1 week in Grace Bay, Providenciales, Turks & Caicos, the OBX of the Caribbean

Grace Bay Providenciales Turks & Caicos review

When Steve and I returned from Europe, I promised him that he could choose our next trip for so kindly allowing me to drag him across the continent. He wanted a super relaxing beach vacation and had heard great things about Turks & Caicos, so off we went!

A few things before we get into the details of where we stayed, ate, and what we did:

  • There were A LOT of families — like whole generations. Grandparents, parents, kids … so many. We started calling it the OBX of the Caribbean because it had the same feel, but with palm trees.
  • Rent a car! Everyone told us this, but we’re resistant and like to walk everywhere. Once we realized that the town is a little more spread out and we wanted to go to other beaches, we caved and rented one.
  • It’s expensive — more so than other islands we’ve visited. A 12-pack of Coors Lite? $33. A box of Nature Valley granola bars? $7. Even the local beer, Turks Head, was at least $5. (In St. Lucia and Barbados, the local beers were like $2.) Our cheapest lunch was $50.
  • Like most Caribbean islands, a government tax (12%) is added to purchases. In restaurants, most include a service tax, which is considered the gratuity. You don’t have to tip on top of the tip!

STAY

Grace Bay Providenciales Turks & Caicos review

We heard amazing things about Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, the westernmost T&C island. (GBB has been named the most beautiful beach in the world.) We wanted to be close to the beach but not pay the crazy prices for oceanfront hotels. We opted to stay at the Caribbean Paradise Inn (get thousands of Southwest points by booking through RocketMiles!), a short 5-minute walk to the beach.

Grace Bay Providenciales Turks & Caicos review

The hotel was great with a beautiful pool and a local cat, Petra. Wen, the hotel manager, was fantastic and gave us so much good info. The hotel has chairs and umbrellas on Grace Bay Beach, but when we went to others, Wen loaned us chairs, an umbrella, and a cooler. (Always ask your hotel about things like this! People buy them and leave them.)

The location was pretty good. There are a few restaurants along the beach where we had lunch and dinner, but it is a little bit of a walk to others. The area felt a little more spread out and didn’t have a “town” feel like we prefer.

Tip: Ask for a renovated room unless you’re getting a suite with a kitchenette that walks right out to the pool. We opted for a first-floor room thinking that it would open to the pool — nope.

EAT

Grace Bay Providenciales Turks & Caicos review

  • Pelican Bay: One of the restaurants by Grace Bay Beach with good rum punch and pina coladas. We had basic sandwiches and wraps.
  • Caicos Cafe: Make a reservation on a weekend! We didn’t and ended up sitting at the bar. Steve had great grilled calamari and I had burrata and gnocchi because the owner is originally from Italy.
  • Seaside Cafe: Another oceanfront cafe with tables overlooking the beach. The tangy pulled pork and burger (which aren’t normally great in the islands) were winners.
  • Jimmy’s Dive Bar: A 10-min walk from the hotel with a fun pirate-esque vibe. The mojitos were delicious and fresh and come in a plastic cup that you can keep. I had the Cuban, which was ham with pulled pork — delicious.
  • The Deck at Seven Stars: This place is a maze! The restaurant is on the beach in a massive resort, so someone actually has to walk you to it or you’ll get lost. It’s beautiful and casual, and we split great fish tacos, sweet potato fries, and a Margherita pizza.
Fun fact: Male and female conch both have penises; the females' never develop. Eating them is apparently an aphrodisiac.

Fun fact: Male and female conch both have penises; the females’ never develop. Eating them is apparently an aphrodisiac.

  • Bugaloo’s: Awesome beach-front dive in Five Cays, on the way to Taylor and Sapodilla Bays (see below). A guy was harvesting conch out on the water and showed us how to do it and gave us a taste. There was a sweet little black cat who I had to share a few bites of my fish sandwich with, too. Order the plantain chips! They’re more like little cakes. Steve had his first conch in the form of Buffalo poppers.
  • Somewhere Cafe: We drove to this one, which is a little west of Grace Bay in the Coral Gardens resort. The road to get there is a little sketchy, but the cafe is really cool. We had the friendliest service. They’re known for barbeque (the owner is from NC), so Steve had the delicious pulled pork BBQ quesadilla. I was craving fish tacos, so I ordered the massive ones, which were my favorite of the trip. I had the Key lime pie for dessert, one of my few sweets on the trip.
Conch shell islands!

Conch shell islands!

  • Da Conch Shack: This is a world-famous restaurant on the water where there are literally islands of empty conch shells that have been harvested. The plantain fries are amazing — more like steak fries — and the house rum punch is strong. I had a huge conch salad and Steve went with conch fritters.
  • Mango Reef: We drove here, too, because it’s farther west, in Turtle Cove. It’s right on the marina and lit up with pretty lights. Steve had great island wings and I went with veggie pasta.
  • Sharkey’s Beach Bar: This waterfront bar is a part of Club Med and we tried to go for lunch, but they don’t serve food until 3pm. Assuming the clientele is likely rolling out of bed at noon …
  • Thursday Fish Fry at Bight Park: This is a must-do — a weekly fish fry with tourists and locals. The Park is right on the beach and it’s basically a food truck fest. All of the stands are set up and everyone has conch. We had grilled conch with amazing, sweeter plantains and I sipped on my drink from a pineapple. We also bought some candles and soaps from local artisans and listened to the band. (It was the day Prince died and they did “Purple Rain.”)
Plantains at Dolphin Restaurant are a must!

Plantains at Dolphin Restaurant are a must!

  • Danny Buoy’s: Just by Salt Mill and Regent plazas, this sports bar has outdoor seating and karaoke. My mojito came with a real sugar cane! If you need somewhere that feels like America, this is your place.
  • Grille Rogue at Grace Bay Club: This is another Grace Bay Beach establishment that’s a little pricier. I had a great fish burger (with avocado, which I was so excited to finally see) and these amazing thin, salty fries. (Ugh, we ate so many fries.) Steve had a Lebanese chicken wrap, which was a nice departure from the seafood and basic sandwiches.
  • Bella Luna Pizzaria: Must go! There’s a restaurant upstairs that has less-than-stellar reviews, but everyone loves the pizzaria. It’s quaint, in a garden, and you’d never know it’s right beside a somewhat busy road. We split a pizza with mozzarella, tomato, ham, mushroom, artichoke, and olives, and I had tiramisu for dessert. Steve stuck with beer, but I was thrilled to have some decent wine after a week of fruity cocktails.

SEE/DO

We’re beach bums, so we basically just stayed at the beach all day. The waves at Grace Bay were pretty rough (and they’re supposed to be very calm), so we did rent a car (through Sixt) and went to two other beaches that Wen recommended for calm, clear waters. We were going to try snorkeling but never got around to it. Too much relaxing and drinking to do.

Taylor Bay Providenciales Turks and Caicos

Taylor Bay

I drove a car on the left side for the first time ever! It was actually pretty easy. Taylor Bay was a quick 20-min drive, winding through a very industrial area and turning in to a neighborhood. There were cars parked along the dirt path, so we knew we were in the right place.

The path opened to a stunning white-sand beach with crystal clear water and NO waves. There are no restaurants or shops nearby, so keep that in mind, but it’s so peaceful. You could walk out SO far until you were even waist-deep in the water.

Sapodilla Bay Providenciales Turks and Caicos

Sapodilla Bay

Many people recommended checking out this bay, which is just before Taylor Bay. The parking is right after Las Brisas restaurant, along the road. (You’ll likely see others parked.) A short sand path opened to another amazing beach, dotted with gorgeous villas. (I plan to rent this one some day.) The water gets deeper more quickly here, which we liked, but is still so calm and warm.

Grace Bay Providenciales Turks & Caicos review

Overall, it was a great, relaxing trip. We probably wouldn’t go back again, but would still recommend it to others.

 

 

 

StitchFix #15 (or the one in the office when the wifi was out)

SF15

I was planning to post this Stitchfix tonight, but the wifi went down in the office, so why not have a little fashion show? I asked my co-workers for their opinions on each item and also texted them to Steve, because I know you all care about his opinions.

So, which do I keep? What goes back? Help me, Interwebs! (Wanna see preview reviews? Go at it.)

Renee C Frank Split Neck Top $48

IMG_7022

This office background is stunning, isn’t it? I guess it helps the color pop. Dana mentioned that it would be perfect in Turks & Caicos, where I happen to be going in 23 days. Marissa thought it would be cute with shorts, which is a look that I love.

Steve: “Looks like a solid outfit for someone who went to Woodstock.”

Le Lis Allysen Mixed Print Knit Top $48

IMG_7025

I’m so dizzy. Looking at this top — which was SO soft and fit SO well — felt like staring into a ’50s TV set. I do love the cute polka dot detail on the side.

Steve: “This is like Project Runway meets prison uniform.”

Skies are Blue Becky Cutout Detail Blouse $44

IMG_7030

IMG_7031

This top has a very cute pattern and I love the green detail, but the cap sleeves and wide neck aren’t really my style. The ladies felt like it didn’t really have any shape, and I have to agree. The cutouts are fun and different.

Steve: “The front looks ok but the back looks like you got in a fight with a grizzly bear.”

Le Lis Ariell Lace Shoulder Blouse $48

IMG_7036

IMG_7033

Well, it’s clear how I feel about this, right? It has wings! Why? (Becky kindly tried to make a GIF, but I think this is sufficient.)

Steve: “This looks like a zebra collided with some curtains in Grandmom’s house.”

Le Lis Mari 3/4 Mixed Material Knit Top

IMG_7038

IMG_7040

I’m waffling here. I feel like it’s a little wide on the bottom, but everyone loved it. I can see how it would look cute with black leggings or black shorts. I’m not sure where I’m landing …

Steve: “This reminds of half of an Oreo.”

HELP!

 

 

Ground & Griddled to open at Remington food hall, R House, this fall

In an effort to share his love for coffee and eggs, Dave Sherman, chef and owner of Hampden’s Café Cito, will open his newest coffee and breakfast operation, Ground & Griddled, in R. House this fall. Located on the first floor of a 50,000-square-foot historic automobile showroom and garage in Remington (Remington Ave. and 29th St.), Seawall Development’s $12 million food and drink emporium, R. House, will be a launch pad for 10 of Baltimore’s most exciting chefs and their culinary concepts.

“Ground & Griddled will be a destination where both the food novice and super foodie can come and enjoy unpretentious breakfast and brunch cuisine with ridiculously warm hospitality,” Sherman said. “My mission is to make people feel completely comfortable asking questions about different coffees, techniques, and menu ingredients so that they can really enjoy their experience. I just want to share my love for coffee and eggs with everyone in Charm City.”

Throwback to my fav Barcelona treat, pan con tomate!

Sherman wearing a throwback to my fav Barcelona treat, pan con tomate! (Credit: Shine Creative)

Though Sherman’s menu is still largely in the works, his plans for the coffee focused and egg-a-licous spot include made-to-order egg sandwiches and fresh made sides. Ground & Griddled also will offer unique lunch sandwiches like a wagyu beef “breakfast burger” with caramelized onions, bread and butter pickles, cheddar cheese, his special G&G sauce, with an egg on top.

“We’ll be serving up real food, responsibly and locally sourced, made to order at a price folks can afford. I want people to come in get some of the best coffee, breakfast and hospitality in town—all in a quick turnaround so they can get on with their day if the need to, or hang around R. House if they choose,” said Sherman.

G&G will source coffee from Stumptown, a roastery out of Brooklyn and Portland, as well as other craft roasters around the country. Customers will be able to order a wide swath of beverages from $2 coffees, to espressos and green tea lattes or several on-tap cold brews options. Sherman plans to make nut milks on-site, and hopes to collaborate with other chefs at R. House to create innovative concoctions for guests to enjoy.

Guest post from my husband: The 5 best pranks I’ve played on my wife in 5 years of marriage

The 5 best pranks I've played on my wife in 5 years of marriage

I was writing a post about what I’ve learned in five years of marriage and I asked Steve to share his thoughts. Instead, he wrote about the five best pranks he played on me in the past five years … and it was better than my post. (One tip: I may always have a good way, but it’s not always the only way.)

Take it away, Steve.

  1. Fake snake in the bathtub: Renee hates snakes. Her reaction was priceless. She went from a scared/shocked face to an “I’m going to kill you” face pretty quickly. I don’t know what happened to that snake, but best Dollar Store purchase ever.
  2. Air horn while hiding in the bathroom: Click here to see the video of her “I’m going to kill you” face in action.
  3. Scotch tape on the bathroom door:  I’m very proud of this one.  I placed the tape perfectly without measuring. As soon as she stepped out of the shower and through the door — sticky side right in the face! (Note: This was extra challenging because our cat, Jack, was jumping up and trying to tear down the tape the whole time.)
  4. Naked old men pictures: Simple but classic. I printed a bunch of old, gross dudes and hid them in her jewelry, drawers, and the shower. Her first question was, “Did you print these at work?” I said, “Yes, where else would I print them?” She replied, “What’s wrong with you?”
  5. Underwear and bras on the ceiling fan: Imagine walking into the room after you folded the laundry only to find all of your underwear and bras hanging from the ceiling fan. “I’m going to kill you face” for sure.

Thank you, darling husband of five wonderful years, for continually pissing me off and scaring the shit out of me.

One more tip: Pick your battles.

 

 

My 30th Birthday Wish… For 30 More

I am so excited to help Katharine launch #For30More! Keep tuning into both of our blogs for details.

From A to Pink | A Blog by Katharine Scrivener

For30More_instagram

As most of you know, at 16I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis,a life-threatening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.Even 13 years later I’m still a long way from fully dealing with what it means to have this disease and the implications it has on my future.

Right now, my life looks like many other 29 year olds?. I have a wonderful husband, fabulous family and friends, and a job that I love. But unlike most people my age, I have to do time-consuming daily treatments, spend countless hours at the hospital, and worry about what my future looks like.

When I was born in 1984, the life expectancy of someone with CF was just 25 – onSeptember 26th I’ll turn 30! And I can’t wait to celebrate the many things this wonderful life has allowed me to do.

But I’m not finished…

View original post 339 more words