Continued (page 12 of 13)

Caicos Conch Farm

As you’ll see when you get down here (and as you can tell from our Eat section), the mollusk known as the conch is a big deal in the TCI, and its pink shell makes some mighty purty baubles. Run by Danver Fortune, the gift shop of the Caicos Conch Farm, near Provo’s eastern tip (see Play), certainly isn’t a huge or fancy affair, but you might well find it worth your while to pop up here not just for the fairly fascinating tour but also to see what it’s possible to do with a few pink shells: beautiful belts, earrings, necklaces, lamps, bowls and more, some matte, some glossy. You’ll also find miscellaneous other items, conch-related and not, along the lines of cookbooks, sponges, sharks’ teeth and rings. And do ask if there are any Queen Conch pearls in stock. Produced the same way as oyster pearls, they’re even rarer—only one in 10,000 conchs will produce one, and of those less than 10 percent are of gem quality.

Grace Bay Beach between Ocean Club and Club Med

For pretty good prices on crafts, beachwear and more (not to mention right-on-the-beach convenience), head to this weather-beaten yellow-and-aqua clapboard mini mall comprising a handful of stalls and a simple little bar-cafe called Flamingo Grill. The vibe isn’t slick or commercialized, and though a certain percentage of the stuff is frankly standard tourist crap, there are also nifty little finds here and there. In particular, check out the two stalls of Oliques on the west side, a bevy of cool wood- and shellwork; colorful metal geckos, fish and seahorses; and a selection of paintings mixing Haitian art with local Top Wilkenson’s wonderfully funky ancient-Taino-motif paintings. Around the corner at H&A Souvenirs, Junie Stubb sells some cool island- and beachwear along with a nice selection of TCI straw work.

Cockburn Town
Grand Turk
Tel: 649-946-1040

Grand Turk may be the site of Cockburn Town, TCI’s capital and biggest town, but a shopping mecca it ain’t. If you’re staying or visiting here, the main game in town is this complex built fairly recently on 14 landscaped acres to service the ships that pull into the pier jutting into the Atlantic. Besides a pool and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, there’s a 45,000-square-foot shopping center with some eateries, T-shirt shops and fairly standard-issue duty-free shopping (jewelry, electronics, booze and so forth). But several little shops are worth a peek, among them the Dizzy Donkey (check out its Potcake Corner, with items benefiting TCI dog rescue, as at Greensleeves on Provo—see below), the Philatelic Bureau (Turks and Caicos stamps are especially varied and collectible) and the Shell Man (no explanation necessary).

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