Provo Crawlin’

We had all day to beebop around the island to see everything we could possibly see in a day’s time. That would, of course, include stopping at all the bars and restaurants that were recommended to us. Too bad we can only eat so much. But who says we can’t bar crawl our way around the island? It just makes driving on the left side even more exciting!

The Conch Farm was the first activity on our list. It. Was. Amazing. Anyone who likes to dork out on science like I do would be FASCINATED by this self-sustainable conch and soon-to-be fish farm. The Caribbean islands depend on conch for both food and income and overfishing has left its numbers dwindling. The Caicos Conch Farm was built in 1984 by some American investors that wanted to test the concept of farming them. So far it’s been a huge success and the meat is actually sold to fancy restaurants in the US. All of this, of course, was learned on the tour we took. So let me take you back.

We arrived right after opening, around 9:45am on Saturday. It was clear we were the only ones there as there was only a truck in the parking lot. A nice lady is sitting in a chair in front of the office/gift shop, which is adorned in conch shell jewelry, ornaments and such. The tour cost $12 per person and she put us in a small room that looked to serve as the museum where an orator will talk us through each photo on the wall. About ten minutes later, a gentleman walked in and welcomed us. It was clear he had done this a few times as had his presentation perfectly memorized. For at least 15 minutes, he moved through the storyboards without a single misstep or “um” or “uh”. I’m pretty sure I was mouth-breathing at this point because I was so intrigued and enamored with what he was telling us. I had so many questions but I didn’t want to interrupt his perfect script or it might throw him off. I struggled to remember my questions while listening and then thinking of even more questions. I couldn’t WAIT to see the rest of the farm. He finished and I forgot all of my questions. Hmph. But this was so damn exciting.

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The adolescent conch are grown in the bay in those circles

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Baby conch trays

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We walked into the property and he first took us through the “nursery”. Each section of trays were home to baby conch of all different ages. Then he pointed to what I would call pastures in the flats of the ocean and discussed the entire process of farming and harvesting. You can see several large circles of stakes sticking out of the water. In here, they keep conch from 1-4 years old and they are fed and tended to every day. Crazy!

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He showed us where the ocean water comes in, algae is grown, fed to the conch, then filtered clean water goes back into the ocean. Fantastic! Used hops and barley from the local brewery are ground up and mixed into conch food! They are now also piloting a fish farm program. We got to peek in the tanks where they are currently breeding grouper, snapper, pompano, cobia, and amberjack. I was hooked. This place is like a biological amusement park for nerds like me! I wanted to poke around the place forever but our guide was clearly ready to be done with this. So we continued on. The last stop of the tour was to wake up and violate a male and female conch. They even had names, which I forget. They weren’t cooperating very well but I WAS able to see the female parts and the male parts. Interestingggggg. At this point, I feel a little bad about eating them but, well, survival of the fittest right? I would highly recommend stopping here if you find yourself in Provo. It’s really neat and all just a big experiment. A very expensive experiment/hobby. Oh and I failed to mention it is the ONLY conch farm in the world. Yep, the entire world.

That was the first stop on our all day tour. We decided to head to Bugaloo’s but thought we might get there a little too early to eat. Bugaloo’s is a restaurant that our friends recommended and that we also read all over Trip Advisor. It is located on the south side of the island so we had quite a drive ahead of us. By the time we got there, it was still barely open and a bit too early to eat so we decided to check out Sapodilla Beach and Taylor Bay Beach, two of the “must-see” beaches on the island. We ended up taking a loooooong rocky industrial road that we shouldn’t have and I feared we might get a flat. But we made it safely back to pavement and entered a very ritzy neighborhood. The roads are narrow and windy and we somehow missed Sapodilla Beach but I recalled seeing a few cars parked along the road. So it must have been there. A lot of the beach access points don’t have parking lots. You just have to make a parking place somewhere that won’t piss off the millionaires who live there. The homes are gargantuous by the way. The common building style on the island is modern and Miami-like….stark white and very geometrical. Glass balconies and massive entry gates. The money. The MONEY. I could live a whole year on what these people spend on their mailboxes.

Anyhoo, we continued our drive down Beverly Hills, and found Taylor Bay Beach. And everything I read about it was accurate. For a couple hundred yards, nothing but ankle to knee-deep crystal clear water and white sand. Baby starfish everywhere. There were a few small groups but for the most part a very private beach. However, there were homes along the entire bay so privacy is limited and short-lived. I frolicked in the water for a few minutes, took some pictures, and we moved on. It’s got nothing on Exuma. We continued our drive through Beverly Hills looking at all the homes and drove into the Chalk Sound area. It too was gorgeous. The bluest water we’ve seen yet and it’s not even the ocean. Interesting. Our home tour was fun but it was time for Bugaloos.

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There were several people already eating so we were good to eat lunch now. The outdoor restaurant sits on a large bay area with the a backyard of sandbars for daysssss.   There was a man cleaning fish down by the waters edge so I went to check out his catch and had a little chat. He was from Haiti and catches and cleans fish for the restaurant. Came to Provo on his own. I love the picture that I took of his little station. The vibe was cool and I could tell it’s a fun place to hang out but it was really quiet while we were there. The one-man band was setting up and had music playing in the meantime. I’m not sure what he thought American’s wanted to listen to but he played disco music the whole time. Picture wedding music like Brick House and Dancing Queen. I mean, really? And it was blaring. It couldn’t end soon enough. And I couldn’t eat quick enough. My conch burger was just ok. Again, seems like a cool place, we just hit it at a bad time I think. Still have yet to feel, see, or hear any culture as I was hoping to. I think I’ve come to the wrong place.

Off to the next bar. We HAD to go to Da Conch Shack. Everyone raves about it. After several missed turns and roundabouts, we found it! And Kalooki’s was right next door so we stopped there first. It had a great outdoor bar and restaurant over looking the ocean that looked fairly new and/or well taken care of. We had a drink at the bar and chatted with the bartender for a bit before walking to Da Conch Shack, another outdoor bar and restaurant that was certainly more of a casual dive shack. Definitely my style. Picnic tables in the sand, a small wooden bar, and palm trees everywhere. It was a super cute place. It, too, was a bit quiet so we just had one drink and headed back to the house for a little booze snooze.

Fast forward to dinner. Shark Bites is a restaurant at the Marina at Turtle Cove that was recommended to us. We parked in the wrong spot so we wandered our way to the restaurant via the dock instead of the front door. Oops. Dinner was really great but the environment was a bit strange. We had three different waitresses, the table next to us was complaining about everything, and we sat in awkward silence for the most part as there wasn’t any music playing on the deck. We saw a huge shark swim by our table so that was cool! Time to head back to Jimmy’s and see what’s going on. Nothing really. We had a drink, rolled our eyes at a group of loud drunkards hovering in our personal space, and called it a night.

Go to the conch farm!

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