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    Costa Rica

    La Fortuna

    By Aimée Colón

    The Graduate

    As a gift for her graduation, and this being her first foreign travel destination, I decided Costa Rica was a great place to send my niece.
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    Abacos

    Nipper's Great Guana Cay

    By Richard Thiel

    Abacos, Exotic Islands

    In terms of an easy-to-get to island paradise, nothing can compare to the Abacos chain in the Bahamas.
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    Ischia

    Spiaggia di Citara

    By Richard Thiel

    Ischia Island Dreams

    Ischia, which the Italians fondly refer to as their Island of Dreams, is something of a hidden gem, at least to foreigners.
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    Switzerland

    Bellevue Palace

    By Ron Stern

    Switzerland's Heart

    Small wonder Bern has consistently been rated among the world’s top ten cities for quality of life and good living.
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    Barcelona

    Parque Guell

    By Aimée Colón

    Barcelona Magical City

    Barcelona is the city of the arts and romance, every step you take on its old stone streets is a great discover.
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    Turks & Caicos

    Da Conch Shack

    By Richard Thiel

    Down Island Paradise

    What makes Turks & Caicos so special is its unique blend of luxury and unspoiled nature.
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    Puerto Rico

    Boqueron Beach

    By Aimée Colón

    Viva La Vida!

    The warmth and lively spirit of the people of this magical Caribbean paradise never cease to amaze.
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    Traverse City

    Grand Traverse Pies

    By Ron Stern

    City of Delicious Secrets

    This is a city that loves its secrets, secrets like sweet temptations, tasty savories and tart confections.
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DOWN ISLAND PARADISE

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STORY BY RICHARD THIEL   //   PHOTOS BY AIMEE COLON

When people discuss a tropical island getaway, talk always eventually turns to the Bahamas. And why not? With hundreds of islands, you can find most anything you are looking for in a vacation destination there. But nestled within the Bahamas chain—but a separate country—is a small, often overlooked gem that offers vacationers everything from five-star resorts and world-class restaurants to unspoiled nature.


The Turks and Caicos are actually two island chains consisting of eight main islands and nearly 300 smaller islands and cays stretching about 75 miles from east to west. Politically distinct from the Bahamas and a British possession, its largest island is Providenciales, where about half of the population lives, and on which is located the country’s international airport. The other main island, Grand Turk, is just a few miles away and readily accessible by convenient ferry service, as are many of the smaller islands, most of which are uninhabited.

What makes T&C so special is its unique blend of luxury and unspoiled nature. As you would expect of a country with plenty of wide, clean, uncrowded beaches, one of the world’s longest coral reefs, and a year-round average temperature of 84 degrees F (aided by constant trade winds), swimming, fishing, diving, and sunbathing are popular pastimes.  But ecotourism has made T&C a hot destination, as its islands are home to a stunning array of native flora and fauna. There are many eco-tour operators on both Caicos and Grand Turk that specialize in putting tourists in the perfect locations to view them.

Visitors to the larger islands will find many first-class oceanfront hotels, including a Club Med, but another popular option is to rent one of the many homes and condominiums that are available. Waterside homes start at around $2,000 a week, while many condominiums are available for half that.  The Turks & Caicos Tourist Board (www.turksandcaicostourism.com) is a great place to start your search for either.

When it comes to dining, few destinations can match T&C’s variety of fine restaurants. Of course, being situated right on the Bahamas Bank, fresh seafood—often just a couple of hours out of the water—is a popular choice. But many other fine cuisines are available as well. Among the scores of top-rated restaurants, some of the most highly rated names are Porter’s Island Thyme on Salt Cay, Local Village Bar & Restaurant on  Grand Turk, and Coco Bistro and Providenciales.

If you want to experience island life at its most basic and taste traditional local cuisine the best awaits you at Da Conch Shack, in Providenciales (www.daconchshack.com). Dine in an open-air, simple décor with breathtaking ocean views where the conch is harvested right in front of you and served every way imaginable. Put your feet in the sand, watch the sunset and enjoy this tropical paradise.

Perhaps the best news of all is how easy it is to get to Turks and Caicos. Nonstop jet service is available from most major East Coast cities so you can leave in the morning and be lying on the beach or exploring a pristine cay by mid-afternoon. No wonder T&C is known as the Caribbean’s Hidden Jewel.

INSIDER TIPS:
I strongly suggest to take a ferry and explore the beautiful caves, plantations, nature walks and beaches located in North Caicos and Middle Caicos both easily accessible and just a 25 minute ride on board the TCI Ferry (www.caribbean-cruisin.com).  The Ferry departs regularly from Walkin Marina, Leeward Provo to Sandy Point Marina, North Caicos. 


DA CONCH SHACK

Blue Hills Road Providenciales

Turks and Caicos Islands
P.  649.946.8877

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Editor insider tip

Nipper's is the place to go, one of the few beach bars on Guana Cay. Fun party atmosphere and great food.  —Richard Thiel 

 
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Reader insider tip

At El Rodaballo you will find fresh seafood and authentic Caribbean cuisine. A gem in the center of San Juan, Puerto Rico.  —Juan Ortiz 

 

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