Who doesn’t love a little slice of paradise? On the surface, Turks and Caicos looks like a pretty expensive Caribbean destination, and I’m not going to lie, it kind of is! BUT it is possible to do Turks and Caicos on a budget and I’m going to give you a breakdown of the cost of my trip with some tips and tricks on how I saved myself money!
Turks and Caicos on a budget
First things first, Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory made up of 8 main islands and almost 300 (!!!!) smaller ones. The islands are actually split into the Turks islands and the Caicos Islands. Grand Turk (Turks) is home to the capital even though Providenciales (Caicos) is the most populated island in TCI. The majority of flights from the US land at Providenciales international airport, with a flight from Miami taking just 1 hour 20 minutes! So naturally, staying on Providenciales is the cheapest option flight wise and this is the island that I’ll be talking about in this budget breakdown!
So why did I pick Turks and Caicos? I let my air miles choose my destination for me. Like most travellers, I know the countries I want to visit so that’s where I go. When it came to cashing in my air miles, I typed in the dates and picked from the destinations that were on offer. I decided that Turks and Caicos would be the cheaper option compared to my other choices which were Bermuda or Nassau in the Bahamas.
Like most places in the Caribbean, the Turks and Caicos Islands have a low season and a high season where prices, especially hotels are cheaper in the low season. Despite the temperatures being almost a constant average of 29c/84f year round and the driest month statistically being July, June – October is considered the low season. Hurricane season tends to fall around September/October so if you are looking for the perfect time to visit Turks and Caicos on a budget, early summer is definitely a good option to consider. (Belize is another great option for low season travel!)
My total 5 night trip (including food, accommodation and tours BUT minus flights) cost around $1100, I say ‘around’ because I spent a little extra on souvenirs etc. I was also travelling solo.
When I saw that Turks and Caicos was an option for my air miles, of course I started checking out the prices for accommodation…and it stressed me out. I used all my various hotel search websites and I struggled to find anything that was less than $500 A NIGHT. The majority of hotels on Providenciales are the typical all inclusive resorts that you’d expect in the Caribbean. As a solo traveller this was well out of my budget. But then solo or not solo a lot of these hotels were also priced PER PERSON per night!
Putting this into perspective, I priced up how much 5 nights for me staying at the Beaches Resort in Grace Bay. Beaches is a HUGE family resort with 5 themed hotel buildings, 21 restaurants, a water park, 6 swimming pools and more. The 5 nights all inclusive (minus flights) would have cost me…
…my WHOLE trip cost me $1100. Now if I was travelling as a couple, those 5 nights at Beaches would have cost $9000. I dread to think how much it would be travelling as a family!
I ended up booking my very first AirBnB as this was the cheapest way for me to be able to travel to Turks and Caicos on a budget! It wasn’t all inclusive but I did have access to filtered water, in-room toiletries INCLUDING left over suncream/aftersun/bug spray that was left by previous guests and I could use the swimming pool that was part of the gated community that I chose. The 5 nights cost me $560. My 5 nights cost almost THE SAME as one night in a resort. It took me just under 10 minutes to walk to the beach or the nearest supermarket and restaurants within Grace Bay (if I stood on the edge of the bath I could see the sea from my room!). If I was travelling with someone, it would have still cost $560 so this price could have been split between 2, making it even cheaper!
My hosts were lovely and even gave me a lift back to the airport when I left, obviously they don’t HAVE to do this, it just happened to be that they were at home when I was due to leave.
Travelling around Providenciales
Grace Bay is the main tourist area in Providenciales. A taxi from the airport to Grace Bay costs $30. Prices are apparently worked out per person so travelling with a 2nd person would then double this price. Taxis are only mainly based at the airport. You’d need to ring for one if you’re in another location as there aren’t really any taxi ranks.
I walked EVERYWHERE (one day I walked 32,000 steps which was just over 13 miles…yes in flip flops)! I felt extremely safe, despite all the broken glass. I kept hearing people beeping car horns but thought nothing of it. It turns out these are ‘Jepneys’ which are people that will give you a ride for a couple of dollars but these aren’t official taxis and I wouldn’t have ever got in one as a solo traveller. If you hear a beep, you put out your arm and then they’ll pull over, otherwise they just drive by without even slowing down.
As Turks and Caicos are in reality, very small islands, EVERYTHING has to be imported (mainly from the USA) so things are generally expensive. Fuel averages at around $5.50 a gallon, double the current cost of fuel in the USA (yet still cheaper than the UK!). You can hire bikes, cars, mopeds etc but drivers can be a bit crazy and a lot of the cars have dents in!
Eating on a budget in Turks and Caicos
The ground is either rocky or sandy so they can’t even really grow their own crops. Some of the larger resorts are now trying to grow some of their own fruit and vegetables on a small scale using hydroponic techniques. Obviously the supermarkets and local restaurants have to rely on importing and it is therefore reflected in the prices.
My go-to while in Turks and Caicos was the supermarket ‘Graceway Gourmet’. They have an awesome salad bar (with chicken/bacon/egg etc), hot counter, sandwich bar, fresh smoothie bar and a bakery! You can easily get a quick reasonably priced meal from here!
Build your own salad bar – $9.99 per lb
Fresh fruit cup – $5
Single slice of cheesecake – $5 – $8
Muffin – $2
Smoothie bar – $6
Bottle of Coke/soft drink – $1.20
Bottle of Gatorade – $1.60
Vitamin Water – $2.60
Aloe vera aftersun gel – $8 (obviously you don’t eat this one)
I didn’t think these prices were that bad. Some things were more expensive compared to America, like a box of 12 cans of Coke costs around $6 in the USA but in TCI it was just under $10. Costs also varied depending on where you were.
Can of Coke in a ‘cheap’ bar – $2.60
Can of Coke in 5 star resort – $5 (yep I paid $5 for a can of Coke…although the same hotel did give me 3 FREE bottles of water even though I wasn’t staying there, I think they thought I had been shipwrecked.)
Cobb salad in a ‘cheap’ bar (similar size to Graceway Gourmet) – $15
Burger and chips in a ‘cheap’ bar – $18
Local Turks Head beer in a ‘cheap’ bar – $5.20 approx
Local PINT of Turks Head beer in the Brewery – $4
Da Conch Shack in Blue Hills – $18 to $36 approx ($8 for dessert)
Thursday night Fish Fry prices:
‘Food Truck’ meals at the Fish Fry – $18 to $30ish
Coconut water in a custom coconut – $8
Cocktails (same all over the island) – $7 to $20
Medium cup of Turkberry frozen yoghurt – $6 (*TIP* a medium is over $1 more at their ‘solid’ location in Grace Bay)
Where I recommend eating on a budget:
Graceway Gourmet in Grace Bay
Danny Bouys in Grace Bay
Shark Bite Bar and Grill in Turtle Cove Marina
Make sure you check your bills, some places automatically include a tip, even if you are eating alone (where usually the service charge only gets included to larger parties). Just like the States, they say you should tip around 15%. So don’t just check the total amount and then add a tip to that because you may be tipping twice!
I found that I wanted to drink more than I did eat because of the heat. I also worried that because of the amount I was sweating, I thought drinking alcohol would dehydrate me even quicker so I tended to avoid that most of the time! I ate a lot of salad and fruit (and endless bottles of Coke…I never drink Coke!)
I often try and save money on accommodation and food so then I can splurge on fun activities and tours! I went on 2 while in TCI.
3 hour Stand Up Paddle Boarding tour of Mangrove Cay – $136 (including a $10 tip which I paid online in advance)
3 hour West Coast ATV tour – $200 (excluding food and brewery costs)
Some of the all inclusive resorts apparently include various types of boat trips within the cost of the room rate. I’m not great on boats and ironically I’ve been on many snorkelling tours so I was happy to skip these anyway. I read that with the day pass to Club Med ($60) you can join onto these tours too, but don’t quote me on that!
I’ll be sharing a post soon with a complete guide on all the things I did during my stay in Turks and Caicos, including free things that you can do that don’t require staying in a resort!
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