Trip Report Dec. 1-8

Dec 9th, 2007, 06:47 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 23
Trip Report Dec. 1-8

We returned from a fabulous week on Provo late last night. We are in our late 30's celebrating our 20th anniversary. We rented Coriander Cottage from tcvillas. We arrived around 2:30 on the 1st and two other planes came in at the same time. The arrivals area is in serious need of organization! All those people were milling around waiting for bags to arrive on 1 small baggage belt. When the bags came out, all the planes' baggage was mixed in together and they had random airport personnel grabbing some bags and throwing them out on the floor at various parts of the belt. This left us searching the belt AND all around in and out of the people to find our bags. It was a mess. Then we all herded into many lines merging to one to go through customs. Since we brought in a cooler of food, I got in the declarations line (wrongly, we found out) and we got through without them even looking in our bags. We went outside and the rep from tcvillas met us at the Budget Car booth. We got our car and away we went. It wasn't too long, just very chaotic at the airport. Can't wait to see what happens when all the building is done and tons of planes are coming in there!

Driving on the left, we made it to Coriander Cottage, which is in the Turtle Creek area. We rented it from Henry Moog, who rents several villas on the island. He and his staff are very friendly, and made sure everything was perfect from the time we booked until we got home. I would recommend them every time. The cottage was everything they promised it would be! It is a cute little cottage, big enough for two. All made of stone and weathered wood, it is just perfect for seclusion and enjoyment. As you walk up the path, you duck around several trees and up the stone laden path to the front door. To the right is the laundry room. Straight ahead is the door. Conveniently enough, there is no key to remember. It opens with a code. Once inside, to the left is the kitchen area. The whole house has cathedral ceilings and is light and airy. The kitchen has marble countertops, and all the amenities that you might need, including, most importantly, a blender! The kitchen is separated from the living room by a bar and the living room has the couch and television. At the end are french doors leading out to the deck. We left these open when we were there to feel the sea breezes. As you come in the door, to the right is the bedroom. It has of good size, with a king size bed. On the end of the room, another set of french doors open to the stone floored deck and pool. These let in the gentle sea breezes while you laze in the comfy bed and stare out at beautiful blue skies in the day, or count the millions of stars at night. At night you can also hear crickets and other night sounds, mingled with the gentle crashing of ocean waves. It is pitch black at night. So wonderful!! On the other end of the bedroom is the marble and tile bath. Out on the deck is a small pool, some chairs, a grill and our favorite part, an elevated gazebo type structure, we called the perch, or crow's nest. Up there are chairs and a small table and we took alot of our meals there, overlooking the ocean. At night, we stargazed and just enjoyed the night and view. The cottage is about 100 yards back from the beach and is secluded enough to sunbathe in the buff if you desire (and I did, because I could! ha ha). There is a sandy path to the beach and once there, you are on the best reef on the island, accessible by shore. This is Smith's Reef. We didn't see many people there all week and we were out there twice a day most days.

We considered Smith's Reef to be the best reef, compared to the one at Grace Bay. The one at Grace Bay is roped off for Reef Reconstruction in the center and that takes alot away. I'm not complaining, because I think we need to take care of the reefs, but it did make the area to be snorkeled much smaller. Still it is a nice reef to look around on. Smith's Reef is much larger and you can spend hours there and see something different every time you go out. We saw a million fish, large schools of Horse Eye Jacks, barracuda, a nurse shark, a stingray, a sea turtle, to name a few. The reef is alive with colorful coral, fans, formations, and grass. It is just brilliant and alive and wonderful to explore. Every time you get in, you are excited to see what's out there today. The view is ever changing and it is awesome! However, the currents can be strong and we recommend taking an orange, blowup, diver's buoy so that boats can see you. It is close to the channel out of the Turtle Creek Marina and some boats do come right into the beach for some reason. It's better to be safe than sorry. The other reef that was fantastic was out past the barrier reef. If you look out over the crystal clear, brilliant blue waters, you can see an area where waves are crashing in on the horizon. It is not far from shore. Beyond this line, about 1/2 mile, is where the 7000 foot drop off is. We managed to get a tour to take us just beyond the waves and the reef there is stunning! It looks like little mountains and valleys with tons and tons of different colored coral and fans, fish, and other sea life. There are crevices and holes and other places for things to hide and we were very excited to get to go there! It was really worth it!

About the island: Provo is really just a large piece of coral with some scrubby grass and trees popping up off of it. It really isn't pretty, other than the water. The real beauty lies in it's people. The people are so very friendly and helpful. They are on their own pace, not in a hurry, and smiling always. They are pleasant and fun to talk with. They seem to lead a simple life, but a very fulfilling and happy one. The roads are interesting. Not a stoplight or stop sign anywhere on the island. They depend of traffic circles to regulate traffic and, surprise, no road rage! There are a few paved roads, but the rest go from well smoothed out coral to full of potholes, don't fall in, to 2 track sand roads. It depends on where you are. Gas was $4.70 a gallon! Thankfully our tank only held 6 gallons and the island is only 20 miles tip to tip.

We took a cooler of frozen meats and cheese, butter, water, etc. and a suitcase of canned and boxed food. Food is about 30% more on the island. We bought fresh produce there at the IGA. We ate in most of the time. The restaurants on the island are extremely expensive. We found most to offer entrees in the $20-$30 range. Instead of eating out and wasting our money that way, we would go and have drinks and an appetizer or dessert, and eat in for the main course. It saved a ton of money. We had the Caribbean Nachos at Tiki Bar-very good! We had the B-52 cheesecake at Baci's- yummy! It has Grand Marnier, Baileys, and Amaretto in it. We ate a take out lunch at Bangkok express one day and lunch in at Danny Buoy's on our last day there. Both were good and reasonable in price. We had conch fritters at Da Conch Shack one night. The setting there is fun, right on the beach and they pick your conch up right from their pen in the ocean. We also had dinner at Jimmy's Dive Shack one night. The waitress there was one of the only 2 not so friendly people we met. No matter how nice we were, she just never warmed up or even cracked a smile. Odd. The food was okay though. Our one splurge was at Hemmingway's at the Sands. Very beautiful at night, with glowing tiki torches, deckside seating, and right on the beach. We each had the Mahi Mahi fish and chips, and I had a crab cake, he had a salad, 2 drinks and 2 soft drinks. It was $80. Everything was delicious and the setting was just right.

Trips: We knew that we wanted to take a trip with Caicos Dream Tours because we had heard that they were so nice. They are hard to find once you are on the island because they don't advertise much. We finally got their number from the manager at the Turtle Creek Marina after seeing their boat leave there a few times. We called John to get in the Snorkel Mania trip. He told us that he didn't run that any longer, but he signed us up for the Conch lunch and snorkel trip and promised us an extra snorkel stop. We went out to a reef inside of the barrier reef, which wasn't all that great compared to Smith's Reef. I'm not even sure it was as good as Coral Gardens. Then we went to the conch dive, got our conch and made the salad. We stopped at Half Moon Cay for this and we saw some Rock Iguana's there. Then we went for the second snorkel and it was about as good as the first. While we weren't impressed with the snorkeling, the crew was excellent, fun and knowledgeable. John was nice and called us to see if we had a good time later that night. He was honest with us about his trip. The best part of that trip was the people we met on it. We met a couple from Virginia Beach, who each brought a sister along. They were in their 60's and the whole group was fun to talk with. They love to snorkel and come to TCI every year (oh, to be so lucky!). They set up a trip through J&B Tours for Friday and invited us to come along. It was a treat to spend another day with them! This is the trip that we got to go out beyond the barrier reef. It was awesome and I understand that if you tell J&B what you want to do, they will try their best to get it done. If you aren't interested in the iguana island or conch lunch thing, tell them. One of their reps was the other kind of staid person we met this week. She wasn't real pleasant. However, the other rep we worked with was fabulous, very outgoing and fun. Their boat staff was fun and did everything they could to help us have fun. The interesting thing about all these trips is the weather. It can be raining (as it was on some days) but you can go around it and snorkel somewhere else. The wind plays a part, too. So you really can't base your outfitter based on the reefs they go to because they change, depending on weather. If you need to avoid some rain or wave action, they take you around it to somewhere else. Both Caicos Dream Tours and J&B are a good company to go with and I think you won't be disappointed.

Car: We rented from Budget and got a Diahatsu. It was $280 for the week, including taxes. They were friendly and easy to work with. The car couldn't make it down to Malcolm's beach, as it wasn't an SUV, but we did make it down every other road on the map, so it wasn't bad.

The trip was a dream come true! The weather was blissfully warm, sunny, and breezy. Our favorite part was sitting in our perch at night, listening to the night sounds, looking up into the inky black sky, and gazing at the twinkling stars above. One night we saw fireworks from there, as well. Why eat out when the best view is right at your own villa? Be prepared to relax, and do nothing. There really isn't any night life on the island, except to enjoy someone's company, have a nice dinner, and just do nothing. We'd say bring a game along or a deck of cards. Remember what it was like to play a game and just talk with no interruptions from the phone or computer or anything else electronic? This is the place to find that again! Bring your own game though because a board game costs $42 on the island.

Over all, just have a wonderful time, enjoying the company of the people you are with and rejoice that you are getting in on the island before all the construction is completed and the whole flavor changes. It is definitely one of the best memories and trips we have ever taken.




drwalt is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 07:17 PM
  #2  
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 23
A couple of corrections: It is the Turtle COVE area. And Half Moon BEACH.

We will post a link to pictures later in the week.
drwalt is offline  
Dec 9th, 2007, 07:35 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 359
Thanks for the great trip report. I've had Coriander Cottage bookmarked for some time now -- looks wonderful, Good to hear your personal experience with the rental and the island.
cm318 is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 05:31 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Enjoyed reading your trip report, so thanks for taking the time to post it. Coriander Cottage gets lots of rave reviews on this site.
ejcrowe is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 07:09 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
welcome home, i am so glad you enjoyed corriander cottage. i love the turtle cove area and agree the snorkeling at smith's is best on island.
can't wait to see your pics!
reading your report makes me want to return - soon. we too took our cooler and had most meals at home. we stayed in northatlanticbeachvilla down the beach from you. you probably walked by it. small 2 story house with fenced yard - used to be called windows a la mar. (you turn right at dead end where you turned left - had blue dolphins on the gate).
virginia is offline  
Dec 10th, 2007, 06:06 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 55
GREAT review-thanks for taking the time! Is there a particular site(s) where I can find the smaller cottages, villas etc versus the hotels/resorts. TIA, pat
kidsnp is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 05:24 AM
  #7  
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 23
We found several links to private rentals on the tci tourism site. (turksandcaicostourism.com) click on "Where to Stay" and then choose by type. We rented from tcvillas.com which has about 15 to choose from. I would say that you want to stay on the south side of the island if you can just because that's where the reefs are. The other side is pretty, but would require driving to snorkel on the two reefs. This means Turtle Cove area or Grace BAy area.
drwalt is offline  
Dec 11th, 2007, 05:57 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,366
Thanks for posting...enjoyed your report.
mnag is offline  
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