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Our North and Middle Caicos Adventure

‘– by Mona Beeson, General Manager of The Sands at Grace Bay
A continuation of the Adventures of “Hartling Girls Empowered” ~ the exploration and sights of the Turks and Caicos Islands with GM, Mona Beeson and my special young teen friend from last year.

This year as with previous years, I had the wonderful opportunity to join in mentoring girls from the island at the Edward C. Gartland Youth Centre Summer Camp Program that took place at The Palms Resort called “Hartling Girls Empowered” – and, as an extension, to share a trip to North and Middle Caicos with a couple of these amazing girls – sisters in fact – along with Karen Whitt, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for The Hartling Group.

As you may remember in my post about last year’s trip, we are so enthusiastic about being able to share this experience that teaches these young ladies about their country’s heritage, history, and destinations facts firsthand. So we set our plans to paper and plotted out our course to explore an ambitious 10 sites in North and Middle Caicos, rounding out our day at famous Bambarra Beach for a swim and picnic lunch.


The car was packed with our cooler, picnic basket, beach bags (filled with towels, sun screens, and insect repellent – all a must) and, of course, a very necessary road trip snack bag! We were ready for our adventure with an early 7:30 AM pick-up for Karen and the two girls, soon we were on our way to Heavin’ Down Rock in Leeward and Walkin Marina’s Caribbean Cruisin fast ferry to North Caicos. Easy and convenient, all in one place we also arranged our North Caicos rental car there too with Caribbean Cruisin. Now, it was all about just sharing in a great experience!

On the fast ferry from Walkin Marina, we passed picturesque mangrove-clad inlets as our vessel splashed against the colorful turquoise waters, passing Little Water Cay, Half Moon Bay, Water Cay, Pine Cay, Fort George, Dellis Cay, and the famous private Island of Parrot Cay. All of these glorious islands and cays looked so inviting and beautiful from the water.

Once we arrived in North Caicos, we loaded-up the rental SUV and set out to the first stop on our map, Wade’s Green Plantation.

While that day it was closed, we set out on a 3-mile hike around it to explore the nature paths and took a rest on the area’s convenient benches. Quick tip for anyone looking to visit on a Sunday – you should call in advance to arrange a special tour. All-in-all the hike was delightful and insightful as we saw many indigenous plants and birds, and splendid scenery. Naturally we took photos of our adventure — a must for our memory books!

With our map out, we were on our way to Hollywood Beach via Pumpkin Bluff Pond. Having the SUV made for a fun off-the-road trek. Then we got back onto the main road to get to Hollywood Beach.

We met several potcakes once we arrived at Hollywood Beach, friendly dogs with wagging tails that headed right into the ocean for a dip. This beach and its four-legged visitors were fun to see. After a short walk, back on the road we went. We had to keep our schedule in order to end up at Bambarra Beach for lunch while also making it back in time for the last ferry to Provo…

The next stop on our adventure was Flamingo Pond. Up on a small hill, we proceeded to the lookout stage – any Flamingos out there?

This time we saw them only painted on the wall, but that didn’t stop us from taking some more selfies, and talking about the live pink flamingos we saw on the lookout stage during our last trip and in Grand Turk. Next it was time to hit the snack bag … and head on to the Causeway to Middle Caicos.

We passed through the little villages of Major Hill, and Bottle Creek on Kings Road enjoying the lush greenery and flowering trees. Once the Causeway came up, sparkling waters like glittering diamonds were all around. What a sight to behold, the colors of the water changed again. Simply amazing!

On Middle Caicos we turned left into the old Blue Horizon (now Dragon’s Cay Resort) to Mudjin Harbour. If you have never been here, this spot needs to be on your “life’s list” of places to see and experience. Imagine breathtaking bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean with some of the most stunning azure waters – it’s a definite must see!

Circle of Hope Prayer handsWe took in the views of not only the amazing bluffs, but also the two caves that are sure to stir the explorer in you at any age. The first pathway leads to a large cliff cave overlooking the Harbour. Another path leads to the sculpted bronze “Circle of Hope” prayer hands, dedicated to Dale Marie Witt. Picture time? Yes again! The higher level view – again amazing – will take your breath away (from both the hike up and the view).

Continuing on the pathway, we approached and saw mysterious stairs leading down to an underground cave.

It’s a place you are sure to think pirates must have hidden once upon a time. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but the cave walls won’t tell…


This is a wondrous cave – though last year’s storm took out some of the honed stalactite tips, it is still magnificent to see.

With its mesmerizing nature and beauty, it is certainly well worth the drive for peace, serenity… and for some delicious conch fritters at Dragon Cay’s Bar & Grill. Oh, and they make a delicious frozen lemonade too…

A special request from Karen for the girls – definitely refreshing! The view from the top deck is spectacular. Friendly staff, good menu, and a killer view to boot.

Now that we had hour respite, we were on our way to the Indian Cave. It’s been a while since it’s been weeded, though we’ve seen the road workers making their way down.

As it turns out, we drove right past the Indian Cave, so we’ve decided to head on to Bambarra Beach – and catch it on our way back. On the way over we stopped by the airstrip to take pictures and then quickly got back on our way.

Signs pointed the way to Bambarra Beach. Were pleased to see the new leveled road and soon saw the brightly colored Tiki huts in bright lime green, yellow, and turquoise as well as gorgeous light green waters just beyond a small cay in our view.

You may be surprised to see some folks you know like we did in this lesser traversed area.

We saw our friends from Provo visiting not only at Mudjin Harbour, but also at Bambarra Beach as well. It’s always nice to see a friend you know with a welcome smile.

The long awaited time had come to get into the water! If you have not yet gotten to Bambarra Beach, it’s great to know that the water is not deep – you have to wade a long way out before it gets a just a little bit deeper which makes it perfect. Many times I wanted to go out all the way to the cay…This time, I was determined to make it happen so off we went! Mind you, it does take a little time to wade through the water and get to that point, but we made it! Adventuring all along the way, we found smooth sand dollars and picture-perfect little shells as mementos of our day trip. We made it to the beach of that little cay, left our mark by piling up some stones, and then headed back – our picnic was waiting to be savored.

With lunch bags set out and the cooler setup, we had a lovely picnic lunch of assorted sandwiches, Caesar chicken salad, fresh fruits, snacks, and dessert. Well worth the wait for a tasty lunch. After a bit of a rest, it was time to back into the SUV and head towards North Caicos and the ferry.

We had just enough time to circle back to Indian Cave.

Making our way through Middle Caicos, Karen and the girls spotted the little sign “Indian Cave,” of course we pulled over! Car parked, we put on plenty of insect repellent to ward off bugs ~ all the ready for cave exploring. With little rain these past few weeks, it made it comfortable inside this cave.

The pathway was a little overgrown but we know soon enough that will be cleared away.

We spotted some interesting sights on the pathway leading to the cave…

Rosary pea or crab’s eyes plant , cotton plants, banana spiders, interesting seed pods such as these called Nickernuts , and more.




Then, once we got inside the cave, all of the magnificent green colors and long hanging tree roots from the ceiling to the floor welcomed us.

You can feel the cooler temperatures and see the high vaulted ceilings, and understand why this was a safe refuge for the Taino Indians.

The girls of course we’re all taking pictures and selfies for our memory books. I got a picture of Karen peering through those awesome vines. Fun! But now it’s time to get back into the car and head to North Caicos so we can make the ferry on time!

Passing through the causeway at Middle Caicos we stopped again to take some more beautiful pictures of the shimmery green water, then quickly got back in the car as we waved hello to some more friends from Provo passing us. They were visiting family on the Island. A honk-honk, friendly wave and a hello and we were on our way!

We made it back to the North Caicos dock with 18 minutes to spare. It was just enough to load up onto the ferry. What an adventurous day we all had! We boarded the ferry and within minutes we were well on our way to Provo. On the ferry ride back to Provo we shared more time talking with friends, listening to upbeat TI music, while our minds were saving memories and reminiscing about our day – already we were starting to dream about what our next trip should be. Hmmm, we think it’s going to be Salt Cay.

Until then…see you next time!


Turks Caicos Information

The Beautiful Beaches of Providenciales

long bay beach providenciales

In February 2015 Grace Bay Beach was once again recognized as the best beach in the Caribbean by TripAdvisor and as the #2 beach in the world. The combination of clear water, turquoise and emerald hues, and powdery sand captures the heart of anyone who visits our island.

While Grace Bay Beach may be the jewel in the Turks and Caicos crown, many other spectacular beaches await you here on the island of Providenciales.

To get you started we have created this brief guide to the beaches of Turks and Caicos.

About Providenciales

map of turks and caicos

Providenciales lies at the western end of a chain of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, just east of the Bahamas and about an hour by plane from Miami.

The Turks and Caicos Islands themselves are the tips of banks (basically coral atolls) that rise nearly 3000 meters above the ocean floor.

The bank on which our islands sit is made from the remains of ancient corals and shelled creatures. The chalky limestone has gradually eroded over time to give us the beautiful powdery sand that has made Grace Bay Beach a favorite location for so many people around the world.

The Caicos Islands ring the north rim of this massive white bank of sand. To the north of our island of Providenciales lies deep water.

Miles and miles of shallow water stretch to the south of Providenciales until deep water begins once again.

The combination of white sand and shallow crystal-clear water creates the intense turquoise hues that have made our islands so famous.

snorkeling in turks and caicos

Our island of Providenciales is about 20 kilometers long from east to west and about one or two kilometers wide. This makes Provo easy to explore.

Beach characteristics around the island vary from place to place. The beaches on the Leeward, northeast end of Providenciales tend to be wide with deeper clean sandy ocean floors.

Grace Bay Beach is located on Provo’s northeast coast. The gentle winds and calm surf have made this stretch of sand a paradise for beach lovers.

Learn more about the Turks and Caicos Islands here.

Leeward Side and Grace Bay

providenciales leeward beaches

Grace Bay lies on the northeast Leeward coast of Providenciales. As the name implies, the Leeward side of the island is less exposed to the trade winds.

Grace Bay is the perfect beach for relaxing or playing in the surf. The Sands at Grace Bay is located directly on Grace Bay Beach, which makes it popular if you have young children or just want to spend your time relaxing.

In fact, the location of The Sands at Grace Bay was carefully selected by its development company The Hartling Group – who pioneered the luxury resort development activity on Providenciales some two decades ago –  for its premier location on Grace Bay Beach.

Snorkeling Grace Bay’s Coral Gardens

Coral Gardens are quite close by to Grace Bay and lie about 15 minutes by foot down the beach to the east. The great thing about Coral Gardens is that anyone can wade out to the shallow reef to look at the beautiful fish.

turks and caicos snorkeling

If you like snorkeling, our 4 hour daily Snorkel & Conch Cruise is a must-do excursion!

Bight Reef

bight reef providenciales

Bight Reef lies yet further to the west of Coral Gardens. Unlike Grace Bay Beach, Bight Reef is very close to the heart of town and is very popular with visitors to Providenciales. Therefore this area can get quite crowded.

Smith’s Reef

There are three accesses here: one large parking lot, two smaller parking areas and three types of reef formations. Some reefs are close to beach, and some are farther out for more experienced swimmers.

Explore Leeward Beach Mangroves by SUP

turks and caicos sup

Back at Grace Bay Beach and the Leeward end of the island, other activities include kayaking, stand up paddling (SUP) and sometimes even surfing.

Leeward Beach, at the extreme eastern tip of Providenciales, is home to a unique mangrove ecosystem.

The calm water is perfect for SUP and kayaking trips. We think Stand Up Paddling is a perfect way to explore this incredible nature preserve.

It’s always best to go on this excursion with a guide. Contact our Tour Operator Desk for more information about touring the mangroves near Leeward Beach.

Blue Hills Beach

blue hills beach

Blue Hills Beach is located at one of the three original settlements on Providenciales. The main attraction of the area is scenic Blue Hills Road, which follows the ocean and provides memorable views.

Blue Hills Beach can be a quiet place to spend an afternoon but take note as it can be difficult to find parking or beach access. The beach can get rocky close to shore and there can be large amounts of seaweed.

The main draw? Several popular restaurants are located on this beach, including the world-famous Conch Shack.

Please ask our concierge before making a trip to Blue Hills Beach.

The Windward Side of Provo: Long Bay Beach

long bay beach providenciales

Like all islands in the Caribbean, the Turks and Caicos enjoys westerly trade winds. These steady winds provide cooling relief on sultry nights.

The strong, predictable winds also spell delight for surfers. As well, to take advantage of the wonderful wind on Long Bay Beach the Sands offers kiteboarding lessons.

Long Bay Beach

Long Bay Beach stretches along the northwest coast of Providenciales.

This stretch of coastline possesses the same beautiful sand and views of exquisite turquoise waters as other beaches on the island. However, there are few resorts on this side of the island.

Visitors generally have this beach to themselves.

provo pony tours turks caicos

Since Long Bay Beach is exposed to steady trade winds, the beach is a favourite destination for kiteboarders.

The quiet beach is also the destination for pony tours. It’s quite an experience to wade in the shallows with a group of gentle ponies.

For more information on kiteboarding lessons, tours, packages or equipment rentals offered in Providenciales, visit our Tour Operator Desk.

Provo’s Wild West Coast

Malcolm’s Beach

malcolms beach providenciales

This stunning beach is hidden on the west coast of Providenciales.

Deep water lies just off the rocky shore of Malcolm’s Beach. This results in booming, spectacular waves that crash on shore.

These same strong waves should be treated with caution. The excellent near-shore scuba diving at Malcolm’s Beach should only be attempted with a guide.

This beach is also isolated and you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to reach it.

Malcolm’s Beach does not have any facilities or food service so it’s recommended that you pack your own food and drinks. The remoteness of the location can also make it risky to leave valuables in your car.

Before traveling to Malcolm’s Beach be sure to contact our concierge for advice.

Beaches in the Five Cays

Sapodilla Bay

sapodilla bay sunset provo

Located south of Chalk Sound, this secluded and protected beach is a favorite island spot for walking. Visitors especially like going to Sapodilla Bay during low tide when tiny sandbar islands form just offshore.

Be sure to check out the Sapodilla Bay Hill rock carvings. Dating back to the 1700s, these interesting engravings and scribbles were left by the early settlers, salt traders and government representatives of the islands.

When you are in Providenciales International Airport you will note some of the replicas and castings of these carvings are displayed in the terminal building.

Taylor Bay

In the vicinity is tranquil Taylor Bay, a perfect place to take a young family for a swim.  The bay is so shallow that boat traffic is restricted leaving nothing but quiet.

Also remember to stick around until evening if you can – the sunsets here can be fantastic!

From Leeward Marina

Half Moon Bay

paddling near grace bay

Half Moon Bay is a pristine stretch of sand between uninhabited Little Water Cay and Water Cay. These cays are located just east of the Leeward end of Providenciales.

The beach here is only accessible by boat, boasts two uninhabited cays, and is one of the most spectacular stretches of sand in Turks & Caicos.

It’s a great beach for exploring the sandy coves and limestone cliffs, or snorkeling the small shipwreck located just offshore.

Companies like Caicos Dream Tours offer beach drop-offs and excursions to Half Moon Bay.

It is also possible to go kayaking or paddle boarding from the Leeward area of northeastern Providenciales.

If you choose to paddle over, remember that the typical east-southeast winds may make the return trip back to Providenciales a bit more work.

The Sands offers a Dream Day Getaway that explores the waters off the Leeward side of Providenciales.

Day Trips to Middle Caicos

Mudjin Bay (Harbor)

mudjin bay turks caicos

Middle Caicos, to the east of Providenciales, has the fewest residents of any island in the Turks and Caicos. Lined with walking trails, this large cay is perfect for exploring.

A highlight of the island are the Conch Bar Caves near Bambarra. Mudjin Bay is also a beautiful and exotic location to spend an afternoon.

middle caicos caves

Many visitors come to Middle Caicos as part of a tour or excursion. Sailboats will take you to the best snorkeling spots and will then drop you off on a private beach for a picnic lunch.

Dragon Cay

dragon cay middle caicos

Just off of Mudjin Bay on Middle Caicos lies Dragon Cay. This small cay becomes connected to Middle Caicos at low tide, making it great for exploring and beachcombing.

Learn more about tours to the Conch Bar Caves on Middle Caicos here.

Useful Links for Planning Your Trip

Interested in exploring more of the beaches of Providenciales and the surrounding cays? Here are some resources to help you out. And, as always, remember that the Sands concierge is always happy to help as well.