Conch Shack VS Bugaloo’s (Turks and Caicos)

March 2018–Turks and Caicos Islands


When traveling to Turks and Caicos, there are two popular restaurants that the tourists and locals alike rave about. So of course, those two restaurants were on my radar for a few reasons.

  1. I LOVE seafood.
  2. I’m on an island where the seafood is caught fresh, daily.
  3. I’m always open and willing to try new things, and conch was the island specialty.

Let’s start with the Da Conch Shack simply because it was my first stop, and even my second. What can I say? My first impression was amazing. My only disappointment is that I didn’t have time for a third stop! (I realllly wanted to try the rum cake desert).

My first few days on Turks and Caicos Island were spent relaxing at the beach and doing a bit of exploring in and around Grace Bay Beach (recently named by TripAdvisor #1 Beach in the World!) I was researching the perfect tour around the island to get a feel for the local culture, and to see every nook and cranny. After a bit of searching, I found exactly what I was looking for, a safari tour that took us exploring around the island, with a stop for some fresh local conch. I’ll get into the island tour with TCI Safari with another post, but for now lets talk about that fresh conch! Included in the tour was a seafood platter, more than enough for two people; including conch fritters, cracked conch, grouper fingers, jerk chicken wings, fried plantains, and home fries.

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Seafood Platter

Holy conch!! This food was delicious. If you’ve never tried conch, I encourage you to do it! The fritters were my favorite, I loved the mix of conch and spices. I know I don’t have anything to compare them to, but as far as I’m concerned these were top notch! The jerk chicken was so good, that we ordered a dozen more wings for the road. It was a lot of fried seafood, which I normally would never order, but this wasn’t greasy and the taste of the seafood prevailed!

Not only was the food delicious, the atmosphere and beachy vibes were exactly what we needed to enjoy the night. The restaurant is located directly on the beach with a colorful open air seating area. There is a bar with plenty of island cocktails (also pitchers of island rum punch), tables on the beach, and even the Bimini Ring game which we played and pretty much failed at. At some point in my life, I WILL get the ring on the hook!

 

The next day, I rented a car so I could ride around the island at my own speed. I also was really excited to drive on the wrong side of the road, but still keeping a left sided steering wheel. After checking out a few beaches and hidden gems along the way, it was nearing lunch time and I headed back to non other than, Da Conch Shack. I couldn’t resist, it was on my path, and I was in the mood for some more fresh seafood!

This time I ordered blackened grouper, which was served with island peas & rice and coleslaw. I’ve tasted a fair amount of grouper in my day, as it’s actually one of my favorite grilled fish. So I was pleasantly surprised when this grouper was THE BEST I’ve ever tasted. The fish was cooked perfectly, juicy and flaky with the just the right amount of cajun spice. It was a generous portion mixed with the island sides, also flavored and cooked to perfection. This meal was a steal for just $18. Not only was the food amazing, it was a Sunday afternoon, and to my delight, a local guy was playing the guitar and singing some of my favorite reggae riddims.

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BEST Blackened Grouper

Let’s move on to Bugaloo’s Restaurant. Another local restaurant located on the beach, and well known for its fresh seafood. The ambiance is perfect for beach lovers, families and groups of friends. There is plenty of outdoor seating with colorful decor. Loads of island cocktails to choose from, not to mention the famous island rum punch. The food is just as fresh coming in daily from the local fishermen.

First thing I ordered was a nice, refreshing strawberry daiquiri. Flavorful, and thirst quenching, but considering I was on an ‘rum heavy’ island, there wasn’t much rum to be found in this cocktail. I considered ordering some conch here as well, but I was really in the mood for another piece of fresh grilled fish. Their market fish of the day was snapper, caught fresh daily. I ordered this with my choice of a side of plantain chips. The meal was a generous portion, with a huge filet of snapper. It looked amazing! Unfortunately it only tasted OK. The snapper was quite dry, even with the dousing of lime juice and some tarter. The plantain chips were greasier than my liking, but still enjoyable.

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Grilled Snapper and Plantains

After dinner, I walked around the beach area and was able to catch the fisherman cleaning out the conch from the shells. This was a neat experience, which can also be found at Da Conch Shack, I just happened to miss it the times I was there. I enjoyed my evening at Bugaloo’s in an atmosphere that exuded fun, but my particular meal just wasn’t that good.  If you’re looking for a budget friendly option, try one of the sandwiches or an appetizer averaging around $10-$15, as this particular meal and drink for one was close to $50

 

So with all that in mind, I’d suggest to give them both a go! If you love seafood with a beachside setting, you’ll be happy with either. But if you’re looking for the BEST food, you must head over to Da Conch Shack!

Turks and Caicos on a Budget

March 2018–Turks and Caicos Islands


Let’s be honest, coming to Turks and Caicos on a budget is difficult, but it is definitely doable. It’s by far the most expensive Caribbean Island I’ve visited, but it also takes my reward for the most stunning Caribbean Island I’ve explored. I recently spent four nights in Providenciales, the most developed and populated island in the Turks and Caicos, for a relaxing beach getaway. I knew coming to the Islands would be expensive but with a few travel tricks, I managed to pinch my pennies and enjoy the beautiful island on a budget.

Tip #1

Choose a hotel off the beach. Most hotels are located on Grace Bay Beach and start at $300+/night and go much higher from there, averaging around $600/night. Hotels nearer to the airport or away from the beach are less that $200/night. Many of these hotels also offer a shuttle daily that heads down to Grace Bay Beach at your convenience.

The Lodgings Hotel
The Lodgings Hotel

Tip #2

Rent a car. Getting around the Providenciales is really easy. It’s a small island, at only 38 square miles (98 km sq). Renting a car enables you to view the many beaches, pop into shops, drive to restaurants, and of course explore places you wouldn’t otherwise see. Driving around the island is fun! I found many rocky roads, tucked away from the main road, with hidden beaches and beautiful views.

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Budget Rental Car

Tip #3

Bring snacks along for the day, and buy food from the grocery stores. Eating out really busts the wallet with most plates averaging $20-$40, and a much needed island cocktail for $10-$20. Save your money for one meal out a day by packing snacks and a having a kitchenette/refrigerator in your room. I usually pack cliff bars, peanut butter to-go, and nuts when traveling. When I arrive I’ll pick up water, bread, fruit, lunch meat, and a few other necessities to for quick and easy cheap meals.

My travel snacks

Tip #4

Buy a bottle of wine/alcohol at duty free before you board your flight. Drinks were really expensive on the island, and their traditional rum punch was no exception. So if you like your cocktails, come prepared!

Road Wine

Tip #5

Travel during low season. Like any tourist destination prices are much lower during the off-season. Turks and Caicos is no exception. Low season for this island is around June through November when the temperatures are high, and hurricane season is threatening. I should have taken my own advice for this tip, but instead traveled during a typical American ‘spring break’ where prices are at there highest.

‘High Season’ but still quiet

Tip #6

Travel with a group of people and book a vacation rental home. Although the prices for rentals can be a bit high, when you can split the cost with others, you’ll be saving yourself some money for adventures! The rental homes are all around the island, from the beaches, to the highest point in Providenciales. Most, if not all, I saw were well maintained and suitable for a vacation home.

Rental Home on Long Bay

Tip #7

Plan ahead, and book early. The island is small and can fill up fast, especially during high season. Another piece of advice I should have followed for myself, as I struggled to find a suitable hotel with a reasonable price. I did succeed though, and was very pleased with my hotel near to the airport.

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Path to Pelican Beach

I truly enjoyed my budget holiday in Turks and Caicos, and hope you can do the same!

Turks and Caicos–Worth The High Prices?

March 2018–Turks and Caicos Islands


There’s no way to sugar coat it, Turks and Caicos is an expensive Caribbean Island. Actually, the most expensive Caribbean Island I’ve visited. So why choose Turks and Caicos? I’ll give you a five reasons, if you need some convincing.

  1. Fresh Conch. Straight out of the Caribbean Sea into my mouth…I mean your mouth. Or take me with and we can share. 🙂 I also had the BEST blackened grouper I’ve ever tasted, that was worth the trip right there!
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    Seafood Platter With Conch Fritters and Cracked Conch

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    Best Blackened Grouper I’ve Tasted
  2. TripAdvisor just named ‘Grace Bay Beach’ the #1 Beach in the World. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. Words and photos don’t give it justice, you just have to experience it with your own eyes.

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    Grace Bay Beach
  3. Not only is Grace Bay Beach stunning, there are many of beaches around the island more private, and just as grand. My favorite was Long Bay Beach.

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    Long Bay Beach Sunrise
  4. There is an abandoned ship two miles from the shoreline of Long Bay Beach. This is my number one reason why I need to go back. I didn’t realize this could be visited by jet ski and explored, until my last day. I’m fascinated by it, and would make a second trip just to explore this.

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    Look Closely For The Abandoned Ship
  5. If you’re looking for a relaxing, quiet getaway, this is the island for you. It’s far from being a loud, party island. I was there during ‘high’ season, and found myself wondering just exactly where everyone was hiding.
Beach Tranquility

Expensive as the Turks and Caicos Islands may be, I would recommend a short visit if you’re looking to find some pure, clean, gorgeous beaches with white sand and turquoise waters.

Top 10 Solo Travel Tips

(Sunset photo taken on a month long solo travel around South East Asia.  Taken in El Nido, Palawan. Philippines.)

I am a week out from a solo, beach adventure to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean Islands.  I booked this flight, on a whim one evening while browsing my emails for flight deals.  $99 one way flights from Fort Lauderdale was an offer I could not pass up! As I sit here and finalize the last of my details, I wanted to offer you some of my personal tips for staying safe and enjoying yourself while traveling solo.  

So before I jet off to my next destination, here are some of my best tips on how to travel safe, successfully, and to genuinely enjoy a solo trip.

 1.  Join a free walking tour or purchase an organized group tour around the city. 

This is by far one of the best ways to meet like-minded travelers, swap travel stories, and make friends to meet up with along your stay.  Along with that, the local guides are full of information!  They are most often friendly, helpful and more than willing to share information on tourist spots or off the beaten path interests.

2.  TALK TO PEOPLE!   Locals, other tourists, Uber/Taxi drivers, waiters, bar staff, hotel staff, Airbnb hosts, etc.

More often than not, people are friendly and helpful.  Having a smile and positive attitude goes a long way when traveling.  Ask questions and get information about the top restaurants, smart ways to get to a destination, and best times to visit certain areas. And if you’re still a bit unsure while talking with someone, it’s OK to lie a little and say you need to know because you’re meeting a friend.

3.  Secure belongings, ALWAYS.

You’re traveling alone, you have to look out for YOU, you do not have a companion to watch your back.  Make sure your backpack/handbag you carry along with you outside the hotel is secure, zipped and even locked.  Wear a fanny pack, over the shoulder bag, or even a backpack in the front if you feel unsafe.  You may look a bit silly, but I’d chose silly over having my personal belongings taken any day of the week!  Inside my hotel room, besides using the safe in my room, I always bring a lock for my luggage.  If I’m wary about the hotel safe, locking my belongings inside my luggage is the next best thing.

4.  Get to know your hotel surrounding in the daylight hours.

It is really important to me to spend a few hours perusing the streets and becoming familiar with the area I will be staying in.  Closest markets, restaurants, places to visit, and dodgy areas to avoid are all things I look for.

5.  Be cautious at night.

If something does not feel right, trust your instincts.  You are responsible for YOU!  Grab a taxi, or pop into a hotel/restaurant and ask them to call you a legal taxi.  Get onto WIFI and call an UBER.  Never risk your safety at night.  Most often on my holidays I wake early to explore and discover the city, and am back in my hotel neighborhood by nightfall.  This way I’m not left lost, uncertain, or feeling anxious. Sure, there are some nights I go out, but I make sure to have my arrangements in place for transportation or have walked the path previously, knowing its safe.

6.  Be careful about drinks from strangers.

Best rule, don’t accept one, but if you do, pay REAL close attention to how it’s being made and whos hands it passing through.

7.  Drink bottled water. 

Self Explanatory.  Just do it. 🙂

8.  Enjoy your OWN company.

Find your zen, read a good book, meditate, listen to some music, relax on a beach or a park bench and just enjoy the time to yourself.

9.  Leave your flashy jewelry, purses, and clothes at home.

I never travel with any good jewelry or purses for the simple reason that I do not need to draw anymore attention to myself then I already do.  Let’s be honest, I travel a lot in countries where my ‘look’ is outside of the norm.  A blonde, white-skin, western woman draws enough attention.  With that being said, be confident and walk purposefully.  If you look like you know what you’re doing, you might just feel as if you do as well. 😉

10.  Be you. 

You chose to travel for a reason, tap into that reason, and embrace it.  Do what makes you happy, on your time.  The best part about traveling solo is you don’t have anyone to please but yourself!  You’re free to come and go as you wish, without having to wait around or be rushed by others.  Enjoy that!  Do something you wouldn’t normally do, take yourself out of your comfort zone if you’re feeling frisky!