Best Caribbean Beaches: Missing You
By Tim Cotroneo
I first met Grace in 2006. Her beauty left me breathless. It felt like I was struck by a thunderbolt.
The Grace that I’m speaking of is Grace Bay Beach on the Caribbean island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos. That first Grace encounter was so powerful it led me to specializing in writing about the Caribbean.
I’ve since returned to Grace Bay Beach six more times. My love affair with Grace has served as a springboard to me writing travel, business, and golf features about 26 different Caribbean islands. During our period of COVID isolation, I’d like to share my wanderlust thoughts, anecdotes, and photos of five Caribbean Beaches that I hope you’ll find to be as compelling as I have.
Grace Bay Beach – Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
An Enduring Love Affair
Leading up to my first Grace Bay experience almost 15 years ago, Turks and Caicos was very much under the tourism radar. On the heels of that virgin visit and for several years after, whenever I spoke of Turks and Caicos, my friends, family and co-workers looked at me like I was speaking of a vacation on another planet.
Since that initial love-at-first-sight exchange, Providenciales has exploded as a Caribbean tourism draw. What’s fabulous about Grace Bay Beach is that even though Providenciales is now a well-known island retreat, it’s possible to walk along this five-mile stretch of pearl white sand and exchange hellos with only a handful of fellow beachcombers.
This almost too good to be true feeling is what makes Grace Bay’s turquoise water, and “I’ve got a secret” vibe, my all-time favorite Caribbean beach. Please don’t tell my wife, but Grace will always have a place in my heart.
Little Ffreyes Beach – Antigua
A Surprise on the Hill
During a vacation at CocoBay Resort in Antigua, my wife and I wondered about a multi-colored building sitting on a hilltop that you could see from the resort’s restaurant and pool. The only thing between us and this building was Little Ffreyes Beach.
During our week-long stay at CocoBay, we learned that there was sister beach located on the other side of the hilltop. In order to get to Big Ffreyes Beach you needed to walk around the hill separating these two Caribbean beauties. During the lunch hour one day, we heard music coming from the colorful building. We thought we had nothing to lose by making the trek up the hill.
Our vertical detour turned into discovering Dennis’ Beach Bar Restaurant, an al fresco bistro whose elevated perch delivered one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful ocean views. We devoured this 180-degree view, refreshing cocktails, and scrumptious cuisine a total of three times during our week stay in Antigua. Thank goodness we checked out this thrill on the hill.
Rendezvous Bay in Anguilla
Beach Bar in Paradise
The 16-mile-long island of Anguilla is home to 33 beaches. That means no fewer than two spectacular beaches for every mile.
Trying to pick a favorite beach on Anguilla is like choosing your favorite child. Each beach offers special nuances that connects with your heart, memory, and camera.
Rendezvous Bay Beach offers a killer view of neighboring St. Martin, and it’s just a chip shot from the Greg Norman-designed CuisinArt Golf Course. Rendezvous is also home to a funky only-in-the Caribbean experience. There is nothing quite like the Bankie Banx Dune Preserve at lunchtime. You’ll find a precious mix of driftwood, shipwrecked boats, and delicious food. Settle in at The Dune Preserve and just listen to the waves. Ask for a home-brewed AXA beer, and if you’re lucky, maybe Bankie will make your day by singing one of his original Reggae songs.
Stocking Island in the Bahamas
The Only Game in Town
You know you’re on to something special when you listen to the buzz aboard the ferry departing from Great Exuma to Stocking Island. It’s Sunday afternoon and you can’t help but overhear hints of international accents anticipating a happening on Stocking Island’s one and only business.
Chat N’ Chill Beach Bar is in full swing as you step on shore and take in the rustic sights. You observe sailboats, yachts, swimmers mingling in the ocean, and a carefree game of volleyball on the beach. Conjure your best image of a little slice of paradise and you’ll see Stocking Island.
For over 20 years, vacationers from around the world have gathered to exchange stories, drink a cocktail, and savor a pulled pork sandwich. This setting is as Caribbean as it gets. If you ask any of the ever-smiling clientele what they’d change about this island outpost you’d hear the same refrain, “Not one thing.”
Cape Santa Maria Beach on Long Island, Bahamas
Simply the Best
There are beaches and then there’s Cape Santa Maria Beach on the remote Bahamian island of Long Island. One way to experience this spectacular beach is by taking a puddle jumper airplane from Nassau.
If you’d rather not fly to a landing strip that’s named Deadman’s Cay Airport, then the next best alternative is Stella Maris Airport located on the south end of this 70-mile long island.
Seeing is believing at Cape Santa Maria Resort. The turquoise hue of ocean color hugging this beach is simply stunning. As someone who is obsessive about visiting the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches, Cape Santa Maria is in a class by itself.
Caribbean Beaches: See You Soon
COVID-19 has turned our world upside down. Dreaming about Caribbean Beaches is one way to see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel. Here’s to wishing you, and yours, the very best. I hope to see you soon on your favorite Caribbean beach.