Grace Bay isn’t the only extraordinary beach on Provo. So we rented a scooter to explore the island further. Riding along the back roads, with little traffic and the hot Caribbean breeze pressing against our skin, was a liberating experience. It took us both back to our youth, to days of riding scooters through the streets of Italy and India. Although this time we were wearing helmets.
Our first stop was Long Bay Beach. “It’s a win-win,” Larry Dworetsky of Paradise Scooters told us while giving us his very own “unguided guided tour” of the island. “If there’s wind, the kite surfers are out and you can watch them jump 30 feet in the air. If there’s no wind, that’s the most beautiful beach here and you have it all to yourselves.”
We were lucky enough to have a bit of both: The wind was blowing, and a couple of kite surfers filled the sky with their acrobatics, but there was barely anyone else around.
Five Cays Beach has the same white sand and turquoise water as every place on Providenciales, but it’s more of a food and entertainment destination. The main feature is Bugaloo’s, a beach shack that everybody raves about. We went, sat with our feet buried in the sand and drank rum punch to the sound of live music.
“You guys are great,” the lead singer of the Island Boys, a Bob Marley cover band, shouted to the crowd of tourists and locals. “Just as good as the weather!”
We also had our first taste of conch, a large sea snail that’s TCI’s premier food group. Bugaloo’s spicy fritters are not to be missed, and the 35-year-old cook, Manno, makes sure to use nothing but the freshest conch. Day in and day out, he stands beneath a green beach umbrella and bends over a large wooden chest filled with ice and conch. He patiently pulls the meat out of the big flashy shell and cleans it. Whenever the chest empties, he walks a short distance into the water — shoes, shorts, T-shirt and all — dragging a large raft behind him and taking an occasional dive to refill it with conch.
While describing this process to me on a Sunday afternoon, Manno suddenly extracted a gooey, transparent string of something from a shell and ate it avidly. It was the snail’s reproductive organ, he told me with some pride, supposedly a boon to a man’s sexual prowess.