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Accessible paradise in Providenciales

Created date

December 21st, 2010

Clusters of pristine luxury resorts offer exceptional treatment in Providenciales, but the island s five-star experience is truly owed to its beaches. Under the warmth of typically cloudless skies, visitors tread upon a duvet of fine, white sand on the shores of radiant azure water. One of eight inhabited islands of the 40 that comprise Turks and Caicos, Providenciales offers an accessible glimpse of paradise. South of the Bahamas and east of Cuba, Provo, as it is known, is a three-hour flight from New York.

Tranquility, exploration

The island s resorts are concentrated in Grace Bay, but even those beaches retain their tranquility. For more secluded, less-expensive accommodations a short walk from the beach, try Caribbean Paradise Inn, which calls itself the best little hotel on Turks and Caicos. Be sure to explore Grace Bay s beaches, modest outdoor shopping, and Island Scoop Ice Cream, where the smell of freshly baking sugar cones lures passersby. But save time to rent a car and venture around the rest of the island, where you ll discover deserted beaches on every corner of the island. Though a paved road runs across the island, prepare to navigate over some bumpy but bountiful passages. A hand-written sign leads the way to the serene and untouched Malcolm Beach on the island s northwest tip. Don a snorkel and mask for a glimpse at the tiny tropical fish that fill healthy reefs just off shore.

Shelled treasures

Drive back east along the Blue Hills road, and just before sunset, stop at Da Conch Shack for the island s main culinary attraction. Conch, pronounced konk, is a large sea snail whose texture resembles that of clams or calamari. Enjoy your meal with a rum drink in hand, feet in the sand, alongside the sounds of live music. November marks Provo s annual Conch Festival, featuring cooking competitions and games, but year-round the island boasts the only conch farm in the world. For those without a taste for conch, the island s myriad restaurants, many of which are located in resorts, offer fresh seafood for a variety of tastes. Magnolia Wine Bar and Restaurant, high above sea level on the island s north side, is consistently highly rated for its seafood and view. Don t forget to head northeast to Pelican Beach, where lucky snorkelers find themselves diving through schools of silver fish, and southwest along Chalk Sound National Park for a view of the transparent waters of Sapodilla Bay. Back in Grace Bay, golfing, parasailing, or just plain lounging are honorable pastimes for visitors. Bask in the island s natural luxury and return home savoring the aftertaste of paradise.