Resort Report

Can You Keep a Secret?

Adventurer discovers a new luxury resort on South Caicos.

Story & Photos By John Galleymore

When I explore the outer islands, comfort is simply a tent and roll-up mattress. But every so often, I like to experience some real luxury (especially when my wife Sally accompanies me!) This treat is usually reserved for trips to the US or an anniversary occasion on Grace Bay. So it was a real delight to recently discover the newly opened East Bay Resort on South Caicos. This beachfront resort brings luxury to one of TCI’s most historic islands and is a remarkable base from which to explore or simply relax.

Our journey starts at Providenciales airport where we catch a flight with InterCaribbean Airways, whose schedule makes getting to South Caicos a breeze, and just 20 minutes later we gently touch down. (News has it that government is set to embark on a major infrastructure improvement at the airport.) We are greeted by the charming and impeccably dressed Jeremiah, who transports us in a luxury SUV to the resort, just a few minutes away.

On arrival at the plush lobby, we are greeted by Stephanie, who has a beaming smile and offers us welcome cocktails so that we can start our vacation in style! After a speedy check-in we are driven by golf cart to our room which is on the second floor. The building is only four stories high, nestled amongst the surrounding seagrass. It feels like old-time Provo!

Guest suites at East Bay Resort on South Caicos surround a huge pool.

Guest suites at East Bay Resort on South Caicos surround a huge pool.

We are pleasantly surprised at the room’s comfort and cleanliness. Having travelled extensively to all the outer islands, accommodation can usually be described as “rustic,” but East Bay Resort compares to Grace Bay standards and beyond. Our large studio includes a balcony with ocean view, a full kitchen, and a huge bed. The kitchen is large and well equipped, and the management will even shuttle you to the local store for groceries.

We decide to explore the beach. A short walk through beautifully landscaped gardens and we are alone on a pristine beach that stretches for over a mile! We see that it has been mechanically groomed, a nice touch indeed. The sand is soft and powdery and the small cove is calm and tranquil. Already we feel a million miles from the rest of the world—this is escapism at its finest!

We head back to the resort and learn that there is a complimentary island tour that we are welcome to attend. Jeremiah is driver and guide, so we know it will be fun. Born in Middle Caicos but coming to South at the age of four, he is passionate and caring about the island and eager to share his local knowledge with a smile.

We drive slowly down winding lanes of Cockburn Harbour and he points out historic buildings, often adding a humorous tale. We stop at the Boiling Hole in the middle of the salt ponds and he explains how it filled the ponds with ocean water that was evaporated to form salt—later raked, bagged, and shipped around the world. On the incoming tide, the current is strong enough to give the effect that the churning water is “boiling.” The salt ponds now lay abandoned, but you can feel history seep into this serene spot.

Accommodations at East Bay Resort compare to Grace Bay standards. What a view!

Accommodations at East Bay Resort compare to Grace Bay standards. What a view!

We continue our tour, Jeremiah occasionally honking at friends and neighbors as we pass—all in this friendly community return with a wave and smile. Along the way we make stops as he spots wild plants and reveals fascinating lore of how different plants are used to cure aliments from chicken pox to bug bites and stomach pains to impotency!

We climb the ridge where Sailrock is developing homes and catch our breath with surprise. On one side is the shallow, translucent water of Bell Sound; the other, the clear waters, coral reefs, and stunning blues of the deep-water Columbus Passage. It was amongst these reefs that Jeremiah grew up fishing, and says he could find any given coral head even at night. The East Bay Resort has brought some much needed employment to South Caicos, and Jeremiah is a busy man but still finds time for the water.

Back at the resort, we head to the Admiral Cockburn Lounge where Alvaro the barman greets us warmly and then proceeds to shake us a world-class margarita! We are enjoying our drinks when Alvaro takes a call on his cell . . . and bizarrely it’s for us! Thankfully, this was no family emergency but simply staff member Stephanie, who was walking home and wanted us to take notice of a particularly beautiful sunset. How’s that for customer service?

East Bay Resort’s restaurant Blu offers a variety of local and international dishes. We start with huge and succulent shrimp, followed by a seafood medley and fine steak. Accompanied by wine from an extensive list we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are on an outer island and not Provo! After-dinner entertainment is a quiet walk on the beach, the twinkling, silent stars above complementing an utter quietness and tranquility. Sleep follows on a bed that feels like it’s made of clouds.

We awake to a glorious sunrise over the bay. Today we plan to explore the town on our own but need a hearty breakfast first. Denise greets us in the Periwinkle café with a friendly smile and we are soon tucking into hot coffee and poached eggs. Ignoring the overwhelming desire to lounge by the infinity pool, we collect the complimentary bicycles.

Cockburn Harbour sits a stone’s throw from the resort and the bike ride is easy. Our first stop is the 18th century District Commissioner’s Residence that sits atop a hill and has commanding views over the water to Dove Cay. Once a bed and breakfast, the still grand-looking house now lies derelict and abandoned, although its separate, Bermuda-style kitchen is intact. In one of its rooms, the Queen of England once rested and changed clothes during her visit in 1966. We make our way to the rear balcony and gaze past the old white stone lighthouse across the channel to Dove and Long Cays. What a great South Caicos museum this building would make!

We cycle along deserted streets, passing churches and ancient buildings, and head down to the marina. Here fishermen sell conch, lobster, and scalefish to the processing plant, where it makes its way not only to the finest restaurants in the TCI, but also the world.

East Bay Resort caters for every level of activity. A cool drink at the swim-up pool bar? No problem! A leisurely walk along a mile of golden sand? Check! We decide to be more energetic and take our pick of stand-up paddleboards and ocean kayaks and are soon paddling our way across the sheltered cove. We spot rays in the water and swim in the shallows before heading back.

This glorious sunset is reflected in South Caicos' vast salt ponds.

This glorious sunset is reflected in South Caicos’ vast salt ponds.

This evening we decide to have sunset drinks on our balcony and enjoy the ever-changing colors of the water and sky. Soon we are seeing the occasional shooting star and realize it’s too late for dinner. No problem, as the front desk arranges a pizza delivery from the bar in town.

The next morning starts with the now familiar struggle to leave the comfortable bed. We keep breakfast light as we are booked on a snorkel trip on the hotel boat. South Caicos Islander Captain Marvin greets us with a huge smile and chats about fishing as we make the short boat ride around the headland and tie up to a mooring just off Long Cay. With mask and flippers on, we enter the crystal clear water for some of the best snorkeling in the TCI. The lack of human intervention here means the marine environment is pristine. There can be few places left on Earth that have escaped the impact of tourism. This is one, and we gaze in wonder at the health of the coral and the abundance of sea life.

Back on board, we head over to a shallow cove on Long Cay and wade ashore. Long Cay is some three miles long and although Marvin tells us it’s home to large rock iguanas, we see only the nests of these elusive creatures. We walk up to the ridge and stare across rugged cliffs onto the ocean some 6,000 feet deep. The contrast with the shallow water of the turquoise cove is staggering.

On the way back, Marvin asks if we have ever seen huge orange starfish. As I answer that occasionally we spot them, I look down and realize we are floating above hundreds—a field of starfish. Nature at its best, indeed.

Back at the resort, I meet up with General Manager Darik Riggs and Divemaster Ralf Klug and we head over to what will soon be the on-site dive shop. It has just been built and is awaiting a few final touches before opening. Offering brand-new Scuba Pro equipment, this will be a fine dive operation. Ralf has identified a number of dive sites that will suit all levels of experience. The diving promises to be sublime—the last undiscovered diving gem in the TCI.

Ralf explains that East Bay Resort will offer all-inclusive room and dive packages, with concessions for residents. A special deal with Caicos Ferry will even allow guests to dive on their last day without the worry of flying. Ralf explains that, as in Grand Turk and Salt Cay, dive sites are only a few minutes offshore, allowing for an easy boat ride and surface time on land. I envision future dives on never-dived-before sites and surface time in a luxury resort for lunch—plans to return before we’ve even left!

Speaking of leaving, it’s time to pack and take one more look around our lovely room. Stephanie, Audra, and Darik bid us farewell and Jeremiah is waiting by the SUV to whisk us back the airport. Duties on Provo beckon, but it’s South Caicos that’s now well and truly lodged in our hearts. So, although East Bay Resort is a secret, it’s a secret worth sharing!

East Bay Resort includes 86 suites, all with ocean views. For more information visit eastbayresort.com.



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Photographer Marta Morton was enjoying another spectacular sunset when she spotted this lovely scene—a picture-perfect clump of Old Man Cacti and the pastel colours of what she later learned were crepuscular rays (see page 18). For more of Marta’s images, turn the pages of this issue and visit www.harbourclubvillas.com.

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