We’re pinching ourselves. It’s not every restaurant where you dine with sugar-soft sand between your toes, a view of the stars twinkling over the ocean and the whisper of waves in your ears. That’s why Barefoot restaurant at Beaches Turks and Caicos, where we feast on local seafood including lobster and conch fritters on simple wooden tables and benches on the sand itself, is our favourite among a choice of nearly 20 in this vast resort.
'One day we took a little boat out to Little Water Cay or "Iguana Island", where a boardwalk leads you on a trail through the mangrove-dotted habitat of 2,000 wild rock iguanas. Here we got the chance to plant young mangrove plants as part of a volunturism project to shore up the island against erosion.'
‘Where is that?’ was the most common response from people to whom I mentioned our trip to Turks and Caicos – this despite a 2014 movie of the same name, starring Winona Ryder, Christopher Walken and Bill Nighy, among other luminaries.
For those who don’t know, TCI, as they are known for short, are a tropical British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, the largest and most-populated of which is Providenciales. Our destination was a large all-inclusive property on Providenciales.
Though I was familiar with Beaches – sister resorts to the adult-only Sandals – from its other properties in Jamaica, Beaches Turks and Caicos is on another level, with four ‘villages’ of accommodation, each in a different style, a large waterpark including a lazy river and a surf simulator, activities for all ages and best of all a plum setting on a gorgeous 16km-long beach lapped by turquoise waters.
Zac was in heaven from the moment we arrived to the moment we left, when tears and hysteria were only held off by his extracting from me a promise that I would bring him back one day. Although we spent a lot of time on that fabulous beach and in the waterpark and pools (BIG thumbs-up for the swim-up bars), the real highlights of the trip for us were the excursions that are available via Island Routes, which has a desk in-resort.
One day we took a little boat out to Little Water Cay or ‘Iguana Island’, where a boardwalk leads you on a trail through the mangrove-dotted habitat of 2,000 wild rock iguanas. Here we got the chance to plant young mangrove plants as part of a volunturism project to shore up the island against erosion. The next day we went out again by catamaran, whooshing into the Caribbean via its 2.5m-long slide, snorkelling in the clear waters and inspecting sand dollars.
On another day, I took Zac to see what it’s like in a Caribbean school on a Reading Road Trip organised by the Sandals Foundation to raise money for local communities and social development. This unique initiative gives children the chance to read to and chat with local schoolchildren and to gift them a book from home. I’m not sure who was more excited about the encounter, Zac or the local kids, but I do know that he’ll never forget the experience.
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