Your most likely point of entry into the Turks and Caicos Islands will be the Providenciales International Airport. Depending on your final destination, from there you will take a taxi or rental car or hop on another flight. Please keep in mind, however, that interisland travel and brisk efficiency are not necessarily synonymous; the weather has a lot to do with it, but so does the sleepy-lidded pace of things. Get a couple of good books and just cozy up to that velvety breeze.
Note: In general, addresses have no street numbers, more typically just designations like "Leeward Highway," "Lower Bight Road," or simply "Providenciales."
From the Airport
Most of Provo's lodgings are an easy 15- to 20-minute taxi ride from the airport. The days of the free hotel transfers to and from the airport are pretty much over -- your hotel can arrange a taxi transfer but for a charge (or the fee will be rolled into your rate); otherwise, plenty of taxis are on hand to meet arriving flights. If for some reason none are around, call your hotel or the Provo Taxi Association (tel. 649/946-5481). Cabs are metered and rates set by the government -- but not all taxi drivers turn on their meters, so it's a good idea to negotiate the fare before you leave the airport -- or anytime, for that matter. Expect to pay around $22 to $25 (plus tip) per couple (additional person $7.50) for a taxi ride from the airport to the Grace Bay area. Most taxis are vans equipped to carry more than one group of passengers, so it stands to reason that the more people on board, the lower the rate per couple.
Because the island is so large and its hotels and restaurants are so far-flung, you might find a rental car useful on Providenciales, but be warned: Renting a car on the TCI is not cheap. The airport has several rental-car agencies.
If you decide to forgo a rental car, you may find yourself needing a taxi every now and then, to get back to your hotel after dinner out, for example. Taxis are expensive -- just jumping from one section of Grace Bay to another can run into double figures -- and they're plentiful on Provo, but there are no designated taxi stands. We've hailed taxis down in the road a number of occasions, however. Or just have your hotel or restaurant call one for you. We also highly recommend Clayton Cox of 3 C's Taxi Service (tel. 649/244-1546), Lorenzo's Taxi & Tours (tel. 649/243-8907), Gray's Taxi & Tours (tel. 649/242-3166), and Boy Hall & Son Taxi (tel. 649/244-3894 or 649/231-6308). If you find a taxi driver you like, ask for his or her card or jot down the number on the side of the van, and avail yourself of his or her services throughout your trip (taxi drivers are also happy to show you around the island -- be sure to negotiate the fee upfront). Some Provo hotels (the Grace Bay Club being one) include complimentary shuttle service around the Grace Bay area. Otherwise, most places are happy to call a taxi for you.
Three major U.S.-based car-rental agencies with a franchise in the Turks and Caicos Islands are Budget, with two Provo locations: the airport and Downtown Provo, in the Town Centre Mall (tel. 800/472-3325 in the U.S., or 649/946-4079, -5400; www.budgetrentacar.com); Avis, with a branch at the airport (tel. 800/331-1212 in the U.S. and Canada, or 649/946-4705; www.avis.tc); and Hertz affiliate Mystique Car Rental, located at the Ports of Call shopping complex on Grace Bay Road and on Old Airport Road, 2 minutes from the airport (tel. 649/941-3910; www.hertztci.com). Cars rent for $40 to $225 a day (depending on the vehicle); collision-damage insurance costs $10 to $12 a day. The government will collect a $16 tax for each rental contract, regardless of the number of days you keep the car. For booking rental cars online, the best deals are usually found at rental-car company websites, although all the major online travel agencies also offer rental-car reservations services.
If you'd like to try your luck with a local agency, call one of the following: Grace Bay Car Rentals and Sales (tel. 649/941-8500; www.gracebaycarrentals.com), on Grace Bay Road across from the Seven Stars resort; Scooter Bob's, Turtle Cove Marina (tel. 649/946-4684; www.provo.net/scooter), which rents jeeps, vans, and SUVs; Turks & Caicos National Car Rental (tel. 649/946-4701; http://airportinntci.com/rent), which has a branch at the Airport Plaza on Airport Road (2 min. from the airport); and Rent a Buggy (tel. 649/946-4158; www.rentabuggy.tc) on Leeward Highway, near Central Square. Most of these agencies offer free pickup and drop-off. Rates average from $40 to $200 per day, plus a $15 government tax.
In the British tradition, cars on all the islands drive on the left. You only need a valid driver's license from your home country to rent a vehicle.
Renting a Car in Provo: Pros & Cons -- Many visitors wonder whether renting a car is the thing to do when in Provo. Some things to consider:
- You can easily tour the island, go to shops, and eat out and not have to walk long distances to get places, or worry about relying on taxis.
- You can pick up supplies and food (especially if you have self-catering capabilities) from the Graceway Gourmet, the Graceway IGA, and other food suppliers with ease.
- Taxis are pricey!
- If you're North American, you have to quickly master the nuances of left-side driving and navigating roundabouts.
- Parking is limited at many resorts. Some hotels offset this issue by providing complimentary transportation around the Grace Bay area for guests without cars.
- Most, if not all, tour operators include hotel pickup as part of their excursion packages.
- Bike riding is an ideal way to get around and perfectly meshes with the eco-friendly island vibe. Some resorts offer complimentary bikes. Or you can rent a bike or a scooter through Caicos Wheels).
- Taxis are plentiful. Plus, more cars mean more congestion.
- Rental cars can be pricey!
Bicycles & Scooters
Bicycling is an ideal way to get around the flat Grace Bay area, especially now that the roads have been beautifully paved with nice sidewalks running on both sides. Many resorts, including Royal West Indies, the Grace Bay Club, and the Sands at Grace Bay, offer complimentary bikes for their guests. Now a new operator, Caicos Wheels (Queens Landing Plaza, Grace Bay; tel. 649/242-6592; www.caicoswheels.com), rents bikes (as well as scooters) in Providenciales. It will drop off and pick up bicycles at your resort; bikes cost $15 per day (deposit required).
In addition to cars, jeeps, and SUVs, Scooter Bob's (Turtle Cove Marina; tel. 649/946-4684; www.provo.net/scooter) rents two-passenger Yamaha scooters for $49 a day ($45 a day for 5 days or more). Advance reservations are required.
On Grand Turk, you can rent scooters and bikes at Tony's Rentals (tel. 649/946-1879; www.tonyscarrental.com).
The 19km (12 miles) of Grace Bay Beach make for lovely strolls, and the nicely paved roads along Grace Bay have sidewalks, so getting around on foot is much easier than before. But once you get started, particularly with the tropical sun beating down, keep in mind that the distances are longer than they appear on a map -- why not take the beach route instead and soak in the views while you're strolling?