words and photos by Jacqueline d’Entremont
One afternoon while walking through a shopping centre my eyes glanced at this large world map an artist had painted on the wall. I walked over and instantly had an idea to search for a remote place to kiteboard. This is when the name Turks & Caicos Islands caught my attention. I spent the following days searching for information and photos in regards to this location. One month later I was on my way to this picturesque location to photograph Julian Hosp, a professional kiteboarder from Austria. I knew in my heart that this place was going to take my breath away.
How to get there:
It’s easy and hassle-free to get to the Turks & Caicos Islands with many major airline carriers such as American Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, US Airways, and Continental Airlines to name a few with daily flights either direct or via Miami to Providenciales. Average price range for airfare is $700.00-$1000.00.
Gear transport and local rental options:
Kite Provo will provide you with most of your kiteboarding needs while on the island. They provide transportation pick-ups as well as gear rentals. Rentals are for Level 2 & 3 kiteboarders only. There is a two-day minimum requirement with a secure cash deposit of $100. Available for rent are kites of various sizes, boards as well as harnesses.
The wind and how it works:
The wind is mostly sideshore/onshore. Frontal winds play a big role in the winter months and trade winds during the summer months.
1. Scuba diving One of the world’s most popular destinations for scuba diving. Natural wonders of the underwater world waiting to be discovered.
2. Snorkeling If scuba diving is not for you, there is no need to miss out on the underwater world. With the proper snorkel gear, you can enjoy the shallow water fish and corals.
3. Windsurfing On Grace Bay Beach the clear, calm water offers an ideal area to perfect your technique.
4. Deep sea fishing Listed as one of the top 20 hot spots in the world for Blue Marlin by Sport Fishing magazine.
5. Whale watching Salt Cay Tours specializes in soft in-water encounters with whales. Kayak with the Humpbacks or take a relaxing boat tour.
6. Surf the reef Rent a surf board or bring your own and ride the powerful surf on Northwest reef.
7. Visit the other islands & cays There is a taxi ferry that runs a couple times a day to other surrounding islands. Visit Parrot Cay where you can see homes of the rich and famous.
8. Watch sunsets from the beach For the hopeless romantics there are many private, secluded beaches you can explore with that special someone.
9. Visit Chalk Sound Intangible turquoise water, impossible to replicate in any form. Chalk Sound National Park is a must-see. It’s simply full of light and vibrance. Pictures do no justice to its beauty.
10. Boat Rentals Silver Deep Excursions offers many activities for the water enthusiast. Inflatable boats for two or four passengers and runabouts are available for adventure seekers. Explore Provo’s south shore beaches, bluffs, caves and snorkel sites.
It is not advisable to take the highly overpriced taxis.
There are options for low, medium and high budgets.
Places to stay on the islands can be from very casual to as elegant as your own private luxury villa.
If you are traveling on a low to medium budget there are a couple locations such as Kite Provo Kite Cottage, Comfort Suites as well as Turtle Cove Inn. High budget accommodations include: Grace Bay Club, Seven Stars and The Palms to name a few.
It’s easy to get around the Islands. Anyone, over 18 years of age, holding a valid driving license can rent a scooter. However, various car rental agencies offer a range of vehicles from economically priced, small compact cars to average priced jeep rentals as well as high-priced luxury vehicles. Rental policy states that you must be 25 years of age to rent a vehicle.
Top places for food:
The chefs of Provo offer a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes such as French, Italian, Thai, Japanese, regional American and native cuisine all with a Caribbean twist. If you’re on a low or high budget there are many delights that can satisfy the hungriest customer.
There are a few local favourite spots on the island that offer cozy, relaxed atmosphere and breath-taking views as well as the fancy, fine-dining experience. Here are a few of the better known restaurants.
The Conch Shack: Known for it’s famous Conch Salads.
Jimmy’s Dive Bar: An indoor-outdoor sports bar with amazing burgers.
Sharkbite: A pub-style restaurant with live entertainment.
Magnolia Restaurant & Wine Bar: Known for it’s breathtaking views and fine dining.
Coco Bistro: Know for their famous “Mudslide” beverages.
Any other Local Knowledge:
Providenciales is home to the only conch farm in the world.
Local currency is the U.S. dollar and the official language is English. But beware: You must drive on the left-hand side!
Spot Guide to kiteboarding locations:
1. Long Bay Waist-deep for miles; side-on-wind; flat water; best spot to ride freestyle and freeride
2. Grace Bay Only rideable when N-E Winds; choppy; side-on-winds; if swell, then great break on the reef.
3. North West Point Always the strongest wind, but side-off-shore; if swell, then great break on the reef, but no rescue!
4. Chalk Sound Difficult to enter and to ride, but amazing colours.
5. Turtle Tail Similar to Long Bay, but difficult to get there.
Closest Airport: Providenciales International Airport
Best Winds (Months): December, January, February, May, June, July
Best Surf (Months): December, January, February
Average Kite Size: 10-12 m2
Cost Factor: Medium to high price range
Local Tourism website: www.turksandcaicostourism.com
Local Shops: Blue Surf & Kite Gear, (649) 941-8670
Local Schools: Kite Provo, kiteprovo.com (649) 242-2927
Local Scene: Welcoming, friendly and always willing to help out.
Access Issues: Short Walks. It is strongly advisable to rent a car, otherwise it will be difficult to the various kite locations around the island.
Local Hazards: The occasional conch shell
Ability Level: Beginner, intermediate, expert
Fear Factor: Treacherous Northwest Reef
Julian Hosp sessions the breathtaking hues of the Turks & Caicos Islands.