Destination: Turks & Caicos
Turks & Caicos has always been top of mind for me - I keep hearing the name pop up in conversations about dream honeymoons, long weekend escapes, and destination weddings, and I've always been so curious as to why everyone falls in love with it. So in a spur of the moment decision, I called up my best friend Allison who lives in LA (hey girl, hey) and asked if she wanted to get on a flight to TCI in two weeks time.
And she did!
So we went. And it was every bit as amazing as people say.
Jet Blue and Delta were running a $69 one-way promotion so flights were affordable. Roundtrip tickets now are around $300-$400 from NYC the last time I checked so it's relatively on-par with other Caribbean destinations. You'll fly into Providenciales (PLS), which is the only airport on the main island. They have an international and domestic terminal (where you can hop on puddle jumpers to the other islands if you so choose). It's possible that airlines will run promos again soon so keep your eyes peeled.
Hotels and resorts in TCI can get expensive; I believe the Gansevoort was on 'sale' for $1,000/night when I was looking at it and the luxurious Amanyara will set you back at least $1,800/night. If you're looking to splurge and treat yourself then you have a wealth of options. If not, and you're being budget-conscious or if resorts just aren't your thing, you still have a few options. AirBnb still had quite a few homes pop up, even when booking last minute, and there were a fewer lower-priced bare bones hotels available. If you're not renting a car or a scooter, consider staying in or around one of the more popular areas of Providenciales like Grace Bay or Turtle Cove.
You can rent scooters, bikes, or cars from a couple of places both in town and at the airport but no matter the vehicle you'll still be driving on the LEFT side of the road. You'll find the standard airport options when you arrive at PLS but if you're looking more local options, Scooter Bob's seems to be the most popular. Keep in mind that cars are slightly safer - there are a lot of tourists driving around and not everyone is necessarily familiar with driving on the left. If you're not interested in driving yourself around there are always taxis, though they will be expensive.
BE PREPARED (TO SPEND)
The US dollar is accepted everywhere and most places will accept major credit cards. So if you're flying in from the US you're golden. If you're getting hit with international transaction fees then stick with cash as much as you can. That being said, be prepared to bring a LOT of cash -- Turks & Caicos is pricey. It's not one of those places you travel to and plan to shop at if you forget your toothbrush ($10), bug spray ($12), or sunscreen ($18). A (delicious) iced tea at the Amanyara will run you at least $16 (although the sunset views are priceless). Being from New York, this isn't totally out of the question but if you're not you may experience a bit of sticker shock.
I stayed for 5 days and Allison for 4 - we found that while it was enough time to explore Provo and Grand Turk, it wasn't enough to make it to Middle Caicos, Parrot Cay, Salt Cay, and more. If you're in the business of speedy island-hopping then I say give it a whirl, otherwise just kick back and enjoy your beach time.