I thought eating in Bora Bora was expensive, but Turks and Caicos can give that island a run for its money. In this post I’ll be talking about the general eating options you have and some things we did to save money on eating. Bear in mind, in Turks and Caicos, saving money is a very relative term…
Turks and Caicos felt a lot like Nusa Dua in Bali – there are a ton of resorts within close proximity of one another and the easiest thing is to eat at the different resorts. As I mentioned, Villa del Mar didn’t have a restaurant but its sister property the Grace Bay Club across the street does.
Basically, things boil down to trying to maximize the price/taste ratio. My brother in law (who’s been to T&C twice) says out of the resort restaurants he’s tried Grace Bay Club is the bottom in terms of maximizing that ratio; in my experience he was right. After we got off the plane, we went to lunch (while M napped in her car seat). I ordered a burger which cost about $20 USD. $20! It was fine, but it wasn’t that good.
By contrast, the Seaside Cafe at the Ocean Club West (right next door) has a burger for $18 which I thought tasted a bit better. In general we found the prices at the Seaside Cafe to be a little more reasonable and the food to taste a little bit better. Those were the only two resorts we ate at so that’s all I can compare.
There are a lot of restaurants within walking distance of Villa del Mar, we visited a few.
Jimmy’s Dive Bar is in a little plaza – the service is quite slow (as advertised) but the burgers were probably the best we had on the island (yes, for some reason whenever I’m on an island I eat a ton of burgers). I also ordered the pulled pork one time which was great, and Jess was happy with the salad she got there (we ate there twice). Prices are a little cheaper than the resorts – like $16 for a burger instead of $18.
We went to dinner one night at Coco Bistro. One thing to note is that dinner prices are much higher than lunch prices – this place was really a lot of sticker shock (like $30 for entrees). We’re not talking super high end stuff either. The food was good but I didn’t think it was worth the premium.
The absolute cheapest place we found to eat was Patty’s – a takeout place that specializes in Jamaican meat patties. This place was great, for about $30 we bought like 11 patties which fed all eight of us along with leftovers. It’s a lot of meat but if you’re really looking to save money – just eat there the whole time.
Finally, we had our nicest meal at Caicos Cafe. They are only open for dinner, but their prices are pretty reasonable (for the island) and the food was very good. The only downside is the night we visited there was barely any breeze – it was stifling at times. It might be better to go when the sun is down but then I think bugs become an issue. Island life.
Since Villa del Mar is furnished with a full kitchen, we cooked our own food two nights. Aside from Patty’s, this is by far the cheapest way to go. Instead of spending like $200 for eight people to eat we’d only need to spend like $50.
However – be prepared for sticker shock at the grocery store. Honestly, there must be some other grocery store on the island that locals visit, because the Graceway Gourmet prices were out of this world. $4.05/pound for broccoli crowns! Here are some of the prices I was flabbergasted by:
The only thing that came anywhere near to mainland prices was meat for some reason – so if you’re on some kind of caveman diet you’ll be just fine. But even fruit, which you’d think might be cheaper on a tropical island, was pretty pricey. And forget about chips and cookies (though we bought our fair share).
Still – just like at home – cooking your own food is the way to go. In addition to the full kitchen, Villa del Mar has grills that you can use to cook your meat which are very convenient. If you want to save money, pack some oil, salt, and pepper into your checked luggage (so you don’t have to buy it on the island).
One final thing to note – we bought M’s 1% milk at Graceway Gourmet but it went bad in like two days (which was three days before it’s expiration date). My nephew’s whole milk was fine (also bought on island), but be prepared to invest in extra milk if something happens to you like it did to us.
I realize I didn’t really talk much about types of foods, but I think that’s because I didn’t find anything in Turks and Caicos to be particularly unique (though there is a lot of conch to be had). Might be a function of going with kids, but I was just more looking to eat for sustenance than for experience like we normally do. Caicos Cafe was the closest we came to a “foodie” type meal. Overall, what I’ll remember about the food in Turks and Caicos is the price – crazy.
Oh and for you parents out there – food service is on island time – so be prepared to have lots of stuff to entertain your toddlers (or teenagers!) with.
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