With ivory sand as soft as baby powder, Grace Bay Beach in the Turks & Caicos Islands is consistently rated by travel experts and visitors as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Only a 90-minute flight from Miami, this award-winning beach is still one of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets.
Located on the northern shore of Providenciales (Provo), the country's most popular and populated island, Grace Bay Beach is 12 miles long, so it never feels crowded. The turquoise water is phenomenal, so have your camera ready.
Where to Stay
Grace Bay Beach is a relative newcomer to the tourism scene. The Island Princess and Club Med, the first large resorts on the beach, weren't built until the 1980s. But since the 1990s, you have several dozen top-rated properties to choose from. Where you stay depends on the vibe you're looking for.
• One of the original luxury all-suite hotels, Grace Bay Club, now includes an adult-only hotel along with family-friendly villas. At another resort that's popular with families, Beaches Turks & Caicos, you'll find six swimming pools and Pirates Island, a fun water park for the kids.
• If you're looking for a more intimate escape, head over to the Regent Palms, where you'll find 72 suites, a great swim-up bar and a spectacular spa. The water sports at this resort are included in the price. You have your pick of Hobie Cats kayaks, windsurfers and snorkeling gear.
• You can relax in an oceanfront suite or opt for a poolside cottage at Point Grace, an award-winning boutique hotel. If you need some extra space, try the Somerset, where you'll find one-to five-bedroom suites; the largest is 5,000 square feet.
What to Eat
A stay on Grace Bay Beach wouldn't be complete without trying a fresh conch creation. From fritters, chowder and conch salad, this tasty treat is synonymous with Turks & Caicos, so don't miss out.
One of the best places to give conch a try is the Da Conch Shack, just a short drive over to Blue Hills Beach. At this no-frills local favorite you'll sit at a picnic table on the beach. Part of the fun is watching the staff get your conch right out of the water. Talk about fresh! This is also where you'll find the famed RumBar with one of the island's largest rum selections. This outdoor beach bar always packs a lively crowd with a mix of locals, also known as Belongers, and tourists.
For more fancy eats on Grace Bay Beach, top choices include Anacaona at Grace Bay Club. At this romantic restaurant you'll enjoy some of the most beautiful beach views on the island. Another favorite for couples is Grace's Cottage at Point Grace, where the intimate atmosphere sets the mood for a delicious dining experience.
Parallel 23 at the Regent Palms just unveiled a new menu that's packed with inspiring seafood options but also features sensational steaks. And all up and down Grace Bay Beach you'll find a variety of dining options: fresh fish, conch, lobster, steak, even tasty burgers.
What to Do
Chances are when you first see this gorgeous beach, all you'll want to do is grab a towel and chill. But after a few days of soaking up the sun, if you're looking for some activity, Grace Bay Beach delivers. The water is crystal clear and hard to resist.
Most of the resorts along the beach offer a long list of water sports to sign up for: snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, wake boarding, scuba, parasailing. Don't worry if your resort doesn't have what you're looking for, just walk down the beach and find one that does.
Looking for a break from the beach? Try one of the nearby golf courses or sign up for a fishing or whale-watching excursion. For the latest information and special deals on the different activities you can find in Provo, try the country's tourism Web site at www.turksandcaicostourism.com.
Where to Spa
What better way to enjoy your beach vacation than to sign up for some island-inspired pampering. Grace Bay's spa scene has exploded in the last few years. Usually you'll find the top-rated spas inside the luxury resorts. The good news is that you don't have to be a hotel guest to sign up for a treatment, which makes Grace Bay Beach an ideal place to spa hop. Some of the favorite choice include: the Thalasso Spa at Point Grace, the Spa at Regent Palms and the Anani Spa at Grace Bay Club.
What to Know
Temperature: Average 83F (hottest months September & October)
Money: U.S. dollar
Time Zone: Eastern Standard
Airport: Providenciales International Airport
Driving: Drive on the left side
Tipping: 15 percent is customary in restaurants
Electricity: 120/140 volts (same as United States)
Entry: Passport required
Exit: $35 departure tax
For more on Turks & Caicos and other inspiring Caribbean destinations check out Karen Schaler's Travel Therapy Web site at www.traveltherapytrips.com.