Providenciales (better known as “Provo” by the locals) is the main island for tourism and is the most-established in terms of what it has to offer for visitors. It is, by far, the most populated island in the Turks and Caicos. Provo features world-class hotels, resorts, and villas, more than 50 restaurants of all types, spas, shopping, nightlife and the international airport (PLS) and several marinas.
The ocean here is such a turquoise shade of blue that many people believe this is how Turks and Caicos got its name (as opposed to the Turks Head cactus that grow wild here)!
Provo offers all the modern conveniences anyone would need, as well as solitude and relaxation one may not even know they need! There is something for everyone here: beachcombers will find endless stretches of pure sand to idle away the time; sunbathers will soak up rays anytime they are outdoors; boaters will find the calm, still seas idyllic for exploring the neighboring islands and discovering secluded cays; fishermen will enjoy a pastime that’s been the legacy of these islands for centuries; divers and snorkelers will revel in walls, reefs and wrecks waiting to be explored below the water and families will enjoy quality time in a relaxing environment where the pace lets you live in the moment.
The Central ‘downtown’ part of Grace Bay is where you’ll find many of the amazing restaurants of Provo, the shops and boutiques, the grocery store, ice cream store, a few places to find some local art and so much more. Three main shopping plazas are here that are really considered to be the epi-center of Providenciales: Regent Village, Saltmills Plaza and Ports of Call.
This area spans from The Sands at Grace Bay until Royal West Indies. The heart of the restaurant strip is right in this stretch, and so is the shopping, grocery store, watersports shops and much more.
The eastern part of Grace Bay is nice in that there’s slightly less activity going on as compared to the main downtown Central Grace Bay area, so the beachfront area in front of some of the resorts tend to be a bit more quiet (there are some exceptions though, e.g. sometimes in front of Club Med it can get a bit busy during some periods of the year). Some people make the walk to get to the Central downtown Grace Bay area, some opt to bike, or cab it or just drive there if they have a rental car.
This area spans from Royal West Indies to The Tuscany on Grace Bay and The Venetian on Grace Bay. The walk to the downtown Grace Bay area is just about 15 minutes or a 3 -5 minute cab ride away.
This section of Grace Bay is just slightly removed from the main central part of downtown Grace Bay which has the shopping areas and grocery stores – but it’s a mere 10 minute drive away, so you’re still within general proximity to most everything. However, what this part of the beach has that cannot be found anywhere else is the best snorkeling! Coral Gardens and Smith’s Reefs both offer excellent snorkeling opportunities where you can literally wade in from shore with your mask and fins and see lots of colorful fish and coral as well as other marine life like sea turtles and sting rays. The big Beaches All Inclusive Resort sits on this section of the beach as well.
This area spans from The Sands at Grace Bay and goes all the way westward to Gansevoort Turks + Caicos. Coral Gardens the snorkel reef is at the half way point, and just beyond Gansevoort is Smith's Reef. Walking time down the beach is about 30 to 40 minutes.
Quite the opposite of Grace Bay, Long Bay is 3 miles of unbelievable solitude. Beach, ocean and sky as far as the eye can see. As you walk along, you’ll also see some gorgeous private villas along the beach that are available for rent. Long Bay beach is also the home of The Shore Club – an absolutely stunning, full service luxury resort with three pools, restaurants, spa and much more. Located on the southeastern side of Provo, and a mere 10 minute drive from the Grace Bay area, this sheltered beach has shallow, often wave-less water, making it perfect for lazy swims.
Also of note, kite boarders love to use this location, and Provo Ponies also makes use of this quiet, peaceful area, so views of brightly-colored kites and horses will enhance any trip made to Long Bay Beach. HOW TO FIND IT: Say you’re starting out at the roundabout in front of Seven Stars, drive towards the main Leeward Highway and as you get to the roundabout turn left, drive for about 8 minutes, and on the right hand side, you’ll see signage for The Shore Club. Turn in there and drive to the end, then hand a right, then a quick left, you’ll get to the parking lot where you can park your car and walk down the path to the beach.
Described as “….a dream, a vision…….” many visitors also swear by Leeward Beach, good for some romantic solitary walks along the ocean. Also good for looking for conch shells and running among the endless sand dunes. You can also take a long, quiet walk (or jog) out to Emerald Point, the most northeasterly point in Provo. You’ll probably see the Ferry going or coming from North Caicos as it leaves from just around the corner through the channel. In the distance, you’ll see Little Water Cay, where iguanas roam free, or the swampy wetlands of Mangrove Cay, where you may be surprised by a dolphin or a rare reddish egret in the remote channels and tidal creeks!
This is a gorgeous section of the beach to take pictures, there’s usually very little people and the ‘Emerald Point’ portion in particular is very scenic! HOW TO FIND IT BY CAR: Say you’re starting out at the roundabout in front of Seven Stars, drive towards the east, past Coco Bistro, Club Med, the golf course, keep driving until you see a security booth, you’re now entering the ‘Leeward Gates’ residential area (Atrium Resort and Blue Haven Resort are also located in here); take a left at the first roundabout then veer left onto the gravel road and drive for about 3 minutes, and you’re on Leeward beach!
For a different type of topography altogether, try the rugged coastline and tiny protected coves of Northwest Point National Park. Remote and with rare species of birds and dramatic scenery, this beach is ideal for those who love to go off the beaten track. Kiteboarders also like to go here as the beach is windswept.
HOW TO FIND IT: Head to ‘the hills’. If you’re starting point is in the Grace Bay area (say at Seven Stars Resort), drive back down Leeward Highway as if you’re headed back to the airport, on the last roundabout before downtown, it will have a sign showing Blue Hills to the right. Turn right at this roundabout. Go about a mile or two and a turn lane to turn right will appear. Turn right on to this road. There’s also a small sign for Da Conch Shack by this turn. Go less than half a mile and Da Conch is on the right. Drive all the way down this road for about10 minutes, it veers left; you’ll reach an intersection, turn right and drive for another 12 minutes, on the right side you’ll see the entrance to Northwest Point Resort.
A place of stunning, wild and windswept beauty, Malcolm’s Beach is only for those interested in some intrepid adventures. Off the beaten track, this beach requires a good rental vehicle (4×4 not necessary; but some people prefer to go with one there in case the trails get a little slippery if it rains a little) to get along the dusty, bumpy roads/trails, but once you do, the rewards far outweigh the costs. Panoramic ocean vistas offer views of a sometimes choppy sea, with mist spraying off the jagged rocks that line the coast. The sand is of a fine, silty quality, and is peppered with crabs, rocks and unique shells. Some shallow saltwater ponds and mangroves inland make for a very intriguing day in this secret gem of a place.
This is definitely an off-the-beaten-path beach, so a rental vehicle is needed to go here. Take your snorkel gear with you and swim out to look for the massive coral tree with thousands of fish swirling around it .... but sometimes the water and current can get a little strong, so be sure to go with a snorkel buddy.
An incredibly small and sheltered beach, the water is most calm and clear, making this an excellent place to take the wee ones. Indeed a day of picnicking, building sand castles and taking your children out for a swim in the warm, tropical waters will be a day not soon forgotten. If you are in need of a diversion, check out the Sapodilla Bay Hill Rock Carvings, sentiments of pictures and dates left by shipwrecked sailors in the 1800s.
HOW TO FIND IT: If you’re starting point is in the Grace Bay area (say at Seven Stars Resort), drive back towards the main Leeward Highway, then back towards the airport; after about 12 minutes of driving, you’ll see CIBC First Caribbean Bank, turn left and follow the signs to South Dock. Keep driving for another 15 to 20 minutes and you’ll eventually get to a dead end with the Chalksound police station on the right hand side; turn right, drive for just about 2 more minutes and you’ll be able to park and walk to the beach from there.