Turks & Caicos HolidayDreaming of a White (Sand) Christmas
There’s no place like home for the holidays. But hey, “home” means different things to different people.You don’t necessarily have to gather ‘round and roast chestnuts on an open fire (last song reference, we promise) for it to feel like Christmas. This year, consider trading decorated pines for swaying palms with a trip to Turks and Caicos. It is, after all, the Caribbean island with the most inbound private jets come holiday time. Looks like white sand has a leg up on white snow.
Good For: Couples, groups of friends, and families. If you’re looking for a getaway of any kind – whether it’s fun in the sun, romantic, or generational – Turks and Caicos will provide. There’s plenty to entertain, including boat trips, water sports, fantastic restaurants, and all the conch you can handle.
- Swim safari and snorkel the shipwrecks near Parrot Cay with a Caicu Naniki boat cruise
- Conch-hop across the island from Da Conch Shack to Middle Caicos Cafe to Smokey’s and sample conch fritters, cracked conch, and conch salad
- Get your sweat on and continue your love affair with core fusion at the Gansevoort Exhale Spa
- Ease any winter tension with a Zareeba treatment off the new menu at the Spa at Regent Palms
- Spend an afternoon lazing on your private timber deck or on the perfect white strand at the secluded Amanyara
Suggested Stay: 3 to 4 days, or the whole of Christmas week into New Year’s
What to Know: Turks and Caicos consists of 40 islands and cays, eight of which are inhabited, with Providenciales (or Provo as its known colloquially) being the most developed and touristed. The islands enjoy an average of 350 days of sun a year, making them a worthwhile destination at any time, especially around Christmas. But make sure to book early because this is peak season and rooms fill up fast. And while T&C is part of the Caribbean islands, it’s technically located in the Atlantic Ocean. But with average water temperatures of 82 to 84 degrees in summer and 74 to 78 degrees in winter (plus an unreal shade of turquoise), you’d never know it.
All Conch, All the Time
Conch fritters. Conch salad. Cracked conch. The list of conch goodies on the island reads like Bubba’s shrimp monologue in Forrest Gump. If you book a day cruise with any of the tour operators, like Caicu Naniki (who will take you on a swim safari to snorkel the shipwrecks near Parrot Cay), you’ll most likely get to experience the freshest conch around. Diving for the coral-colored shellfish is part of the fun and the crew will chop it up right before your eyes. Otherwise, do some taste-testing across Provo and head to Da Conch Shack for conch salad, Middle Caicos Caféfor conch fritters, and Smokey’s for cracked conch.
Once you’re conch-ed out, you’ll find that Provo has a surprising amount of gourmet restaurants, including Parallel 23 at Regent Palms, which just brought on a new executive chef. (Try the grilled Caicos lobster tail.) For more relaxed fare, fantastic margaritas, and a serious view, Somewhere… Café & Loungeis the place. Popular with both locals and tourists, here you can dig into Tex-Mex-inspired dishes like nachos with all the fixings – and, of course, conch ceviche.
R&R in T&C
If it’s relaxation you seek (aside from sun worshipping), book a treatment at the Spa at Regent Palms, which was renovated last year and recently revamped its spa menu. For a cathartic and meditative experience, try the Zareeba, where you’ll stir indigenous herbs while inhaling the steam before surrendering to a lymphatic drainage massage. Or get your sweat on at Exhale Spa at the Gansevoort Turks & Caicos for a core fusion class or yoga on the beach. You’ll need some way to counteract all that conch. (For DIY pampering at home, check out our Style feature on the best natural beauty products.)
A Place to Lay Your Head
One of the newer properties, Seven Stars Resort, is right on Grace Bay beach and has tropical-style, all-suite accommodations. Plus, every room has a balcony, and most overlook the ocean. Fans of the chic and modern Gansevoort brand will love the T&C outpost, which is unlike any other resort on the island. This is where you’ll find most of the population on Friday nights when Stelle, the hotel’s restaurant and bar, transforms into the closest thing to a club on offer. But if absolute seclusion is more your thing, head to Amanyara. It’s remotely located on the coast of the Northwest Point and is so exclusive, you can’t even get in for a drink if you’re not a guest.
Tip: If you want to join the rank of expat (which equals about half the island’s demographic) and make T&C your permanent December go-to, the Shore Club is your ticket. Sister property to Regent Palms, this luxury development is set to open in 2015 with 38 tony condos and six estate villas spread across 820 feet of prime beachfront property. It’s already 70 percent sold, so put your bid in now. You’ll have a guaranteed view of the turquoise expanse and a place to call home each and every Christmas. That’ll give a whole new meaning to “home for the holidays.”