The sight of the shallow, crystal-clear turquoise waters of Chalk Sound National Park never fails to dazzle visitors as it comes into view upon their aircraft’s approach to the island. With an increasing number of new visitors arriving each year, Provo, as the island is commonly called, is a top Caribbean destination. But don’t worry. There’s plenty of gorgeous beaches and world-class services to go around. Although you may start to believe that every road leads to a large, luxurious resort, there are plenty of sections of beach where you can escape the din. Most of the modern resorts, exquisite spas, water-sports operators, shops, restaurants, and the island’s only golf course are scattered along the north shore, fringed by the exquisite stretch of Grace Bay Beach. And even though almost all of the country’s grand condominium resorts are found on Provo, it’s still possible to find deserted stretches of ivory-white shoreline, particularly on the more secluded southern shores and western tip of the island.
Although you may be quite content enjoying the beachscape and top-notch amenities on Provo, it’s also a great jumping-off point for island-hopping tours by sea or by air, as well as both fishing and diving trips. The well-maintained road network enables you to get around easily and make the most of the main tourism and sightseeing spots. Just beware: driving is on the left-hand side!
POINTS OF INTEREST
The “personality” of the island, this area populated with locals is west, beyond Grace Bay and Turtle Cove. The beachfront is lined with quirky beach shacks and colorful restaurants. It’s a place to “chill” with water views, but no one ever swims here, because there are better areas for hanging out on the sand. The beachcombing is much better than on Grace Bay, however, as there surely isn’t anyone raking the sand! This is where you will find Da Conch Shack and Kalooki’s.
You will first see the beauty of Chalk Sound on approach into Providenciales’ airport. At the end of the runway, this protected body of water dotted with wee islands creates your first impression of the Turks and Caicos Islands. You will never lay eyes on anything lovelier.
The point of land across the bay from Turtle Tail and the south-side marinas is called Discovery Bay, where there is another ridge with several vacation homes. If you drive out to the end, you can hike out and put your nose in the wind. Five small cays just offshore are the perfect contrast to the mesmerizing blues of the Caicos Banks, making this picture-perfect.
The biggest attraction in this relatively less fortunate community is the ever-popular Bugaloo’s. Go on a Sunday afternoon for some lively fun when the whole island seems to turn up, or enjoy it seven days a week as a spot with lots of local flavor. Five Cays is also home to Provo’s fishery. Keep to the left after passing Bugaloo’s, and you’ll find the spot to purchase fresh conch and lobster—when in season. These are cash transactions only, and note that it is open only for the two hours before sunset when the boats come in, on days when the ocean is calm enough for the boats to go out.
The “hub” of the island is the stunning Grace Bay Beach, a graceful curve of soft sand along Provo’s north shore. Between it and the Lower Bight Road, which runs parallel to the beach, are many shops, restaurants, and resorts, the majority of what is to be found on the island. There are sidewalks and streetlights, cafés and coffee shops, restaurants, spas, tour operators, and a variety of specialty stores. This area is where the majority of tourists stay, especially for their first visit to the island.
The farthest point northwest on the island, this is a great scuba spot with one secluded resort. The Northwest Point Resort is a long way from everything, but the beaches are amazing—albeit wild—and the Northwest Point Nature Reserve is tucked in behind.
This beach area is popular for off-the-beach snorkeling and an even more popular Thursday night fish fry. The Provo Sailing Club meets most Saturdays at The Bight Park for sailing lessons or family picnics. There is no defining where The Bight starts and Grace Bay ends, so most just assume that it is simply the “quiet end” of Grace Bay.
The Bight Beach eventually blends into the beach around the opening to Turtle Cove. Inland, around the marina that harbors many of the fishing charters and smaller private yachts, is where you will find several excursion companies and fishing charters, as well as a couple of popular restaurants, including Sharkbite and Baci Restaurante.