Grace Bay

For sugary, pristine sand that gently disappears under clear, electric-blue water, Grace Bay is hard to beat. This glorious beach dwarfs world-famous Magens Bay in the U.S. Virgin Island in scale, beauty, and five-star appeal. And while its better-known rival gets very busy with cruise-ship passengers who surge down the hill to the beach like lemmings, the frost-white curve of sand at Grace Bay unfurls for a staggering 10 miles, making it well-nigh impossible for the beach to get crowded.

Grace Bay is the jewel in the crown of the Turks and Caicos archipelago’s main island, Providenciales, and is consistently rated among the world’s top ten beaches. The pristine ocean in the bay is part of Princess Alexandra Marine National Park and is as still as a millpond thanks to a protective coral reef that lies 1,650 ft (500 m) off the coast. Not surprisingly, scuba-diving, snorkeling, and swimming conditions in the bay are second to none. Horse-riding is another popular activity at Grace Bay, where noisy beach buggies, quad bikes, and jet skis are banned. Whether you want to try out every conceivable water sport, jamp on a horse, or simply relax on the sand, where a near-constant breeze takes the edge off the blazing sun, this blissful spot has it all.

While Magence Bay has no hotels, cosmopolitan Grace Bay is blessed with a variety of plush accommodation options that boast pampering luxury, first-rate facilities, and to-die-for settings.These hotels are so swanky they even offer their guests king-size canopied beds on the beach and pretty thatched umbrellas to stand in for palm trees. Atmospheric restaurants and casual but classy bars on the beach give visitors the opportunity to sip chilled beers or killer rum cocktails with the soft sand between their toes. The bay’s eco-friendly, ultra-modern Leeward Marina, which opened in 2008, beckons the super-rich in their floating party palaces.

Unlike Magens Bay, where you’re trapped in a bowl surrounded by steep forested hills and cannot easily explore inland, Grace Bay is also the perfect base for trips around Providenciales. It;s no effort to hop in a taxi to Conch Farm,which is home to about 2 million of the endangered mollusks, or the island’s National Environmental Center, where there are fascinating exhibits on local marine life. You can even get in the swing at the championship Provo Golf Club, with its grass-fringed bunkers echoing the silt-fine sands of Grace Bay. And Provo boasts plenty of other beaches: at dusk, head west to lonesome Malcolm Beach to savor the spectacular sunsets.