Little Water Cay is so spectacular tourists have to be forewarned of its beauty.
“We like to get people ready. Build the anticipation,” says tour guide Gregory Robinson flashing a big white smile.
“It really is the highlight of this trip. People are blown away.”
And blown away we are.
My wife, daughter and I are on the three-hour Kitty Katt Catamaran Tour offered by Beaches Resort in the Caribbean paradise of Turks and Caicos.
First there was a stop at a coral reef in the Princess Alexandra Marine Park to snorkel and spot parrot fish, lobster, conch, doctor fish, grouper, snapper and lion fish.
Very enjoyable, but, truth be told pretty standard Caribbean stuff.
Back on the catamaran we head to Little Water Cay, which has been nicknamed Iguana Island for its healthy population of the reptile.
When the one kilometre by 200 metre island appears on the horizon the fawning begins.
The island is as simple in its geography as it is in its beauty.
The west side is one glorious stretch of white sand beach; the middle a grass-and-iguana-infused dune; and the east side more beach with its own Half Moon Bay.
The west side beach that the Kitty Katt glides up on is pristine and achieves that status without a small army of resort workers continually raking it.
Usually I roll my eyes when people start to wax poetic about the colour of ocean.
Yet, here I am about to wax poetic.
The water as it hits the beach is a frothy white, a few feet out gin clear, then a melted gemstone green and finally shades of blue and even purple.
After the initial admiration, we snap photos, stroll the beach, stalk iguanas and then finally swim and thank our lucky stars that our travels have brought us here.
Not that we’re roughing it at Beaches Resort a couple of kilometres away on the main island of Providenciales (nicknamed Provo for those in the know).
By the way, Turks and Caicos—the smattering of islands located where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean—is referred to as the TCIs by locals and lingo-savvy tourists.
Beaches Resorts is the family-friendly luxury all-inclusive brand of Sandals Resorts, the company that has couples-only luxury all-inclusives throughout the Caribbean.
“Just because you’re travelling with your kids doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality and that extra glam,” public relations manager Elanor Krazanowski tell me during a tour of the property.
To prove her point, while I’m checking out the infrastructure my girls are at Red Lane Spa getting mother-daughter tropical bliss massages.
Most of the 615 rooms are suites that sleep at least four, feature tropical colonial décor and have a big balcony or patio.
Bathrooms sport double vanity sinks, Jacuzzi tubs, rain shower and separate toilet room.
The 65-acre grounds are lush; the beach second-to-none; the pools and restaurants plentiful; the activities constant; and the service impeccable.
Our favourite restaurants tended to be ones within sight and sound of the ocean—Schooners for exceptional seafood and Barefoot by the Sea, where the evening service is all white tablecloths and candlelight, but you can kick your shoes off and dig them into the sand floor.
As a family-oriented resort, Beaches has ratcheted kids clubs up a notch.
The clubs are divided by age—baby, toddler, kids, tweens and teens—and youth can pick and choose tailored activities from waterslides, surf simulators, lazy river and their own nightclub and catamaran cruise to pool and beach volleyball, special seating in restaurants and programs built around Beaches’ partnership with Sesame Street.
One of our off resort forays was to Da Conch Shack in nearby Northside.
Everyone we asked said it was the most authentic place on the islands for conch, the big beautiful-shelled snail that is the national dish.
It finds its way into virtually every recipe from fritters, salad and chowder to pasta and as a steak.
Located oceanside, Da Conch Shack is a collection of weather-beaten clapboard shacks and picnic tables in the sand.
It’s definitely the place to have waitress Karene Brown bring you conch fritters and a Turk’s Head beer while the palm trees sway, the ocean laps at the beach mere metres away and the DJ spins reggae tunes even in the mid-afternoon.
It’s also where we met Roger the stray dog who lives off a steady diet of scrap conch.
Resident fisherman Gaan Geahheah collects conch from the ocean floor using a kayak and pulls meat from the shell in a beachside performance that tourist consider ceremony and he considers a work-a-day job.