When my friend suggested that we should visit Salt Cay for a week of vacation, I was strongly opposed to that idea because everywhere I read about Salt Cay: 1. Good diving spot which is famous for whale watching; and 2. "The Island That Time Forgot". Since I don't dive, I have doubts about whether I will be able to survive the slow pace of the island. Anyway, the fact is - we did go there for a week and I really love the place and will certainly return in the future.
Overall, my experience with Salt Cay and people who live and work there has been a very positive one.
For the beach:
The North beach in Salt Cay has the most spectacular beach with miles of sugary white sand and clear water. On top of that, it is also a great snorkeling spot because of the coral reef (right in front of Castaway). The first day, when I put on my mask and snorkel, I immediately saw a nurse shark. Over the course of a week, I saw many fish such as flounder, sand diver, parrot fish, blue tang, snappers, and Barry the Great Barracuda, all simply by snorkeling! The water at North Beach is generally pretty calm, we came here during July, and we only had one day that is too windy to go snorkeling. There are also two other spots in Salt Cay that have even calmer water and more variety of fish for snorkelers - one is on the northwestern side of the island, right in front of Debbie's Coral Reef restaurant, and on the other side of the water break; the other one is located further north right before you reach the cliff (Ask Debbie, she will tell you). Both spots are amazing!
For the food:
I think Debbie is really a wonderful hostess who runs a fantastic restaurant with great cooks and an excellent diving shop with friendly and knowledgeable staff. I really enjoy her curried fish, grilled snappers, tempura conch (conch is pounded to be tender), and Sunday Ribs with scallop potatoes. Porter's Thyme is also excellent, and both Porter and Haidee are personable and interesting to talk to. We tried both Porter's Thyme and Debbie's Coral Reef restaurant; both restaurants have their uniqueness, I found myself torn between Debbie's Coral Reef and Porter Thyme.
For getting groceries:
There are three grocery stores on the island, and I visited two of them - Dickenson's in the south town has more variety than Netty's in the north town. You can find water, milk, soft drinks, juices, canned food, garlic, potato, detergents, cooking oil, and pasta at Dickenson's. Dickenson's store has strange business hours - 10-12 Noon, and 5-8PM. For Netty, you have to knock on her door at her home to have her open the store. Netty's store and Netty's home are on either side of Porter's Thyme. People who live at Salt Cay travel to Grand Turk via Ferry (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, $15 round trip) to get groceries. There is no liquor store on Salt Cay, so either get it duty-free at the USA airport (1 liter/person is allowed), or get it in Grand Turk by taking the ferry.
Caico's Express is the only air transportation from Provo to Salt Cay. Otherwise, you will have to take Air Caicos (a much better airline in Turks and Caicos) from Provo to Grand Turk, then take the Ferry from Grand Turk to Salt cay (Ferry only operates on certain days and times). Caico's Express is not that reliable (cancelled on Wednesday when we were there), and you might end up being stranded on the island. Debbie has a boat, so if worse comes to worse, you can always charter her boat to go back to Grand Turk. As for transportation on Salt Cay, I would recommend to rent a golf cart instead of a bicycle to go about as the road is unpaved. I also found out later that some golf cart rentals are much cheaper than the others, so it is probably a good practice to compare prices and reserve the golf cart ahead of time.
I would recommend only Castaway at north beach if you are like me, a non-diver. However, if your main goal is to dive, then there are several locations near Debbie's Salt Cay Diver shop that are much cheaper and more convenient for divers. During my stay at Salt Cay, I passed by several of the listed cottages on a golf cart, and each time I was so relieved that I didn't stay at any of them. Simply put, the beachfront at Castaway is so breathtaking, nothing beats such a location.
Salt Cay is an amazing place, very rural and all the development has failed so far (ask Porter or Debbie for the story of proposed Six-Sense Hotel), so it stays as a gem in the Caribbean. Very few people live on the island, and the place stays pristine and hidden from the world.
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