At Home in the Caribbean

070904_Ramona_turks_caicos.jpgAt Fodor’s we always try to find writers who live in the places they write about, so when one of our long-time writers in the Turks & Caicos took a new job and moved back to her native U.K., we began looking for a writer to cover these islands. We didn’t have to look further than our own Fodor’s forums. Those who are familiar with our Caribbean message boards may recognize the name “blamona.” She is actually Romana Settle, who lives most of the year in the U.S. but spends as much time as possible in her second home in Providenciales. We recently chatted with Ramona about her transition from Fodorite to Fodor’s writer and about life in Turks & Caicos

How long have you been active on the Fodors.com forums?

I’ve been active in the forums for about 3 years.

The reviews and trip reports you post are always right on the money in terms of capturing the feel of a place. How did you get so good at this?

My quest in life is to find the world’s most perfect beach. I’m so obssessed with travel that I relive my trip by giving my observations to others and relive it again by reading other people’s opinions. It’s also a rush to find other people just as crazy about a place as I am.

Had you done any travel writing previous to the work on the Turks & Caicos chapter of Fodor’s Caribbean 2008?

I’ve never written before, and I’m actually the world’s worst speller. However, one of my hobbies is taking pictures, and I’m actually decent at that. Pictures help me remember everything that I want to pass on to others, too.

Has your work on Fodor’s Caribbean led to any other travel-writing jobs?

Yes. I’ve now done some freelance writing for Times of the Islands and Where When How magazines, both in Turks & Caicos. This assignment also gave me the opportunity to take many additional photographs of places I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, and I’ve won some ribbons for them — and sold a few, too!

How much time do you spend in Provo every year, and how did you come to get a house there?

We spend about five weeks every year around Christmas, as well as a few long weekends in the spring and summer. Luckily, we are also able to go to other places in between. Since I was 12 I’ve wanted to have a place in the tropics with a palm-filled yard. I looked at many different islands, and Provo seemed the best choice for a vacation/retirement home. First of all, the Turks & Caicos has no taxes. And when I started looking, Provo was an up-and-coming island; unfortunately, I could never buy my home again — property is way too expensive now. Provo also has one of the world’s most perfect beaches. And it helps that my husband fell madly in love with Provo, too.

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What are some of your favorite restaurants on Provo, and what do you like about them?

I love rib night at Tiki Hut, and their char-grilled wings. I’ve been trying to get the recipe for the sauce. For an upscale dinner I love Grace’s Cottage, and I find Coyaba Restaurant to be one of the finest dining places in the entire Caribbean — and I’ve been to Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barths, which are known for their great food. Finally, I think Anacoana may possibly have the best setting in the entire Caribbean.

Where do you recommend friends stay if they can’t stay in your house?

My favorite resort is The Somerset, and that’s where my sister stayed for her honeymoon. It’s actually one of my favorite resorts in the world. For families on more of a budget, I always recommend The Sands at Grace Bay. The best “bang for the buck” may very well be at Royal West Indies Resort; it’s a fantastic and romantic place, especially for the money. Turks & Caicos Club feels like a home away from home, only nicer. And if money is no object Parrot Cay can’t be beat. It’s one of the most spectacular places in the world.

What are the best activities for families in Provo?

I love “beach getaways” — Gilligan’s Island or Survivor-type adventures, where they drop you off at a secluded beach on an isolated cay with drinks, food, umbrellas, and lounge chairs, then you decide how long you want to stay. These are really awesome adventures. Catamaran trips that stop at the smaller cays are also great. A day-trip to Grand Turk offers a completely different experience. Familes will enjoy basically anything to do with that stunning turquoise water.

Do you have a favorite beach?

My favorite beach is Half Moon Bay, and I simply can’t believe I can have it all to myself sometimes. I also like Malcolm’s Beach. Of course, Grace Bay is a stunner. Sapodilla Bay is excellent for kids and for picnics. Pelican Beach has huge conch shells to collect. Parrot Cay’s beach has nonstop turquoise hues to study. Middle Caicos has some stunning beaches and gorgeous cliffs. The water in Grand Turk is so sparkling clear that it doesn’t seem real. Ok — I’ll admit that I haven’t actually met a beach in T&C I didn’t like.

Doug Stallings

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