It's January or maybe February in the northern hemisphere. The holidays are over, and suddenly snow isn't quite so merry. The cold seems more biting than crisp. This is when I dream of beaches and tropical breezes to transport me to that summer siesta I crave without wishing months of my life away. That dream might take me to Grace Bay on Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos.
Providenciales, called Provo locally, was rated the best beach destination in the world by TripAdvisor in 2011. I have my own favorites elsewhere, but I won't hotly argue the point. The electric-blue waters surrounding the islands, technically part of the Atlantic Ocean rather than the Caribbean, are simply stunning. The Turks and Caicos are geographically part of the Bahamas Islands group (or vice versa), but--resorts aside--the T&C have an upscale, much less developed and tacky feel than many parts of their Disneyfied northern neighbor.