THREE WAYS TO HAVE A FUN AND FAMILY FRIENDLY TURKS AND CAICOS VACATION
My children love to travel and after a long time stuck at home in quarantine, they were thrilled when I announced that we were heading to Turks & Caicos for Spring Break. And while the thought of shimmering turquoise waters, white sand, ocean breezes and an unlimited supply of rum punch also excited me, I was only cautiously optimistic.
Everyone who has traveled with kids knows just how challenging it can be. The constant whining and questioning, requests for food, drinks and fatigue inspired outbursts can kill any vacation high. Add the challenge to find family friendly resort accommodations that also cater to adults- i.e. have good food, a spa, stylish decor, and one waterslide or less.
Spoiler alert – I powered through this trip planning process and I can help you do the same. Read on for my three ways to plan and execute the Caribbean family vacation of your dreams in beautiful Turks & Caicos!
TIP 1: BE PREPARED
Check your passports, and your children’s
Before you do anything, check if your family’s passports are up to date. After the long travel pause, many of us may not even know where our passports are. Does your family’s passports expire more than six months from the date of your anticipated departure? Children’s passports must be renewed every 5 years. This spring, I had many clients who had expired children’s passports and were looking to travel within the next 6-8 weeks. Traditional expediting services are still not operating (due to covid delays) so these clients had to get an expediting appointment at their local passport agency 2-3 days prior to travel. This snag can be avoided with proper planning.
Know the Turks & Caicos entry requirements
Don’t be that poor family on the floor of the boarding gate frantically uploading their documents! Currently, Turks & Caicos requires a negative PCR test result within 5 days of arrival for both adults and children over the age of 10. They also require proof of international health insurance. Both documents must be uploaded in to a TCI Assured account that you’ll need to set up within 5 days of your trip. The process is simple but administratively annoying because information needs to be uploaded for each individual traveler. After your information is entered, you will be approved by T&C and a personal QR code will be issued that allows you to board your flight. Entry requirements change frequently, so be prepared and check in regularly as your trip approaches and consider hiring a travel advisor to guide you through the process.
Consider traveling with another family
The chances of any adult relaxation occurring on your trip are infinitely higher if you travel with another family with kids (who your children love!). Regardless of how many kids you have, siblings can aggravate each other after concentrated time in close quarters. We traveled with family friends who also have two girls. Our kids were over the moon that they got to play with their friends in paradise and we were thrilled to have a few adult conversations over adult beverages. You need to be honest with yourself about the type of family who you will travel well with. Choose wisely and you can thank me later! Our trip was such a success we plan to travel like this annually.
You have children, so just bring the medicine cabinet
Having the right ‘bag of tricks’ can be a big part of family travel success- especially in the tropics. Bug bites, sunburn and swimmer’s ear are all common ailments for my children and rum punch gives me headaches so I always travel with the following:
- Sunscreen (body and face)
- Advil (children’s & adults)
- activated charcoal
- ear drops for swimmer’s ear
- Benadryl (cream and oral)
- aloe vera
TIP 2: PICK THE RIGHT FAMILY FRIENDLY RESORT
There are many amazing resorts in Turks & Caicos – some of which are very (maybe too) family friendly and others not so much! The process of finding the right resort for you can be overwhelming. Here’s my personal top three that will satisfy the needs of both children and adults. Striking the right balance is not easy an easy task.
The Shore Club
The Shore Club (where we stayed) is located on the Long Bay Beach side of the island. Long Bay Beach is a long narrow private beach with crystal clear water that is shallow for miles. And while the warm, calm, clear water is very enticing, the visibility and depth will give you the comfort level you need to sit under your umbrella reading while sipping a piña colada as your children frolick carelessly. Also to it’s credit, the Shore Club has mostly large, luxurious suite style accommodations, complete with fully equipped kitchens. In addition, there are 4 pools, 4 on-site restuarants, a fitness center, spa, tennis courts and a kids club. Need I say more?
Grace Bay Club
Grace Bay Club, which is located on stunning and iconic Grace Bay Beach, is the island’s first all luxury suite resort. It’s classy, well located and has three distinct sections- adults only, the family friendly Villas and the uber-luxe Estates section which accommodates families as well. Each suite receives it’s own personal concierge which can be super helpful when your hands are full of kids. They also have ‘Kids Town’- a traditional kids club by morning and in the afternoon they offer kids – only excursions plus they have a teen program.
Como Parrot Cay
Como Parrot Cay is on its own private island which sounds super exclusive, luxe and NOT family friendly. Yet Como hotels prove that luxury and family can coincide! Their signature kids’ program-Play by Como– was created by early childhood development experts to “foster creative play and activities that capture young guests’ imagination through history, nature, local culture and science.” They also have babysitting services, a dedicated play space for children aged 4 to 12 and cater to children at mealtime by serving them first and providing healthy options appealing to the pickiest palates.
TIP 3: BALANCE YOUR ITINERARY WITH ACTIVITY AND RELAXATION
Those who love water based activities – swimming, boating, snorkeling, parasailing, kiteboarding, paddle boarding, etc. will be very pleased with the array of activities available in Turks & Caicos. Depending on the duration of your stay, I would recommend that you plan to sprinkle in a few excursions.
Cruise the Islands
Chartering a boat for a full or half day tour is a must do while in Turks. Cruising is the best way to explore the many uninhabited islands and cays of T&C. We opted for a half day excursion with Island Vibes Tours on their catamaran party boat because it was larger and comfortable for our group of 8. All of these boats have a slide and diving board and are stocked with food and an endless supply of rum punch for thirsty adults. First, we visited Iguana island – a small island recently formed as a result of hurricane activity and known for its many iguanas and gorgeous beach. Then we spent some time diving and sliding off of our boat before we capped off the day with a bit of snorkeling.
Top Family Activities in Turks & Caicos
Horseback ride in the shallow waters of Long Bay Beach with Provo Ponies.
Wetland Ecotours – take a guided paddle boarding or kayak tour among the nature reserves to spot turtles, stingrays, baby sharks and other sea critters.
Learn a New Watersport! Take a sailing, kiteboarding, diving or wakeboarding lesson.
A note on sun exposure:\
The sun is scorching in the Caribbean and Turks & Caicos is no exception. Frequent sunblock applications are mandatory to avoid wicked sunburns – even for those with a healthy dose of melatonin. I highly recommend half day excursions and plenty of downtime built into your schedule to allow for time in the shade and rehydration.
A note on Dining in Turks & Caicos
Most of the accommodations recommended above have several on site restaurants as well as beach and poolside service so leaving your resort to eat is not mandatory. However, there are some great privately owned restaurants on the island worthy of exploring. While the island is small, it is definitely not walkable in most cases so you will need a cab to get to your destination and in Turks that will come at a steep price! The island is tax free and at the time of our trip, gas was $6/gallon. If you intend to eat off site, plan to pay handsomely for it. Our favorite spots are ~
- Omar’s Beach Hut
- Magnolia Wine Bar
- Infinity at Grace Bay Club
- Da Conch Shack
- Somewhere Café
- Coco Bistro
Have we convinced you that you can plan a luxurious, relaxing and fun family vacation to Turks & Caicos? Contact us today to start designing your Turks & Caicos adventure!