Turks & Caicos 101
As my first official Weekend of Wanderlust of 2018, I decided to bring in my 24th birthday on the tropical island of Turks & Caicos. From its turquoise waters to its friendly locals, this was the perfect trip to celebrate 24 more years on this beautiful planet I’m exploring.
How to get around
With TCI being such a small island, you won’t find much need for taxis, Uber and rentals. If you planned your trip out far enough in advance then you booked your Airbnb or Hotel near the hotspots.
My Airbnb was in Turtle Cove, right next to SharkBite restaurant. A perfect location tbh. But of course, me being an avid traveler, I didn’t want to be limited to just one side of the island – so rental car it is! For about $50USD a day you can rent a fuel efficient four-door. I was lucky to snag a Nissan Sentra. Make sure the AC works perfectly, as it is extremely humid on the island.
If you don’t find a need for a rental car, for about $20USD you can take a shuttle to your hotel from the airport. There are also local buses throughout the island as well, although I didn’t see them run as frequently so I never learned the cost. My personal advice – just grab a rental. You’re already looking at $40USD to get to and from the airport, why not get a car and be able to come and go as you please? This was extremely helpful for me since my flight was in the middle of the day and the airport was very crowded. Having a rental car meant no lines, no wait and no chances of missing a bus (which means more beach time!).
Where to stay
My Airbnb was perfect! It was a lovely apartment right off the harbor. My host, Ashley, was perfect! He gave me all the tips and insights on where to eat, party and the best beaches. On my first night he joined me for dinner and introduced me to some of the locals. It was truly an amazing experience. Look at paying $100-200USD per night with an Airbnb. This is as low as it gets out here, as most resorts will run you $500-1000USD per night. No thank you! If you’re thinking about booking, use my code and save $40USD. Link here.
So, you want to stay somewhere a little more upgraded and more “bang for your buck”? The best hotels to snag a room at are:
Grace Bay Club - a resort nestle right off Grace beach, one of the nicest beaches on the island. This upscale resort features amazing nightlife, great location for the Thursday night Fish Fry and a hip spa. Look to pay around $800-900USD per night here.
The Oasis at Grace Bay – with its chic suites and villas, this is sure to bring on the romance for you honeymooners. Equipped with ocean views and beachfront dinning, you can expect to pay around $400+ per night.
The Venetian on Grace Bay – another upscale option, the Venetian offers ocean-front suites and an epic penthouse option. This is perfect for those who want privacy and comfort while on TCI. Expect to pay around $1,000+ a night at this exclusive option.
There are plenty of more options on the island. On my next visit I’ll most likely stay with a few friends in made on this weekend getaway. Can you say, “money saver”??
What to eat
No visit to TCI is complete without trying these top dishes; Conch, Fish, Jerk Chicken and fine cocktails. Okay, so it may sound weird, but conch was probably the most delicious thing I ever got my hands on. For about $7USD I enjoyed fried conch fritter at SharkBite, paired with a creamy spicy sauce. It was amazing! The texture was almost like hush puppies but of course with seafood inside. Perfectly seasoned and plenty to stuff any heavy eater – a perfect appetizer!
So, being on an island I’m sure you know any type of fish is sure to please. My favorite dish was blackened grouper. Paired with coleslaw and a loaded baked potato I could not seem to finish this as hard as I tried and as many breaks in between as I took lol. It was amazing! And made-to-order!
If you’ve never tried anything jerk, then you’re missing out. I’m not a fan of spicy, but this is a must-eat. Jerk chicken is probably my favorite meal I’ve had during my stay. And all for under $20USD. Pair any meal with a margarita, mojito or other tropical favorite and you’re sure to be impressed (and slightly inebriated) beware: local make their drinks very strong, nothing like the $20 cocktails I have here in Dallas. But hey, at least you’ll get your money’s worth.
What should I budget?
Okay, so this all depends on the type of trip you’re taking. Is this a Weekend of Wanderlust? Romantic Getaway? Of Bougie on a Budget?
If it’s a Weekend of Wanderlust, I would recommend $100-150USD per day. This is if you plan on eating out twice a day, doing light cooking and only having a couple cocktails a day. Save some extra money and bring your snorkel gear with you, you can snag mine for $20USD on Amazon by clicking here. Kayak rental is $20USD per hour off Grace Bay. Car rental will cost you an average of $50USD a day, but I have seen some people rent for $25USD a day if they book further out. If you want to book your car rental for the best rate, follow my link here.
Romantic Getaway? This is tricky, it all depends on your hotel or resort option. If you don’t plan on including that price in your budget, say – you’re willing to splurge on that but want to budget on everything else, then I would say $150-300USD a day. This is if you plan on eating out daily, grabbing a cocktail or two with lunch and dinner, drinks at the bar and maybe a full day or half day tour.
If it’s Bougie on a Budget, then you’re probably looking for the most experience for your budget. I would recommend about $60-100USD a day. This is for if you plan on mostly cooking, maybe eating out once for dinner and pairing a cocktail. This also includes if you plan on just staying on the side of the island where you are staying for the duration of your trip. Most hotels or Airbnb’s will be walking distance to the beach and if you’re like me, then you brought your own snorkel gear. Kayak rental is $20USD per hour off Grace Bay, so you can add that to your budget if you’re in to that.
These estimates are excluding your hotel, dorm or resort pricing. Depending on where you lodge, I would reassess your budget accordingly.
Hit Grace Bay beach, turquoise water is found all around the island, but you can find the most seclusion on this beach. Don’t expect to see many kids or families. When I went, I saw mainly couples here and there, but with the beach stretching so far and long, I felt as though I had it all to myself.
SharkBite for dinner – with its endless selection of seafood, pastas and cold eats, SharkBite is where I had my daily lunches. I only payed around $40USD, this included an appetizer, 2 drinks and entrée,
Long Bay Beach – looking for some action? This is the perfect location for parasailing, jet skis and wakeboarding. I didn’t personally indulge, but if that’s the experience you want while on TCI, then Long Bay Beach is the way to go. I would recommend public transport or hitching a ride if you don’t rent a car as this was extremely difficult to find. Just navigate to Long Bay Beach Club and it should take you straight there, ignore the construction and gravel road.
Mr. Groupers – looking for the best fish and heaviest cocktails, hit this local hotspot find be sure to get laughs, good vibes and the best bang for your buck. I recommend the blackened fish or jerk chicken.
Da Conch Shak – looking for a mix of good food and even better nightlife? This is the spot for you. With vegetarian options and fresh-caught fish, this local favorite transforms into a club after sundown. Voted best club by Fodor’s, BBC and CNN.
Thursday night Fish Fry – this is where the party is at – and the food of course. I didn’t get to experience this since I landed on a Friday, but locals rave about it. Don’t miss out like I did!
Sandbar – located in the tourist shopping area, this is a bar that features a live DJ, regularly price cocktails and a great atmosphere. Too touristy for the locals though.
Name Unknown – there was this one reggae bar maybe a 5min drive from Sandbar that was slightly intimidating. Beware, this is weed central so enter at your own risk lol. But the music was what you would expect on such a tropical island. Filled with locals, Puerto Ricans, Bahamians and a handful of other mixed ethnicities, this club truly will take nightlife to another level. Side note, it doesn’t ever seem to close until their police closes it down (unless they’re paid off by one of the biggest drug lords on the island). You’ll look down at your clock and find it’s 3AM and won’t even know where the time went.