Turks and Caicos: Coral Gardens Reef

DCIM100GOPROThe first day of winter. 80º here in Turks and Caicos. Mild 60’s back home in Raleigh. After a rainy day yesterday, we were hoping for better weather today. No matter what, we’ll make the best of it and we won’t be stuck in our villa. Our plan had a familiar ring to it, go to the beach, do some snorkeling, and maximize fun. Oh, and swim with sea turtles!

Island Time: Monday, December 21, 2015

It was a typical start to our vacation day in our villa tucked away along the canals south of the Suzy Turn. The trade winds were still blowing strong out of the east and clouds were looming over head. There were some strong storms that went through last night—and some of that weather system appears to be lingering.

There was a few sprinkles of rain that passed by. We made some breakfast and got caught up on a few things in our villa while the kids watched a movie. MB and I were watching the weather and preparing to venture out.

Our research told us that Smith’s Reef was supposed to be great for snorkeling. We headed in that direction, a short drive across the highway near Turtle Cove. The sun had managed to come out, but it was fighting with the fast moving clouds. When we checked the beach near the central access, the wind was howling and the water looked a little rough. Next, we checked the west access. And while it was somewhat protected from the wind, our instinct said to move on. Today wasn’t the day to explore Smith’s reef.

20151221_111251Plan B was to head back to Malcolm’s Road Beach where we had a great time the other day. It was a bit of a drive, 30 minutes, but it was on the west side of the island and might be a little more protected. To our surprise, we got there and things were clear, but the clouds were looming all around us. Before unpacking anything for the beach, we observed the scene from the guest pavilion.

We were shocked and excited to see a surfer in the water. There were some swells hitting the reef with a few waist high waves coming through. Nothing to write home about, but a surfable wave (and no surf board to ride). Then, the weather caught up with us. We took shelter in the car hoping it would pass over quickly. And it did. But there was more on the way.

We drove back to the main highway and noticed that dark clouds engulfed the horizon. Where we could once see beach and bright blue water, was gray and covered with rain falling from the clouds.

The ride back to the villa was slow and exploratory. We decided to take the road through the Blue Hills area. There were a few cool places to see like a neat pier by a park. We passed by Da Conch Shack, where we had dinner the other night. And we finally made it back to our villa where we ate lunch and took refuge from the rain for bit.

20151221_111309The weather appeared like it was going to cooperate. We were determined to go to the beach. During a break in the rain, we headed to Coral Gardens. The instant we locked the car and started walking to the beach, it started raining again. Merri Beth and I looked at each other and said F it. We’re going.

We took whatever we needed and left the rest in the car. The beach umbrella came in really hand today sheltering our towels and other dry items from the rain. Zander and I went snorkeling and since we were in the water, it didn’t matter if we got wet.

Well the rain wasn’t that bad and Merri Beth and Coco found some fun in the water as well. While Zander and I explored the reef, we saw lots of sea life and activity. The highlight of this snorkel session was seeing a sea turtle and “swimming” with it for a while. We basically stayed several feet back and followed the turtle for a few minutes. Then, as fast as the sea turtle appeared, it was gone.

DCIM100GOPROWe made the best of a rainy day and enjoyed our time at the beach and in the water. It was time to head back to the villa, shower, and get ready to head out to dinner.

On our list of places to try was The Caravel Restaurant. It got great reviews and we were excited for happy hour. I may have hyped this place up too much. We arrived and were promptly seated. Even though their website says happy hour was from 5-7pm, Monday through Friday, they informed us that happy hour was only on Friday. Minus one. While the food was great, we got more conch, fish tacos, and other island delights, the service was slow. Our food came out slow. And I’m not sure if it was the weather or Monday blues, but the ambiance seemed off. I might give this place another try, but for what we spent, I felt the value wasn’t there.

Last stop of the night was a sports bar called Danny Buoys. This place was pretty cool, the first pint of local TCI beer is on the house. Yes please! We caught up on some sports, getting all the pre-Monday Night Football details from ESPN on the big screens. Their menu looked very Americanized (not a bad thing) and the pizza’s coming out of the wood-fire oven smelled delicious (even though we just ate dinner. While MB and I enjoyed a few local pints, the kids split a piña coloda. Virgin of course.

And that was enough for the day. We got the impression that the weather should push on through tonight and tomorrow should clear up. Time to rest as our last few remaining days are ticking away.

GoPro Video from Coral Gardens Reef

Pictures from Blue Hill, Grace Bay

Pictures from Coral Gardens Reef

About Shibby

Jason Hibbets is a senior community architect at Red Hat which means he is a mash-up of a community manager and project manager for Opensource.com--a publication and story-telling platform for open source communities. At night, he wears a cape, and is a captain for the Open Raleigh brigade, as well as a co-chair for NC Open Pass. Jason is the author of a book called The foundation for an open source city--a resource for cities and citizens interested in improving their government through civic hacking. While writing the book, he discovered his unknown super power of building communities of passionate people. Jason graduated from North Carolina State University and resides in Raleigh, NC with his wife, two kids, two border collies, chickens, lots of tomato plants, and a lazy raccoon somewhere in an oak tree. In his copious spare time, he enjoys surfing, running, gardening, traveling, watching football, sampling craft beer, and participating in local government--not necessarily in that order, but close to it. You can follow him on Twitter: @jhibbets
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