Turks & Caicos

Oh, vacation...the good, the bad, the beautiful. Perhaps this recap and review will help future Caribbean travelers.

Let's start with the bad...er BAD. I'm not sure which was worse, the airport accommodations on the island or the mysterious virus that plagued the resort and my 6 year old daughter. Well, it happens that the mysterious virus was Norovirus and the Health Department ordered the immediate closure of our resort on the day of our departure from the island.

One might say that, "Other than 1 of 8 travelers getting sick, we really dodged a bullet. After all, the resort closed as we were leaving." No biggie, right? WRONG! Apparently, as we were waiting on ground transportation to the airport, 180 travelers were being informed that their Beaches reservations were being transferred to other resorts. Those 180 travelers were about to board a plane in Charlotte, a plane that was bound for Turks and Caicos (TCI) to pick us up and take us back to the U.S. Well, guess what! Approximately 90 of those passengers decided not to board the plane. Unfortunately, their bags were already aboard and for the purpose of security had to be removed before the plane could depart.

So, after waiting in the ridiculously long security line (it extended outside and doubled around), we moved into the overcrowded waiting area where we waited for our plane for 4 hours. In case I didn't paint this picture clearly enough...  The waiting area was open-air, 90ish degrees, and large enough to comfortably hold about a quarter of the people who were sweating it out.

TRAVEL ADVICE: Never travel to or depart from TCI on a Saturday. Traveling on any other day of the week will enhance your vacation experience. Ask anyone who has ever made the ill-informed decision to book a TCI vacation from Saturday to Saturday. This one little bit of advice would have prevented 50% of the BAD parts of the vacation. The other 50%, the Norovirus, is a risk you take when you gamble with buffet food at an all inclusive resort.

Okay. Now that's out of the way. Let's move on to the good and the beautiful...

I'm going to jump right in with my favorite part of the vacation... the gorgeous crystal clear water and the our location in the Italian Village of the Beaches Resort. Seriously, Italian Village is the best. It seems to be the newest. It has the best pool and the best access to the powdery sands of the waterfront. I didn't take any obnoxious photos of food. We mostly enjoyed the various buffet-style restaurants. The one reservation about which we were excited turned out to be a let down- Kimonos. The high-energy hibachi concept is great in theory, but mediocre (at best) in execution. Beaches is expanding this restaurant. So, with any luck it will live up to its potential in the future.

Before I continue, I should also mention that this photo of my daughter frolicking in the water was taken by a Beaches photographer. Booking your free 30 minute photo session is a MUST, but be prepared to pay for those beautiful photos!

We signed up for several of Beaches' extras. The Island Vibes Kitty Katt Cruise, shown in the background of the above photo, was a much anticipated experience for the whole family. Unfortunately, the Norovirus caused my daughter to miss the boat, along with her grandparents who stayed behind to tend to her poor little tummy.

It turned out to be for the best that she was not able to make this trip. Though children are welcome, it definitely appeals more to adults. The snorkeling part of the adventure seemed a bit much for younger kids. The crew limits snorkeling to 20 minutes, which is perfect for newbies like myself, and drinking is prohibited until snorkeling is completed. During this excursion, our catamaran made a stop on Iguana Island, where guests were escorted around the island in search of conchs and iguanas. We decided to skip the reptile-hunting and take pictures instead. The view was amazing!

Another extra that Beaches offers is a visit to the world's only conch farm. This trip was a great way to integrate some education into our vacation. I will warn you though, before you get to the conchs, you take a historical detour through the island. And if you have the same guide that we did... he knows nothing about the pre-colonial history of the island. You're better off reading a book.

Misguided historical references aside, meeting the locals and learning about the life cycle of the queen conch was well worth the endeavor. And be sure to pronounce it correctly. Saying anything other than "konk" will get ya quickly corrected!

Our last excursion was with the lovely couple, Alistair and Betty, who own and operate the Undersea Explorer- Semi Submarine. These two were as delightful as the underwater experience itself.  Alistair captained the semi sub, while Betty narrated the beautiful scenery. There were several times when creatures swam by so fast that we missed them and Betty radioed for Alistair to turn us around in pursuit of sting rays, sea turtles, barracudas. This happy duo made sure we didn't miss a thing!
 Sergeant Major Fish (Bumble Bee Fish)
 Spotted Eagle Ray
 Great Barracuda, Staghorn Coral

That about sums up the trip!
Except for "packing for a purpose", which will just have to be another post.

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