Grand Turk. First stop on the Bestie Cruise. All of these stops were relatively short, so we didn’t get too much sightseeing done everywhere, but I still enjoyed every moment off the boat.
Onwards to horseback-riding and the beach at Grand Turk.
We were treated to a beautiful sunrise upon our entrance into Grand Turk since we arrived at flipping 07:30. I barely get up that early for work. I need to go back to working nights.
Anyways, I was told by one of the staff members on board that this particular dock in Grand Turk was built especially for Carnival, which accounts for the close proximity of a shopping plaza, bar and restaurant, and beach resort.
Our tour group met just outside of the ship’s terminal and piled into a jeep/truck for our 20-ish minute ride to the stables. PRO TIP: Try and sit behind someone big and tall in an open-air vehicle that travels quickly. I sat in the front and even with sunglasses on, my eyelashes were beating against my eyelids. I did also enjoy facial exfoliation courtesy of Mother Nature in the form of tiny grains of sand pelting me in the face along the way.
The stables for the Grand Turk Indigenous Horse Shelter are right along the beach and the guides were eager to get started since we were the first group of the day. If you’ve never been on a horse before (like me), don’t fret — these guys are awesome and give clear safety instructions. Plus this isn’t a champion derby, so if you do know how to ride, don’t expect to be showing off. This strictly a trot/swim excursion. More about the swimming later.
The first part is a horseback ride along a trail that spans the width of island (it’s a really skinny island, so it doesn’t really take that long). This is where you get your intro to riding. Again, the guides give really clear instructions, and they’re with you every step of the way. One girl in my group, who was also new to riding, kept flipping out about her horse taking her for a ride, so one of the guides stayed by her side the whole time. Her horse’s name was Beyonce, by the way, and we continued to refer to the horse as “The Diva” as she picked fights with a couple of other horses once the ride was over. Not sure if that’s why she was given the name “Beyonce.” My horse was named Niko, and he seemed pretty pissed that I was his rider. I had never seen a horse give side-eye, let alone experienced a horse giving me side eye.
After the first ride, complete with mini-island tour and quick history of the area, we donned swimsuits (or whatever clothing you don’t mind getting wet) and barefoot we went for the horseback swim. It’s exactly like it sounds — you sit on something that’s basically a padded tarp laid across the horse’s back and squeeze your thighs for dear life to stay on while your horse takes you into the water for a “swim.” It was a lot of fun, but the horse in front of me wasn’t going fast enough and I was partly afraid my horse’s nose was going to end up in the front horse’s ass. You go in smaller groups, and don’t be upset if you fall off — according to one of my guides, it happens at least once a day. Of course, this particular day it happened twice. No, I was not one of them.
After the riding and a stop at the Grand Turk Lighthouse, we were taken to the beach resort just steps away from the dock. My favorite flip-flops are still somewhere on this beach. *sad face*
The Reef Shark Bar & Grill is nearby, and attendants will take your food and drink orders while you sunburn on the beach. My first time trying conch fritters and I liked them.
The water is beautiful and clear, albeit a bit cold, but you get used to it. The beach itself is beautiful white sand, and the people are friendly.
After we discovered that my flip-flops were missing, we made a stop at a local store for a new pair before ending our time in Grand Turk by shopping. In terms of the shopping in the area, with the exception of a few local stores, most of the stores are the same as the ones you’d encounter at any cruise terminal (i.e. Diamonds International and Cariloha), but the big Dufry store is also good for small souvenirs or huge bottles of liquor.
Overall, Grand Turk is beautiful, and if you don’t want to go on an excursion, simply walk off the boat and onto the beach. Learn a few things about the island from the friendly people and take home a souvenir or two.
Next stop — La Romana!