Tucked just below the Bahamas, the Caribbean nation of Turks and Caicos has been known to draw in celebrities far and wide. “Ultra-luxury resorts on white powdery beaches surrounded by turquoise water,” make the destination a staple for unparalleled luxury, explains Kristen Pike, founder and CEO of KK Travels Worldwide. As the country’s name suggests, the islands are categorized into two island groups: the Turks Islands of Grand Turk and Salt Cay to the east, and the larger Caicos Islands archipelago of Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, South Caicos, and West Caicos to the west. Spanning from Providenciales to South Caicos, half of Hollywood has called this destination home at one point or another — with a star-studded Rolodex of celebrities like Donna Karan, Keith Richards, Gwyneth Paltrow, Prince — and for good reason too. “Thanks to the island’s shallow bays and cays, Turks and Caicos boasts some of the bluest waters in all of the Caribbean,” explains one tour guide from Provo Tours.
Contrary to some of its neighboring star-studded islands, like St. Barth’s or Nassau Paradise Island, what Turks and Caicos lacks in nightlife it makes up for with top-ranked beaches, coastal cuisine, and water sports. Here, the latter reigns supreme, and you’ll often find the A-list crowd taking a sunset sail, a jet ski, or a snorkel out into open waters to meet the island’s biggest celebrity, JoJo the dolphin — a wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphin known for freely interacting with tourists. For a relatively small destination, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s plenty to see and do, as well as plenty of hotels and rental options well suited for anyone looking for the full celebrity treatment. Here’s how to explore the islands of Turks and Caicos like a superstar.
Starting with Providenciales, or Provo (as the locals call it), this island is the country’s third largest island and most popular for tourism — with Grace Bay beach being the biggest draw. Grace Bay beach has been voted the #1 beach in the world by many publications including the 2022 TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Award. In recent years, the beach’s powdery white sands and clear bright blue water have become a hub for tourists and celebrities as it boasts an impressive collection of 5-star resorts and restaurants. Beyoncé, Drake, and Michael Jordan have all been known to enjoy a stroll on the shore as well as stop into hotels like the Ritz Carlton for dinner at the Italian restaurant Casa Nonna or to hit up the on-site casino.
Blue Hills is one of the three original settlements on Providenciales, with one of the most scenic coastal drives. Home to beautiful beaches and plenty of conches, it’s a hub for the island’s best snorkeling (called Smith’s Reef), the Rock House hotel, conch shacks, and a local horseback riding stable. In fact, a few years ago when Provo hosted the Turks and Caicos Music Festival, Alicia Keys went horseback riding on this very beach passing the island’s most infamous restaurant, da Conch Shack. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen took their kids to dine here on a recent vacation, where she wrote on an Instagram post, “Get the spicy jerk, the dirty fries, and yes, the conch.”
Chalk Sound National Park
While Grace Bay Beach might be the most critically acclaimed, Chalk Sound National Park is arguably the most picturesque. Home to hundreds of tiny islands, an underwater cave, a submerged plane wreck, and the endemic Turks and Caicos Rock Iguana, this secluded lagoon plays host to some of the most vibrant turquoise blue water you’ll ever see. You can explore the park through the scenic boat tours leaving from the popular restaurant Las Brisas or by renting a car. In addition to the scenic million-dollar homes you’ll pass, you can feast your eyes on the beautifully pristine Sapodilla Bay and Taylor’s Bay beaches.
Next to the Bay, you’re a short drive away from the Turk’s Head Brewery followed by the beautiful long and winding Venetian Road off of the central Leeward Highway. This 4.7-mile road travels along the banks of Turtle Pond, Flamingo Lake, and Juba Sound, and ends at the Eastern point of Turtle Tail peninsula, where Prince’s former house is located in addition to other star-studded villas where celebrities like Rihanna and Olivia Munn has been known to vacation.
Northwest Point Marine National Park
On the Western shore of Providenciales, nestled on the tip of a 5,000-acre nature and wildlife reserve, the island’s most exclusive resort, Amanyara, plays host to a number of celebrities including Will Smith, Brad Pitt, Victoria and David Beckman, and LeBron James, to name a few. “Derived from the Sanskrit words for ‘peace’ and ‘place,’ Amanyara borders the pristine reefs of the Northwest Point Marine National Park,” explains Kristen Pike. “With individual Guest Pavilions and villas tucked along the coast, this secluded haven boasts a contemporary yet tranquil design while embracing the sights and sounds of the turquoise sea. It’s best suited for couples (or families) seeking relaxation and luxury in a secluded and beautifully designed Zen-like atmosphere.”
Long Bay Beach
Found on the Southeast side of Providenciales, opposite Grace Bay, Long Bay Beach is home to a three-mile stretch of beautiful windswept white-sandy beach. As one of the world’s top kiteboarding destinations, this beach attracts kiters from all over the globe, including lessons for beginners eager to learn. Even if you prefer to stay on dry land, it’s peaceful to watch the kiteboarders from the beach. Especially if you’re staying at The Shore Club or one of the many luxury vacation villas which have been visited by the likes of Niki Minaj and the Kardashians.
Just recently in March, rappers Drake and Jack Harlow were spotted jet skiing at this particular beach. You can rent jet skis by the hour from one of the local beach vendors and explore the bay’s abandoned shipwreck, where visitors can climb to the top of the boat and jump into the crystal clear waters, or stop by the Captain Oak’s (floating) Tiki Bar for a drink and some of the best fried fish on the island — or shall we say ocean.
“Just a boat ride away from Provo airport,” located between Providenciales and North and Middle Caicos, “Parrot Cay is a great private island experience,” says Pike, for those looking to vacation like a VIP. Among this thousand-acre island, you’ll find the COMO Parrot Cay Resort, a luxury resort made up of villas and private residences where celebrities like Keith Richards, Donna Karan, and Christie Brinkley own homes. These private residences have been known to house other celebrities like Nick Jonas, Justin Beiber, and Angelina Jolie, who also take full advantage of the famous full-service spa and well-being center at the Shambhala Retreat, located on the property of this tranquil cay.
If private islands, five-star resorts, and over-the-top luxury doesn’t sell you for a visit, the warm and welcoming smile you get from the locals will. Even the wildlife is friendly, as you’ll most likely find JoJo the dolphin circling the bays and cays — along with his partner and recent heir, baby Dreamer. An unforgettable name bestowed by an unforgettable island, making for one unforgettable experience!