Turks and Caicos Islands SHOPPING

Where When How - Turks & Caicos Islands - March / April 2016 magazine cover.Where When How Turks & Caicos Islands March / April 2016

I Love Providenciales
in the Springtime

Photography By Lisa Adara Photo

If you are a frequent visitor to the TCI you know that we do have seasons, and Spring is more than just the lightness in one’s step. Different flowers bloom in the Spring; the weather eases from occasional winter storms to gentle breezes and the sun ramps it up a notch or two. It’s the perfect season to stop and smell the flowers, take note of the changing tones of our blue sky, and check out the boutiques for new arrivals.

A photograph of flowers from Flowers by Environmental Arts, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.I Love Providenciales in the Springtime. Come on a Shopping Safari in Paradise - Flowers by EA

You may have come here to relax in the world’s best beach destination, or to learn to kiteboard across our warm, inshore waters, or to dine in paradise. But whatever your vacation goal, it is likely that you will be impelled to take a piece of the Turks & Caicos Islands home with you.

Come along on a shopping safari, where the scope of treasures is almost as breathtaking as our ocean and beaches. We have many authentic made in Turks & Caicos gift ideas, one of which is sure to work for you. And as you shop, you will enjoy the venues as much as the inventory.

If you or your companion, who may not be an experienced or dedicated shopper, requires a break, there are benches and seats strategically placed in shade, and in some of the galleries. You will also find that Wi-Fi is available in some locations in the Grace Bay shopping district.

A photograph of Local Artists and gifts at Art Provo gallery, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Works by local artists and beach themed gifts are found at Art Provo in The Regent Village

We have long since progressed from those quaint little shops stuffed with household goods, local crafts, small appliances, kids’ toys and canned foods. But I do remember those days. Today the Regent Village is a page out of sophisticated New York and The Saltmills is chic, Caribbean and shopper-friendly. Just down the road, Ports of Call offers a wide range of shopping selections, restaurants and a lovely, sun-filled square where you really should flirt with the pirates. Almost next door, the Caicos Café Plaza has intriguing boutiques, a restaurant and a bakery. These are the main attractions, but there are also upscale boutiques in all the resorts, where designer clothes, shoes, bags and bijoux from around the globe are snapped up by savvy shoppers.

Those little, off the beaten path shops still exist, and they are a picture of how life once was on Providenciales, which makes them interesting to explore. Quite frankly, you never know what you may find when you examine ALL the shopping possibilities on this island.

A photograph of health and beauty products at Flamingo Pharmacy, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Health and Beauty options at Flamingo Pharmacy include several lines of cosmetics, centrally located at IGA Graceway Plaza

Grace Bay is the heart of the tourism industry on Providenciales, so it makes perfect sense that most of your shopping opportunities are found within easy walking distance of the famous resorts which border its beach. The Regent Village is a retail, dining and entertainment plaza which stretches along two manicured blocks of Grace Bay Road. These two-storied units, eight in all, are home to many restaurants, duty free shops, art galleries, jewellery stores and upscale clothing boutiques. You could easily spend an entire day meandering from door to door, stopping for a cold drink here, and a work of art there.

Immediately across the street, The Saltmills holds many shopping spree possibilities. Five buildings form the D shaped plaza. A Cuban cigar factory, art galleries, fashionable boutiques, a surf shop, restaurants with bars, a full gym, upscale clothing boutiques and real estate offices surround a raised loggia where you can relax and people watch. The Saltmills offers shopping in any price range, so you may want to take your time and visit each retailer, and top off your explorations with a meal and a drink at one of the restaurants.

Just east of the Saltmills, past the Seven Stars roundabout, Ports of Call beckons. Before or after you investigate the shops and restaurants, you should introduce yourself to the resident pirates and perhaps indulge in a photo op of your significant other, in the stocks. There are many Turks & Caicos themed souvenirs available in the boutiques in Ports of Call. While there, you could book a dive trip if that’s your vacation sport of choice, or rent a car or scooter.

A photograph of gifts and jewellery at Rumeurs Boutique, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Asian themed jewellery, cool casual clothing, gifts for the home and décor are found at Rumeurs Boutique in Caicos Café Plaza

Continue east and the Caicos Café Plaza is just moments away. Home of yet another famous gourmet eatery, a local art studio/gallery, an eclectic boutique full of wonderful objets and items from far away places, a surf shop, and a hair salon, you might easily spend several hours here. A large Poinciana tree spreads its limbs over a grassy area in front of the U-shaped plaza. An ideal spot to rest your feet and sip a Turks & Caicos Island Roasted Coffee while savouring a warm almond croissant.

There is little that is ordinary in the TCI, and shopping experiences aren’t either. You may end up singing happy birthday to a total stranger in one store, and sipping delicious rum punch while you browse in another. It’s quite likely you’ll be offered compliments, advice and recommendations for your next stop. We love to chat. Getting to know you is part of the way of life.

No matter what you are looking for, a quest for authentic mementos of the Turks & Caicos will be amply rewarded. Let’s begin with that icon of the Turks & Caicos, the Queen Conch. (Strombas gigas, to the erudite.) Not only is the meat of this giant mollusk delicious, but craftsmen have been creating useful and decorative items from its magnificent shell for hundreds of years.

A photograph of Local Artists Jewellery and Artwork at Paradise Arts, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Enjoy Handmade Pottery, Ceramics, Jewellery, Paintings and Photography all by LOCAL ARTISTS at Paradise Arts gallery in The Saltmills

Browse the boutiques and discover that the bountiful conch is ever present in the form of key chains, bowls, trivets or ashtrays. Conch shell has found its way into counter tops, light fixtures, and of course as a doorstop in many an island home.

Because Queen Conch is a protected species, if you take a complete shell home, please retain your sales receipt. Don’t try to fly with one you have just plucked from the beach or shallows. There’s a very practical reason to buy a properly cleaned shell from a vendor – the ‘fragrance’ of stale-dated conch meat is perhaps one of the most offensive I’ve ever encountered. There is an art to cleaning a shell; you would be wise to pay for it.

The Queen Conch also produces the rarest of gems – the conch pearl. Conch pearls are measured in carats, just like diamonds. Their colours range from white to yellow, pink to deep rose. The sheen of a deep pink conch pearl is unforgettable. Fulfill your desire for something absolutely spectacular to remember your stay in paradise. Purchase a pearl or jewellery in which conch pearls are set.

A photograph of clothing and accessories at Wish Boutique, The Palms, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Beachwear to evening wear with all the accessories at Wish Boutique at The Palms Courtyard shops

Another inspiring, attractive and useful locally made gift is the fanner grass basket. These intricately woven containers come in many sizes and shapes, with and without lids. They take many hours to create and the art is gradually fading into history. In addition to baskets, the women of North and Middle Caicos also make hats, bags, and placemats. They are true works of art, created by grandmothers, great grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters of these islands.

A painting or photograph of your destination, created by a local artist, is a lovely souvenir. In the Turks & Caicos we have really fabulous local artists – some were born here, some have become residents. With so many talented artists creating works in oils, watercolours, on silk, in pastels, and photographs on fine paper and also on canvas and even ceramics, it would be impossible not to find a subject that ‘speaks’ to you. Speaking of ceramics, there are some spectacular works of ceramic art in our galleries. Meander through the galleries – take your time, inhale the colours and take one or two or three pieces home. All the galleries offer shipping services so don’t worry about getting your masterpiece home safely.

When I’m away, I always look for something I can eat or drink or cook with, to bring back home. Locally blended Bambarra rums, rum cakes, jams and jellies are delicious and have always been rather well received by my friends. There are also a plethora of hot sauces to choose from.

A photograph of souvenirs at The Beach Hut, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Turks and Caicos souvenirs, all locally made or designed are found at The Beach Hut in Le Vele Plaza on Grace Bay Road

We package native salt in creative gifts ranging from cooking salts to bath salts. The inventive entrepreneurs of these Islands also turn coconut oil into silky, organic skin products, and others blend and roast famous Arabica coffee beans, to order, if you wish. An easy souvenir to take home, it will make your morning cuppa joe a daily reminder of your visit to the TCI. Elegant silk scarves by a resident designer, in colours and patterns of the Islands, are yet another gift solution which is easily packed. The exquisite glass and bead jewellery created by several local artists are displayed in the galleries and for the cigar aficionado, the hand rolled Cuban cigars are a must.

I have dwelled on our ‘home grown’ shopping opportunities, but there are many other quality products in our shops and stores and boutiques. Looking for beachwear? Check out the dive companies’ boutiques for starters, then move on to the many other stores in our shopping areas. The selection and styles of swimwear, flipflops, cover-ups, sun hats, suntan lotions and sunglasses are impressive. Designer jeans, Pashmina wraps, brand name sunglasses – you will find your favourite designers on Providenciales. If you love natural materials, cotton, linen and silk apparel are in large demand and some boutiques specialise in these breathable lightweight goods. Elegant eveningwear, beaded clutches and gorgeous shoes are also possibilities.

A photograph of Cuban cigars at Cuban Crafters, Providenciales (Provo), Turks and Caicos Islands.Watch them being rolled and sample a cigar at Cuban Crafters in The Saltmills Plaza, see 15% OFF Coupon in the Where When How magazine

Many aspects of Providenciales have evolved over the years. But one thing has not changed - you will rarely find yourself fighting crowds, even at the duty free shops in the airport departure lounge.

Please do yourself a favour and get out there – Enjoy a glorious spring day stroll through Grace Bay. Buy something unique for yourself or a friend. It’s a great way to spend time on your vacation in paradise, when you’re not enjoying the beach.

Photography by www.LisaAdaraPhoto.com

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