Grace Bay

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East of Cuba, North of Haiti and part of the British West Indies, Turks and Caicos is a chain of islands in the Caribbean that I had never heard of before Steve and I decided to go there for our annual winter getaway. We stayed in Providenciales (the most populated, tourism friendly island, commonly called “Provo” for short), spending most of our time in Grace Bay. If you look at the map above (found on the side of a building there), Grace Bay is slightly Southeast of the sun compass on Provo’s Northern coast.

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I’ll get right to the point – Grace Bay’s greatest attraction is its beach, with some of the most striking, gorgeous aqua blue water you’ll ever see.

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Grace Bay stretches on for miles, packed with soft, white sands, umbrellas and lounge chairs for the dozen or so resort hotels along it.

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The grounds of luxurious Grace Bay Club.

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Beachside Eight Ball, anyone?

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Alas, we did not stay at the Grace Bay Club but across the street (above, Bonaventure Crescent, lined with beautiful pink and red flowers and lush, green hedges.) However, we still had easy access to the beach, for none of it is private.

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For accommodations, Villa Del Mar was more our speed. We had a spacious deck (seen here in the center)…

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…and terrific views, both of Grace Bay Club, the coast (behind all those palms)…

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…and Villa Del Mar’s swimming pool.

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We spent a lot of time at the pool, relaxing, reading and sunbathing in those comfortable, terri-cloth-covered lounge chairs.

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An extreme palm close-up.

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We occasionally spotted two rather friendly cats at the resort. Hours after taking this, we were poolside and this one nonchalantly walked passed us carrying what I though to be a long, thin weed in its mouth;

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It was actually one of these little guys, which are in abundance throughout the island, always darting in and out of grasses, bushes and other plants.

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These pink and white flowers are seemingly everywhere in Provo…

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…as are plenty of palms, naturally.

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I saw this nice little still life on the grounds of Ocean Club West, a resort next door to Grace Bay Club.

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One of Ocean Club West’s idyllic ocean views.

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Their pink umbrellas vividly stand out against the sand and surf (at least more so than Grace Bay Club’s white ones).

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Typical lodging at Oceans Club West.

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Grace Bay’s shopping district was about a ten-minute walk from our hotel.

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A sunny Saturday afternoon along Grace Bay Road with all the typical Caribbean tourist town staples: gift shops, ice cream parlors (including the suspect-sounding and looking “Turkberry”), high-end jewelry stores and restaurants.

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A shade of green to rival what I saw on the Handelskade in Curacao a few years back.

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Spoiler alert: my vacation felt complete, even though I did not stop at Mama’s.

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As seen at a shopping plaza. Can’t say I ever thought about putting my feet on a wall…

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Nightlife in Grace Bay is limited to restaurants and resort bars (there’s also a casino, but I’m not a gambling man); one of the most picturesque was The Deck Bar at the ridiculously opulent Seven Stars resort.

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My favorite night spot was the Infiniti Bar at Grace Bay Club, which we checked out our first evening in town (you can make out Steve down at the other end).

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Back to the beach and what appears to be a parasailing also-ran crablike character from SpongeBob SquarePants in the air, perhaps?

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The crab touches down right outside the designated swimming area.

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I took numerous shots of this sailboat, both in the water and parked on the sand; this might be my favorite one for its reflection.

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What other way to leave Grace Bay than this wide-angle beach shot? If you need one reason to ever make the trip, this is it.

More pictures from another part of Provo to come.

Ellisville Harbor in Winter

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On this blog, 2014 concludes at the beach. As noted by the glove left behind here, we’re in Massachusetts and not warmer environs.

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We first visited Ellisville Harbor State Park in Plymouth the Sunday following the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings, where it provided much-needed calm after a hectic week.

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Returning the last Saturday in 2014, the temperature was a balmy 50 degrees–pleasant, but still too cold for these lobster traps left behind.

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The late-afternoon sun cast a healthy, radiant glow over everything along the beach, but especially on the rocks, stones and pebbles.

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We stepped away from the beach to view the salt marshes.

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A lone, tall birdhouse, mostly empty for the season.

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Walk along the marshes this time of year and you’ll eventually reach a large pond…

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…which leads to the shore, the beach a trail of dried seaweed, footprints and paw prints.

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At the coast, looking out towards Sagamore Beach and the power plant.

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Look to your left, and you’ll see a small rock peninsula. In fact, let’s look a little closer.

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Two dozen or so tiny birds (sparrows or piping plovers, perhaps) bathe in the sun.

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Little birds on the rocks, from another angle.

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Further along the beach, courting that magic hour preceding sunset and twilight.

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The view away from the beach, the reflecting sun shimmering along the tall grass in a narrow line.

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A sunburst illuminates the hill next to the path back to the woods.

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Ellisville Harbor in full, not long before darkness falls.

Richmond Island

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Friends of ours in Maine recently took us to Richmond Island, a 226 acre estate off the coast of Cape Elizabeth. We travelled by speedboat from Pine Point in order to reach it.

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By the time we set foot on the island, dark clouds began to permeate the sunny skies. It rained gently for about twenty-odd minutes, but we made the right decision to stick it out, for the storm blew off into the Atlantic Ocean, and clear blue skies returned in full force.

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We spent most of the afternoon picnicking on one of the island’s four beaches.

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The spot attracts campers, and although the island’s privately owned, a limited number of overnight permits are available.

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Not exactly the white sands and aquamarine waters of the Caribbean, but for salty, often chilly New England, it’ll do.

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We saw plenty of piping plovers, but very few of them would stop scampering about for a few seconds to be photographed.

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The beach had an excess of sand dollars, although I didn’t take any photos of them; however, I did get this shot of a lone sand crab.

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Richmond Island is not limited to beach and shore; as you can see in the background, it contains some forest as well.

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In fact, there’s a grassy path one can hike along in the island’s center.

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From this shot alone,  you’d probably not guess you were on an island in the Atlantic Ocean.

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I believe this weathered structure is an office of sorts for the island’s caretaker.

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Next to the structure, an old-fashioned pier. As we took the boat back to the mainland, we saw a few sheep (and possibly some rams) around the bend.

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Even though we came in from Pine Point, the island is much closer to a remote part of Cape Elizabeth, which you can see in the back to the left.

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When the tide’s out, one can even walk across the sandbar/rock peninsula over to Cape Elizabeth. Still, I think it was a lot more fun taking the boat.