Situated on the north coast of Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Grace Bay is widely considered to be one of the best beaches in the world. In fact, it has claimed the top spot multiple times in votes by Conde Nast Traveler, TripAdvisor, Huffington Post and more.
As you see the 3-mile stretch of white sand drifting into the distance edged by luminous turquoise water you’ll have to agree that the polls might be right.
The Turks and Caicos islands are situated north of the Dominican Republic and east of Cuba and are considered part of the West Indies. A British Overseas Territory, the islands have a population of just 31,000 people, 24,000 of whom live on Providenciales (known as Provo), which is also the main tourist center. Renowned as a favorite winter sun haven for British and particularly Canadian travelers, Provo boasts multiple high-end resorts plus luxurious beachfront villas that deliver on the idea of an idyllic Caribbean getaway.
The best time to visit is December to April when flawless sunny days and calm waters are a welcome contrast to chilly temperatures in much of the northern hemisphere. Outside of high season, you may find that tourist excursions and restaurants reduce their hours or stop operating entirely, so check before you book if you’re thinking of an off-season getaway.
One of the most relaxing ways to start your day in Grace Bay is with a walk along the beach in the early morning before the sun gets too hot. The eastern stretch of the beach is quieter than the western end, where Club Med and other resorts have their beachfront loungers. The view looking out to see, however, is idyllic the whole way along. The Flamingo Cafe, near The Tuscany resort, is a cute place to stop into for morning coffee (or a rum punch if it’s later in the day).
Backed by one of the largest coral reefs in the world, the water in Grace Bay is swimming-pool calm, and just as clear. That makes it ideal for swimming and also snorkeling as the visibility is usually excellent. Your Luxury Retreats concierge can arrange a snorkeling trip, that will pick you up right from your beachfront villa in a shallow-bottom boat, then whiz you out to the reef so you can explore. Expect to see turtles, lemon sharks, parrotfish and maybe even a pod of dolphins on your snorkel safari.
For total beginners who pale at the idea of heading onto the open ocean, or if you’re showing your kids the ropes, the snorkel trail at Bight Reef at Coral Gardens just south of Grace Bay makes a great option. Clearly marked with bright orange buoys you can swim right out to the trail from the shore, and while you might not see dolphins or sharks you’re guaranteed to spot tropical fish and possibly turtles.
As with many Caribbean islands, watching the sun go down with a cocktail in hand is one of the great pleasures of a vacation in Turks and Caicos, and Grace Bay is one of the best spots in the island at which to enjoy the nightly show. Upscale resorts including the St Regis and the Gansevoort have chic beachfront bars right on the sand for you to stroll to before dinner. One of our favorites is Infiniti Bar at the Grace Bay Club, where a firepit and rattan lanterns lend a Balinese vibe and the bar snacks are so good you might forget dinner entirely.
While Grace Bay is certainly the main beach on Provo, there are several reasons to leave it behind for a couple of hours to explore other parts of the island. One such is the Marina, where you can stroll along admiring the boats and pop into to one of the relaxed delis for a coffee or fresh juice. Paddleboard and kayak excursions leave from here to explore the Mangrove forests on Mangrove Cay, or Little Water Cay, also known as Iguana Island. This spit of sand has no manmade structures and no population, save several hundred curious iguanas who roam the island and come to meet the human visitors that stop off to explore.
If dry land activities are more your thing, the island has a golf course that’s definitely worth exploring, as well as a popular tennis club. Provo Golf Club is known as one of the most challenging courses in the Caribbean and is open to all visitors. There’s no restriction on tee times, Taylor Made rental gear, and you’re practically guaranteed wall-to-wall sunshine as you make your way around the course. There are multiple water holes that serve as a kind of unofficial wetlands, so you might even see flamingos and pelicans along the way.
For a beachfront vacation that is truly hard to beat, one of our Grace Bay beach villas makes the ideal choice. Sleeping up to 20 people, our spacious, luxurious properties have everything you could need for a relaxing vacation. Private pools make it easy to cool off after a morning on the golf course, while the ocean is just steps away if you want to dip your toes in the surf, or pop on a snorkel mask (some properties provide snorkeling equipment) and explore the underwater world.
If you’re in the process of planning your big day, and the big vacation that comes next, a honeymoon in Grace Bay would be a wonderful idea. With chefs, massage therapists and more that can be arranged for you, you won’t have to lift a finger on your vacation, except to turn the pages of your book. Active couples can arrange for tennis lessons, or boat trips, paddleboard rentals, and kayaking, and there’s nothing more romantic than falling asleep to the sound of gentle waves lapping on the shore.