were to stay in Provo. Take advantage of private charters that will take you to dive sites that rarely see visitors. You and your small group will be the only humans for miles experiencing the beauty of life under the waves all to yourselves.

Head Inland

Providenciales is the most developed island of the Turks and Caicos. It has traded its history and natural beauty for a modern infrastructure. On your next TCI trip, visit other islands to see the Turks and Caicos as it once was at various points in history.

You already know you can join eco-tours or cruises, but those modes of transportation can only show you so much of any destination. Instead, explore the TCIs in an unexpected Caribbean fashion: by bike. Bike around the salt flats and up the eastern ridges to see roaming donkeys and amazingly secluded beaches. You’ll see remnants of the former salt industry and abandoned agricultural sites.

Explore Remote Islands

Private charters can also help you create the ultimate adventure by taking you to rarely visited Turks and Caicos Islands locations.

The South-East Caicos Banks is about as remote as it gets in the Turks and Caicos and contains some hidden treasures. You’ll see seemingly endless turquoise waters suddenly give way to beautiful cays and beaches that provide you with an unmatched opportunity to feel like an explorer.

Rarely visited places like Little Ambergris Cay, the Fish Cays, Bush Cay and White Cay provide natural marine shelters and create wonderful snorkeling, beach combing and bird-watching opportunities. If you’re an animal enthusiast, these more remote areas have historically offered some of the greatest whale encounters.

Book Your Turks and Caicos Excursions

Big Blue Collective has outposts all across the TCIs, and its fleet of boats can take you to a wide variety of sites. With over 15 years of experience along with our extensive network of guides, bikes, kayaks and boats, Big Blue Collective is proud to showcase its most rewarding and interactive ecotourism excursions.

Contact Big Blue Collective to find out about local activities, rentals and eco-tours.

 


Filed under: Travel

All About The South Caicos

13th March 2018 10:18 am

Commonly called The Big South, South Caicos island is the fishing capital of the country with natural harbors and several fishing plants.

Although tourism is largely nonexistent on South Caicos, there are several excursions that will take you to the TCI’s most authentic version itself. Largely neglected during the recent Caribbean tourism expansions of the last few decades, this quiet and laid-back island is supported by small-scale commercial fishing.

South Caicos may not be the right destination choice for everyone. There are few tourism-related businesses, and the beaches aren’t quite as paradisiacal as the other islands. However, it’s a great visit for those who want to experience the Caribbean as it used to exist.

History of South Caicos

The original inhabitants of the island were Taíno and Lucayan Indians. In addition to a variety of archeological treasures, they left behind the names of the islands in the form of the indigenous “Turk’s head” cactus and the Lucayan term, “caya hico,” meaning string of islands named Caicos. The Lucayans disappeared roughly 30 years after Columbus’ arrival, leaving the island sparsely populated as settling Europeans developed a booming salt industry.

At the start of the 1700s, it was believed that South Caicos became a pirate haven. Since then, South Caicos (along with other Turks and Caicos islands) has flown the French, Spanish, and British flags at one point or another. The United States has also built military and Coast Guard bases/stations on the island.

By the early 19th century South Caicos had surpassed the Turks Islands in the production of salt and is still considered the fishing capital of the country. Today, South Caicos’ main industry is small commercial fishing, with a few tourists drawn to the island’s unspoiled coral reefs.

The Accommodations of South Caicos

The easiest way to get to South Caicos is to hop on a short 20-minute flight from Providenciales. Visiting South Caicos will reveal a unique island with a fascinating history that was once centered around a productive salt industry and still-thriving fishing trade.

The vibes remains extremely friendly and the township of Cockburn Harbour boasts a delightful Bermudian style architecture with picturesque stone-walled streets.

South Caicos island has an estimated population that fluctuates from 1,200 to 1,600 people, most of whom are local residents. Because there are so few visitors, there are only three hotels on South Caicos.

  • East Bay Resort
  • Sail Rock Resort
  • South Caicos Ocean & Beach Resort

Things to Do

Events

The island hosts an Annual South Caicos Regatta, a large celebration that features parties, boat races, and other games. It is the oldest native festival in the Turks & Caicos, attracting locals from throughout the islands and adventurous visitors.

Big Blue Eco Tours and Excursions

There are a few ways to get to South Caicos, but the easiest is to join an excursion. Big Blue Collective offers private guided adventures to South Caicos from Providenciales by air.

Tour A Option

The Big Blue guide will meet you at the airport on South Caicos and escort you on a short historical tour of the island where you will see flamingos and other wading birds on the expansive salt flats and older parts of town.

Take a journey on a local fishing boat to see the island from the water, explore the beaches of nearby Long Cay National Park and snorkel spectacular reefs around Dove Cay, at the mouth of Cockburn Harbor.

By this time, you’re adventuring will probably leave you ravenous. But you’re in luck! Enjoy the freshest seafood lunch you’ll ever have at Darrel’s Sunset Café on the waterfront. While you eat, you’ll see fisherman leaving and returning with their catch of conch, lobster, and fish.

Tour B Option

Big Blue also keeps a fleet of mountain bikes and kayaks on South Caicos. Bike around the salt flats and up the eastern ridges to see roaming donkeys and amazingly secluded beaches.

If kayaking, you’ll find yourself launching from the Harbour and Long Cay area in the southern part of the island or past Belle Sound National Park at the northern peninsula. Here, you can explore the spectacular channels and vibrant wetlands between a string of remote cays all the way to East Caicos. Prior kayak and navigation experience is essential.

Other Adventures

Kiteboarding

South Caicos is an exceptional destination for the competent kiteboarder. There are tremendous landscapes to explore, much of which rarely see visitors.

The following are the best kite spots on South Caicos:

  • East Bay. The consistent trade winds will generally be on shore here, access is convenient, and due to the adjacent East Bay Resort, if you run into difficulties, you’ll be most likely to receive help here.
  • Bell Sound. For those looking for a bit of flat water, the shallow and spectacularly turquoise Bell Sound Lagoon is a great location.
  • Long Beach (Sailrock Beach). Wind will typically be a bit more side-on here, but the greatest detraction is simply the lack of beach accesses.
  • Plandon Cay Cut. Plandon Cay Cut is a tremendously scenic region of small cays, colorful channels and sand bars. Due to the typically side-on wind and low limestone bluffs, this area can be a bit tougher to launch from compared to other sites.

Book Your South Caicos Excursions

Big Blue has outposts on the Big South. With over 15 years of experience along with our extensive network of guides, bikes, kayaks and boats, Big Blue is proud to showcase its most rewarding and interactive ecotourism excursions.

Contact Big Blue Collective to find out about local activities, rentals and eco-tours.


Filed under: South Caicos

Turks and Caicos Health and Medical Travel Information

7th March 2018 9:25 am

Since Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, many travellers seeking a Caribbean escape are are more considerate of the safety of their travels. Fortunately, the Turks and Caicos is well on its way to recovery and has already opened its doors to thousands of tourists.

However, extreme situations like 2017’s hurricanes have always served as a good reminder to do everything you can to know how to travel safely and responsibly.

Here are some details related to health safety when you are travelling to the Turks and Caicos*.

Before You Go

Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends visiting your doctor 4-6 weeks before you travel to ANY destination. Even if you’ve been to the Turks and Caicos before, pathogens are constantly moving around and changing. By visiting your doctor before you travel, you will be able to stay updated on your vaccinations.

All travelers going to ANY destination

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chicken pox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Routine childhood vaccines include:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Rotavirus
  • DTaP
  • Hib
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Flu
  • MMR
  • Chickenpox
  • Hepatitis A
  • Meningococcal
  • HPV

Adult routine vaccines include

  • Flu
  • Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria)
  • Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
  • HPV
  • Shingles
  • Pneumococcal
  • Meningococcal
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

Most travellers going to Turks and Caicos

  • Hepatitis A. CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in the Turks and Caicos Islands, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
  • Typhoid. You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in the Turks and Caicos Islands. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

Some travellers going to Turks and Caicos

 

  • Hepatitis B. You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
  • Rabies. Rabies is present in bats in the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, it is not a major risk to most travelers. CDC recommends rabies vaccine for only these groups:
  • Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites (such as adventure travel and caving).
  • People who will be working with or around bats (such as wildlife professionals and researchers).

 

Bring medication

Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call the Turks and Caicos Islands’ embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.

Get Health Insurance

Regular travel and health insurance should be sufficient coverage for TCI. Consult your insurer if you’re unsure.

Some activities such as diving and kiteboarding can be considered “extreme sports,” which won’t be covered under most plans. Again, consult your insurer and read the fine print of your policy to be certain.

On Turks and Caicos

Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in the Turks and Caicos Islands, so your behavior is important. While Turks and Caicos has a strong infrastructure and strict health regulations, especially in the tourist sector, you can still minimize personal risk such as avoiding uncooked food.

Insects

Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Fortunately, many of these diseases can be prevented with a vaccine or medicine, but you can further reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.

UK health authorities have classified Turks and Caicos Islands as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

Cases of dengue fever have been confirmed in the Turks and Caicos Islands. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

To prevent insect bites, you can:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below).
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

When using insect repellent, always use as directed.

  • Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
  • Products with one of the following active ingredients can also help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
    • DEET
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD
    • IR3535

When you’re doing water activities like kayaking or stand up paddleboarding, you may have to reapply sooner as water can wash off the insect repellent.

Tap Water

While tap water is safe to drink on Providenciales, the other lands have variable quality—especially those that are less developed.

Hospitals

There are hospital facilities on Providenciales and Grand Turk, both operated by Interhealth Canada. They provide a range of services including diagnostic services, primary care and outpatient specialty clinics, emergency services and inpatient care. Serious cases are still referred overseas, usually to Miami or Nassau.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 911 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Most Importantly? Have A Great Time!

The Turks and Caicos is still one of the safest places to travel even if you decide to take up some water sports, enjoy the depths of the sea, or sample the local cuisine. Many tours are led by capable guides, and the more adventurous activities are taught by certified instructors.

Beyond the preventative care or precautions you would normally do anyway for any trip, the Turks and Caicos has a strong and modern infrastructure to handle most emergencies.

Contact Big Blue Collective to learn more about how you can safely participate in activities while you’re in the Turks and Caicos or go ahead and book your adventures today!

 

*Information is accurate at the time of this writing. Please revisit this guide and the linked resources to stay updated on any future changes.


Filed under: Tourism