This might be waaaay too long of a post if you’re looking for running stuff (we had just two runs, all somewhere below), but if you’re looking for a travel destination, this might work for you. It really worked for us. After our botched trip to St. Croix last September, we had very low expectations, but SO many things went well on this trip that you can just read this and be done. Not that I know everything but there’s so much research that goes into picking a destination, dates, and logistics that I wanted to make sure I wrote it down!
Anyway, last year, coming back from St Croix, we saw this from the plane:
We did some digging around and we figured it was Turks and Caicos. We have no clue. It kinda-sorta looks like it, right? Plus, we loved the name. Then we did some more serious research and the place looked ridiculously perfect. Grace Bay is considered the #2 best beach in the world by TripAdvisor and #3 by CNN so we figured it HAD to be nice! Then I remembered my friend Helen had been there and highly recommended it… we booked it all in minute. I was going to turn 40 years old, you see? what was I supposed to do? Go on a little trip!!! Plus, after the horrible winter we had, I really was looking forward to run out of NYC!
We booked everything exactly 9 weeks before, which we’ve learned is too close (if you want good prices!) but we managed ok. We wanted a hotel ON the beach, in Grace Bay, so, we had to shop around. They were all 400 a night and over (waaaaaaay over) but we snagged a room at the Sibonne Hotel, which was ridiculously cheaper at 250 a night, on cheapcaribbean.com as it was sold out everywhere else –so we expected the place to be below average or awful (it’s all about setting expectations low!). I also had no idea about cheapcaribbean.com but they were amazing and it all worked out way better than we could have ever planned. We got 2 tkts out of Newark for $704, which was amazing as these were direct flights, 4 hours and we were there, and we found out there’s a bus from Grand Central straight to EWR, which was amazing. So, it all ended up being so perfect, I am still in shock. The hotel was REALLY PERFECT for us. So so so quiet, I never slept better in my life. It wasn’t too east or too west, right in the middle of Provo so we could walk everywhere: the town, the other restaurants in the hotels, the reefs; perfect location. And it had an amazing restaurant onsite, the Bay Bistro, and a few steps down to Hemingway’s, the Somerset, the Alexandra… all perfect. We also tend to like more low key places than the luxurious, so this place was exactly what we would have picked if we knew better. Oh, and no children (for some weeks)!!
Anyway, check out the first thing we saw as we got close to the island:
Insane view right? By then we were beyond excited. We had left our apartment in the Upper East side at 6:30 am and by 1:30 pm, we were laying in the beach. How amazingly efficient is that?
Do you see how empty and quiet it was? Our whole trip was like that. 100% peace and quiet. Just like I love it. A true New Yorker: everybody shut up!!!
Another example, we went into town later that afternoon, to do some basic grocery shopping and we got dinner in the main street: try to spot a soul!!
We walked back and forth two times to the center of Grace Bay, a quaint little arrangement of shops (mostly jewelry of course) and restaurants on the beach. It’s like a mile, but the views are amazing.
Our hotel’s Bay Bistro (plus the Mango Reef at the Alexandra) set tables at the beach for you, which we decided we wanted to do at some point. So cool.
The next day we did something insane. We
were desperate wanted to go snorkeling so we walked to the two Reefs that were close, and on the beach. I had looked at the map and assumed it was a mile or 2, so we headed out on the beach (also, neither of us drive, so no car!), barefoot, to the Bight Reef, by the Coral Gardens hotel. The walk was amazing, though the slanted sand was EXHAUSTING. It was a bit cloudy, which I love, so we really had a great morning!
I showed you our snorkeling masks in our St Croix trip, these things are beyond amazing
The reef at the Bight was not at all what I had read. Maybe it wasn’t a good day? It was quite choppy and as it was cloudy, visibility was not great but all Juan managed to get excited about was THREE HUGE mantas!!! We have it on video but not pictures yet.
We then went to Smith’s Reef, and wow it was rocky. The sand was rocks and it was hard to walk. By then, we were feeling the barefoot mileage. We would learn later, we had WALKED 6.4 MILES BAREFOOT IN THE SLANTED DEEP SAND. and that’s why we were soooo exhausted by 10 am! So, on our way back, thinking we were weak (though we had actually walked and swam all morning) we stopped for a big lunch at Somewhere, a super duper nice place with amazing sandwiches, oh, with a view!
How is walking in that sand so exhausting??? My glutes were hurting after a mile!!!!! I don’t think I am in bad shape either (well, maybe I AM?!?!) Anyway, here’s proof of our feat (as that’d be the most of a workout we’d do!)
We were toast, we had dinner, watched another ridiculous sunset on the beach and we were asleep by 9, which is really what we do pretty much all year long anyway!
The next day we got up around 7 am, had breakfast and the Caicos Dream Tours picked us up at the beach for their snorkeling trip. It includes snorkeling the main reef, a trip to Iguana Island, diving for conch (the local delicacy), time to dive and tube in the deep waters plus food and drinks. all in 4.5 hour for $100 each. So so worth it.
We snorkeled, and our pictures are not so great, but it was fantastic. Plus, another barracuda.
In the middle of the trip, the boat stops. They had spotted a starfish! (how?!!!?!?)
A new friend! That thing was SO cute but heavy and prickly. We put it back in really quickly I promise!
Then they stop somewhere else and they dive for lunch: CONCH!!!
So many cute new things. Some we won’t eat, like this baby prawn
We actually felt a little weird about eating the conch and that they were taking the starfish out of the water. They don’t seem too concerned with caring for the local fauna. When we got to the snorkeling spot, they threw chips in the water so the fish would come out, which is quite ridiculous. Oh Well.
Then we went by this Russian shipwreck. Apparently, with the Katrina storm, it got pushed up to a shallow area and when the waters went down, it just got stuck there forever. Haunting.
As soon as we got to Iguana Island, Frank made the conch salad, and he showed us how he had to hit it to get it out. We got to taste it there raw and it was delicious (way better than in the ceviche later).
Then we explored the little island, we saw so many iguanas just hanging around. I got a liiiiiiiitle unsettled for a second but I relaxed in a second. They were playing nice.
Then the best of the best happened. I found my beach. If it wasn’t because all there was in the island were the iguanas I would have just thrown a fit a stayed there. FOREVER. You’ve never seen water like this. You haven’t. No way.
Plus these, a MUST, of course:
Wow right? I almost cried when we had to leave. Good thing they had all the conch salad ready waiting for us. I had too much. But no biggie.
Then we went someplace deep so people could jump in the water (hey, distract them while I eat ALL THE REMAINING SALAD AND SANDWICHES!!! LOOK, OVER THERE!)
Looks like fun. But the water and I don’t mix. Unless I have my snorkeling mask, and earplugs, or I am in the necessary shower. No.
We then went back to dry land, had another lovely dinner and YES ANOTHER SUNSET. I can’t get enough, so what? You know how many times I see a sunset, or even a little piece of sky in the city? NEVER! Plus, those colors are UN-PHOTOSHOPPED!
The next day we tried to run. Well, we were out of sun protection so we figured we’d run to the center of town for that. Good reasoning to get moving, right? Well, it was REALLY HARD. I think all we run was 3 miles tops. And SLOW.
3 miles, spf-lotioned up, and ready for breakfast and lounging ALL DAY LONG. Oh, it was my bday too, so I was planning on doing nothing. We had wanted to go to the Chalk Sound to canoe and have lunch but we were too
tired lazy, so nothing!
We just got breakfast at the Mango Reef and settled in for the day! Yes, in my running bra and running short. Because.
Lunch at the Bay Bistro and I have to recommend the coffee rubbed tuna. It was insane. Juan is not into fish (I know, I know, he’s still a nice guy) so he ate LOTS and LOTS of steak and burgers.
So delicious. Problem was we had a big (Birthday) dinner coming. UGH.
Juan had gotten himself all worked up about getting the best table and we wanted to see the SUNSET AGAIN so we headed to dinner early at 6 (ha, who are we kidding we have dinner at 6 or 6:30 every day!). It was delicious, decadent, ridiculous and the perfect night.
We did a little walk on the beach after but I was just sooooo full, it was a slog. The next day, was our last day, so we spent it at the beach. We run a bit in the morning, barefoot and in beach gear. Yes, I am sure I looked like and idiot running AND DOING DRILLS in my bikini, but whatever. And, running barefoot was a lot easier than running with sneakers, so there! Drills were ridiculously hard without shoes, traction and pretty much on a pillow-surface! I always feel like I have to workout if I am going to sit in a plane. We left our chairs at 11 am and by 7:30 pm we were home in NYC, which is unbelievable to me. And that included showering and packing, checking out, having lunch, getting to and from the airport (EWR) and a 4 hour flight. All super efficient. I guess only Bermuda could top this. Well, I could go to Miami in that time, but you know, not the same!!
We loved it. It caters to a different group of people. I’d say it was mostly people in their 40s and 50s, that do well, so it was usually way quieter than we’re used to. And we loved it. We’re planning to go back (apparently, the best/cheapest time is September) and this hotel gets booked up 2 years in advance so some serious planning will have to happen. Go if you can, before it gets spoiled by tons of people and hotel chains. Trust me.
I’ll leave you with this. The view from our restaurant, one of the few last things I did, and an image that brings me so many smiles!