Friday, November 29, Day 1: My first impression of the island as my plane nears touchdown is the heavenly contrast of blue and green. Am I really here, on this island, for work? I brace myself for the hit of hot air I know will come as I step off the plane, but the tropical heat is carried off by a trade wind that gently ruffles my hair. By the second day, I realize that the trade winds flow almost constantly across the island, making the palm trees wave friendly hellos as you drive past. We rent a car quickly and drive off (on the left side of the road!) and I get to see the beautiful foliage closer up. I’m so excited; I try to play it cool with my colleagues who have been to the island a dozen times. The azul waters glisten in the distance as we near our villa, and I can tell that all my research has not prepared me for this short stay in paradise. The beach smells, sounds of the water, the brilliant colors, it is all so much better in person!
Our Villa is beautiful and comfy and the pool looks so inviting I throw my bag down on my bed. I’m soon distracted by exploring the villa and enjoying the unique architecture and art that the owners have picked. I snap a few pictures of the ocean before we leave for a delicious dinner at Grace Bay Club. The fire pit and margaritas mix well together, and we can hear music playing in the distance by a bonfire on the beach. “Let’s go check it out” says Dan, and the margaritas and ocean air make me say: “race you there!” I run as fast as I can, getting passed easily but not caring as I laugh out loud and think “this is my new job. WOW” All too soon we head back to the villa. My first half day is over and I fall asleep to the sound of waves caressing the shore.
Saturday, Day 2: I wake early to the same sounds I fell asleep to, jumping up to shoot some sunrise pics. My iPhone picks up some amazing sunbeams, and I get dressed in a light sundress. My fellow booking specialist and I have tough day ahead of looking at villas in Turtle Cove. We grab breakfast at Green Bean and I enjoy a latte at the nicely outfitted cafe. We head down Coconut Road and visit a few cottages and shoot a short video of Coriander Cottage. I especially love the raised small gazebo where you can overlook the ocean, and the cottage is decorated in a clever and comfortable fashion. We see two villas under construction, one nearly finished and other dotted with workers on its concrete frame. Dan loses our keys and one of the construction workers brings them to us just after we started looking! We see an ospreys nest with chirping baby birds and the grand white yachts in the marina. We speak a little with the kind cleaning staff and move on to see da Conch Shack, a local place where the rum punch is good and some of the best conch on island is served. You can walk into the water and pick out your conch to eat!
As we finish our first cup of punch, (at 11am) some paddle boarders drift up to the beach and walk up to get a drink. Dan sees immediately that he knows one of them; he’s the owner of da Conch Shack. He starts telling us about an old dog he had that was very friendly with the local dolphin, JoJo. JoJo is a dolphin that loves interacting with people and often visits boats and docks. JoJo loved his dog and would swim alongside him while his dog swam on his other side. The story was so adorable I almost let a tear slip! Next, Dan took an embarrassing video of how to open a conch shell, a feat that turns out to be much more difficult than it looks! I also learn how to sound the conch horn. We are promised paddle board lessons and we drive off to see Blue Orchid Villa . Blue Orchid is stunning; every villa is unique and more beautiful than the last! We head to Castaway , a villa in Thompson Cove, and it is beautiful too… and humorously outfitted with a volleyball with the telltale red hand print. The drive in is gorgeous and the house’s decor impeccable. We all have drinks with the owner of Castaway and have a great time…until we realize that the sun is going down and we better high-tail it to the Conch Festival!
Everyone on the island has come out for this… it’s a competition of local chefs to see who can prepare the most delicious conch! My first conch fritters (conch breaded and deep fried) are delicious. We enjoy the festival and drive to a newly opened Mexican restaurant called Mis amigos, a non-touristy place located on Leeward Highway near Susie Turn. We found a lot of locals there, perhaps due to the great margaritas. The DJ played all the songs we requested! We play darts and laugh and I watch the stars as we drive back to our villa.
Sunday, Day 3. Once again I wake up to the ocean waves and find myself smiling. I walk down to the beach and we all go snorkeling.
We see some colorful fish on the reef right outside Villa Sounion, and we head back inside to get ready for breakfast. We hit up the Bay Bistro at the Sibonne Hotel for some yummy brunch, we are all starving after our morning snorkeling. We head back to Sounion and get packed up for our move to Conched Out Villa Conched Out. Conched Out is such a fun villa, located on Long Bay Beach, and the elevation makes the ocean view breath-taking. We take some videos and walk over to see 3 Dolphins Villas and Villa Isla, also located on Long Bay Beach. We return to Turtle Cove and see more properties, and then visit Villa Shambhala . The owners graciously provide us with wine and cheese after giving us a tour of their lovely villa.
The villa is open and luxurious while still feeling cozy. The owner tells us of a trip he and his wife took on their kayaks out to a large ship that ran aground and is now stuck just offshore.
They had set off, without water or supplies, thinking they would get there in 30 minutes, tops. After 15 minutes, they thought themselves halfway there, and after 30, it seemed they hadn’t advanced at all! It took them over 3 hours round trip! After our wonderful evening at Shambhala, we met friends in 5 Cays at Bugaloos for some live music. I saw the traditional ripsaw music and we ate some more amazing Conch fritters! On our way back to Conched Out, we stopped by the only 24 hour convenience store called Ms. Mooneys for some late night snacks!
When we return to Conched Out, we all drift up to the observation deck to witness some truly unbelievable stars. Due to the lack of ambient light and the gigantic ocean sky, I saw the most amazing star-filled sky of my life. I even caught a shooting star!
Monday, Day 4: I wake up in my comfortable bed just in time to see the most beautiful sunrise. Could this trip get any better? We grab breakfast once again at Green Bean and see a few more villas in Turtle Cove. We then drive over to Ocean Point on the southern part of the island and see Sapodilla Bay and Taylor Bay Beach http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVfKPZeujSM. We shoot a few videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVfKPZeujSM and then head over to Silly Creek to see Villa Sublime, and we all decide to get into the ocean through the cool grotto cut-out of the rock. The light twinkles off the water and we see some beautiful rock formations as we swim out into the ocean. Video of the grotto. This grotto will prove to be one of the coolest memories from this trip!
We head to Las Brisas in Chalk Sound and have an amazing lunch of Conch (of course) while admiring the beautiful blues of the Chalk Sound waters. We then head over to the owner of da Conch Shack’s amazing villa for our private paddle board lessons! We paddle around Thompson Cove, with our friend’s dog Star dutifully sitting on the front of his board as he gives us a tour. I quickly feel the exercise in my core and back, but the sea life is so amazing! I see countless gigantic turtles, at least 3-4 feet in diameter, and even a spotted ray!
After we watch the sunset in a hot tub.
(I cannot believe my life right now, so lucky) we head over to da Conch Shack restaurant and meet some friends for a yummy dinner of………conch of course! This time its prepared in a yummy ceviche. I’m really starting to like this tasty seafood. We head back to Conched Out, and I laugh as I think how the villa’s name describes exactly how I feel!
Tuesday, Day 5: I jump out of bed to snap a few pictures of the sunrise, and the shots I get are well worth getting out of bed. I spend a few moments in the hammock and think about all the amazing experiences I’ve had on this island! We head over to Long Bay Beach to see one of our newest villas- Villa Isla. I love how all 5 bedrooms have a beautiful direct ocean view. We shoot another video and head back to Conched Out. We pack up our things (tear) and head to Turtle Cove, where I tour a few more villas. Ocean Edge Cottage, Villa Tamarind, and Villa Paprika are beautiful. As we head to the airport for our flight back home to Atlanta, I can’t wait to tell everyone about all the amazing villas I have seen and stayed in, and about the charming island of Providenciales.