|Day tripping: Plenty to explore on North, Middle Caicos|
|Written by Sara J. Kaufman/Middle Caicos Co-op|
|Thursday, 22 December 2011 10:52|
This year give a special gift to your family and take the day to explore the wonders of North and Middle Caicos.
It is so very easy to arrange a great day outing for all ages, all interests, for a very reasonable price.
These magnificent islands could not be more different from Providenciales, yet they are only minutes away. Your family will be amazed at the sheer size of these islands, the total quiet of the countryside, the community cluster of each village, and the tranquility along every shore.
This is the heartland of Turks and Caicos Islands culture and heritage. Local farms grow corn and cassava, sugar cane and more. Artisans work with palmtop and fanner grass to create beautiful baskets and bags.
Traditional tabby wall homes nestle in the trees — with hardly a mansion in sight.
It is a chance to remind yourselves that the Turks and Caicos Islands are indeed made up of many diverse islands, and to realize that the hustle and bustle of Providenciales is not the chosen way of life for all.
Find yourself a copy of the new Where When How magazine’s North Caicos and Middle Caicos map (full of great info!) and away you go.
The two ferry services ply between North and Provo all day with departures as early as 6:30 a.m. and returns as late as 5:45 p.m. Car rental is easily arranged with one of the several rental companies, and a vehicle will meet you at the Sandy Point marina dock.
Or indulge in a comfortable day tour with one of the superb taxi services on hand. For those wishing a real challenge, bring your bicycles or rent one for the day and cruise as far as your legs will take you.
No need to bring cold drinks, snacks or lunch because there are plenty of shops and restaurants waiting to welcome you on both North and Middle Caicos. Tours of the plantation ruins or caves are purchased at the site.
Landing at North Caicos, from the start at the marina dock, the long, winding, open roads of North Caicos are a pleasure to drive, edged with tall trees and green bush, spacious and peaceful. Visit the sleepy village of Kew and tour Wades Green plantation for a step into history.
The walk through the plantation is well marked, and an admission fee is charged. Allow about an hour or so.
Carry on toward Whitby, and try to find Three Mary Cays, or ogle at the Pumpkin Bluff or Pelican beaches and have a luxurious swim. There are several spots to eat, drink or both in Whitby. Check out a few and pick your favourite.
Traveling further east, stop and check for flamingoes at Flamingo Pond, then maybe play in the waves at Horse Stable Beach with shade gazebos and a lovely pier. Discover the tiny streets of Bottle Creek, kayak to the remote East Bay Islands reserve, or pop into ReadyMoney Gardens.
The choice of activities and sites to visit is broad, and everywhere you will meet the smiles of the warm local residents. Ask anyone for information or directions any time.
If you want to spend the whole day on North Caicos, you will find so many things to see and do, so relax, take your time, as it is a wonderful day to enjoy.
To get to Middle Caicos, the trip through North will take you about 35 minutes to reach the causeway. While it may look pretty shabby these days, the causeway to Middle is absolutely driveable, if a tad bumpy. Go slow and admire the fabulous view in the channel, with endless turquoise waters on each side. You are soon passing the “Fish Ponds” where baby barracuda love to swim, then the cliffs peek out and you arrive at the picturesque cove at Mudjin Harbour.
Turn into Blue Horizon Resort, up the drive, park at the public access and walk to the beach and up onto the cliffs. The Crossing Place Trail is a brilliant adventure with glorious views as you amble along the cliffs, then reach spectacular Norbellis Beach.
The trail winds down at Blowing Hole, return time about 3½ hours. Carry on into Conch Bar, the main village of Middle Caicos. This is the home of the Middle Caicos Co-op, a studio and outlet for traditional TCI handcrafts, where more than 40 local artisans’ crafts are on display and for sale. You can even arrange for a handcraft demonstration and learn the traditional straw skills.
Daniels Café is a well-known and beloved stop on the seashore, serving only local seafood with fine music. Enjoy a great meal, savour the breeze and relax awhile.
Bring your flashlights and visit the Conch Bar Caves National Park for a self guided tour 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Plunge further into the island and follow the shore road for a few miles, then back on the asphalt until the Bambarra turn. Here you can go left to the famous public beach facility with tiki huts, latrines, pier and home of the Valentines Day Cup model sailboat races each year.
If you turn uphill on the right, you arrive in the very quaint village of Bambarra on the ridge, a community full of interesting elder folk. Those who want to go to Lorimers, HaulOver Plantation and/or the Wild Cow Run had best take the 6:30 a.m. ferry, as it is many miles of driving through spectacular countryside.
The east end of Middle Caicos is remote and fascinating to explore. The wildness of the beach and sea along Long Bay/Wild Cow Run are astonishing for those used to the placid lee shore of Grace Bay.
OK, pick a day during the upcoming holidays and off you go.
You will be so glad you did!
Photo: Mudjin Harbour, Middle Caicos (Richard Green/Staff)
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