Think Bob Marley meets Hobie Alter, and you’ve arrived at Turks and Caicos.
Hanging off the south end of the British West Indies—about an hour-and-a-half flight from Miami—the islands that make up Turks and Caicos are a sunny antidote for the winter-worn seeking white-glove coddling and extreme sport. While locals take to the many soccer and cricket fields (of the laid-back, islanders’ ilk), tourists come to stand-up paddleboard (SUP), kitesurf, water-ski, bike, sail, windsurf, dive, snorkel, kayak and much, much more.
Christopher Columbus landed here on his 1492 exploratory voyage—the islands were colonized by the British in 1681, and centuries later, in 1962, Turks and Caicos became a British Crown colony. Extensive stretches of white-sand beaches with warm, shallow water and consistent trade winds from fall through spring are what drew explorers and now entice kiteboarders of all levels. Beginners head to Long Bay—where lessons are taught in miles of calm, waist-deep water sheltered by the outer reef. Seasoned kiters can go island hopping downwind through the labyrinth of mangroves for miles on glassy water protected from the wind. For those who want waves, the outer reef that surrounds the islands hosts tropical surf breaks as far as the eye can see. Paddleboarding over the barrier reef or through the mangroves is another great way to experience turtles, small reef sharks, upside-down jellyfish and glow worms that come out at night.
Among the many retreats (Amanyara on Providenciales included) is Parrot Cay by COMO, a sprawling, plantation-style boutique hotel nestled on its own private island 35 minutes north of the main island via powerboat. Originally known as Pirate Cay, the 74 rooms and private villas are amply separated from one another, resulting in celebrity-approved privacy (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner found it a suitable place to get married). The property’s spa has earned many accolades over the years with an extensive menu, including signature Ayurvedic treatments and the Shambhala massage. And dining is spectacular on several levels. In the evenings, the deck at the Lotus restaurant serves innovative Asian cuisine; enjoy upscale Mediterranean dishes at the Terrace; arrange a picnic from the Shambhala spa; or stay in and order room service. The four menus are updated often, and everything is made on the island as needed—think steamed grouper and grilled conch with tomato relish.
While R&R is certainly at the top of the list (it’s just so easy), you’d be remiss not to pick up a board, boat, tank or pole and hit the water.From $475/night; comohotels.com.
By Dray Murray.
Edited by Jenny Murray.