We’ve been back from Turks & Caicos for a few days now and I’ve been meaning to write down a few thoughts about our trip. We spent 8 days in a suite at the Ocean Club West Resort in Providenciales. My review of that place will follow separately but we could have had a better accommodation than we did. Nevertheless, the objective was to relax and spend quality time with the grandchildren and my son and daughter-in-law and that we did.
The challenge with TCI (as the country is referred to) is that it is quite expensive to both stay and dine there. It’s a series of islands and islands typically have higher costs when it comes to food. We knew that going in so we did what we could to keep costs down. My son actually travelled with a portable cooler that contained frozen steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs for his family’s consumption. He had no problem bringing the food into the country since it was frozen and was only meant for personal use. The resort has a couple of very good grills on site so he was able to grill up some food for his family on a few occasions. Steaks on the island typically cost in the area of $29-$36 so he saved considerable money there.
However, when I go on vacation I generally don’t want to cook and I do want to sample the local cuisine, so we did not go with the frozen food strategy. We do know that in most places breakfasts are over priced so we brought over breakfast snacks that we bought at Costco and went to the local supermarket near the resort and bought some items to make breakfast and lunch. Food there was more expensive than we find in the supermarket at home but it was still cheaper than going to a restaurant for breakfast. Since we had a kitchenette in the room we decided we could make french toast for a few meals and bought a small loaf of bread, a half-gallon of milk, a dozen eggs and some butter. Those items totaled about $18.00 – not cheap but cheaper than paying for one meal of French Toast at $10 a person. We got 6 French Toast entrees out of that and Art made a couple of omelets with the balance of the eggs. We also brought some flavored rum miniatures with us that we had purchased during our St Thomas vacation and I used portions of the Coconut Rum and Vanilla Rum to flavor the French Toast batter. Yummy.
And, even though dinners on the island aren’t cheap we found that many of the meals were high quality and delicious. It also pays to eat what’s local or what is considered normal food for the area. In TCI it’s conch in all its many forms. We had conch fritters, conch fingers, conch ceviche and conch salad. All were delicious, although the conch from Da Conch Shack was the best. Listed in the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die, the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. The Conch Combo did not disappoint. It was accompanied by another island favorite – rice and peas. I’m not a big fan of peas but these are pigeon peas. If you are Puerto Rican (like myself) you know them as gandules. So essentially rice and peas is Arroz con Gandules a dish I am very familiar with and love. I was in heaven. Since this is considered the off-season the service was excellent. I also had conch fritters at the Seaside Cafe at the resort and at the Tiki Hut Restaurant.
The Tiki Hut deserves a shout out for some of the best ribs I’ve ever had. Moist and sweet with sufficient meat on the bone to make them worth getting messy. The entrée cost $18 and that seems to be the going rate for ribs across the island. Their drink specials were pretty good too. Just make sure to apply your mosquito repellent before you go otherwise you’ll get eaten alive while you’re dining.
We also enjoyed Jimmy’s Dive Bar. It is what it sounds like – a dive – but the half-priced piña coladas during Happy Hour were very good and the conch sampler was very tasty and well priced. They serve breakfast all day – at high-end breakfast prices but are also known for a wide variety of hamburger platters. As dives go, it was really quite civilized and the service was also very good.
The only restaurant we went to that we considered to be overhyped and with less than stellar service was Hemingway’s at the Sands Resort. Our waitress did not take our order correctly and my entrée of crab cakes was ample but unremarkable. No one else was raving about their meal either so it was not the best experience. It also didn’t help to be downwind from a cigar-smoker lazing after his dinner by the pool, which is adjacent to the restaurant. Cuban cigars are available in TCI so I understand why someone would want to savor the experience but not next to where I’m eating a meal.
Another place we enjoyed was Giggles, an ice cream shop located right near Jimmy’s Dive Bar. Lots of selection in ice cream flavors and friendly service made this a fun stop. But in the TCI heat you have to scarf down your ice cream pretty quick before it melts all over you.
Overall, our outlay for dinners wasn’t cheap ranging anywhere from $45 to $85 per night for two people, most of the time with some form of alcoholic beverage (the rum punches go down very smoothly) but we enjoyed our meals and the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurants and the friendliness of the service all across Providenciales.
Priscilla (one half of the Travel2Some