(Providenciales, Turks + Caicos)
Providenciales, or ‘Provo’ as it is commonly known, is the most tourist-focused of the Turks and Caicos islands, a chain of approximately 8 main islands (many more tiny islands) located south of the Bahamas and north of Hispaniola (the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
By the way, it’s really mostly just Caicos (pronounced Cay-Cus by the locals). There’s North Caicos, South Caicos, East Caicos, West Caicos and lots of other Caicos islands…but the Turks are really just Grand Turk and Salt Cay. ;))
We rolled into the South Side Marina in Provo after a 24-hour sail from >>Mayaguana<<. The last 5 miles of the sail across the Caicos Banks in the early morning were brutal. We were beating straight into the wind and waves. It was a welcome relief to finally dock at a marina after such a long and arduous sail from the Bahamas. And an added bonus to plug in to shore power for the first time since we left Naples. It took us a few minutes to find and dig out our big yellow power cord, but man once we turned on our a/c, it was a beautiful thing.
Although utterly exhausted, we managed to stay awake for the Customs and Immigrations guys who came to the marina to check us in. It was certainly nice not have to track them down by walking into town.
When entering the country, you can request a 7-day permit or one much longer, but also much more expensive. Our 7-day permit cost $65 for immigration and $15 for customs — that included overtime (for each fee) because it just so happened that the Monday we arrived was Queens holiday, what are the freaking odds? The much longer permit will run you upwards of $300 (just to check in and then you pay again to check out).
The customs and immigrations process in the Turks & Caicos is a little backwards if you ask me…why put such a high price tag on the entry fees and limit cruisers from staying more than a week? I mean, we would have kept spending money on the island if we were allowed to stay longer. On second thought, I guess the 7-day limit is a good thing. ;))
Immediately upon arrival at the marina, we were advised to leave Oliver safely on the boat while Customs and Immigration came to check us in. It’s apparently a “don’t ask, don’t tell” kind of pet import policy in the Caicos. So we heeded the advice of fellow cruisers and did just that. Oliver does however have all the >>necessary dog import requirements<< (i.e. Titer Certificate, etc.) to legally check in, but we were just fine with avoiding yet another costly pet fee, especially considering we were only visiting the country for a few days and Oliver wouldn’t be leaving the marina.
Even though we were limited to just a few days on the island, we weren’t going to let that stop us from packing in as much sight-seeing fun as humanly possible.
Our first night on the island we somehow managed to scrape together enough energy (still without having slept a wink in nearly 36 hours) to head over to s/v Quantum Leap, our neighbor boat, for happy hour and then down to Turtle Cove for pizza at >>Baci.<<
PS – the pizza was AMAZing. Just sayin.
Provo is too big of an island to really walk from one spot to the next, so we decided it was well worth $50 to rent a car for at least one day. We considered renting a scooter, but I’m so thrilled we ended up going with an actual car instead. Scootering would have been fun if we had stayed in just the downtown Grace Bay area, but motoring around the entire island wouldn’t have been nearly as fun. Plus, hauling $300 worth of groceries on a scooter would’ve just been downright hilarious. And stupid.
Armed with our cute little Japanese Opa rental for 24 hours, we set out on a days worth of sight-seeing (and some errand running) fun! I let Jer handle the fun task of driving…on the wrong side of the road with the wrong side of the car (steering wheel was on the right). I was much better left to navigating us in and around the island using the little paper map the marina kindly provided us. We didn’t get lost once!
Since we picked up the rental car around 4:30PM, we headed out for happy hour at Coral Gardens, an adorable resort close to Grace Bay. They have a cute beach bar called ‘Somewhere,’ where we got to taste the local brew while watching the sun set.
We are big believers of drinking the local beer, wherever we go. And on Provo that beer is Turk’s Head. Made in a small brewery on the island, we discovered it at Coral Gardens, and, literally, had it at every meal afterward. We even picked up a 12-pack at the supermarket before heading south.
After a little happy hour pitstop at ‘Somewhere,’ we took the advice of Amos from Scooter Bob’s (the awesome car rental company we used), and chose to dine at Mis Amigas, a favorite spot of the Caicos locals and a great little Mexican joint close to Turtle Cove. The menu is small, but the food was the real deal and super cheap (for T&C).
The night didn’t stop there. We took our little rental Opa and headed down to Grace Bay for a little karaoke-watching at Danny Buoy’s. Talk about entertaining! ;))
The next morning, we immediately got our “errands” out of the way and re-provisioned at the local IGA Supermarket. The IGA store was comparable to Publix, but SUPER expensive. Regardless, we were thrilled to see a real grocery store with an actual produce department and stock up on some of our favorites items…ahem, diet coke.
Next on our sight-seeing agenda, we decided to hit up the main downtown touristy area, Grace Bay, which is centered on a seven-mile stretch of the island.
We checked out of a few shops, partook in more than one delicious ice cream treat, stopped in at the amazing island dog rescue and adoption facility (Potcake Place), and leisurely strolled around town.
After leaving the Grace Bay area, we still had enough time in the day to squeeze in a visit to the >>Caicos Conch Farm<< on the northeast tip of the island. Let me tell ya, what an experience that was! I wrote about it >>here<< and highly recommend visiting the farm if you are ever on the island.
With only about an hour left before we had to return our rental car, we booked it over to the southwest side of the island to hit up Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl on the beach. We had heard from several folks that it’s a must-do while in Provo. Since we were running low on time, we decided just to grab a drink at Bugaloo’s. But if the food there is anything as good as my passionfruit mojito was, then I can see why it comes so highly recommended!
Sadly after Bugaloo’s, we had to return our rental car. But man did we get our money’s worth!
Later that night, we stuck around the marina and joined a few other boats for a cruisers potluck. With my famous pasta salad in tow and some cold beers, we had a great time sharing stories with fellow cruisers and learning a few things while there.
If we would have had a little more time in Provo, we definitely would have hit up >>Kite Provo<<. After meeting the owner Mike our last night, we wish we would’ve had the chance to take some awesome kite boarding lessons.
Our last day at the marina was bittersweet, mostly because I was dreading leaving the comfort of our nice air conditioned boat where I had been able to blow dry my hair every.single.day. :(((
You can read all about our sail from Provo to the DR once we left South Side Marina >>here<<. It was two-days full of tacking, scary police boats, and more!
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