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Turks and Caicos: A Caribbean paradise for Canada?

Turks and Caicos: A Caribbean paradise for Canada?

Posted by Shanelle Weir on June 02, 2014

Thanks to the recent visit of Turks and Caicos Premier Rufus Ewing, Canadians are once again fantasizing about the idea of inviting this tropical paradise into the federation fold as a new Canadian province or territory. This despite Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird throwing cold Atlantic water on the idea by saying, "we're not in the business of annexing islands in the Caribbean."

To that I say -- rats! As far back as 1917, when then Prime Minister Robert Borden first floated the idea, Canada has toyed with the possibility of legally embracing this jewel into the federation fold. In recent days, whenever the subject comes up so do the arguments about equalization payments, health-care costs, refugee issues and on and on.

Such a shame as, truthfully, all these government naysayers need is one visit to this pristine part of the south and the deal would be sealed before the sun set. At least that's how I felt during a recent visit to Providenciales, where I found myself immediately captivated by the beauty of the beach, my feet thoroughly buried in warm sand while my eyes scanned the horizon.

Like the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos is in the Atlantic, not the Caribbean Sea, but it is generally regarded as part of the Caribbean. With baby-soft white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters, the beaches are superbly spectacular -- so perfect you're afraid they're not real.

You can stand there for hours, looking out to sea. Warm as a bath, with nary a ripple, the moment you set foot on the beach, your whole body just propels you to these calm waters, with so many iridescent shades of blue that I'm sure a few have yet to be named.

The landscape is primal, pristine, magnificent and soothing as a balm. It's hard to believe such beauty exists. But it does.

This scene was my introduction to this glorious piece of paradise, a vision that helped me survive the recent, wicked Canadian winter. During the coldest days, I found comfort revisiting memories of my visit and stay at the inviting Ocean Club Resort, where small buildings stacked with airy and elegant living quarters, complete with kitchens, are grouped around a good size pool, a great restaurant and the famous beach.

From the moment we arrived there was a sense of comfort, from our cab driver Virgil, who greeted us with the words "welcome home" and a smile as wide as the beach, to staff and residents who came to feel like family, to food so fresh and delicious, prepared with local ingredients, it left us wanting more.

Turks and Caicos is a British Overseas Territory a one-hour by flight from Miami. The islands are home to Grace Bay Beach, frequently rated "best in the world," and surrounding waters that receive high praise from divers. TCI also has the largest above-ground cave system in the Bahamas-TCI archipelago and one of the Top 10 golf courses in the Caribbean.

Home to world-famous Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales -- or Provo -- is the main tourist island and the heart of the country. This is the island everyone talks about. And despite its spanking brand-new vibe (it seems to grow daily), it is the most populated island. All international flights arrive on Provo and the humble airport looks as if it might burst as it tries to keep up with the surge in tourism.

While there, I kept bumping into Canadians -- from tourists to banks officials to hotel owners, even chefs. Canada has played a major role in helping to build up the islands' infrastructure; InterHealth Canada developed, constructed and currently operates two hospitals there.

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