After a year of planning and months of tedious (and also expensive) decisions, Adam and I finally became husband and wife on May 21, 2016 in Manhattan, Kansas. It was a beautiful day and well worth every agonizing second that led up to it. The Sunday following brought us a much needed day of rest and an early bedtime to help us prepare for our long drive back home to Houston. Monday we were up and on the road right on schedule and looking forward to getting some extra R&R before our flight the following morning. What we didn’t expect was to wind up with a broken down vehicle in the middle of Oklahoma. Pulling into a shop in Pauls Valley, we were hit with some very devastating news…the car is fixable but not cheap and definitely not quick.
If anyone has ever been to Paul’s Valley they might inform you that it’s a quaint town with a few tourist draws but not a whole lot of people renting cars. The shop owner very kindly allowed us to borrow one of his vehicles to trek 40 minutes back the way we came to Norman and pick up a rental car from the closest office that had a large capacity vehicle available for one way. Upon returning we had to quickly unload and reload our copious and strategically placed boxes, strip our vehicle of any item we would need in the near future and lay Adam’s well used Trailblazer to rest. This only set us back about 4 hours. Rolling into Houston just about 11 we unloaded our loaner car, tossed some clothes and items into a suitcase and set the alarm for 3:30 am. We had a date with a beautiful island we weren’t about to miss.
When we first discussed where we wanted to go on our honeymoon, my first thought was Europe. Hands down. Adam on the other hand made a convincing case for a beach and some sun. Ultimately, the guy (as usual) was right. A beach with nothing to do and no crazy tourist wants or needs was just the kind of vacation we needed after planning a wedding. Since I hate being the kind of person that does what everyone else does, my only request was to not go where everyone else goes. That meant no big names..no Mexico, no Jamaica not really even the Bahamas. I was thinking more Belize or somewhere exotic and then I remembered Turks & Caicos. Adam was all in after seeing pictures of that beautiful water and white sandy beaches, the only drawback was there were only 2 options for all inclusive. We were left deciding between wild 20 somethings with sub par sleeping arrangements or a family oriented facility with lots of kids running around. There came a point that I thought we might have to give it up and settle for somewhere else because reviews had us second guessing whether or not we would enjoy ourselves on our honeymoon in either of these places. In the end, we opted to go ahead and book with Beaches after reading that there would be adult only establishments where we could retreat to if we needed.
Arriving & Resort Check in
Upon arriving to the airport in T&C, customs went pretty quickly. You are allowed to bring a lot more onto the island than I really knew. Adam packed 3 cigars for himself to enjoy and was getting ready to declare them when the customs agent informed us to read the back of our forms and that it was well under what we needed to declare. Beaches has a shuttle that picks you up and drops you off at your exact village. Since we had such a long few days prior to our arrival, Adam & I were very unprepared. We had not checked in online and couldn’t exactly remember which village we had selected. The driver knew exactly where we needed to go based on our room number and it wasn’t an issue. A resort worker greeted us with cool, wet cloths & a yummy punch (with or without rum) shortly after we gathered our belongings from the van. It is likely that when you arrive there will be several other people arriving along with you. You can expect a wait time for checking in but I will say the front desk staff was very attentive and with lots of seating in the main lobby a worker will come up to you with an iPad for you to begin the check in process. Check in is at 3pm which meant we had a couple hours from the time we arrived until we could get in our room. They happily took our luggage to deliver to our rooms and sent us to go have some lunch before checking back in to get our room keys.
We were escorted to our room after receiving our keys and talked through the main things to look for in the room. In the room was a map of the resort, a restaurant guide complete with hours and dress code, a daily activity flyer and a fridge that was stocked daily with complimentary water and soda. While alcohol is not provided in the stocked fridge they did say to feel free to stock it with whatever we’d like. I say we ended up stocking a few too many Turks Head Light in ours. The room was standard; a nice size bed, large dresser and tv, small table with chairs, love seat & patio furniture on the balcony. I wouldn’t say it was anything special but we just needed the room for somewhere to sleep so it had all we needed.
On the way to the island I had read that the water in TCI had an odor to it. I, however, was not expecting the degree of that stench so when I took my first shower on the island I was shocked at how much the water smelled like fireworks. I am still unsure as to if I ever smelled any better after a shower than I did before but regardless we made it through. We do recommend only drinking bottled water there strictly from a taste stand point, it won’t make you sick or at least it didn’t make me sick but if it’s not ice cold, it is kind of hard to drink.
With over 20 dining options within the Beaches resort, you have no shortage of food! While waiting to be able to get in our room, we were given a map and a list of food options on the resort to go find some lunch. We decided to just take a walk and decide on the way because we of course wanted to try every place if we could. That’s when we saw a sign for the Jerk Shack which was not listed on the pamphlet that was given to us. It was a nice spot right off the beach. We each did a half and half chicken & pork combo with some sweet potato fries and corn as our side. It was delicious! The meat came with two different sauces on the side: sweet & spicy and a jerk. I thought both were tasty and the spicy one had a little bite to it. I didn’t find the meat itself to be spicy but it was tender and had an awesome flavor to it. Adam however found it to be a little spicy and you can order it without spice, which I found out when we returned with some fellow honeymooners our last beach day. We also tried both varieties of bread offered on our second go around. Both the Festival and Bammy made a nice break in flavor. We would probably agree that the Jerk Shack is a must eat.
Our first evening we decided to splurge on two dinners because why not! We started with sushi at Soy and then made our way to Arizona’s for a steak. Both were excellent. Adam raved that Arizona’s had a darn good steak and I was blown away on the trio dip starter! I love chips and dip! Our following 5 days went about the same. Snacking during the day and squeezing in 2 dinners when possible.
We started each morning with breakfast at Reflections, except the first and last mornings which we took in at Bayside. All restaurants that offered breakfast did so buffet style so a change in venue wasn’t really necessary. However, I enjoyed the view and feel at Bayside much better. Lunch was spent in the pool or on the beach. We indulged in some pizza one day from Bella Napoli and after a day at the water park grabbed a burger and wings from Bobby Dees. Overall we were not too impressed with the diner but they were open late so that made for a nice after bar snack when needed. We had several restaurants we really wanted to eat at for dinner but didn’t get to them all. Wednesday we took in a breathtaking view at Sky Restaurant and topped the evening off with the best fish & chips we’ve ever tasted while enjoying some karaoke and beer at Cricketers. Thursday night we hit up Barefoot by the Sea. I loved this place. Where else can you eat delicious food, hear the ocean and have your feet in the sand at a restaurant and not over a campfire. This was my first time trying Mahi and it was phenomenal, Adam tried the swordfish which didn’t rise to the occasion but because of the ambiance and experience this was my favorite resort dining option. Friday night we took a tour of Italy at Mario’s. We ordered 3 different pasta dishes that sounded good, one as an app and the others as our meals. We probably should have ordered them all as appetizers because the size was a little overwhelming on the entrees especially after their incredible salad bar! This meal left us stuffed but we decided to enjoy a round of pool and grab an after dinner drink at Cricketers still. Our final dinner on the island was a private candlelight dinner on the beach that Adam purchased for us. We were given 3 options for 4 different courses to select from: Appetizer, salad, entree and dessert. The meal also came with a complimentary bottle of sparkling wine and our choice of additional drink options. We were left trying to finish 2 bottles of wine! This was by far the best meal mainly because it was so romantic and amazing to share that memory with my husband. He is always thinking of me and after nearly a whole bottle of champagne he enjoyed toasting our new life together quite often. 🙂 That guy. Needless to say we highly recommend going the 2 dinner route if possible and we hope to go back someday so we can review the rest of their incredible options!
As was mentioned before Beaches is a family friendly resort. Most resorts will offer snorkeling and rentals along with offers for excursions you can take. Beaches had these and so much more. Snorkeling equipment could be rented for two hour periods, kayaks and canoes were first come first serve but there was no wait when we took one out mid afternoon on Saturday. They had wind surfing and paddle boarding which we unfortunately didn’t get to partake in. The big draw for most visitors though is the diving. Adam and I are not certified nor will we be as it turns out I can’t even figure out how to snorkel so diving might be something we never get to try. But we heard that Turks has some of the best diving and is included in your Beaches stay. We signed up for a couples massage for our first morning there. It was awesome and a perfect way to start vacation off in a relaxed mood. With 2 spas on the resort you can choose from mani pedis, facials or massage. It was not the cheapest massage ever and prices are hiked up a bit for all the other services but if you want to spoil yourselves go for it. The spa also included a sauna which is open for all guests and the gym was right next door if you want to get in your workouts each day as well. They had plenty for the kiddos too. Day fun with Camp Sesame and a water park compete with 3 slides and a lazy river and evening entertainment from parades, fire eating men and movies to arcade games and a dj academy. There were tennis courts, lawn chess, basketball courts and croquet games spread throughout the resort. Endless options so that everyone in the family is sure to keep busy.
You couldn’t beat that view. I miss it so much; everything. From the sound of the calmly, crashing waves to the crystal clear water and endless colors of blue, there really is nothing quite like it. It rained every day but Adam and I still spent every minute we weren’t eating or sleeping at the pool or on the beach. We met a group of Boston women on their annual girls trip and a crew from Arizona who have come to Turks every year for the past oh I don’t know 5 years or more. We even stumbled onto a few Nebraskans and Jayhawk fans (they’re everywhere!). Our last day, we spent time with a beautiful fellow newlywed couple. We are so grateful for the experience and to get the pleasure of meeting new people and making new friends.
Conclusion and Recap
Our honeymoon was so perfect. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. If you get the chance to visit Turks & Caicos, take it. They say it’s sunny 350some days of the year there. Adam and I caught the 5 days it does rain. The locals were grateful, we weren’t so much. If you do go, do your research there is plenty out there that helped us in planning our getaway but I will leave you with my top advice:
- Necessities are pricey. It’s not an island that is well known or easy to bring in goods for so everything is a bit more expensive. So bring sunscreen from home and LOTS of it. Pack at least one tube of lotion in case the aerosols lose their ability to spray from the flight. We had one good, working bottle of spray that ran out and we were fried after the one full day of sun we did get. Buying sunscreen on the resort will cost you $20 a bottle.
- Bring a solid pair of flip flops with good traction. I love my old navy flip flops, who doesn’t snatch up every color on their dollar sale day? but it was wet, very wet and slippery. We hope you have better luck than us and no rain but if it should happen to rain during your stay and even just on your walk from the pool I suggest having a good pair of sandals. I don’t know how many times I almost fell. Perhaps I’m more clumsy than most but the rock sidewalks do get a bit slick and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Opt for bottle water. Just trust us.
- Bug spray. I read this when I first started researching and completely forgot. It’s a good idea to pack some of this as well. It’s hot and humid and the bugs will start biting. Don’t risk being eaten alive or spending a fortune on a backup plan.
- Don’t overpack but do pack the right things. I took way too much as usual. Leave the curling iron and straightener at home. It’s the beach, go for that fresh out of the water look. Some restaurants do have a dress code at Beaches that require the men to be in pants. Now, I don’t think all of them really adhered to that but pack a couple just in case. Other than that take a couple cover ups and swimsuits and maybe a dress or two then mix in some tops and bottoms for a mix and match selection of evening looks.
- Don’t worry about tipping. Seriously, they’ll give it back. The bartenders at Arizonas swim up bar were some of our favorites and the entire staff at Beaches was courteous and attentive but the tip is included in your stay and cash tips are not to be received by any of them. Don’t worry your drinks will still get to you and wait time is minimal.
The entire trip was worth every penny, it is an experience of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go back, maybe even a couple more times! We hope that the island continues to grow in tourism and that the locals eventually gain from this so that the next time we visit maybe we can spend more time exploring off the resort. It’s a beautiful place that will forever hold a special place in our hearts.
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Enjoy a few of our favorite pictures from the honeymoon!