What Makes TCI the Best Place for a Family Vacation?

20th November 2017 11:38 am

Turks and Caicos is often seen as the resort for the rich, the playground for the privileged, the vacation for the very famous. That’s true. There definitely are plenty of private Turks and Caicos villas owned by the rich and powerful. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be one of the best places for a family vacation, because it certainly is.

While it might have seemed like an far-off tropical island suitable only to the rich and famous in the past, the Turks and Caicos are quickly becoming a more accessible destination for family travel.

Here’s why the Turks and Caicos are one of the best destinations for a family vacation:

Turks and Caicos Family Resorts and Villas

There are so many Turks and Caicos  resorts and villas that now cater to family getaways that you’ll have plenty of options in choosing a place to stay. Whether you go for the super luxurious resorts or a more budget conscious lodging, there’s a place for you and your family.

You can easily find entire homes for you and your kids. Many private villas offer private pools, balconies, grills, and recreational equipment, including snorkel masks, flippers, and bikes.

Alternatively, you can also stay at an all-inclusive resort, which can greatly simplify your trip, albeit at a cost. As parents, it’s nice to know that your meals area already all planned out and that there are activities at the hotel to engage your active children.

Turks and Caicos Family Activities

While resorts often have dazzling amenities, it’s an absolutely must for you and your family to immerse yourselves in outdoor adventures. There’s a plethora of things to do with your children in the Turks and Caicos.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddle board (or SUP) is fun for all ages and can be done practically anywhere in Turks and Caicos. The waters around Turks and Caicos are warm year round and can be exceptionally calm on the shallow beaches. This makes it great for adults and kids alike and can offer a new way to experience the waters.

Stand up paddle board is a very affordable activity too. It requires very little gear—just a board and paddle, hence the name. You can try it out for an hour or be out on the water all day on a touring excursion.

Kayaking

Like stand up paddle boarding, kayaking is another popular way to enjoy the beaches, shallow channels, tidal creeks, and around the cays with your family. It’s a quiet and non-intrusive way to get close up pictures of wildlife like iguanas and birds.

Any accessible waterway can be explored by kayak while you’re on the Turks and Caicos islands. You don’t have to stay on one island either. Kayaks are lightweight and easy to transport with boats and trailers.

Kayaks can easily be the highlight your entire Turks and Caicos stay. Become a part of a private multi-day kayak expedition where you will camp or travel inn-to-inn to explore nature reserves and the endless beaches.

Similarly to stand up paddle boarding, kayak rentals are reasonable and there are a variety of options.

Snorkeling

Turks and Caicos generally has calm seas, and the beaches are further protected by natural formations like bays, reefs, and underwater walls. These formations are also brilliant places for kids to explore.

Snorkeling is a real treat that you can partake in every single day you’re on the islands. Kids can’t get sick of either—there are just too many things to see underwater to get bored.

In fact, there are snorkeling tours that will take you out to several snorkel sites.  Knowledgeable guides can help your family identify the hundreds of different fish and describe the important coral reef ecology.

Kiteboarding

For the older kids (especially the ones who have hit the moody age), a little more action is sure to keep them engaged and loving family time. Turks and Caicos is a kiteboarding mecca. It’s easy to find PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructors with decades of experience who can train adults and older kids to kiteboard

With the islands located in an intersection of trade winds and surrounded by beaches that are shallow for hundreds of feet out, kiteboarding can be a great activity for beginners and experts alike.

Eco-Tours and Adventures

There are also special eco-tour your family can enjoy together. You get to venture into mangrove channels and national parks to see delicate ecosystems supporting nesting birds. Or, you can skim over clear waters with a kayak or stand up paddleboard and see vibrantly colored marine life right beneath your ride.

Parents can choose the best activity for a family-adventure. Their trips are equipped with guides who are informative and certified to ensure that all safety precautions are taken. Guides will point out turtles, sharks, stingrays and any other sea animal that passes by.

Book Your Turks and Caicos Family Vacation Today

Turks and Caicos excursions are very popular and spots fill up fast. It’s important that you book early so your guide can help customize the trips to the age of your kids.

Contact Big Blue Unlimited to learn more about what eco-friend activities you can do while you’re in Providenciales or go ahead and book your adventures today.


Filed under: Accommodation, Tourism, Travel
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Getting the Best Private Turks and Caicos Villas

7th September 2017 6:15 pm

Staying at any of the glitzy and ultra luxurious Turks and Caicos resorts is often perceived as the ultimate travel goal of Caribbean tourists, but these resorts don’t come cheap. Five-star spa treatments, chef-style kitchens, and high-tech furnishings come with a price.

But then again, you really don’t need all that to have a trip of a lifetime. There are plenty of private Turks and Caicos villas that offer similar perks without the price tag. You might miss out on some conveniences like nightly turndown service. However, you’ll save a lot of money while experiencing the Caribbean in a more private and intimate setting with your family and friends than you would at the Turks and Caicos resorts that accommodates hundreds of families.

Also, you’ll most likely be enjoying the majority of your time outside, so all the extravagances of the resorts might not be a priority.

Here are five sites you can use to rent a private Turks and Caicos villa on Providenciales that accommodates up to six guests.

1) Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the largest and most recent disrupters of the travel industry. The site has made it easier than ever to connect homeowners to renters. Many of the Turks and Caicos villas listed on Airbnb are single-family houses.

In addition to being much more affordable than the resorts, some Airbnb listings offer comparable amenities including:

Several Airbnb listings are incredibly popular and consistently earn top marks and reviews from previous visitors.

2) VRBO

VRBO, or Vacation Rentals By Owner, has been around for a long time (since 2006!) and is considered a pioneer of the online vacation rental industry.

VRBO has a huge listing and Providenciales alone has more than 300 listings for private villas. Like the Airbnb listings, VRBO’s Turks and Caicos villas come with amazing amenities that are just as good as the resorts. These can include:

 

3) HomeAway

HomeAway is a global vacation rental listing company with more than 1 million listings worldwide. Interestingly, while VRBO and HomeAway have the same parent company, the listings aren’t always the same, so it’s worth checking both sites.

4) FlipKey

FlipKey was acquired by TripAdvisor in 2008 and gives a more unique approach to browsing vacation rentals. You can easily browse listings based on certain parameters such as low-cost, family-friendly, luxury, or even by the type of trip you’re hoping to embark on. This is great for when you search for a Turks and Caicos villa and are interested in activities like SCUBA diving, snorkeling, or stand up paddleboarding.

5) VayStays

If you are dead set on the Caribbean resort experience, but don’t want to pay the fees, then VayStays is a great site. It features luxury properties around the world including the Caribbean, where you can find private Turks and Caicos villas.

However, because of their niche, you’ll find fewer listings. But what you do find will be an amazing experience. You’ll discover ultra-luxe villas that have:

 

However, be prepared to pay for the special treatment.

 


Filed under: Accommodation

How to Plan a Turks and Caicos Vacation on A Budget

6th September 2017 9:37 am

The Turks and Caicos is beautiful exotic destination filled with luxury resorts and gorgeous Caribbean beaches. All that comes with a price. In fact, Turks and Caicos probably only comes up on your radar when you hear of celebrities and high level executives of Fortune 500 companies vacationing, getting married, honeymooning, or having second (or third, or fourth) homes here.

This doesn’t mean that planning a Turks and Caicos vacation for you and your family means exorbitant prices. It is possible plan a Turks and Caicos trip on a budget. Here are some ways you can do that:

Go During Off-Peak Travel Times

Peak travel times for Turks and Caicos is usually from December to April. It’s high season and hotels and airfare usually hike up the prices around this time, so going during off-peak times can help you save hundreds.

Turks and Caicos Hotels and Resorts

Room rates of Turks and Caicos resort tend to drop right after Easter holiday and spring break. If you’re dead set on experiencing a luxe hotel, it’s always a good idea to check a five-star resort’s website to see if they’re offering any deals or promotions.

Otherwise, there are plenty of Turks and Caicos resorts on Providenciales that are further from Grace Bay Beach or on other parts of the island that can have more competitive pricing. And it’s not like Providenciales is huge. Even at the furthest point from Grace Bay Beach, it’s just a short bus ride or drive to the sandy paradise.

You can also check travel aggregate sites like Kayak, Hotels.com, or Expedia.com to get a ballpark of the prices available to you. Just be careful because not all aggregate sites listed prices reflect all charges, such as resort or tourism fees.

Don’t forget about Airbnb either. “Second homes” can help their owners earn cash when the homes aren’t in use, so many homeowners make their properties available to travellers. Airbnb has a strong presence in Turks and Caicos and it’s quite possible that you can find a private house, villa, or bungalow for your entire travelling party.

Important Note:

It is almost always more expensive to purchase a resort package that includes a room, meal plan, drinks, and activities than just getting a room. Many resorts will try to woo you with special offers like unlimited drinks, but it will take a very strong constitution to make that worthwhile. Instead, just get the room and pay as you go.

Airfare to Turks and Caicos

The same strategy of searching for hotels applies to airfare. When you look for flights for the off-season, you’ll discover plenty of great deals.

Again, always take a look at the company’s website before examining prices on travel aggregate sites. For example, JetBlue is a low-cost carrier that frequently has promotions to Turks and Caicos.

Travel Packages

Keep an eye out for travel packages that includes airfare and hotels. While some can be expensive, others can be a real steal. You can find these on hotel or airline sites. Some good packages can even be found on sites you might not expect, like Costco.

If you do find one that seems interesting, always try to see if your own but similar package.

Important Note:

Read the fine print and know about any limitations or travel blackout dates.

Turks and Caicos Food

Naturally, Providenciales is a huge tourist attraction and you can expect many restauranteers to open fine dining establishments for the rich and famous. However, the Turks and Caicos also has a vibrant local culture, and that includes food.

Plan to eat at off-beachfront restaurants and try local Caribbean fare. For example, the local Jamaican expat community is known for enjoying the filling (and affordable) lunch of “patty and coco bread,” which can be had at Patty Place at a cost of $3.15 and $2.30.

If you’re staying at a place that has its own kitchen, try making your own food using the local ingredients.

Turks and Caicos Activities

There are a lot of cheap things to do in Turks and Caicos. Conch is the Turks and Caicos’ biggest export and the only commercial conch farm in the world can be found on Providenciales. Admission is less than $15 for an adult and less than $8 for a child.

Another cheap activity is to just enjoy the beach. Aside from sun block lotion, it costs nothing to enjoy the gorgeous beaches of the Turks and Caicos.

However, if you’re the type to save on other aspects of your vacation so you can enjoy the activities of the destination, then there are plenty of things to do in the Turks and Caicos—with the added benefit that they don’t even have to be very pricy.

Big Blue Unlimited has several activities designed to help you enjoy the Turks and Caicos on a budget. Activities like snorkeling, stand up paddleboarding, and kayaking are great activities for vacationers who want to be budget conscious.

Plan it Yourself and Avoid Travel Agents

One of the biggest strategies to make a getaway affordable is to avoid travel agents. When you work with travel agents, you are paying for convenience. Everything a travel agent can get you, you can get yourself. It just requires more time and effort when you research.
If you’re ready to plan your trip, talk to us and we’ll help you create a memorable, but affordable Turks and Caicos vacation.


Filed under: Accommodation, Travel

Not Planning to Visit the Turks and Caicos in the Fall? Maybe You Should

21st August 2017 10:10 am

Many people would argue that the best time to visit the Turks and Caicos is in a small sweet spot in the year from April to May where there are few people but a lot of great weather. However, because the Caribbean islands are at such a prime latitude, temperature is generally around 85 degrees fahrenheit (30 degrees celsius) throughout the year.

Prices from December to March skyrocket as that’s peak travel time for many people. However, Turks and Caicos in the fall is often overlooked and the costs of traveling to the Turks and Caicos during this season can be a steal. The main key to traveling to the Turks and Caicos in the fall is to book now during August and September for off-peak prices.

Book Tickets in August/September for Fall

Airfare and hotel costs tend to dip as summer ends. Fall bargain travel season can kick off as early as mid-August as school starts up again. When travel companies see families with young children or university students going back to school, they know the demand for travel severely drops.

At this time, traveling costs plummet. In the United States, there’s a little bit of uplift in travel costs around Labor Day weekend, but prices will continue to slide after that and for the rest of September.

Some analysts notes that airfare prices can drop as much as a 30% or more compared to summer airfare and hotels often drop their fares by up to 40%. Just be sure to plan all travel before the third week of November, which is when the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving will bring the prices back up.

Which Airline Flies to Turks and Caicos

If you decide to book direct with an airline instead of going through travel sites like Travelocity, Orbitz, or Kayak, you might have the opportunity to save even more money. Here are some of the airlines that fly to Providenciales:

  • Air Canada
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Caicos Express Airways
  • Delta
  • Jetblue
  • Iberia
  • InterCaribbean Airways
  • United
  • WestJet

Major cities with direct flights to Providenciales airport include:

  • Atlanta (U.S.)
  • Boston (U.S.)
  • Charlotte (U.S.)
  • Dallas (U.S.)
  • Fort Lauderdale (U.S.)
  • London (U.K.)
  • Miami (U.S.)
  • New York (U.S.)
  • Montreal (CAN)
  • Toronto (CAN)

Turks and Caicos Fall Weather

As mentioned earlier, Turks and Caicos temperature stays fairly constant. However, autumn falls within the Caribbean’s wet season (with November being the wettest month of the year) and is within the official hurricane season of June 1 to November 30.

However, the Turks and Caicos, especially Providenciales where all the resorts are, have a pretty decent hurricane track record—meaning hurricanes don’t make landfall very often. The most recent hurricane hit was Hurricane Ike in 2008. The one before Hurricane Ike was Hurricane Donna in 1960. Before Hurricane Donna was a storm in 1926.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, the Turks and Caicos receives this many inches of rain during the fall months:

  • September: 2.6 inches (6.6 cm)
  • October: 3 inches (7.6 cm)
  • November: 3.7 inches (9.4 cm)

That’s… pretty good. You’re still going to get treated to a lot of sun. One caveat is that increased rainfall in the Caribbean does generally mean more mosquitoes and no see ums (gnats, midges, sand flies). Bring plenty of bug repellant.

Things to Do During the Fall

Since 2003, the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board have organized and hosted an annual series of concerts called the Turks & Caicos Music and Cultural Festival to boost tourism during off-peak travel times. The festival lasts about a week and previous notable performers include, Lionel Richie, LL Cool J, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Michael Bolton, Ludacris, Chaka Khan, and Boyz II Men. More than 10,000 people attend annually.

Other Notable Events

September

  • National Youth Day

October

  • TCI Amateur Open: 3-day, 36-hole championship for both men and women.
  • Columbus Day: Some historians believe that the explorer first came ashore at Grand Turk.

November

  • Museum Day (Grand Turk Island)
  • Turks & Caicos Restaurant Week
  • Turks & Caicos Conch Festival: This has become the Turks and Caicos’ premier event. Now in its sixth year, the Conch Festival is a music and food celebration that centers around the conch. Local restaurants vie to win top honors for best conch dishes, including conch chowder, conch curry, and conch salad.

Other Activities

As you can see from the above list, you already have loads of events you can check out and can expect reasonably cooperative weather. But you’re in the Caribbean! You can continue to take advantage of off-peak travel and enjoy the islands with special Turks and Caicos excursions.

There’s no shortage of what you can do. You can kayak, kiteboard, stand up paddleboard, snorkel, and SCUBA dive, or any combination of those activities.

Because there are few crowds, you can expect to have an amazing experience and can even charter a boat to take you to practically private beaches and great diving sites.

Just because it’s the fall season, it doesn’t mean you have to stay home. The Turks and Caicos gives you a whole new world to explore!


Filed under: Accommodation, Travel

The Best Turks and Caicos Hotels for Kitesurfing

10th July 2017 10:57 am

The Turks and Caicos has long been a premier destination for kitesurfing, because they are perfectly situated in the nexus of tradewinds and calm seas. Along with prime wind conditions, the Turks and Caicos islands are also protected by barrier reefs that create large shallow beaches and calm water surfaces.

Many Turks and Caicos hotels and resorts on Providenciales have real estate on some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, which are coincidentally, also some of the best kitesurfing spots. Some even cater to the activity by offering kiteboarding lessons.

For those that don’t offer classes, they’re close enough to the best spots that it’ll be easy for you to find a PASA and IKO certified kiteboarding instructor. Many instructors outside of the resorts have decades of experience. Class sizes are small and some even offer private lessons that can help beginners get a good run or an advanced intermediate pick up and refine the more flashy techniques.

Here are some of the best Turks and Caicos hotels near the top kiteboarding sites around Providenciales (Provo).

Long Bay

Located on the northeastern tip of Provo, Long Bay faces the easterly trade winds. Its orientation in relation to the winds is perfect for learning how to kiteboard and kitesurf. The beach is powder soft and the water is waist deep for hundreds of yards, which makes it great for beginners since instructors can walk next to you while you learn

For those who love to ride or are more experienced, Long Bay offers miles of open space with a constant and consistent breeze. Kite down-winders can also start at Long bay and end in Five Cays about eight miles away.

The Shore Club Turks & Caicos

Set on Long Bay Beach, the luxe suits are airy and elegant and some come with balconies that overlook the ocean. The one- to two-bedroom apartments have kitchens, living rooms and laundry facilities. Some have wraparound terraces with ocean views and/or hot tubs.

Room includes free breakfast, afternoon tea, and access to bikes and kayaks. There are three bars, and three restaurants with Asian and Peruvian cuisine. Other amenities consist of a gym, a posh spa and three outdoor pools, plus shops and a kids’ club.

Casita Sirena

Casita Sirena isn’t a traditional Turks and Caicos hotel. It is a spacious two-story house in a private residential neighborhood in the Long Bay Hills that is divided into separate units adjoined via open deck.

The house is just 250 meters from the beach and comes with basic cable television, DVD players, video library, wifi internet, a local cell phone, washer, and snorkeling gear.

Windward Lodge

The Windward Lodge is a rustic two bedroom guest house offering quality accommodation and a home away from home feel for guests. Each two bedroom guest house comes with a king size bed and twin beds. Long Bay beach is a five minute walk from the property along a public beach access.

Leeward

Leeward is frequently the gateway to many wave “surfaris.” While kitesurfing basics are often taught on the beach, this area is for intermediate to advanced riders only since there are strong currents, inconsistent wind, and high boat traffic.

Blue Haven Resort

This Turks and Caicos hotel is adjacent to the Blue Haven Marina and is a medium walk/short drive to Grace Bay Beach.

The bright suites feature marble bathrooms, minifridges, microwaves, and tea and coffeemakers, as well as flat-screens and free wifi. Upgraded rooms include ocean views. Suites include living areas and kitchens, while some have dining rooms and balconies. Premium suites include rooftop terraces.

Amenities include a deli and a restaurant/bar with fire pits, as well as an infinity pool, a spa and a 24/7 fitness room. There’s also an oversize chess board and beach volleyball.

The Atrium

Nestled in the exclusive Leeward community, the Atrium Resort offers a tropical island setting in a luxurious private and peaceful environment.

The rooms range from studios to massive three bedroom penthouses. The Atrium has earned TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence from 2013 to 2017 for its luxurious and welcoming style.

Grace Bay

Grace Bay has the largest concentration of Turks and Caicos hotels and resorts anywhere on the islands. While the crescent shape of the bay shelters the gorgeous beach , it also protects the beach from offshore winds. However, Grace Bay can become a great place for kitesurfing when there’s a big northeast system.

The water is overhead deep and riders here must be accomplished in riding upwind and water relaunching their kites. The barrier reef can produce excellent kitesurf conditions.

It is for these reasons that Grace Bay is for expert riders only.

Seven Stars Resort & Spa

Set on a white sand beach dotted with palm trees, this upscale resort features airy suites with furnished balconies or terraces. Some have ocean views, but all come with free wifi, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and kitchenettes with Nespresso machines.

The one- to three-bedroom suites provide separate living rooms with sofabeds, and upgraded suites provide full kitchens and washer/dryers.

A breakfast buffet is included. The resort has three restaurants/bars with one having regular live music. Other amenities include a heated saltwater pool and a chic spa.

The Venetian on Grace Bay

This beautiful and refined Turks and Caicos hotel features screened-in porches or terraces with ocean views and suites with elegant furnishings. All come with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks and living rooms, as well as gourmet kitchens with stainless-steel appliances

The hotel has an outdoor pool with a hot tub, as well as a fitness center, tennis courts and BBQ facilities. Private chef services are offered.

The Somerset on Grace Bay

This luxe Turks and Caicos hotel is dotted with palm trees, giving a real sense of island living. The elegant rooms come with kitchenettes, as well as free wifi, iPod docks, and flat-screen TVs with DVD players. The one- to five-bedroom villas feature balconies or terraces (some with sea views), plus full kitchens, living areas and marble bathrooms.

Breakfast and parking are free. Other amenities include two outdoor pools (including a walk-in infinity pool), a spa and a gym. A kids’ club is also available.


Filed under: Accommodation