Despite all the work that I had to do while on vacation, I had a lovely relaxing time in this little Caribbean country last week.
Tuesday morning, we rode horses. I originally wanted to go with Provo Ponies (highly recommended by several friends), but they were completely booked for the week. I found another, very small outfitter, who was able to accommodate my desire to ride a horse on the beach and go into the ocean. My pony, Fire, wasn’t feeling fiery, so no amount of prodding would get him to canter. While I do enjoy a good gallop on the beach, the main desire for this ride was to ride the horse into the ocean. At least that was accomplished! It was cool to splash into the ocean while riding.
Our ride was right by Da Conch Shack, a total tourist trap of a fresh seafood restaurant on the beach. Super touristy, and yet super fun (more on this later). Every morning, fishermen go out to get conch (pronounced konk) and shell them fresh to sell to the restaurant. The horseback riding guide and the fisherman gave us a brief lesson conch and de-shelling conch right on the spot. We even got to taste it fresh right out of its shell! Conch has a firm flesh, between a scallop and squid/octopus in firmness. It was cool seeing how the conch was shelled and then cleaned. Whatever conch they caught that day became dinner that night. They gave us a couple clean shells to take home. Some of the shells are saved and cleaned to sell to tourists or to jewelry makers, but many are tossed back into the ocean. It was amazing to see the process. Ben and I were eager to go back to Da Conch Shack for dinner to eat fresh conch. Our guide recommended to go Wednesday night because that’s when they have live music.
Tuesday night on the recommendation from a work colleague, we had dinner at Somewhere, a Tex-Mex restaurant that’s right on the beach. To be honest, the food is simply decent, but what makes this place truly someplace to be is its gorgeous view of the beach and its clear turquoise waters. We sat out on the balcony watching the sunset as we ate and drank our fill. There’s something magical about that place and we definitely recommend it for a low key romantic night out in Turks & Caicos.
Wednesday afternoon we scuba diving with Dive Provo. We did a single tank dive because it was the only dive available. Things book up fast in T&C. We should have made reservations the week before, but I was so busy that I couldn’t do anything but work. If you’re wondering why Ben couldn’t made the reservations, it’s because I’m such a control freak about certain things that Ben wasn’t allowed to do this. We’re both certified divers, but neither of us had dived in several years, so it was interesting being back underwater. Every time I dive, I remember how much I love it and wonder why do I wait so long in between dives. Ben pointed out a large shark that swam some meters away. We saw several fish and lots of coral. Dive Provo is a great company with the cheapest scuba gear rentals ($25 for everything!!!!); we highly recommend that you go diving with them when you’re in Provo.
Wednesday evening we had dinner at Da Conch Shack. We arrived at 7 pm and the place was packed! We were placed our names on the wait list and then went over to the rum bar to enjoy a pitcher (I forgot what we ordered) and listened to the lively Caribbean music. The band was great. The energy was hoppin’ and infectious; everyone was smiling and in a joyful mood. I couldn’t help but go out to the dance floor myself to dance.
Even if you have a long wait for dinner like the way we did, time passes quickly. There are several acts: a balancing guy who balances all sorts of things on him body, including a flaming bicycle wheel), a fire dancer, a saw-playing musician, and more. Between drinking, dancing, and seeing all the acts, time flew by while we were waiting for a free table. By the way, they’ll tell you a ridiculously long wait time, but it’s actually not that long. When I went back to inquire about our status, I saw that they sat several people who were after us. The hostess will tell you to go to the bar and they’ll find you there. Not true. You need to hang around and pester them about tables. Normally I would be annoyed by this, but we were having such a good time that this didn’t matter.
Obviously we ordered conch. We had a fresh conch salad (it was like a ceviche, cooked in acid), conch creole (spicy), French fries with black beans, and rice and peas. The food was simply prepared and good. I like conch, but I can’t say that it has much flavor. You really need other ingredients to make it taste like something. We loved knowing that the seafood was so fresh and right out of the ocean that we were sitting in front of. At the end of the night, we left stuffed and feeling euphoric from the music and the happiness of the people. If you’re looking for a fun night out, we absolutely recommend Da Conch Shack on a Wed night.
Thursday morning was our last chance to enjoy the beach. We didn’t let the overcast skies stop us (I’m sure the locals thought we tourists were crazy). I did a few short beach sprints just so I could say that I ran on the beach.
Provo isn’t the best place for running. I looked around to see where people ran. It seemed like most people who ran were tourists and the most popular road for running was Leeward Highway, the main road on the island. Many of the streets don’t have sidewalks, including Leeward Highway and the smaller side streets are also likely to be unimproved roads.
After our last swim, we packed and headed to the airport. Returning the car was easy and uneventful, but the line to go through security was quite long. It was a good thing we had arrived early because we needed the extra time. We were sorry to leave paradise, but we took solace in flying first class. Thanks to my frequent flyer status on Delta, we got a free upgrade! It was nice having wider seats, free drinks, and being served lunch. The three hour flight passed very quickly.
We landed in the evening, got our car, and picked up Bandit from her second family’s home. Bandit was over the room happy to see us, as evidenced by her bouncing. She actually accidentally smacked us in the face with her jumping. We spent some time catching up with her other set of parents and then we went home.
If you’re looking for a quiet relaxing place to vacation, Turks & Caicos is it. I still can’t believe how beautiful the white sand and turquoise water were. I’d definitely go back.