Turks & Caicos: Spring Break 2017

There’s no way that I was in Turks & Caicos soaking in the sun (re: hiding under an umbrella) just a month ago! I think the older you get the faster time goes. Although if your kids are in school as little as mine are then maybe not. Case in point: Spring Break. My lovelies had TWO FULL WEEKS off for spring break. Yes, it’s aggressive. But it does lend itself to coast-to-coast and international travel! Diggin’ deep to find that silver lining… We headed south to the unbelievable beaches and water that is Grace Bay on Providenciales in Turks & Caicos, BVI. This was our 4th year in a row spending spring break in Turks and we went in thinking it would be our last. There’s a big world out there and we want to see and share as much of it as we can as a family so we’re planning on a new vacation spot next year. And because of that I took COPIOUS notes on what to do, where to eat, and where to stay. So here’s my family-friendly guide to T&C!

STAY
I’m a little hesitant to disclose this location because we’ve stayed here every year and are totally in love with the place and don’t want it to become so popular we can’t get a reservation again. But I will share it with you all because everyone deserves to have an easy, reasonable, well-staffed, low-maintenance vacation like we have had for the past 4 years. It’s in large part to The Regent Grand and the staff. There, I said it. You’re welcome!

The Regent Grand, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Also worth checking out because friends have stayed at all of these places and loved them:
The Sands Friends of ours have the same relationship with The Sands as we have with The Regent Grand. Gorgeous and easy.
Beaches All-inclusive family-friendly mega resort with something like 10 restaurants on the property. Slides, childcare, Kids Club, Sesame Street characters to entertain the littles. Several families we know swear by Beaches T&C for a vacation for EVERYONE.
Seven Stars A great property that’s pretty centrally located. Grocery store is a 2-minute walk away, and restaurants/shopping in either direction. The families I know who have stayed here have older kids. Like they can swim independently…
Grace Bay Club A girlfriend with 3 kids and extended family has stayed here as a big group and absolutely loved it. They came back the following year because it was so easy. I think she mentioned their group was big enough that they just hired someone through the resort to come in and cook dinner each night. Hey, smoke ’em if ya got ’em!
Gansevoort I’m including this on the off-chance that you get to travel WITHOUT your kids and want to stay somewhere you probably won’t see many. Because you left yours for a reason right?! Cool, hip, pool parties, Exhale Spa with barre classes, a yoga studio, all that good stuff.
The Palms Another place I probably would prefer to visit without my kids. To take advantage of the spa and swim-up bar 😉

EAT
Fish. Seafood. Fruit of the Sea. Eat all of it. Any chance you get. You didn’t come to the British Virgin Islands to eat pizza for chrissakes. That being said, the restaurants here know the way to a kid’s heart. And that is through chicken nuggets and hamburgers. You can take the kid out of the States…

My breakfast was basically the same every morning. Because it was included. I packed a few sticks of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for my morning coffee. And my youngest tried her hand at food styling…

Graceway Gourmet If you have a kitchen or a kitchenette or even a small fridge in your room it’s a good idea to hit up the local grocery store and stock a few food items. Breakfast was included with our room so we really just get healthy day time snacking options. I bring a few things from home (Lärabars, Chomp Sticks, nut butter packets, Cracknola, etc) but then we buy things like bags of baby carrots, apples, pretzels, and cheese sticks.

Poolside snack. YumButter from the states. Apple from the local grocery store.
The Signature Salad. Danny Buoys.

Danny Buoys Literally down the block from The Regent Grand. I think we keep coming back because this place saved our asses that first year we visited T&C, when we had small unruly children who could not deal with low blood sugar. It’s technically a sports bar, and from what we heard around the pool they put on quite the afterhours karaoke event, so sit outside. Easy kid eats and I love their signature salad.

My sweet ride to Mr. Grouper’s and that blackened grouper. 😍

Mr. Grouper Mother of pearl I LOVE THIS PLACE. We didn’t try this place out until last year – our 3rd! The blackened grouper. LAWD. I’d fly back just for that. But you get to add 2 sides and hell if the plantains weren’t out of this world! Our girls love the “fish fingers.” A far cry from Gorton’s! Last year they delivered to resorts but this year, not so much. Luckily it’s fairly close and our resort had bikes we could borrow. So I called in our order and by the time I pedaled out it was ready. It’s a cute place off the main road but it’s a long walk for little legs. Take a cab, sit down, enjoy yourselves.

Meatballs and Pasta. Lupo.

Lupo BY FAR our favorite new restaurant from this trip. Voted on by every family member. I think the girls were swayed by the clementine San Pellegrino… Remember how I said skip the pizza and eat all the fish? Well don’t forget the homemade pasta and the arancini and the grilled mixed vegetables and yes, the pizza. BECAUSE EVERYTHING HERE WAS BOMB. We ate here TWICE on this trip! So good. And a quick walk from our resort.

Somewhere Cafe sunset perfection.

Somewhere Cafe & Lounge Spent the afternoon snorkeling at Coral Gardens? (More on that below.) Then plan on staying for happy hour and one of the best locations for a sunset in Grace Bay. Sip on that rum punch and you’re livin’ the good life.

Turks Kebab, YOU MUST.

Turks Kebab All credit for this find goes to my husband. We wanted something quick and easy and casual and walkable. One quick TripAdvisor search later and we were walking just past the grocery store to this little shack of a place. WITH THE MOST DELICIOUS KEBAB EVAH. They can probably seat 20 people – MAX – and that’s if you squish. It’s all outdoor seating and the particular night we went it was pretty buggy. We ended up getting the food to-go and went back to our room to enjoy it. But not before I slugged back a Turks Lager waiting for the food. #priorities

Evening treat at Island Scoop Ice Cream

Island Scoop Ice Cream I mean, the woman here makes her waffle cones by hand. IN FRONT OF YOU. The ice cream is delicious and my girls are obsessed!

Others eateries we didn’t get a chance to check out but heard great things about:
Coco Bistro In a coconut grove! Best restaurant on the island! Trés romantique! So we hear. You’ll need to make reservations at least a week before your visit, though I recommend even a bit earlier if you want a specific day/time. I was finally on the ball and got reservations 2 weeks before our trip. Then we went on the snorkeling tour and were just wiped out from the day so we canceled! Much to the horror of our concierge. Apparently it’s one of, if not the best restaurant on the island. Whoopsie. But after checking the menu it would have been a bit of a stretch for our girls to eat off their menu. They don’t have a kids menu and it’s fairly upscale, so as much as I was looking forward to it I’m glad we passed this year. Our next visit, this is a must-do.
Thursday Night Fish Fry We haven’t made it here because we’re either gone by Thursday or leaving the next morning. We’ve heard from several friends that it’s a great event for families. Another “next time” stop.
Magnolia Wine Bar
Grace’s Cottage
Da Conch Shack
TurkBerry

DO
You can really make this vacation as relaxing or as action-packed as you want. I will say that the water is like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else so it’d be a shame not to get ON it and IN it. This coming from the mom who spent the better part of the week begging her girls to leave the pool and go to the beach. So do as I say, not as I do 😉

Snorkeling
At 9 and 7 our girls were finally at great ages to take a half-day snorkel boat tour. I bought snorkel sets at Target before we left and those took up some serious suitcase real estate. WITH GOOD REASON. We got to the island on Sunday and didn’t have the boat tour until Thursday. By bringing our own snorkel gear the girls could a) avoid a mouthpiece that’s probably seen hundred of mouths, b) use goggles that haven’t been spit in too many times to count and c) use their own equipment in the resort pool for a good few days and get used to it. Before that whole attempting to breathe underwater in open *ocean* water thing. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t matter because they thought the ocean water was too cold and the equipment was still too weird and they snorkeled for exactly 3 minutes…)

Island Vibes: 1/2 Day Snorkeling Tour

Island Vibes We took the girls out on the water in Cape Cod this summer so we knew they would be fine getting out on the water in Grace Bay. And this time they could get in the water and jump off a diving board on the boat! SCORE. There are several different companies that offer snorkeling trips and we basically chose Island Vibes on a whim. They were great and I’d recommend a half-day snorkel with them to anyone. The other company worth checking out is Caicos Dream Tours. The half-day snorkel trip is about 4 hours which was plenty of time for us. Rum punch for the adults, Shirley Temples for the kids. Fresh conch ceviche served with Doritos and an assortment of sandwiches. We were wiped after this excursion, particularly the kids, so we were happy to have done the morning tour and then have the afternoon to rest and lounge by the pool.

Coral Gardens If you’re not yet at the boat tour age/stage yet there’s another awesome way to start kids snorkeling. A quick cab ride away from our resort (like less than 10 minutes) and you’ll be at Coral Gardens Resort. This resort has the most kid-friendly snorkeling in the area. And it’s open to the public! Everything is in a roped off area with underwater trail markers, and the water is super calm. After you survive keeping you and your children alive during that adventure, head up to Somewhere Cafe & Lounge on the property for a shot of tequila and some guac.

Paddling my conch shells back to shore.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding
SUP Provo Our first year in T&C the girls were so small that someone had to constantly watch them in the pool, at the beach, basically everywhere. It was exhausting for all. I had really wanted to try paddleboarding but it was just not happening on that first trip. So when we decided to go back that 2nd year this was on the tippy top of my list. Although my husband wasn’t into it he was more than happy to cut me loose for a morning. HE’S THE BEST. My morning paddleboarding in Turks & Caicos is a one of the top highlights of our time here. Our group paddled through mangroves, checked out lemon sharks, and then headed over to a beach and collected the most beautiful conch shells. I was hoping my oldest could make it out on the board this year but you do have to cross a deep channel that I wouldn’t be comfortable with her negotiating just yet. Looks like we’ll have to come back after all!

Shopping
Saltmills Plaza On Regent Road, the main road through the Grace Bay area, is this small shopping area. There are several beautiful stores as well as tourist stops for souvenirs.
The Regent Village Also on Regent Road there are souvenir shops and specialty markets. Additionally a few artist galleries and studios with truly stunning paintings.

Of course the Turks & Caicos Board of Tourism and TripAdvisor are wonderful resources for a stay on the islands. Putting this guide together has reminded me of what a special place Turks & Caicos has been for our family and many others. I hope you get there soon! You’re booking your tickets right now, aren’t you. GOOD ON YOU!

xoxo,
maggie

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