Updated: a day ago
As I write this, I am also listening to the evening newscast discuss the fire evacuation boundary that has been put in place just to the west of the city I live in. Yes, I am multi-tasking, and not doing too badly so far. If you see any typos in my letter, you know why. Before I leave this paragraph, I'd like to thank the firefighters that have been working on this more than 203,000-acre fire since the middle of August, and in record heat too. Normal fall temps, which typically arrive in September, have finally made a showing, and the last two days have been fairly temperate. As you know, It doesn't take much for cool temps to inspire me to take a trip to the tropics - and I am doing exactly that in a week or so. Someone has to lead the way and I don't mind taking on that burden.
Since you are not accompanying me on my trip, I thought I'd take you on your own. Let's go to Turks & Caicos. Have you been there? If you have, then I am sure you remember the soft, powdery, dazzlingly white sand edging the shimmering turquoise water. Did you snorkel out over the rainbow-colored coral reefs? It is time for you to return to this paradise. If you haven't been there yet, then for you too, it is time. These islands are an exclusive and secluded getaway, and are home to several luxurious hotels, resorts, inns and guesthouses that cater to your rest, and relaxation - perfect getaways for the hectic and harried.
Turks & Caicos is an archipelago of about 100 islands and cays (VERY tiny islands). Grand Turk is the cultural and historic center, and is the hub for cruise ships. The weather is pleasant year-round with average highs in the 80s. The current hurricane season will end December 1st, but the rainy season will continue until the end of the month, with a few showers lingering into January. So you see, from January until May is the perfect window for your sun-drenched vacation.
There is fresh seafood aplenty on the fine dining menus of the hotels and resorts, and at the mom-and-pop eateries. Enjoy tropical favorites like fried conch fritters, roasted octopus, fruits and vegetables native to the Caribbean, as well as international fare like Asian, Italian and Mexican choices. Most food is imported to the island chain as agriculture cannot support the native and tourist population. This makes dining a little pricey, but that's what mom and pop are for, if you need them.
What will you do while you're there? If the sea and sand don't mesmerize you into a relaxed, (reef-safe) sunscreen-slathered lazybones, then go for a snorkel on one of the many reefs: Smith's Reef on the island of Provinciales, or the smaller Bright Reef are perfect sites for viewing stingrays, lobsters, turtles and a more myriad of colorful species, even for beginners due to the shallowness of the reefs. Grace Bay on the island of Provo is sometimes dubbed the "world's best beach" and is also close to golfing, shops and restaurants. Lush colorful flowering botanical gardens are a draw, especially for travelers who live don't live in a year-round garden of Eden.
Salt Cay, though not a primary destination, is great for a one- or two-day trip, and is a great hideout for low key travelers. In addition to the beaching, lounging and snorkeling/diving, visitors are able to observe the winter migration of humpback whales, beginning in December, and their return trip in April. Conditions are primitive - the roads are not paved and transportation is by foot, bicycle or golf cart. There are places to eat, but pack some food and water of your own. Although other islands are accessible by ferry, Salt Cay is by airplane only. The trip is worth it for a taste of authentic Caribbean vibe.
The thing about Turks & Caicos is that it isn't the first place people think of for their vacation, which means there are relatively fewer tourist on a given day than a whole lot of other places. Yes the cruise ships stop in, but where don't they? For that really laid back tropical, relaxing vibe, Turks & Caicos is the place. And now I'm sorry that it's not where I'm headed. Is it too late to change my mind?
'til next week.
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-Juliet Weller, Founder