Years ago, Mr. Wonderful and I decided to take an annual trip on our anniversary. It’s our way of honoring and acknowledging the date, of course, but also an investment in our marriage. Adventures are the elixir for passion after all. This year, we hopped a plane to the Caribbean and made Caicos our home for a few days.
On 7/11, we spent the afternoon on a floating tiki bar mesmerized at the electric blue water below, and I had to pinch myself. Is this real life?
Our captain, Mario, and his sidekick served up cold rum cocktails on board while navigating down the coast to a steel drum-filled soundtrack of island tunes. Our little vessel floated east along North Caicos toward Little Water Cay, also known as Iguana Island, and home to the endangered rock iguana.
We took a break from the Caicos Passion Punch to admire a friendly southern stingray in the transparent waters below. A couple of egrets and pelicans tolerated our pointing as well.
What a gorgeous day to celebrate this adventure.
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI — Turk’s Head is the first and only craft brewery on the island, open since 2001. This is their light draught, but they produce several different types o’ suds — some with fantastic names, like I-AIN-GA-LIE Lager and DOWN-DA-ROAD IPA. Like the owner said, when tourists come to an island, they want to try the local beer. Check.
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI — When it comes to Bahamian cuisine, the keyword is conch (pronounced CONK.) It’s a mollusk, not unlike oysters, mussels or clams – though these snail-like creatures take shelter inside the recognizable coral-colored shells with the spire. You know the ones. And yes, you can you hear the ocean if you put it up to your ear and listen.
Conch is the name of the specialty game here in Provo, as the locals call it. Fried conch. Conch fritters. Conch chowder. Conch ravioli. I tried it all, including the quintessential dish of the island: Conch salad. It’s a veritable ceviche with diced peppers and I was expecting the consistency of poke or sashimi. Conch is tougher though, more akin to octopus or cuttle fish. This one was prepared like pico de gallo. Not bad. We also loved the conch chowder, a hearty tomato-based soup with chunky conch and carrot.
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI — The Internet warned us that food here on the island would be expensive, but I still found myself bug-eyed at the grocery store, when we picked up a small package of ground coffee for $11 and a box of Honey Bunches of Oats for $8. Cherries? $10 a pound. Oy. I knew these prices were a telltale indication of similar sticker shock at restaurants, and as an avid foodie on a budget, this pained me. I live to travel. I travel to eat. My circle of life.
I conjured my childhood summers at South Padre Island, where we’d pack a picnic and spend the whole day on the beach grazing on bologna sandwiches, Lays potato chips and grape soda. Those days I could care less what we consumed, so long I could lay contentedly on a neon pink inner tube, weaving through the waves to my heart’s content. Hop out. Build a sand castle. Throw a Frisbee. Munch on a plum. Write my name in the sand. Collect the tiniest “bow tie” seashells. Hop back in.
Enter reality check. Wisdom eventually shows her knowing face.We procured some floats. We packed some sandwiches. And I gave a nod to the ocean as Mr. Wonderful plucked a tiny conch from her seabed. Namaste.
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI — The seriously breathtaking Grace Bay Beach sits on the northeast coast of Providenciales, the flagship of the 40ish islands and cays that make up Turks and Caicos. It’s sugar-sand beaches and waters are reminiscent of an aquamarine gem.
Mr. Wonderful took this photo of the water from the plane minutes before we landed in paradise.
We shuttled from the airport over to Grace Bay with Dimitri, a frazzled but friendly local driver, who obliged me by answering all my obnoxious foodie questions while I gawked incredulously out the window at the unbelievable stripe of electric blue painted across the horizon. It’s one of the top-rated beaches in the world after all. My word.