Turk and Caicos - Trip Report

Old May 20th, 2022, 08:48 AM
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Turk and Caicos - Trip Report

Summary

We took a 10 day trip to Turks and Caicos. In short, great food, beaches and people. The downside were the bugs. We go to the Caribbean and other islands often and we are used to Deet routine but the only other comparable situation was on Long Island in the Bahamas.

And Provo is a busy little island. While there are no stoplights, there are a lot of cars and people (at least for us). I think it’s because it’s an easy direct flight from the East Coast, so it’s a very popular getaway.

Flights

We flew American overnight from SFO to Charlotte and then, after a short layover, to PLS. We bought Fast Track and thought it was well worth it. Several other flights arrived around the same time and there was a long line to get through immigration. It took us about five minutes to get through the Fast Track line, waited a little bit for our luggage, and then were escorted through customs to a waiting taxi. Easy peasy! We were at the Somerset and sipping a rum punch about an hour after landing.

The flight home wasn’t too bad…we flew through Miami. We got to PLS about two hours early. We used Fast Track again…I don’t think it was really necessary on the way home…but it gave us peace of mind. Once inside…go upstairs! Upstairs is much cooler, less people and there is a bar. The only problem with our flight from Miami to SFO was that American had split our seats so my wife was in 8E and I was in 30A and they refused to even try to address that issue.

Hotel

We stayed at the Somerset for ten nights. We chose the Somerset for a few reasons: beachfront, fewer rooms (53 rooms), a pool and onsite dining. I think it seemed quieter than other hotels/resorts which suits our style.

We had a second floor ocean view room with one bedroom, one and a half baths, a full kitchen with Viking appliances and a wine fridge, open plan dining and living area, and a balcony overlooking the pools and a great view of the ocean. We really enjoyed the accommodations. Daily maid service and turn down service as well.

The Somerset also has a small gym in the reception building as well as a spa. My wife’s massage was very good and they offer skin treatments, facials, etc. Bikes are free to use as well and the concierge(s) were really great to work with. We corresponded with Berry a couple of weeks before our arrival to set up restaurant reservations and excursion details.

I will reiterate…beautiful room, pools, and the fabulous staff including, but not limited to, Jenny at breakfast, Jason at Barbetta, Mr. Biggs and Nadine at the poolbar, and Colin at the pool. I apologize for not listing everybody!

Restaurants

We had dinner out every night. We had vouchers for breakfast at Barbetta every morning. Breakfast was basic: eggs, bacon/sausage, toast, fruit, pastries, coffee and juice. It was perfectly fine and if you wanted something else, you could order it…you just pay extra.

In order of our favorites for dinner (these were our experiences, other experiences will vary!), we visited:

1. Seven – the priciest of all the restaurants, but the food and service was superb. This was our last night and we wanted to go out with a bang and we did. Thank you to Luz and Jean for their wonderful service.

2. Magnolias – the view is to die for. The drinks were spot on and the service was just right. And the calamari was probably the best we’ve ever had. I grew up in Monterey where calamari is a birthright and it was better than any I’ve eaten there.

3. Mango Reef – this is a delightful restaurant right on the marina. The food was really good! Our server was really fun and helped us run through the menu. This was our first night “out on the town” and it was an excellent choice.

4. Indigo – probably the most beautifully designed of all the restaurants. Again, this was an expensive dinner. But again, the food was delicious. This was my wife’s favorite grouper she had (and we had a LOT of grouper).

5. Cocovan – what a great idea. This food truck is the bomb. Duck tacos and a burger with rum punches? Sign me up! And Patrick, the manager/host/cashier is great!

6. Coco Bistro – the only reason this restaurant is this low were the bugs. Oh, we got eaten alive! And I almost never get bitten. We had sprayed DEET on before we left as we always do…it did not matter. And it’s weird because the night before we ate at Cocovan and had no such issue. But the food was really good and the servers were excellent. And we did get to meet Coco, the cat, who sadly passed away a couple of days later.

7. Mr. Grouper – we had to have grouper at Mr. Groupers, so we had grouper. It was good, not great. Service was good, not great. Drinks were good, not great. And it wasn’t “cheap eats”…pretty comparable in price to some of the other mid-priced restaurants on this list.

8. Barbetta – Maybe this should be higher. The paella for two that we ordered could easily be for three and maybe four people. We took our leftovers home with us and had them for lunch. This was our very first night on the island and we were exhausted so my recollection may be off. But one of the downsides was that we were the only people there, so it made for a VERY quiet meal.

9. Hemingway’s – we REALLY wanted to like this restaurant. But the hostess was kind of rude, the service was just ok, and the food, while it was good, I think our expectations were higher. For example, we ordered a bottle of wine and the food came before the wine. I know it’s a first world problem, but after the hostess was abrupt, it just left us with a poor reflection of the service.

10. Somewhere – great location! I mean, a GREAT location! But, $18 margaritas that weren’t that tasty? After reading about it, our expectations were high. And the food is more Tex-Mex, not truly Mexican. Maybe we were expecting something else, maybe it was an off night, but we came away very disappointed.

Lunch restaurants, NOT in any particular order:

1. Omar’s – we were there on a super windy day. It didn’t matter…jerk chicken falling off the bone, crispy conch fritters, rum punch and beer…all hit the spot! One of our all time favorites.

2. Las Brisas – beautiful restaurant, good food, great view of Chalk Sound. A winner!

3. Turks Kebab – really good Mediterranean. We got the food to go. So tasty: curry chicken wrap and shish chicken salad. Great portion size and authentic flavor.

4. Seaview Café – a small place on Conch Bar Beach on Middle Caicos. This was part of our tour with Desmond Missick. A great local place close to the beach.

5. Bay Bistro – right next door to the Somerset. Lunch was good and the view was nice. Just your typical Caribbean beach restaurant…absolutely nothing wrong with that!

6. Somerset Pool Bar – poolside service. Mr. Biggs is awesome and Nadine is sweet. Both from Jamaica (as is Omar, I learned). We loved their jerk chicken wrap. And when the thunderstorm hit, it was a great safe haven.

Activities

Our day trip to North and Middle Caicos was a definite highlight of our trip. We booked with Desmond Missick. Took the first ferry over and met him on the dock along with another guest, our new friend Santiago! Desmond is a veritable fount of knowledge of Turks and Caicos. We hit a bunch of beaches, the ones you read about and a couple that you don’t, and won’t unless you are intimately aware of the dirt roads leading the way there. I imagine that Provo looked like this 40 or 50 years ago. Gorgeous. Oh, and drinking rum and coke out of the back of his van is an experience I won’t soon forget.

Snorkeling at Coral Gardens was so much fun. Lots of fish, turtles, and coral. It’s great to be able to snorkel right off the beach. We walked there from the Somerset, but we also drove down to the public access lot.

Taylor Bay is beautiful as well. Super shallow and really warm water. Once you figure out how to access it, it is well worth it. The only downside is that there are a lot of rocks so if you have water shoes, definitely wear them.

We walked Grace Bay Beach almost every day. And it’s a really nice walk. But here is my “shocking” take. This is not my favorite beach. It is lined with resorts and hotels. The sand is nice, but not the softest I’ve been on. And it can be crowded. Walking in front of Beaches or Club Med means you are dodging families for a long stretch of beach.

Rental Car/Taxis

We rented a car from Grace Bay Rentals for a week. A four door sedan cost us about $400 after taxes and fees. It was a perfect car for us although I had to get used to driving from the right side of the car again. I’d done it for a couple of weeks in New Zealand, but I still had to stop turning on the windshield wipers when I wanted to hit the turn signal!

When we didn’t have a car or I didn’t want to drive to dinner, we used Cameron Taxi and VIP Services. He was awesome and services the Somerset a lot. I got his card and texted him whenever we wanted his service. Prompt and reasonably priced.
DavefromCA is offline  
Old May 21st, 2022, 07:10 AM
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Thanks for the report. This is on my bucket list.
schmerl is offline  
Old May 22nd, 2022, 02:44 AM
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Thank you for the trip report. Looks like we still have some restaurants to try, We also thought Seven was the best cuisine although it does not have a view & we also tried Mango Reef a few times, a favourite and Bay Bistro. I agree with some of the supposed cheap eats are not worth it, Mr Grouper in particular. We decided after trying that and Da Conch Shack that there was no saving in money and the food wasn't great nor the atmosphere (Mr Grouper on a dusty road under a shed like construction with surly service) that we would stick to hotels and proper restaurants with views so as not to waste an evening of our holiday. We also had the same impression about Somewhere, it could be a magical place if the food and service were on point. I had fish tacos with a miniscule amount of fish in it.
I hate bugs & usually get bitten alot by mosquitoes but did not in T&C but it could be we went it was drier. There wasn't any rain when we went last August nor the year before when we went in June.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 09:24 AM
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thanks for the trip report.
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