Island Life in Turks & Caicos – wicked fun for kids of all ages!
Many of our callers and guests ask about what’s it really like to live with with a family on an island with a population of about 18,000 (32,000 in the entire country!).
Common questions I get quite often:
- What do you guys do there?
- Where do the kids go to school? Is there university?
- Do you enjoy living there?
- What types of things do the kids like to do there?
I always enjoy telling them about what it’s really like to raise a family here. There’s lots of info out there on the web for reading and getting a mental picture of it all, but thought I’d write an article about what it’s like for my own family, and in particular … how my two boys like living on the island of Providenciales.
So … this one’s for you kids out there who are coming on vacation here and wondering what FUN things there are to do in Turks and Caicos!
Boys jumping with their buddies Charlie and Oliver off a boat in front of Parrot Cay
Interview with Naryan (12) and Vijay (10) – written in first person ‘by them’ – a list of their most FUN Things for KIDS to do here in Turks and Caicos
Q: What do you like to do when you go to the beach
- find an empty part of the beach where no one else is around and kick the soccer ball around, or throw a rugby ball or frisbee around (or take the volleyball if where we’re going has a volleyball net) – always fun to dive in the water in between and after playing too
- take our boogie boards and ride in with the surf, or just float out; or use them as skim boards i.e. run up really fast at the shore and jump on with our knees and slide on the edge of the water
- build sand-castles that connect through tunnels
- love it when Dad brings the mini BBQ grill and grill up some yummy burgers and hot dogs right there on the beach
- if going to the beach in front of Coral Gardens reef – take our snorkel stuff and go looking for the turtles eating the turtle grass and follow them around; also watch out for stingrays or listen to the parrot fish chomp on the coral
- if going to the beach in front of Ricky’s (aka Flamingo Cafe) in front of Ocean Club East Resort – walk down the pier and jump off (do back flips if mom’s not looking), swim back to shore – repeat, repeat, repeat
- if we’re there with a bunch of our buddies, play ‘catch the flag’
Q: What else do you like to do on the water?
- we love to go Stand Up Paddle boarding up and down Grace Bay beach (falling off is fun!), going tubing at the back of the boat with our friends, renting kayaks at Big Blue and heading over to the mangroves to look for turtles, junvenile fish and baby lemon sharks; stopping off on some sections around the point to look for iguanas. We also tried surfing with REAL surfboards and OMG that was so super cool!
- when we go out with all our friends on the Atabeyra (a 77′ rigged trading schooner) it’s always a lot of fun, packing some snacks and drinks in the cooler and heading out sailing to Little Water Cay / Iguana Island, Fort George Cay and other little cays around, and stopping at our favorite deserted beach to hang out, walk around and explore, play in the surf, and jump off the boat (over and over and over); oh and sometimes we stop at Pine Cay, it’s so cool to walk inland to see the old abandoned airport and runway there; once we sailed by this abandoned ship in the water that got stuck during a hurricane, we all climbed up the ropes on the side and jumped off – scary yet fun – this is definitely our version of Disney
- the Undersea Explorer is always a good time too; we always sit close to the front and love spotting the turtles, rays, fish, and occasional shark or dolphin swim past
- hanging out at Long Bay beach for relaxing and taking long walks on a Sunday, but also to watch the many kite surfers do tricks and jumps in the water
- Scuba Diving! – the waters here are totally amazing, we both got certified as Jr. PADI divers and have logged quite a few dives to date – have dove Grace Bay, West Caicos and lots more (so very cool to see turtles, sharks, rays, etc)
- Taking our fishing rods down by the rocks and doing some fishing for yellow tails
- Going out with Caicos Dream Tours or Island Vibes – super fun time snorkeling by the reef that protects Grace Bay, going to Little Water Cay, and most of all, going down the diving board off the top of the boat!
- Some of our friends have tubes hitched to the back of their parents’ boat – what a rush
- Of course, practicing our open water swimming stroke for the Race for the Conch Eco Sea Swim that happens here every year on Grace Bay – I won first place at the 2014 race (Naryan)!
I was certified with Jr PADI Certification with the Big Blue dive shop when I was just 11 years old (Naryan)
Kayaking on Grace Bay beach is FUN!
Staying on the surfboard was pretty tough the first time we tried it – but so much FUN when we caught the wave!
Learning to Sail with the Provo Sailing Club is FUN!
Once we sailed by this abandoned ship in the water that got stuck during a hurricane, we all climbed up the ropes on the side and jumped off – scary yet fun – this is definitely our version of Disney!
Off the diving board of the Island Vibes Boat
Q: Do you like going to the family Islands?
Oh yes, we love going away to any and all of the family islands including North Caicos, Middle Caicos, South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Cay, but our favorites are:
First, we need to mention that one of the highlights of these trips is actually getting there, TCI Ferry for North/Middle and South Caicos, and InterCaribbean Airways or Caicos Express Airways to Grand Turk or Salt Cay.
Our favorite Kids Things to Do In North & Middle Caicos:
Hiking the Crossing Place Trail in Middle Caicos – undiscovered beaches are everywhere!
Looking down a well at Wade’s Green Slave Plantation in North Caicos
After checking out a few spots in North Caicos including our fav place by the Bottle Creek high school to stop and buy a few pies that the schoolkids buy every day, we head straight to Wade’s Green Plantation to check out the ruins from an old slave plantation – it’s like walking through a history book – very cool. We also like to head by the Government farm to see what they’re growing (so many fruits and veggies they grow there). It’s then off to the stunning Mudjin Harbour – we LOVE it there, just love to run the empty beach, play and swim in the water, and wade over to Dragon Cay and explore the little dips and coves, and to dodge the spray as the waves hit the rock. Oh, and each time we go, we always race up the small hill to see the ‘Hands of GOD’ statue, then down the secret staircase to get to the deserted/hidden beach. By this time, we’re hungry and want to have conch fritters down by Conch Bar at Daniel’s Cafe, hang with Devon for a bit, and checkout the cool handicrafts at the Middle Caicos co-op hut. After all this, jump in the car again, and head to the caves for a while to see the fruit bats, and the bat droppings everywhere – it’s spooooky in there! Indian cave is pretty cool too. Our fav thing though has to be the hike along Crossing Place Trail – about an hour into the hike from Blue Horizon Resort you get to this massive ‘Blowing Hole’ which sprays water up between the rocks by the open ocean – gotta see it to believe it.
Our favorite Kids Things to Do In Grand Turk:
First thing we think about when we think of Grand Turk is how strange it is to see wild horses and donkeys everywhere when driving around. Well it is strange, but also kind of cool at the same time. Some of things we like doing when we go to Grand Turk include walking around the cruise terminal and reading the signs about when the first astronaut that orbited the earth landed right here in Turks & Caicos! Other things we remember and like doing when we go include going to see the lighthouse, spending time at the national museum, and of course having a great lunch and desert at Sandbar Restaurant right on the beach.
Our favorite Kids Things to Do In Salt Cay:
Definitely Whale watching in Salt Cay is our funnest thing to do there! It’s awesome to see them breach out of the water. We also LOVE having lunch at Porter’s Island Thyme Restaurant – the parrot and Mr. Porter himself are both totally hilarious! Oh, and the food is really good too. We really liked the upstairs lounge area of the restaurant, got to feed the turtles and hang out up there for a while to overlook some of the island.
Our favorite Kids Things to Do in Parrot Cay:
Live large like the celebs (and their kids) by chilling in the massive infinity pool, playing tennis, biking around the island and stopping at the banana plantations – and of course the beach. Oh, the ferry ride to and from Parrot Cay is nice as well.
Q: How about restaurants, which ones are your favs and why?
- Mango Reef – kids menu, desert menu, get to play on the beach if we go during the day
- Hemmingways – amazing pancakes with unlimited syrup for breakfast, the best milkshakes ever, and the Eggs Benadict; get to play on the beach or pool if we go during the day
- Bugaloo’s – yummy food, like watching the dudes bring the conch straight out from the ocean and knock them out; coconut crack conch; get to play on the beach if we go during the day
- Yoshi’s – yummy (and different) food; like to eat with chopsticks, love the soup, get to go over to Potcake Place to see the puppies if we go during the day
- Big Al’s Island Burgers – c’mon … who doesn’t like great burgers with lots of french fries and milk shakes! Get to go over to Potcake Place to see the puppies if we go during the day
- Fresh Catch – Island Bites – yummy (spicy, local island) food, toe tappin’ island music, and get to see Jenardo play his sax! Get to go over to Potcake Place to see the puppies if we go during the day
- Turkberry – hands down our fav place to hang with our friends
- Patty Place – best Jamaican patties and amazing Ice Cream!
Q: Ok, what do you like to do when you’re not at the beach or on the water?
Definitely Sports – soccer at the (grass, turf, beach) pitch behind the IGA Grocery Store, indoor hockey, sailing with the Picos and Hobie Cats with the Provo Sailing Club.
Beach Soccer tournament is a rush!
But here’s some other stuff us kids like to do here:
Fishing at the canal in Leeward with our buddies
- Biking around the neighborhood with friends (most times we end up at Salt – a restaurant by the marina at Blue Haven Resort All Inclusive Resort in Leeward) to shoot pool – but we also hang at each others house, playing video games, soccer, and taking the fishing rods out to catch fish by the canal in Leeward
- National Environment Center – some really cool stuff to see about birds, plants, flowers, animals, sea life of the Turks and Caicos Islands
- Going for ice cream at Island Scoop, Giggles and Patty Place
- Going to Beaches All Inclusive Resort for the day
- Going to Taylor Bay and Sapodilla Bay for the day to walk far out in the very shallow water; and going on the jet skis; also to climb the hill there to see the pirates’ carvings
- Renting a golf cart at Provo Golf Course and hitting balls at the driving range
Q: How about school in Turks and Caicos, do you like it?
NO! Are you kidding? Well, actually yes, I (Vijay) really like going to The International School of the Turks & Caicos Islands – all of
Playing in my school Steel Band – island style
my friends (from all over the world) are there – and I especially enjoyed writing the blog for the school website about our inter-school soccer tournament. I (Naryan) love my school The British West Indies Collegiate – it’s a high school and besides having really great teachers, I’m in the Steel Band Club, Scuba Diving Club, Squash Club, Track team, Basketball team and much more.
Q: WHICH ISLAND FESTIVALS & EVENTS DO YOU LIKE TO GO TO?
- Conch Festival because of the bands that play there on the beach, the music and fun atmosphere, the tasting of all of the conch dishes (including Conch in a blanket), and the location on the beach in Blue Hills; alse love David Bowen as the host of the event and all the contests like best conch horn blower, fastest conch knockers, etc
- Kite Flying at Easter – fun day out on the beach flying kites – there are some massive kites you can see!
- Eco Sea Swim – hanging out on the beach onlooking at the racers and even kids participating in the kids race for the conch event
- Valentines Day Cup in Middle Caicos – sailing the model boats and walking across Bambarra beach to the cay in the distance
- Maskanoo – street parade with music and costumes and local island crafts and bites – typically on Boxing day during the holiday season
Well, there you have it, direct from island kids themselves (no editing by parents here).