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Where is a good part of the Island to stay?
You have no doubt checked the various rental options around the Island and have noticed differences in the prices. There is a reason for this. While you may find a few exceptions (which are typically fully booked years in advance), the price reflects the quality of the Villa and its location. Each Island location has advantages and disadvantages – it all depends on what you want. If you have decided on a Villa over a Condo or resort, rental the information in the following sections presents a very brief outline of what one might look for in selecting a Villa. The intent is to allow you to decide what is best for you. The information provided in this section is limited to the beach areas of the Islands as these are typically the ones that people are interested in. Please be aware that there are many more non-beach oriented developments so if you see a really low price you should explicitly ask about how close the beach is as well as some of the details about the property. A few inland properties have the same names as the beach properties so be careful.
Providenciales has 10 main districts. All have beachfront and all have oceanfront. Some with more beach than others. As in the case of Villa Roi Soleil, not all the beaches have land based public access and as a result are somewhat more private than others. The island maps do not show these “private” beaches. The map to the left provides a summary of the various areas of PROVO (Map provided courtesy Daniel LeVin).
Ocean View, Ocean Front and Beach Front
The Turks and Caicos has two types of ocean front. One is sand beach, the other is called Iron stone, which is a form of limestone which is particularly interesting as it becomes etched by the seawater, forming a porous membrane of very sharp stone that resembles a large sponge. The sand beaches in the TCI are quite consistent across the Island and are basically white sand. All the Island ocean water is crystal clear, regardless of sand beach or stone shore. For your Villa rental, it is important to distinguish which type water frontage the Villa has as descriptions are not always clear. There are many Villa’s that are advertised ocean front and show a nice beach but further investigation will show that the beach is walking distance to the Villa. This means that you must carry anything ranging from chairs to umbrellas to kayaks with you as you make the sometimes long walk. Needless to say, most BUT NOT ALL of these Villa’s are advertised at a price that accounts for this inconvenience. Always be sure and ask. While stone shore is ideal for those interested in scenery, it is generally not a good option for swimming as the rocks are sharp from erosion and the waves can hit with considerable force. As a result it can be both difficult and dangerous to enter and exit the water by climbing on the stone. Because of this, some older Villas have stairs , ladders or platforms to aid in ocean access. These are no longer allowed and new villas may not be similarly equipped. Best is to ask.
Many TCI Villas are “Ocean” front but are iron stone shore. If it doesn't say beachfront and doesn’t have a picture of the villa on the beach it probably has no beach.
Ocean view Villas and homes can see the water but since the Island is so narrow, there are very few locations that are not ocean “view”. If one rents an ocean view villa, be sure to ask where the closest public beach access is located and how long a walk it is. Even though it may be close as a straight line, highways, bush, rocks, water and private land between the villa or house and the beach may make it a very long and sometimes unpleasant walk......
Which place to stay?
There are numerous options for staying at the Turks and Caicos but despite the development boom that occurred in the 2000’s, the Island still is in short supply of accommodation from time to time and early booking for the peak times is strongly recommended. There are many instances where there have been no vacancies anywhere on the Island. As the Island is becoming better known, this is becoming a more frequent occurrence.
Still if one plans early enough, there is a wide range of options available. These include condo developments, resorts and a variety of private Villas. The prices are highly variable but most are high in comparison to other Caribbean destinations that cater to low cost package travel. It is no secret that ones gets what pays for and this is no difference in the TCI. The Turks and Caicos offer an environment where there is a North American small town feel, low population density and a unique unspoiled natural surrounding. It is no wonder that more and more people are willing to pay the higher cost of coming here as this combination is difficult to find else where.
If your budget allows and you have decided to visit here the next question is how to make sense of all the different accommodation options. In general, Villas offer more privacy and a better cost per bedroom than do the condo and resort developments. The negative aspect of Villa rental is that in most cases you do not have daily maid service nor some of the other resort amenities. One also needs to verify that the resorts and condos provide daily maid service as this is not always the case. Also remember that with a Villa rental the service aspects of resorts can easily be replicated if one is willing to pay for it, most however find that this approach has no significant merit and forgo the added expense. Often, even if these services are utilized, the rental cost of the Villa plus services rarely exceed that of a resort.
Neighborhoods - the real estate developments around the Island
Unlike most of the Caribbean, the resort tourist beach on Provo is on the Atlantic facing side of the Island. This is directly facing the open Atlantic. The water is much more calm than you would find on the Atlantic side of the other Caribbean Islands and Florida due to a reef system that is about a mile off shore. Most of the beach on this north side is called Grace bay and it has many condo's and tourist spots. One drawback to this north facing orientation is that the duration of the winter sunshine is reduced and the waves, even though largely stopped by the reef, can still be quite large at times, large enough to warrant caution while swimming.
In contrast, the south - non Atlantic facing side where Villa Roi Soleil is located is much more calm and warn due to the all day front facing sun. The south side has a few different beaches, these are Long bay, Bristol Hill, Sapodilla and Taylor bay. Of these the longest is Long Bay. The most private is by far Bristol hill as there are only a few multi million dollar villas along the beach and there are no public beach entrances.
The Beaches in the Turks and Caicos are all technically public beeches, however, access to the those beaches via roads may be impossible due to privately owned land which fronts the roadways. These beaches are not shown on the Island maps simply because one cannot get there by land. This combined with the geography of shoreline where sand beaches can be bracketed by rugged stone shore sometimes results in a situation where a Villa’s beach can only be reached through the Villa or by boat. These are the most exclusive parts of the Island.
One will find many Villas and condo developments seemingly scattered around the Island. Further investigation will show the area in which they are located; be sure to ask as it is important. Some developments have small communal beaches where a lot of non beachfront houses share a single beach. Others are located directly on sand beach, in some cases providing exclusive private access due to the lack of public access points.
Beaches with this characteristic are few in number. The Beach at Bristol hill is one of these.
While the Island is narrow, it is quite long. Villas are spread out over its entire length, extending from west of South Dock (the farthest west) to Long bay and Leeward in the east. In some cases, it can take quite some time to travel to restaurants or stores if the Villa is located on the east or west ends of the Island. An extra 20 minutes of driving each way may not be of concern, but it is something to be aware of as one can easily spend an hour or more a day driving if you want to eat out every night or golf daily .
As noted, there are a wide range of vacation Villa rental prices around Provo. In general the prices are dictated by the level of privacy that the Villa and capacity that it offers. How may people the Villa can sleep , the quality of the Villa, the Villa location, private beach, more bedrooms and better equipped and maintained always translate into higher cost. In selecting your destination Villa be sure to ask about the beach, the amenities as well as beach occupancy so that that there are no surprises. A few other questions that are important are:
Is there a pool
Is the beach shared with other ocean “view” and ocean “front” Villa’s that do not have beachfront
Is there easy access points to the Villa beach, Private or Public, How many people
If it is a shared beach, are there beach items there permanently or do you have to carry them with you each day
Does the Villa have any security features such as gated beach and road entrances
What ever your final selection , on or off the Island we hope you have an enjoyable vacation