My review and photos from our November trip are below. We had a great time and hope to go back sometime.
Hotel- West Bay Club
We really enjoyed this hotel and would stay there again. We had a three bedroom luxury suite on the third floor. The rooms exceeded my expectations- very spacious, comfortable furnishings and two great balconies with gorgeous views of the ocean. It really was a one bedroom luxury suite connected with a standard two bedroom suite. So we had two kitchens, two living rooms, two washer and dryers and 3.5 bathrooms. One balcony had a table with four chairs, a lounge chair and two additional chairs with ottomans. The other balcony was a bit smaller with a table and four chairs. The king beds were very comfortable. Two bathrooms had a step in shower with one sink and the other had a separate tub and shower and two sinks. All the bathrooms were nice and spacious.
Even though the room was nice and comfortable—it was not my favorite thing about the resort—my favorite thing was the beach! Just stunning! The beach was very wide and uncrowded. In addition to palapas that were set a bit back from the ocean, the beach staff would set up umbrellas closer to the water. We actually preferred the palapas though because they were a bit bigger so provided more shade, and they were also taller than the umbrellas. There were complimentary beach activities- hobie cats, paddle boards, kayaks and snorkeling equipment. The water was nice, although a bit on the choppy side when we were there. We also enjoyed the delicious watermelon they brought out to the beach each day around 11. There is sea grass, but we saw a couple of stingrays while snorkeling in front of the hotel. And the sea grass was in the deeper part of the water, so it would not deter me from getting in the water at all. There was some seaweed on the beach (we were there right after a tropical storm that did not really hit Turks and Caicos, but I think just brought in some waves and the seaweed.), but they raked it up each morning. It was also a 10 minute walk to Coral Gardens for some great snorkeling (better than I had expected!).
We liked the location of the hotel—on a wider and quieter part of the beach, away from the main resort area. We were walking distance to the Gansevoort, Coral Gardens and Windsong for some variety. But I would recommend renting a car to explore the island and visit different restaurants.
The pool was never crowded—actually there was usually hardly anyone there. I didn’t spend much time there because I prefer the beach—but the terrycloth covered pool chairs were very comfortable. We also liked that there was an awning over part of the pool so you could be in the shade while in the water if you wanted. My husband also enjoyed the hammock.
All the staff we came across were very friendly and helpful. The concierge was helpful with making dinner and activity reservations and with giving us directions. The guys at the beach were there right away to set up the chairs and towels. They offered to take us out on the hobie cats too. We enjoyed the free cocktails (mmm rum punch!) at the manager’s party too.
I do have a few minor complaints, but these wouldn’t stop me from staying there again. The hotel used to advertise free bottled water on the beach—so I was expecting that. When I asked about it, they said it was available for purchase only. I checked their website and they had updated it to not include that, but I was still disappointed because we had to make another trip out to the store for more bottled water. One of the twin beds was very noisy every time you moved. We saw a large roach one day—they sprayed the next day and we didn’t see any other bugs in the room for the rest of the trip. The continental breakfast was ok, but the juice was often warm, occasionally the milk didn’t taste right and we came across a couple of stale bagels one day. They played hip hop and pop music at breakfast every morning. Personally I like that music, but I would have thought they would-have played more islandy music instead- I think that would have provided a better ambiance. There was a mistake on our bill—drinks purchased by people in another room were charged to our bill (the room number was similar, so I can see where the mistake happened), so make sure to check your bill carefully.
Activities- We did a lot of relaxing on this trip, but still managed to fit in some activities. We spent a lot of time on the beach at the West Bay Club and took a few beach walks in either direction. My husband enjoyed the kayak, although he said it wasn’t that easy because the water was choppy.
Island exploring- we went to the Regent Village, Salt Mills and Ports of Call shopping areas, the cultural center (Why do they call it the cultural center? Seemed more like a chotskies market to me!), the environmental center, and Chalk Sound. I don’t think our minivan would make it up the road to go to the Chalk Sound viewing area though—so we only viewed it from Las Brisas (which was still quite a view!) Or maybe we were at the wrong place—we tended to get lost a lot! We also tried to get to the plantation ruins, but had no luck finding it.
We took quite a few walks down to Coral Gardens for snorkeling. The snorkeling was much better than I had expected. Saw lots of barracuda (including Elvis who was huge! Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of him.), file fish, trumpet fish, lots of parrot fish (I have seen parrot fish often, but never so many of them together), jacks and many others. One day I also saw a glimpse of a large shark. I was coming back in and had already taken off my mask when I heard a guy yelling that there was something large in the water. So I quickly put my mask back on and a large shark swam right by me. I only got a quick glimpse, but I think it was a reef shark and possibly 4-5 feet. I have swam with sharks before, so it didn't scare me. I wish I had been quick enough to get a photo of it! About an hour later I saw my parents walking on the beach and as we were all walking back to our hotel, we saw a large shark swimming in the shallow water along the beach. I am guessing it was the same one.
We saw some stingrays near the West Bay Club, but that was about it. I was disappointed not to see any turtles.
We drove down to Smith’s Reef one day. The water was calmer here than Grace Bay which made for some good snorkeling. Saw sea anemone, an eel, more barracuda, a colorful queen angel fish and many other beautiful fish.
Snorkeling Boat Trip- I wanted to go out with Dive Provo, but they were not doing a snorkeling trip the week that we were there. We ended up doing a half day snorkeling trip with Big Blue instead where we were supposed to be gone until noon and have 3-4 snorkeling spots. It was a bit expensive, at $115 per person (compared to Dive Provo’s half day which I think was $55). It was an adventure. There were only 5 passengers on the boat—our group of 3 and another couple—which I thought was great because I prefer small snorkeling groups. The first place we snorkeled was a bit too rough—but if it had been calm I would imagine it would be phenomenal because there was a lot to see. We then made our way to the mangroves in search of calmer water, but it was too murky for snorkeling. We went to another spot- again it was really rough, but a lot to see. The next stop was the roughest and our adventure began— the captain put the anchor down and then later drove the boat with it still down. I’m no boat captain, but I don’t think you’re supposed to do that! The anchor got stuck, the boat was moving and the bow broke! The captain had to jump in the water to break the anchor free, then we had to try to steer the boat so it wouldn’t hit the coral or hit the captain (and we were unsuccessful unfortunately and hit the coral). With a broken anchor and bow, we made our way back to shore, about an hour early. They did give us a $15 per person discount for the trip being cut short. We were not in a mood to argue as our nerves were shot, but I really wish we had asked for more of a discount since we essentially missed out on a third of the trip. I would try a different company next time.
Semisubmersible- Since my parents are not big on snorkeling, they took the semisubmersible. It went out on Smith’s Reef. They enjoyed the one hour trip and saw a few turtles, stingrays and many fish. This was a good way for them to enjoy the underwater world without getting wet.
Glow Worm/Sunset Cruise—I had really struggled as to whether this would be worth the cost before we went—but we thoroughly enjoyed it. We were lucky to be there at the right time, since the glow worms only do their thing once a month. We went out with Outback Adventures. The boat was a double decker which afforded great views. The captain was a bit eccentric, but entertaining for the most part. The cruise left from Sapodilla Bay and you had to walk in the water to about knee deep to get on the boat—so make sure to wear shorts! We cruised around a bit and looked at some beautiful homes on the shoreline, a boat wreck, and a gorgeous sunset. We then made our way back to Sapodilla Bay to watch the glowworms. It was an interesting site, and we enjoyed watching them from the top deck which I think gave a better, more panoramic view. I would definitely recommend this trip since it’s something a little different that you can’t see everywhere.
Beaches- We did not get to do as much beach exploring as I had hoped because we were just plain lazy! We spent most of our time on Grace Bay. We also visited Taylor Bay which was calm and beautiful. This would be a great place to take kids since the water was very shallow, really far out. We also briefly visited Sapodilla Bay, but preferred Taylor.
Somewhere- We had chicken quesadilla, grouper seared, grouper ceviche, fish tacos and hamburger, chips and salsa—all good. It was my husband’s favorite ceviche of the trip. My Father did not like the seared grouper (but I’m not sure he realized how it was prepared when he ordered it!). Nice atmosphere, ok service.
Pizza Pizza- We had the following pizzas- seafood, cheese and pepperoni, veggie- good pizza, kind of NY style, better than I expected—but note that it doesn’t have the full menu that the other location does—we went to the one very close to the West Bay Club. We ate there instead of ordering it in the room. Another night we tried to order it for delivery, but just kept getting a busy signal and gave up.
Da Conch Shack- We had conch fritters, conch soup, grouper fingers, fried grouper, fries, peas and rice, mac and cheese—I did not like the fries but my family did (thicker cut fries with skins). Really liked the fried fish and conch fritters! Favorite conch fritters of the trip. Loved the location on the beach and there were also some great photo ops.
Upstairs— We had to wait an hour and a half for our food— that is just too slow and they gave us a 15% discount and offered us free dessert. We did not take them up on dessert because we didn’t want to wait for it! The burgers were very good (aside from them putting sauce on mine that I asked for on the side and it not being cooked like I asked). My sister had pizza which was just ok. Cracked conch was great but the conch salad was not very good. Liked conch fritters at Da Conch Shack better than the cracked conch here.
Tiki Hut for ribs and chicken night- My favorite meal of the trip. I had the chicken and both that and the mashed potatoes were delicious. Family had the ribs which everyone enjoyed. My sister had the pizza which was just ok. Husband also had conch salad and it was just ok. The food came out pretty quickly. We were a bit early for our reservation, but they kept seating walk ins ahead of us. It could have been because we were a larger party, but still annoying. We were seated a while after our reservation time because they were waiting for the people at our table to leave. I couldn’t figure out why they just couldn’t give us a different table as there were some open.
Magnolia’s- the shrimp tempura was great. The special of manicotti was just ok (sauce was too sweet for my taste). Chicken dish was my sister’s favorite of the trip. My Husband had the app of tuna tar tar (he loved that), shrimp, mozzarella with balsamic and veges, and spring rolls. Onions soup was also good. They had happy hour specials from 4-6 with wine for 5 or 6 dollars, well drinks 5 dollars and select beers were $3. Warm bread was delicious as was the chocolate cake and banaoffee dessert. It would be nice if they would start serving dinner earlier at this time of year so the sunset could be enjoyed during it. We did go early at 5:30 for drinks—but that was still a little late for sunset. Our dinner reservation was when they opened for dinner at 6. Great service at this restaurant.
Las Brisas—we sat on the gazebo right on the water—that water color is amazing! Best view for sure. Service was pretty fast. They had my kind of fries (thin and crispy!). Chicken tenders, burger, chicken sandwich and crab cakes were all good, Conch fritters and fish ceviche were good, but not the favorite of the trip.
Mango Reef- This restaurant had a great ambiance, right on the beach at the Alexandra. NaDa played that night. The staff were very friendly and the service was efficient. We had the coconut shrimp, wings, tenderloin, salmon, thai tuna salad and mango and scallop salad. Warm chocolate cake and crème brulee for dessert. All were delicious!
Atlantic Bar and Grill (at West bay Club)- I did not eat there, but my family did—they had chicken tenders (good), burger (just ok), chicken sandwich (good), and pizza (ok). The food in general at the restaurant was fine, but nothing special.
Coco Bistro- Loved the ambiance here eating under the palm trees outside. It was just my husband and I that night. Unfortunately, my husband didn’t feel well so he didn’t really enjoy his food. He had the conch two ways and lobster bisque. I had the ribeye. It was good but not anything special. But the crème brulee for dessert was wonderful!
Rental Car- We rented a minvan from Grace Bay Car Rentals. The service and price were fine. The car was ok, but I think we’d go with a different company next time—the car was a bit cumbersome for our big group-- to get in the middle and back there was only one door. We saw other minivans around that had more. The seat belts were also difficult and on our second to last day the ac stopped working (but for some reason worked again on our last day!). It also made weird noises when we would put the ac on high. I would definitely recommend renting a car—even if only for a few days. Just to have the freedom to explore the island on your own time, and the driving was not that difficult (my husband did the driving and got used to driving on the left pretty quickly!).
I would not say that it’s my new favorite island (that still belongs to St. John with Virgin Gorda and Anguilla being close seconds). I found the colors of the water to be the best in this area of the world and the snorkeling was better than I expected. I thought that the beaches were almost as beautiful as those in Anguilla. I did miss the scenic topography of the Virgin Islands and the local Caribbean feel that I found in Anguilla though. With all that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the island and would like to return sometime.
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My review and photos from our November trip are below. We had a great time and hope to go back sometime.