“Help, help,” my 10-year old grandson shouted as he flailed in the water, his arms slapping the ocean surface.
“What’s happening?” I asked, imagining the worst. But thanks to the clear underwater visibility in Turks and Caicos, I could he was actually kneeling in water less than a foot deep. Puzzled, I stepped closer to check it out.
“Dolphins like to rescue people in trouble so I’m trying to attract their attention,” he explained as he stood up and brushed the sand off his knees.
We were on an intergenerational trip to the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos, researching stories for A Taste for Travel our food, drink and sun destination blog. Protected by the third largest coral reef in the world, this island archipelago is prime territory for all-ages fun in the sun.
But after a few days of lounging around the pool at our condo at Ocean Club West, another two days snorkeling Fort George Reef with eco-tour operator Big Blue Unlimited and an evening sunset tour by catamaran, my grandson and I decided it was time for some land-based fun.
We opted for an excursion with Provo Ponies, the island’s leading horseback-riding outfitters, located within the Long Bay Hills. Not only would a trail ride give us an opportunity to get out of the water, but it would offer the added advantage of seeing the windward side of the island, a wild expanse of secluded beaches that’s a world away from the tame waters of Grace Bay Beach.
Originally founded by Camille Slattery as a rescue operation for abandoned and neglected horses and ponies in the Turks and Caicos, Provo Ponies now offers guided horseback rides Monday to Friday. Saturdays are for classes and Sundays are a day of rest for the horses.
Arriving at the riding stables, I was pleased to see healthy, well-cared-for horses. Helmets are required for children under the age of 17, also good news.
After detailed one-on-one instructions on how to manage our horses – my grandson got Rapido , a paso fino the colour of chestnut and I got Pilgrim, a standard bred who seemed like a confident fellow – we headed off down the sandy road towards the beach following the guide. Passing through canyons of sea grape, a fringe of airy fan palms and small trees gnarled by the wind and sand, we reached Long Bay Beach, a vast expanse of blue water.
“Follow me,” shouted my grandson as Rapido followed the lead horse to the water’s edge.
My horse Pilgrim didn’t need any urging to get his hooves wet. He plunged right in, snorting happily as we blazed a watery trail through the clear turquoise waters, crystal droplets spraying around us. I’d never been on a horse in the sea but evidently theses horses like to swim. They were disinclined to return to shore and at one point I was waist high in the warm water.
After some coaxing, we were able to get our horses to leave the watery playground and return to land. We then made our soggy way back to the stables, exhilarated and filled with an appreciation for yet another new way to experience the blue waters of the Turks and Caicos islands.
Be sure to make reservations well in advance at https://www.provoponies.com/
Official Turks and Caicos Tourism Board http://www.turksandcaicostourism.com
Ocean Club Resorts: www.oceanclubresorts.com
- Wear a wide-brimmed sunhat and wear plenty of sun protection as you’ll receive the full force of the sun during the ride.
- Take water, you can store your water bottle in a side pack on the saddle
- Wear light pants or tights. Don’t wear jeans. Once you get wet, they’ll become uncomfortably heavy
- Be sure to bring your camera. You can store it in the fanny pack
- You can also borrow riding shoes if you don’t want yours to get wet
Michele Peterson and Jaden Gonsalves are editors, writers and photographers at A Taste for Travel, a blog featuring the world’s most awesome food, drink and sun destinations including the Caribbean, Mexico, Florida and Europe.
Subscribe to the free newsletter or follow their adventures at www.atastefortravel.ca
Check out more Turks and Caicos stories: Caicos Conch Farm: I thought I’d Never Eat Conch Again.