It’s Not Far Down To Paradise

VACATION DAY SEVEN: GRAND TURK, TURKS & CAICOS ISLANDS

Honestly…I don’t really think that my words or my pictures will truly be able to do Grand Turk justice, but I’ll try.

Quite simply put, Grand Turk is the most amazing beach I have ever seen in my entire life.

Ever.

Trust me...the beach was a LOT more beautiful than this picture shows.

And after breaking Sunshine’s camera the day before in Puerto Rico, I had to rely on my dad’s camera for the day.  The good news? It took pictures. The bad news? Not all of the pictures turned out very good or not at all and I ended up with a lot of little red x’s on my computer when all was said and done.

So let’s see if I can tell a story anyway…

Yeah...we're ready for exercise at 7am on our vacation.

Sunshine and I were up early (again) to meet dad for a walk around the ship. We weren’t docking until about 10 or 11 so we knew we could have breakfast and still have lots of time to get ready before arriving in Grand Turk.  This morning, however, was REALLY windy and walking really wasn’t very much fun at all.  Sunshine began running and was starting to lap me when I happened to see my dad sitting on the Lido Deck below watching the news so I quickly excused myself.

Entering port in Grand Turk.

After breakfast was done, we got changed and made our way up to the top of the ship to see where we had ended up.  I had done a bit of research on Grand Turk but didn’t really know much about it.  While on board, we were told by our awesome cruise director Jorge that Carnival had purchased a large portion of the island and that they were the only cruise line to visit this port.

Photo courtesy: msnbcmedia3.msn.com

The amazing thing about Grand Turk was that the depth of the water surrounding the island drops significantly just 100 feet or so from shore, and this allowed not only the ships incredible close proximity access to the island but also the ability to do “deep sea” things (fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, etc) very close to shore.

How close did the ship dock?  Well…we were literally right next to the beach.

The Carnival Glory (and a Princess cruise ship next to it) docked in Grand Turk.

Absolutely incredible.

Photo courtesy: http://www.grandturktravel.com

When we first arrived, we were the only cruise ship there.  We looked down up on the white-sand beach below and were taken aback by the sight.  Because the area was run by Carnival, the beach was reserved for us. There had to be a couple hundred beach chairs laid out for us.

This was a case where my dad’s camera didn’t work because we took a lot of pictures from the deck of the at the gorgeous empty beach below, but you can get a slight idea of what it looked like with the picture to the right.

We made our way on shore and there was a shopping area specifically created for cruise line passengers.  Now here is your tip: unless you’ve got money, buy your souvenirs BEFORE arriving in Grand Turk. The place may be spectacularly beautiful, but the shops are not like the discount souvenir shops that we encountered in each of the previous three ports.

One-man Reggae band.

Having said that, it was a gorgeous spot. A one-man Reggae band was playing music to welcome us while we made our way from shop to shop. People were scattering all over the place at this point. Some were going to rent vehicles at about $90/each so they could drive around the island, some where heading straight to the beach so they could get the best spot possible, some went to the stores, and some went straight to Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.

Why Margaritaville?  Well…this wasn’t only a restaurant and gift shop ($50 t-shirts, anyone?), it also was an incredible pool area with swim-up bar that was there specifically for cruise line guests…so it was totally available for use by anybody that wanted to use it.

Margaritaville's pool area (BEFORE the spring breakers consumed it), Grand Turk

I was quite impressed that they even had this area available for those who weren’t “beach people”.  I was also impressed by the large Margaritaville parrot that I simply HAD to get a picture taken with…

Oh yeah...my "little" brother was absolutely thrilled to have his picture taken with me. Y'know, I tend to forget that not everybody is as photo-friendly as Sunshine and I. Oh well...suck it up, princess!!

At this point we lost my dad and my brother to the beach while we checked out the shops a little more. After spending an hour or so going around looking for deals (there weren’t many), we walked back to the ship to drop off our purchases and change into our bathing suits (another HUGE advantage to having docked so close to the port).

The area between the beach and the shopping section.

We thought there was absolutely no way we would find my dad and brother on the beach, now filled with hundreds of sunbathers. We walked all of five minutes and ended up finding dad…just off the beach underneath the palm trees. And lucky for us, he had saved two extra seats (gotta love the guy). We literally sat there for about a minute when Sunshine jumped up and head for the water.

Relaxing on Grand Turk beach.

Now kids, I’m not a beach-going kinda guy.  I’m also a guy who doesn’t enjoy taking his shirt off in public (I’m shy that way). But there was something about this beach that not only made me feel like going into the warm water to swim, but also gave me a sense of ease…a comfort level that I don’t normally have at beaches back home. I just took off my shirt and walked down to the water.

It was awesome. Floating in the water…talking to fellow cruise ship guests…about halfway between the beach and the ship. It was just an experience that I’ll never, ever forget and one I’d love to experience again some day.

How could anybody NOT want to return here??

This night was our final of two “Cruise Elegant” evenings so we got to dress up again. While a ton of photos were taken, we ended up only buying a family photo of the three boys together.  So even though the scan isn’t the best, I think we cleaned up rather well…

My brother, my dad, and me

We were out and about that night, but the highlight for me was going to the “discotheque” at around midnight and dancing to a couple of classic 80’s songs with Sunshine.  She had never danced with me before, so we couldn’t help but whip out some old school moves to two songs.

This one (seriously) and THIS one (which ended up being a blast). I think we laughed as much as we danced and I’m looking forward to hitting the dance floor again with Sunshine at some point in the future.

Finally, this was our towel animal…and we were quite pleased to see the room steward used my hat, her sunglasses, and two of our FIVE “Ship on a Stick” awards.

Okay...this elephant is now officially REALLY cool because of the accessories.

So what’s left?  A day at sea on the way back to Miami.

Oh…and maybe a video to accompany this!

Stay tuned!!

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