It had been a long time since I had a big adventure – so when my best friend from high school, Jenny, messaged many months ago about planning a girls’ trip to Turks and Caicos to celebrate her 40th birthday, my immediate response was: I’m in!
The trip felt really far away for a long time and then – all of a sudden – it was here!
We had the BEST time. Here is a recap!
We had a group of 8 of us on the trip – me, Jenny, her sister Gretchen, our friend Lara (also from high school), and 4 of Jenny’s friends from her previous jobs/Atlanta area where she lives: Leigh Ann, Laura, Lauren and Sarah. (Yes, basically everyone was named some variation of Laura!)
It was such a fun crew – everyone ended up vibe-ing really well together even though we hadn’t all met before.
We stayed at Club Med Turkoise, an all-inclusive resort on Grace Bay, and we paired up in the rooms to keep costs down.
My high school buddy Lara and I were roomies which was fun. She’s also more of a morning person so it worked out well, and we had fun catching up! She lives in the DC area but about 45 minutes away so we don’t see each other as often as I’d like!
We spent Thursday to Monday there; my flight was super early Thursday so I left a sleeping house to head to the airport. (The day after I left, on Friday, Matt took the kids up to Pittsburgh – where his parents live – and I met them up there once I was back.)
I was the first to arrive in Turks and Caicos out of the group. My first airplane ride since January 2020 – wow! It felt weird and also totally normal to be in an airport again.
It was only a 3 hour direct flight from DC and thankfully there were no issues with delays or cancellations or anything. I made sure to get a window seat because I knew the views landing in Turks and Caicos would be amazing – I was right!
The water there was incredibly beautiful – look how clear blue it is!
I had an easy shuttle ride to the hotel and then immediately hit the ground running! Well, first I had some lunch. The all-inclusive aspect of the hotel was really nice for a big group so we didn’t have to worry about splitting up payments for food and drinks all day every day!
There were two restaurants at the hotel – a big buffet that was open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a beach bar and restaurant that had snacks and bar food at lunch and dinnertime.
We usually went to the buffet for all the main meals, and then had mid afternoon snacks from the beach bar.
Here was my lunch the first day – I had a couple of packed PB&J sandwiches throughout the morning while traveling so I was ready for some greens. Plus a salmon tartare!
Once I was done with lunch, I hit the beach! It was incredibly beautiful – super soft bright white sand and clear turquoise water, and not many people down on the beach, either.
It was too hot to sit out in the chairs and the shaded cabanas were taken, so I went right in the water. It was the perfect temperature and I had my goggles with me so I spent some time swimming around and checking out cool shells and fish.
The rest of my group all arrived late afternoon! If I remember correctly, we spent the rest of the day at the pool. 🙂 Hanging in the pool with friends + a drink = hello, vacation.
After the first partial day there, we settled into a rhythm for the remaining days of the trip.
The mornings (except for one, when I went scuba diving – more on that in a minute!) started with me, my roomie Lara, and Laura going to the outdoor yoga class the resort offered every day at 8 a.m.
It was a lovely way to start the day, and we had different instructors cycling through so that was fun to mix it up some with instructor styles as well.
Yoga was followed by breakfast at the restaurant buffet with some of the others, too. Almost every day I ended up getting an omelette with veggies and cheese, and having some toast/bread with peanut butter and fruit on the side. Plus a latte!
After breakfast, two of the mornings we went snorkeling! The hotel offered a snorkeling excursion each day that was included; they took us out on a boat to a different location each time.
Fun! Being on a boat really made it feel like I was on a tropical adventure. 🙂
Snorkeling was a lot of fun – I love being in the water so much, so anything that involves me swimming is a win!
I didn’t have my camera but some of the others had a waterproof case for their phones, so these pictures are courtesy of them. 🙂 I think Gretchen took a bunch of them – she was really on point with the photos all weekend!
We usually had about 45 minutes or so in the water before hopping back on the boat. Foggy lens shot of me and Jenny:
The one morning on the trip that I didn’t go snorkeling, I went scuba diving! I was on the fence about whether I was going to scuba dive while in Turks and Caicos as none of the others in the group were, but after being out on the boat the first day snorkeling it really had me itching to see everything more up close and personal.
Plus, I reminded myself, I used to do adventurous stuff on my own all the time back in the day!
Once I decided I was going to go scuba diving, I knew I wanted to do a brief refresher; I am dive certified (I got my open water certification way back in 2003 on the Great Barrier Reef when I was studying abroad in Australia – one of the coolest experiences of my life), but the last times I went diving were 2015 (in Malta with Matt and friends – another top 10 best life experiences trip) and 2016 (in Hawaii, also with Matt, and also an amazing trip).
Luckily, our hotel offered a “dive refresh” option every day at the hotel pool at 2:30, so I signed up to do it that afternoon. It was kind of hilarious because I was there doing all my dive stuff with the instructor in the middle of the pool while everyone around us was swimming around, drinking, etc. 😉
Our hotel was adults-only, though, so there were no kids splashing around/running into us at least. 😉
I was nervous to dive again after so long but it came back to me quickly and got me excited to get out there the next morning! It was fun to be out on the boat on an adventure – and I was proud of myself that I went even though my friends weren’t!
The second we got into the water I was no longer nervous and was instead SO excited to be there, remembering how much I love scuba diving. It’s like being in another world – it’s really quiet and calm and so incredible to be under the sea, seeing things we don’t normally have access to.
We did a two tank dive – so we stopped first at one dive site and used our first tank of air, then took the boat to another dive site and did a second dive with the second tank of air. I was really glad we got to go down there twice – once would not have been enough!
Since becoming a mom I feel like “adventure Anne” has gotten kind of buried – she’s still there, but she doesn’t get to come out and play much. It was really nice to flex that rusty muscle and do something exciting and adventurous and just for me. I need to figure out how to incorporate her more into my normal life…
It also made me really want to do a dive-specific trip with Matt sometime in the future!
Once getting back to the hotel, whether from snorkeling or diving, the next order of business was always the same: lunch!
We met up in smaller groups usually for lunch depending who was around and ready to eat. I went to the main restaurant buffet each day for lunch; here are all my lunch pictures from the trip!
Salad bar finds + a chicken fajita with guac:
More salad bar yumminess + fish with rice and veggies:
A burger with chips + guac plus some grilled veggies + the cute cup that Jenny and Gretchen made for all of us on the trip with our names on it!
The other side had a mix tape graphic plus a “best of ____” with our birth year. Too cute!
The afternoons were usually spent swimming around in the ocean, or chilling in the pool!
It was hot and often the shady chairs were taken, so I didn’t really hang out in the chairs much – and anyway I wanted to be in the water because I love it so much!
Sarah, one of the others on the trip who I met for the first time, and I discovered we were definitely both fish in previous lives – the two of us spent legit HOURS in the water together each afternoon swimming around with our goggles/masks, diving down and looking at cool shells, checking out all the fish, etc.
It was so much fun – I loved having a buddy to nerd out in the water with!
One of the coolest things we saw was there were some MASSIVE schools of fish, and if you stood still they would completely surround you in a circle. Jenny was able to get a picture of us surrounded by them from a pier above – how cool is this?!
Here’s a close up – it was so neat! They never touched us despite getting so close – if we moved our legs or arms toward them they’d all instantly move away in unison! It was really neat to watch. They’re SO fast.
One of the afternoons a few of us took a break from the swimming to do the trapeze!!
I LOVE trapeze but hadn’t done it in years. I first tried it in 2013 via a LivingSocial deal (<- useful and fun to have things like this documented on the blog!), and then did it again back in 2018 when Matt and I took then 1 year old Riese to Club Med Sandpiper Bay in Florida.
I had forgotten how scary it is climbing that ladder, eek! But once I was up there in the air I was totally fine and having a blast.
I was excited I was able to get my legs over the bar to hang from my knees!
Back flip dismount – so fun! I think in another life I want trapeze to be my job…
By late afternoon we’d usually take a break for some food – this is where the pool/beach bar often came into play. They had yummy nachos and tacos – both pork and vegetarian – and sweet potato fries, too.
This worked out well to tide us over because we didn’t have dinner until quite late every night – usually 8/8:30. It felt like such a luxury to be able to stay on the beach or in the pool until 7/7:30 or so every night and not have to rush back to feed children dinner and get them to bed. 😉
Post-snack we’d often switch over to hanging out in the pool!
Jenny and I were usually the last two there as the others went back to shower before us, and two of the nights we went back down to the beach again.
I absolutely LOVE the beach in the early evening – it’s cooler and just so beautiful down there. Jenny and I usually stayed down until the sun was almost setting and hung out in the water together, catching up.
Nothing beats a beach sunset in my opinion, but the sunset view at the pool was really beautiful too. 🙂
For dinner every night except for one of the nights, we ate at the included restaurant buffet. It was fun to get to wear some dresses as I don’t wear them much in my normal life!
The one below is one I borrowed from Jenny – apparently the restaurant’s theme for dinner was “wear white” and I missed the memo, so she gave me a white dress to wear!
Here are my eclectic buffet dinners – the food was not mind-blowing/amazing or anything, but it was decent, and I always love being able to get a super random selection of stuff to try!
Here I had some chicken cacciatore with rice and cauliflower plus some mushroom pizza – this was all super good:
Seared tuna with an Asian-y sauce plus a shrimp pasta dish – random combo but whatever 😉
Crab legs (yum!!) plus watermelon with feta (always a winning combo) and a grain bowl with avocado and chickpeas.
Fresh fruit plus salmon and veggies:
We all went out to eat together one of the nights for a special treat – we tried to get into Coco Bistro, which was recommended by a zillion people, but it was all booked. So instead we went over to the Seven Stars hotel (which was gorgeous and very fancy) and had dinner at their upscale restaurant, Seven.
Lara and I walked down the beach together to get there – we ended up arriving at dinner a little sweaty (it was a 20 minute walk) but it was so beautiful it was worth it! The others hopped in a cab and met us there.
Dinner was really delicious and the ambiance was lovely, too. I shared the tuna tartare appetizer with Gretchen to start:
Plus a salad – those balls are goat cheese! YUM.
My entree was a sea bass with noodles – delicious Asian flavors, it was so good.
Would definitely recommend that restaurant if you ever find yourself in Turks and Caicos!
I was usually pretty tired after our late dinners (and very active days!) and didn’t last long before going to bed, but two of the nights I stayed up long enough to watch the cool trapeze shows they had at our hotel! I believe Club Med is or used to be owned by the same people who own Cirque de Soleil (or maybe they just have a partnership), so there is a big trapeze component at all the hotels.
The shows were really cool – it’s amazing what they can do!
Whew. So there you have it – my Turks and Caicos trip recap! This post got really long but I wanted to make sure to do our trip justice. It was SUCH a great trip and a much-needed rejuvenating break. We were all wishing we had been able to stay a little longer!
Until next time, Turks and Caicos! We will miss you. And – happy birthday Jenny! It’s appropriate I’m posting this recap on your actual birthday, huh? 🙂