We chose Palm Beach, and this time our taxi driver agreed with our choice. It was fine, but we could have been in Florida – a beach, lots of high-rise hotels, water sports. My girls begged all week to do the banana boat ride, so we compromised with this cool chair thing pulled behind the boat. We negotiated $45 for the two girls and my husband (I rode in the boat and took pictures/video). We ate a snack at the little pier (grouper ceviche and calamari).
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t perfect this day. Overcast, a little bit of rain off and on. We docked at 2 p.m. and I was concerned it was going to be crowded trying to get off the ship (it wasn’t). Based on Cruise Critic reviews I chose Mambo Beach, but our taxi driver said he knew of a better beach, so I went with his choice. Should’ve gone with my choice – and I wish I could remember the name of the beach so I could tell people not to bother. It was very small, very rocky. Entrance was $3 per person, chairs were $35 each, and you weren’t allowed to bring in your own beverages. We stayed for a bit, then called a cab and went to Mambo Beach. The beach was great, lots of little shops, great swimming. Our second driver came back to get us at 6 p.m., then dropped us off in the town for a little shopping. We wanted to walk on the floating bridge back to the ship, but it was closed so we had to take a ferry (free).
This was our third year in a row at Grand Turk. Because of the limited time (7 a.m. to 1:30, and there was no way were going to be up and out by 7 a.m.), we’ve opted each year just to enjoy the beach at the cruise terminal. There are some shops, and also a pool there. We can swim in a pool at home, so we just do the beach. You can sit for free at the cruise terminal beach, but if you walk just a bit down the beach, the water is much clearer with no rocks (and no crowds). You’ll have to pay for a beach chair, though. A guy had some ponies on the beach, so we offered him $50 to let both our girls ride (we live on a horse farm). They rode by themselves way down on the beach, then came back up and swam them in the ocean (the guy’s son walked near them). This was a huge highlight of our trip! We just filled up with a huge breakfast, and brought a soft-sided cooler and bottled water (got ice the night before from our room attendant, and scored a few cans of Coke from a bartender). And then since you have to be back on board by 1:30 we just ate a late lunch on board. The first year we went there we ate at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville (which is right there at the cruise terminal). You would think you would get an awesome cheeseburger (Cheeseburger in Paradise?!), but $100 later, slow service and pretty much the worst cheeseburgers ever, we learned to avoid that place.
I carefully read all the Cruise Critic reviews of this port, since we’ve never been there before. Thanks to a couple of reviews, I picked out the beach – Bayahibe Beach. When we got off the ship, there was a taxi line and we told the coordinator where we wanted to go. She got us in the taxi, and we drove about a half hour. Turning into the beach area I started getting worried – lots of trash and junk everywhere, even a graveyard…but once we got out of the taxi and saw the beach I was so happy I choose it! It was bare-bones – a few little huts with souvenirs and food, $10 for a beach chair (and $10 to the guy who comes around with iguanas for you to hold!), but all of it was worth it – the water was the prettiest water I think I’ve ever swam in. The prettiest blue/green color, no waves, no high-rise hotels on the beach. This port ended up being our favorite stop of all of them. My favorite beach in the world is Orient Beach at St. Maarten, but this ranks pretty much up there with Orient Beach. Our taxi driver waited for us (the guy who sold us the beach chair told him what time we were leaving since he spoke no English).