When I was just a little baby, my parents transplanted my family from Freeport, Bahamas, to the more up-and-coming island of Providenciales (Provo for short) in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Over 18 years later, I have become familiar with the many different breeds of tourist that our beautiful islands in Turks and Caicos attract. Some are sophisticated and fun, whereas others can be rather unsavory and uncouth. All, however, are wonderful topics for conversation among locals. Without further adieu, here are five types of tourists that we locals love to gossip about.
1. The All-Inclusive Guest
This tourist stays at our only all-inclusive resort on island, Beaches. Never leaving the resort, this tourist never truly gains any insight into our local culture and history and misses out on pretty much everything outside of the resort walls. That doesn’t bother them though because they get unlimited alcohol and can leave their kids to venture the resort freely — kids have access to a huge video game room, water slides, lots of different pools and their very own kids’ restaurant, Bobby Dee’s. As much as locals love to rib on Beaches guests, we’re all secretly jealous that they get to stay there because every single one of us spent our adolescences trying to sneak into the resort to use their sweet amenities. I can assure you that, even as a teenager, Bobby Dee’s never loses its allure (endless ice cream, mac ‘n’ cheese and chicken nuggets — can you blame us?!).
2. The Celebrity
This tourist is famous. How famous? Well, they can be an A-list actor, chart-topping musician, champion sports star, former president of the United States, or even members of the United Kingdom’s royal family. Sometimes they’re less famous, eliciting few looks from most, but still recognizable to a small few. One thing they all have in common: they get their privacy. Paparazzi in Turks and Caicos don’t exist and that makes it a celebrity haven. Celebs usually stay either on the remote island of Parrot Cay, at the super-exclusive Amanyara resort on Provo, or in luxury villas that cost more to rent per week than you can even hope to earn in the next six years. Sometimes celebs are really friendly and you’ll find yourself talking to them like you’re old buddies. Other times, however, they can be total divas with no interest in talking to you. No matter the nature of your conversation, it’s always exciting to meet one. Check out this list of some of the different famous people Turks and Caicos has hosted.
3. The Watersports Fanatic
This tourist is here to check out some of the world’s best diving, participate in a fishing tournament, or shred up the wakeboarding scene. This is one of the coolest tourists you’ll meet (usually) because they’re familiar with Caribbean life and our culture already. They’re not stuck up and their travel stories are always riveting. Whether you see them in a dive bar or at one of the finest restaurants on island, this person will be wearing a rashguard, board shorts and flip flops. This person will often end up moving to Turks and Caicos after their first vacation because they fall in love with our perfectly turquoise water.
4. The Wannabe Local
This tourist is a recurrent visitor who loves to act like a local, even though they have never lived here and first came to Turks and Caicos less than five years ago. Their Facebook profile says they’re from Turks and Caicos, and the captions for all of their vacation posts on Instagram are some variation of “I’m so happy to be home!” This is the worst kind of tourist because they typically have an extremely shallow knowledge of our culture and heritage, but act like they’re a total expert on all things relating to the islands. Locals will put up with them because they often have really nice penthouses and rich parents who splurge on luxurious boat charters that we get invited on.
5. The Wedding Party
These tourists are here to get married or are guests at the wedding. I love to be on the same plane to Turks and Caicos with wedding parties because you can just feel the excitement (and panic) buzzing from each member. The bride is carrying her wedding dress and the groomsmen are already drinking. One of the bridesmaids might be crying because she’s still single. All in all, these are fun people to watch and sometimes if you’re nice enough they might even let you tag along to the wedding! In fact, just last night, my parents got a last minute invite to an intimate wedding in St. Kitts and Nevis from a couple they met last week. Talking with tourists sure can have its benefits!
Though this list is certainly not comprehensive, it gives some insight into my favorite kinds of tourists to gossip about. One question I often receive from non-Caribbean people is “don’t you get bored living on a tiny island?” Well, with so many different types of people constantly passing through, how could I?!
Also, I don’t know about you, but if I were a tourist in Turks and Caicos, I think I would immediately have to move here. I have the most beautiful home in the world and I am not too shy to say so!