Grace Bay is one of the most popular beaches in the entire Caribbean, and it’s very easy to see why. (The Palms Turks and Caicos/)
There’s a reason Grace Bay Beach tops Islands’ 25 Best Beaches in the Caribbean list: it is a spectacular three-mile stretch of white sand and gentle turquoise surf that’s as amazing to look at as it is to enjoy. Grace Bay is also home to most of Providenciales’ resorts, and it can sometimes seem as if every tourist on the island has converged there. Still, the vibe is relaxed and happy and ideal for a Caribbean getaway, whether you’re a couple or a family.
There are other beaches on this popular Turks and Caicos island—and 2.5-mile Long Bay Beach is one of them. It’s home to an array of private residences, and just a single resort: The Shore Club Turks and Caicos. Opened in early 2017, this luxury condo-resort has an elegant Caribbean-meets-modern-penthouse ambience inspired by the coral stone architecture of Barbados. Its spacious accommodations, all decorated in light, airy tones and natural materials, range from 640-sq-ft Junior Suites to 1,700-sq-ft Ocean-Front One Bedrooms to 8,800-sq-ft Private Villas (with six bedrooms, a heated pool and butler service). And its location on less-developed Long Bay Beach inspires a feeling of quiet seclusion, making The Shore Club an appealing option for travelers looking for an upscale yet understated escape.
It’s also worth noting that The Shore Club is a sister property to two other condo-resorts located on Grace Bay—The Palms Turks and Caicos and The Sands at Grace Bay—and a shuttle runs hourly through 10 p.m. among all three. Guests at each property have signing privileges at the others (expanding the lunch and dinner options), but the pool and beach chairs/umbrellas at each resort are reserved solely for guests registered there, so bring plenty of sunscreen and a towel if you plan to enjoy time on the beach or take a pool dip.
There are distinct differences to staying on Long Bay vs. Grace Bay, so here are 10 things to know about the upscale vacation experience at each.
1. Long Bay sees the sunrise, Grace Bay the sunset.
The Shore Club’s ocean view suites, set above Long Bay Beach, are ideal for travelers who want to rise with the sun. (The Shore Club/)
Morning people can catch the sunrise over southeast-facing Long Bay, especially those who book one of The Shore Club’s Ocean Front Suites, which have expansive terraces with panoramic sea views. Depending on when you visit, moonrises can be pretty incredible, too.
Grace Bay Beach, while located on the northeast coast, does offer some amazing sunset views, including from The Palms’ infinity pool and the terraces of some of its Ocean Front Suites. Sunset cruises departing from Grace Bay are also popular.
2. Long Bay is shallower and breezier, making it great for kitesurfing and Jet Skiing.
Sun-seekers who’ve dreamed of trying kitesurfing can take lessons on Long Bay, where breezes prevail and calm, shallow (just two-to-three feet) aquamarine water extends out for several hundred yards, creating an ideal setting for getting on and off the boards.
By late afternoon, it’s typical to see a dozen or more kitesurfers zipping across the water. Sea kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and Hobie cats are complimentary for The Shore Club’s guests and Jet Skis are available for rental nearby.
3. Grace Bay is better for swimming, parasailing, and snorkeling.
It’s hard to top Grace Bay for a relaxing swim or float—people often stay in the clear, vivid blue water for hours—but visitors can also glide over it in Hobie cats (non-motorized watersports, which also include paddle boards, sea kayaks and snorkel gear, are complimentary at The Palms and The Sands) or soar high above it on a parasailing adventure.
Snorkel-wise, there’s not much to see directly in front of either resort (perhaps a stingray or two), but down the beach to the left, guests can swim out to Bight Reef (aka Coral Gardens) to spy on colorful sea life.
Jet Skis are banned on Grace Bay.
4. Expect seasonal sargassum seaweed on Long Bay Beach.
There is a caveat to Long Bay Beach: it is located on the windward side of Providenciales (aka Provo) and in recent years during late summer months (including right now in 2021) the beach and water can be inundated overnight with a type of seaweed called sargassum. The Shore Club staff rakes and hauls it away, beginning just after sunrise, and by early afternoon the sand and water are noticeably clearer but hardly pristine.
This isn’t an issue on Grace Bay, so keep that in mind if you’re a beach fanatic visiting during late July, August, and September.
5. Pool lovers have multiple options at The Shore Club.
Families can lounge by the Sea Grapes pool before and after exploring on the nearby sand. (The Shore Club/)
Sometimes a beach vacation is more of a pool vacation—if so, both The Shore Club and The Palms have pool oases that won’t disappoint. While The Palms has a single spectacular serpentine pool (one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean) edged by plush sun pods and meandering past the Plunge swim-up bar to a beachfront infinity edge and hot tub “island,” The Shore Club has four options.
The chic main pool, known as the Colonnade, is lined with posh cabanas (some complimentary on a first-come basis) and retro-inspired hanging sun chairs, while two beachfront options are the quiet adults-only pool (ideal for reading) or the buzzy, family-friendly Sea Grapes Pool, featuring a swim-up bar. There’s also a lap pool by the fitness center.
6. Wonderful yet different spa experiences await.
Unwind next to a serene pond following world-class treatments at The Spa at The Palms. (The Palms Turks and Caicos/)
The Palms, which opened in 2005, is known for The Spa at The Palms, a 26,000-sq-ft Zen-like retreat with treatment rooms and relaxation areas set amid lush foliage and reflecting pools. Treatments range from a bespoke Mother of Pearl Scrub to massages and facials.
The spa ambiance at The Shore Club is dramatically different. The Dune Spa is tucked away within the dunes and accessed via coral-lined sand pathways. It features just three secluded wellness cabanas, where sea-inspired body scrubs, wraps and facials are a specialty, and the Dune Signature Massage is a tranquil escape.
Guests of both resorts can book treatments at the other resort’s spa.
7. Both locations offer easy access to off-resort dining and nightlife.
If you’re a foodie traveler who loves trying local eateries, Grace Bay is admittedly the more convenient place to stay since many of the island’s top off-resort restaurants—such as Coco Bistro and Le Bouchon du Village—are located nearby in Provo’s town center, while excellent dining options at adjacent resorts (such as Seven at Seven Stars Resort and Infiniti at Grace Bay Club) are also close-by.
The Shore Club is only about a 10-minute drive from Grace Bay, however, and guests who want to dine outside of the resort can hop the inter-resort shuttle to The Sands or The Shore Club for a pre-dinner cocktail and then take a taxi to dinner. Or a taxi directly from The Shore Club to Coco Bistro, for instance, costs about $10 per person.
8. On-property restaurant options range from beachfront casual to fine-dining elegant.
Sui-Ren offers a truly unique menu that includes specialty sushi and creative bowls. (The Shore Club/)
Among the three sister resorts, there are nine restaurants and several bars from which to choose (with signing privileges). Standouts at The Palms include the beachfront 72 West (where light and flavorful lunchtime specialties include Tuna Wontons and Watermelon and Feta Salad) and Parallel 23 (for Caribbean-fusion fine-dining in a romantic courtyard setting).
The Shore Club’s top options include the Japanese-fusion fine-dining restaurant Sui-Ren for specialty sushi, grilled fish and flavorful bowls and curries, and Almond Tree, a more casual open-air eatery serving modern comfort food, including family-friendly wood-fired pizzas. The Sands’ sole restaurant is beachfront Hemingway’s, open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and an atmospheric lunch spot for fish tacos or Provo’s specialty, conch fritters.
9. Long Bay Beach offers access to the floating Tiki Bar and La Famille Express wreck.
Captain Oak’s Tiki Bar (open from noon until 6 p.m.) is a novelty floating bar anchored offshore in Long Bay that can be accessed via Jet Ski or boat. The pale aquamarine water is so shallow, patrons can wade while they drink. About 2.3 miles from shore, the wreck of an old freighter La Famille Express that was deposited on a sand bank by 2004′s Hurricane Frances can also be visited by boat or Jet Ski for a look-see.
10. The vibe at both The Palms and The Shore Club is exclusive—but different.
The Palms offers an unmistakably classic Caribbean vibe, from the accommodations to the infinity pool. (The Palms Turks and Caicos/)
Strolling the grounds of The Shore Club, it’s obvious that the condo-resort is just a few years old; the elegant architecture combines pale coral stone and soaring ceilings of beautifully grained wood with décor featuring natural fabrics in neutrals and soothing blue tones. The style is Caribbean, but with a contemporary feel and some whimsical mod touches. Even at full capacity, the resort’s semi-circular layout offers enough nooks around its pools, cabanas and four restaurants that it never seems crowded.
The Palms, which will undergo a refresh of its interior suite décor this fall, has wonderfully lush and dramatic 12-acre grounds and a more classic Caribbean-estate feel—along with that stunning free-form swimming pool that is its sleek social heart. The Sands, which as a more-wallet-friendly option isn’t as upscale as its sister properties, is set in six three-story buildings surrounding three pools (note: pool deck renovations are scheduled to begin August 29, 2021).
So, whether one chooses the pampering and seclusion of Long Bay Beach or the livelier luxuries of Grace Bay Beach, all the things for which Provo is famous—calm water, photogenic white sand, and superb dining—are easily accessible, creating a relaxing setting that’s incredibly difficult to leave.
That said, the global pandemic means that until further notice the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands is requiring all visitors to undergo pre-arrival testing, have medical/travel insurance valid in the islands, and upload proof of both to the TCI Assured Portal to obtain authorization. Updates can be found here.