Before having children, tropical holidays consisted of reading through stacks of books between ocean dips and beachside naps. The sweet bliss of doing nothing and the indulgence of beachy boredom could often make up for the less-than-perfect accommodations that fit our young budgets. These days, any attempt to relive the old days guarantees being splashed with salty water or having sand dumped on our heads by our energetic kids, as they pull us into their version of a great time. To keep everyone happy, family vacations now consist of finding big adventures to share with our children. The Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa had been on our dream vacation list for years. It offers an endless array of fun-filled days and activities for families to do together, but also a highly recommended all-ages kids club for when your kids have more steam than you do. If you are looking for the perfect blend of fun time and free time, check out Beaches Turks and Caicos. Here is our list of some of the activities we enjoyed with and without our kids.
1. Take a walk along the 12 mile stretch of the gorgeous Grace Bay Beach. Google “world’s most beautiful beaches” and Grace Bay will be on that list. Crystal clear water lapping over floury white soft-as-powder sand, surrounded by an outlying reef that breaks up waves, make this beach the most beautiful, swimmable beach I have ever buried my toes in.
2. Take a Tour. Stop! Before doing anything else, you must sign up for a resort tour. Beaches Turks and Caicos is comprised of 4 stunning villages, 19 restaurants and 14 bars sprawled over 44 acres on 12 miles of beach. This tour (offered twice daily) helps you find where everything is located so you don’t miss out. Book it when you first arrive to get a feel of the resort.
3. Unwind with a Raindrop Dreams treatment at the Red Lane Spa. The ritual includes seven essential oils sprinkled along your spine, each one to detox, relax, hydrate and rejuvenate your being. There are two Red Lane Spas on the property, one in Key West Village and the other in the French Village. If you prefer to lounge pre-treatment, head to Key West. There is a serenity garden with lounge chairs to relax in before and after your treatment. The French Village spa offers a hot and cold plunge pool and dry sauna. Both have a eucalyptus inhalation steam room.
4. Grab a cappuccino and a pain au chocolat at Cafe de Paris in the French Village. Try the Beaches Caramel (half sweet), it was our favourite afternoon pick me up. Try it over ice blended! There are a couple of gluten free treats available here as well if you have a hankering for something sweet without the wheat.
5. Swim up to the Octopus Pool Bar attached to Bobby D’s and sip a Superman blended mocktail. If a Roy Rogers’ is more your style, grab one of those too. You won’t find Jack Daniels here, this bar only serves non-alcoholic beverages.
6. Make a tie-dye rainbow t-shirt. This is a popular activity that runs several times during the week. Kids’ sizes sell out quickly so bring a white t-shirt from home to ensure you can do this activity. There is no charge if you supply your own t-shirt.
7. Speed down one of the 10 waterslides. There are all kinds of slides for every age and bravery level on Pirates Island Waterpark. Our favourite slides were the ones you could take the inner tube down for some extra speed. Anyone 48” and taller will be able to enjoy all the slides.
9. Float along the 650 ft meandering Lazy River. Although this sounds like a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, you have to be careful to avoid getting doused by the roaring overhead waterfalls when your child pushes your float under one. Peals of laughter will give you a heads up that kids are at the ready to spray you with water cannons along the ride. It’s well shaded, making a perfect break if you are a little too pink for the beach.
10. Set sail. If you are an experienced sailor, you can take a complimentary 15 minute refresher course before heading out on the 14ft resort catamarans. Learning to sail has been on our bucket list for many years and we opted to take the 4 day ASA Certified Sailing Course (additional charge). The course includes learning how to tie knots, knowing the parts of the boat, rigging, turning, stopping, how to retrieve a man overboard, how to upright a capsized boat and much more. Our instructor, affectionately known as Captain Nemo, made the sailing course the highlight of our vacation. With crystal clear warm waters to learn on, it is the perfect way to learn a new skill. There is nothing to fear when Captain Nemo is here!
11. Skip Le Petit Chateau if you are looking for a romantic dinner for two en plein air. Although the food is excellent, the courtyard faces the performance stage and you’ll get a fabulous, but decidedly non-romantic, vantage point of Sesame Street Characters singing and dancing to your dinner. If romance is what you are after, opt to eat inside or dine at Sapadillos at the Caribbean Village, or Sky Restaurant at Key West Village: both elegant, adults only dining experiences. Be sure to bring long pants for men as they are required at the adults only restaurants. Resort casual is suitable everywhere else.
12. Build sandcastles (or an octopus!) on the beach. If you’d like to show off your skills, there are friendly sandcastle competitions to join.
13. Burn off that pina colada with daily in-pool aerobics at the Italian Village pool. Dry land aerobics and other fitness classes are offered throughout the day as well, with schedules posted throughout the resort.
14. Snorkel. Book a complimentary snorkelling excursion with the Watersports desk. The boat departs 4 times a day and takes you right out to the coral reef. Get sea sick? You can also pick up snorkel gear and walk down the beach to Coral Gardens, a coral reef just steps from the beach. There is a protected perimeter around the reef to protect it.
15. Classic resort games! Play shuffleboard, croquet and giant chess. We enjoyed burning off the calories from our sensational meals as the sun was going down and the air was cooler.
16. Chow down on a corn dog at Bobby D’s. A 1950s style diner serving all the diner favourites including hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, macaroni cheese, fries and sandwiches. Take it to go and enjoy it poolside! Open from 11am – 6am daily.
17. Practice not cringing. Let your little ones sing, dance and showcase their talents at the Kid’s Talent Show.
18. Register your kids in the kids’ club. From tots to teens, there is a program for kids of all ages and they will love you for it!
19. Warm up in front of a beachside bonfire when the sun goes down. Enjoy live music and dancing in the sand and roasted marshmallows!
20. Compete in a limbo contest!
21. Break a sweat at the Fitness Centre. There are two fitness facilities opened 24 hours a day in both the Key West and the French Villages. This is the only resort I have been to that allows guests using the fitness facilities access to the luxurious spa amenities which are connected to the fitness centres. After your workout visit the eucalyptus inhalation steam bath and sauna for a post-workout treat.
22. Check out the Tweens and Teens lounge. Play ping pong, air hockey, billiards, you name it!
23. Eat at Kimono’s Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. It is the only restaurant of the 19 property restaurants that requires advance reservations. This fast-paced, exciting dining experiences is incredibly popular with families, with much singing, clanging and yummy food.
24. Become a DJ! Mix, Scratch and Burn a disc with your own music. $25.00 gets a full hour lesson which includes a DJ Scratch Academy Dog Tag, Certificate and a keepsake cd. This was the number one thing on my son’s wish-list and he is pretty proud of his mixed cd. The equipment and experience are top notch!
25. Compete in silly pool games. Do the donkey race, balloon pop, ring toss, dive & find, swim challenge and more. If you are up for a challenge, they have a game for you.
26. Get some one-on-one time with your favourite Sesame Street character at the Character Breakfast (additional charge). Say hi to Cookie Monster for me! We have a special bond (cookies) so I’m sure he will remember me. C is for crush!
27. Windsurf. My husband tried windsurfing for the first time in years. A strong wind off the shore mixed with over confidence made for an exhilarating surf and then a fun ride on the rescue boat to return to shore. Memories!
28. Stand up paddle board. Be like your favorite Hollywood star and try this challenging activity. Feeling adventurous? SUP Yoga!
29. Waterbike. These are crazy fun but can only be used when the ocean flags are flying green. If you see a green flag, run to the beach as these are a popular activity.
30. Take a ride on the resort choo choo train. Leaves every 30 minutes from each of the village lobbies (except Key West).
31. Laze in a hammock. There are hammocks scattered across the resort in their gardens and along the beach. Bring a book or have a nap. Try one of the two person hammocks for a cozy cuddle.
32. Have a beachside picnic at the Barefoot Beach Grill on picnic tables in the sand. You can order your picnic meal a la carte but still bury your toes in the sand. Amazing ribs and jerk chicken lives here.
33. Get your game on at the Xbox Lounge. 42 TVS including 2 Kinect game tvs. For a little downtime in the privacy of your hotel room, each room comes equipped with an Xbox game system loaded with games. Added bonus, the Xbox can play your child’s CD they mixed at the DJ Scratch Academy.
34. Sesame Street Night Parade. Two nights a week the streets become alive with the sound of singing and dancing. And Sesame Street, of course. We showed up early to grab a good chunk of real estate to watch the parade go by. Of course my daughter noticed, with green-eyed envy, the lit up train was filled with children IN the parade. The kids who are registered in kids’ camp get to participate in the parade. She insisted next parade day to be in kid’s camp so she could be in that train. She still talks about it.
35. Satisfy your sweet tooth at the candy store. If your kids haven’t had enough of the Sesame Street characters, you can find stuffies, puppets and all things plush. Plus there are walls of candies and salty snacks to satisfy your cravings (additional cost).
36. Unwind in an arm chair in front of a fountain. It’s a great way to take a break between rushing from one activity to the next 49! Just take a minute to breathe with the calming sounds and beauty of one of the many impressive fountains on the resort. They also tend to be close to one of the many bars…
37. Eat cotton candy bigger than your head. Different flavours served daily at Bobby D.’s
38. Grab a bag of popcorn and enjoy a family movie under the stars.
39. Paint pottery! Take a break from the sun and paint some seashells, starfish or some pottery. Additional charges apply.
40. Become a chocaholic and indulge in the weekly chocolate buffet.
41. Dance the night away at Big Bird’s Beach Party. If you have Sesame Street fans in your group, this beach party celebration is NOT to be missed. An amazing buffet spread, games, face painting, and fun-filled shows make this evening one to be remembered. You will find #21 and #23 here, so you can multi task!
42. Call the Culinary Concierge. Better yet, go visit them in the lobby at the Caribbean Village. If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, these guys will be your best point of contact to coordinate meals that will fit your needs. Tip: Ask them to book a Crab Leg Feast at Schooners on your behalf. You can’t order this at the restaurant, it’s complimentary but it needs to be booked through the Culinary Concierge in advance.
43. Dine at Sky Restaurant. By far the best view of the beach on the resort. Climb the spiral staircase past the sea tossed glass bottle chandelier to get an aerial view of the ocean. Open for families at breakfast, closed for lunch and becomes an adults only dining experience in the evening. Both meals are a la carte. Located in Key West Village.
44. Find your inner yogi and take a yoga/stretch group fitness class at 7am on the beach. It’s a great way to start your day. If you are not a morning person, the French Village fitness centre offers afternoon yoga classes as well.
45. Sesame Street Mania. There is a separate itinerary each day for Sesame Street fans outlining their whereabouts on the resort daily. Whether it’s Elmocize with Elmo, a Treasure Hunt with Abby, Baking Cookies with Cookie Monster, Bird Watching with Big Bird or Learning about the Letter of the Day with Ernie, from sunrise to sunset, those cuddly characters are available to play with kids.
46. Go kayaking. Great for any skill level. Gliding through the crystal clear water is so relaxing!
47. Take a dip in one of the 5 main resort pools. My kids loved the pool on the Caribbean side because of the swim up bar with kids drinks, the swimmable cave and waterfalls to play in. My husband and I preferred the infinity pool in Key West where the kids could splash and swim to their hearts’ content but the pool was small enough we could always keep an eye on them and take a break from the water ourselves. The best hot tub is found in the Italian Village. It’s huge and the Italian pool is the most energetic. Our kids always found someone new to play with.
48. Book the Captain’s Table at Schooners Restaurant. The Captain’s Table is a raised deck overlooking the beach with a spectaculare unobstructed sea view. There is no additional charge to get this very exclusive dining venue but you need to book in advance. The reservation can only be booked directly at Schooners so be sure to stop by when you first arrive.
49. Learn to Surf! There really isn’t any true surfing at Beaches Turks and Caicos. Thanks to the large coral reef surrounding Grace Bay, it is a calm place for little swimmers to get out and enjoy the ocean. Not so great for those wanting to surf. However, there is a Surf Simulator at Pirates Island where you get a quick surf lesson and take a spin on some amazing waves.
50. Borrow a boardgame! The game hut and lending library in the Caribbean Village offers piles of boardgames to take out during your stay. My husband and I went out for a grown up dinner one evening while my son learned how to play Risk with his grandpa. Old School fun!
51. Take it all in! With amazing sunsets, warm breezes and softest blue water you have ever seen, remember to take so time to drink it all in. This is a vacation that will stay with you forever.