After the slightest rum hangover wore off, we were up and ready to get the day started. At this point, we hadn’t even seen the beach yet and it was just 100 yards away. We walked across the street to the Grace Bay Club and checked out the scene. As you can imagine at a foofy resort, they had uber modern cabanas and umbrella/chair combos set up along the beach. The sand had been raked smooth with some sort of bulldozer. God forbid should you see footprints in the sand. You can’t let the visitors know that people actually walked on that same sand yesterday, even though there are about a hundred people currently running, tanning, and playing along the shore. I digress. The water was strikingly beautiful. Very clear, with a white sandy bottom. It actually sparkled from the undulations in the sand beneath the surface. I tried to take some pictures but couldn’t capture its luster.
We walked around the resort and oooo’d and ahhh’d over the chic pools and lounge areas. The grounds were certainly well kept. Landscapers were hard at work and every blade of grass seemed to be in place. Live orchids were hung from the palm tree trunks. It’s quite a magical place. And so interesting that the public beach access runs right through the middle of the resort. So if you wanted to, you could use the pool and just pretend like you are staying there. Noted.
We needed some water and snacks for the trip so we decided to brave the drive on the “highway” to the grocery store (IGA). After a challenging trip to get there, we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of the store. It was nicer than many of the groceries stores in the US! The prices weren’t too bad either. Some were comparable, others were about 1.5 times what they are in the US.
But we succeeded and dropped off the goods at home and were ready for lunch. We reserved a half-day excursion on the Caicos Dream Tours boat so were looking forward to that. But I didn’t want to starve to death the rest of the day so we headed to Jimmy’s Dive Bar again. We hadn’t eaten there yet and the menu looked good so we thought it was worth a shot. To our surprise, the food was great!! Really great actually. We were the only people at the bar until a middle-aged man joined us. Turns out, it was Jimmy! He chatted us up and wanted to ensure that everything was ok and to let him know if we needed ANYTHING. In fact, he said it several times. He runs a tight ship and has a great business attitude. He makes it very clear in his menu to not eat there if you are in a hurry. And he has flyers hung up around the bar with his personal phone number to text if anything is not to your satisfaction. Just be sure to check your change – we found many places on the island charged us incorrectly and/or gave us the wrong change. His flyers around the bar mentioned something about getting a time and date stamped receipt that was accurate or he would……do something.
We said goodbye to Jimmy and drove to Alexandra Resort where the snorkeling tour departs. I was skeptical about this type of human-herding, canned type of boat tour, so I kept my eyes peeled for children and troublemakers. Luckily, we were graced with only 3 children on a boat of 23. Not bad at all. We took off right from the beach behind the resort and went about our way east down the shoreline of Provo to go snorkeling. Throughout the afternoon, the crew members encouraged us to drink drink drink the beer and rum punch they had onboard. If I hadn’t had too many rum punches the night before, I would have been down for some drinks but I knew it wouldn’t sit well. Just a 15-20 minute boat ride and we arrived to the snorkeling spot just a few hundred yards off the coast along the barrier reef.
The Turks and Caicos has the third largest barrier reef system behind Australia and Belize. And it does NOT disappoint. I’ve been snorkeling a long time and I have to say I was in awe of how massive this system is. It runs along the entire coast of the island and we were just snorkeling one small part of it. It was incredibly vast and cavernous; so large that one could swim through and under large openings in the coral structures. Lots of places for critters to hide. We immediately saw a fairly large nurse shark hiding in one of caverns. The water was so incredibly clear I felt like I could see for miles. The reef was teeming with fish and marine life of every species. It was really magnificent. If it weren’t for the lame floaty things we had to wear, I would have been diving down to get a closer look. But only the captain was allowed to go without one. He was leading the way and attempting to catch a lobster but to no avail. We spent about an hour snorkeling around with him. I didn’t want to leave but everyone got back in the boat even though there was still plenty of time according to the crew. I hopped back in the boat and we took off for the next destination, Iguana Island (technically Little Water Cay).
More beer, more rum punch?, the captain hollers. I would be mashed potatoes by now if I had a drink every time they offered. We idled over to Little Water Cay while munching on a package of Doritos that the crew passed to each guest. I heart food and I really heart Doritos. What a pleasant surprise! We pulled up to the beach and were welcomed by iguanas scurrying every which way. This species is completely different than the Rock Iguana in the Bahamas. These have a cone shape cap on their tail, like built-in armour. And much larger spikes on the tops of their bodies. They are certainly not as tame as the others and frantically run around a lot. We perused our way along the trail to the Caribbean side of the island to take a peek but nothing exciting to see. Unless you are enamored with iguanas, it’s kind of a boring stop.
Time to move on the next stop, “shell beach”. They told us this was a great beach to find shells and to just walk around and enjoy. But first, the crew was going to do a conch cleaning demonstration. Lord knows I’ve seen that a million times but I watched the process again before walking off to check out the shells on “shell beach”. It’s a good thing I have no interest in shells because there weren’t any shells to be found, unless you’re up for an easter egg hunt. Shell beach, really? As we hop back on the boat, the crew had magically concocted an enormous bowl of conch salad while we were frolicking on the beach and served that with a variety of deli sandwiches. Score! I had no idea they were feeding us on this trip and I certainly didn’t think it would be good food! Winning! You don’t get crap on the half-day tours in the Bahamas. Yet now I’m getting free drinks (that I’m not even drinking) AND free food. Well, not free but you know. Oh, and it was $89 plus tax per person. Pretty reasonable for the package. But the kids, THE KIDS. You know what, its not the kids. IT’S THE PARENTS. Only three kids on the boat, yet the crew had to watch their every move. The parents were too busy chatting up other adults on the boat to realize one of the kids was swinging his 5 pound, sharp as shit conch around the others, standing too close to the front of the boat, and everything else kids do, all while the parents paid zero attention. I need a drink.
With full bellies, we idled away from the not so “shell”y beach and cruised into the Blue Haven Marina area where they park the fancy schmancy yachts on the island. These yachts were practically mini cruise ships, my god. I often wonder where people get their money. And if they are happy. Anyhoo.
It was time to head home, so the crew dropped off each guest right on the beach behind their hotel. Most of them took taxis to the departure point so it’s quite convenient that they drop you at your hotel on the way back. We made our way back to Alexandra Resort and then drove home to get changed for the night. We hung out for a bit and left for Ricky’s Flamingo Café to have dinner and drinks. It was right up our alley and just a few blocks from our apartment.
Think tacky island-colored wooden open-air restaurant on the beach. It seemed like a place some of the local American’s hang out as I concluded while eavesdropped on some of the conversations around me. The place was packed and a dude was singing his own version of karaoke on stage all night. Not bad actually. The food was just ok and my grouper looked an awful lot like a tilapia filet. Either, they are catching some really small grouper, or they think tourists just don’t know the difference. Hmph. It had a very cool atmosphere and a gorgeous view so we couldn’t complain. But, time to call it a night.