Secluded Island Resort in the Turks and Caicos Islands Holds on to Traditions of Days Gone By

The Tradition of The Bell

By Susan Clark McBride
LinkedIn Profile

Come to Pine Cay – but leave your driver’s license, shoes, and gadgets at home. Including your watch. After all, a true respite on a remote island means sinking into a place where time is irrelevant.

As a guest at the Meridian Club or in one of the private homes, you’re likely savoring a romantic beach getaway. You can choose to rise with the sun or sleep in. Let your body clock be your guide. Breakfast will likely still be available. And, not to worry, even without knowing precisely what time it is, you won’t miss the morning snorkel excursion or evening movie at Sand Dollar Cinema because you’ll sense guests gathering by the front desk. And of course, you’ll certainly be aware of another blissful day ending as the sun dips below the horizon and a spectacular sunset paints the sky. So relish the fact that for a few precious days or weeks, time is not in control – you are.

Don’t even fret about being late for any of the Meridian Club’s gourmet meals, as a charming tradition of Pine Cay is the timely ringing of “The Bell.”

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A substantial metal rendition, the Bell at the Meridian Club stands firmly and proudly on a step leading from the sand path to the front entrance of the main building. The Bell is a fixture of the island, a reflection of the low-tech culture and beloved part of Pine Cay history. In one sense, an interesting artifact. In another, a practical tool.

At approximately 1 PM and 7:30 PM, headwaiter Wesley Handfield heads purposely down the walkway to call guests to lunch and dinner – “approximate” because the chef, kitchen crew and dining room staff must deem all is ready and up to Pine Cay standards before he can perform this important twice-daily ritual. When the time is right, Wesley firmly rings the Bell with a metal spike, setting off a series of 20 or so sharp pings that resonate throughout the Club grounds and beyond. This soon-to-be-familiar signal means it’s time for you to toss on a cover-up or t-shirt and meander to lunch or finish your cocktail and stroll to dinner. But don’t rush. You’re on Pine Cay.

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Those of us who’ve been coming to the island since the beginning of its “civilization” can’t remember where the Bell came from or exactly when the tradition of ringing the Bell began. The Bell has simply “always been,” serving a practical, thoughtful purpose. As original homeowners explored and settled, communal meals at the Club created an important connection point. The unique and lovely island resort was taking shape and its important culture being discussed and established. Lunch and dinner were not to be missed. The Bell brought us together to compare notes, make decisions, and regale over the latest adventures in paradise.

We love the fact that the Bell’s been gathering everyone since the early ’70s. It’s more than just a pretty face and so much nicer than checking your watch.

Read More:

Don’t just take our word for it; the bell makes an impression on everyone who visits the island. Read the article which appeared in Uncommon Caribbean.

Yoga Classes Enhance The Meridian Club Experience

Secluded Island Resort in Turks & Caicos Welcomes Weekly Yoga Sessions with Laura Mensen

Guests of The Meridian Club on Pine Cay may now participate in weekly yoga sessions every Wednesday morning. Yoga on Pine Cay sessions will be guided by Laura Mensen, Yoga Instructor, and students can expect to experience a warm and caring yoga class that is both informative and precise as well as liberating and free flowing.

09“In Class my wish is for students to let go of EGO and find inner awareness and move consciously – listening to your body and respecting where it is at on any given day at any given time,” she states.

Laura encourages inner awareness and presence of mind during her classes as well as light hearted humor and constructive humility. Her philosophy on yoga is, “that it is a life practice with an infinite amount of teachings and lessons – it is much more than “asana” – which are the postures we do in a class.” Students may also choose the option of hands-on assists during classes to both encourage healing and provide guidance through postures and movements.

09Yoga is much more than a physical practice on the mat, but a life practice that guides you to be a better person in body, mind and spirit. Laura encourages her students to practice yoga on and off the mat.

08For more details, click here.

Yoga on Pine Cay

Yoga on Pine Cay classes will be held early morning in the lounge, with astounding endless beach views at a cost of $20. Guests are asked to register for upcoming sessions in the lobby and to dress comfortably for yoga practice.

About Laura Mensen

10Laura began the practice of yoga alongside her father over 15 years ago. She completed her 200 hour training through The Barkan Method School of Hot Yoga, Fort Lauderdale, FL in 2008 and recently graduated from her 500 hour yoga training through the Asheville Yoga Center in Asheville, NC.

As a former Spa Therapist, Laura believes in the healing powers of touch. She has been teaching group classes and private one-on-one sessions, as well as facilitating Wellness Retreats in the Turks and Caicos Islands for over 5 years. As a long-time resident of the Turks and Caicos, Laura is thrilled to be able to share yoga and wellness with her community.

In addition to living, teaching, and constantly learning yoga, Laura is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, offering nutrition consulting on island and abroad. She also has a small juicing business delivering fresh made green juices to on island residents at their workplace.

Laura is a lifelong student to yoga as there is always so much to learn and she invites everyone she meets to give it a try. Her response to those who say they “can’t do Yoga” is “if you can breath and you can focus your attention, even if only for a second, you can do Yoga.”

In wellness,

Namaste

Snorkeling Adventures in the Turks & Caicos

Healthy, thriving reefs around Pine Cay are a wonderful way to explore Caribbean marine life

It’s another beautiful morning on Pine Cay, and after a hearty breakfast which includes the famous breakfast burrito, we contemplate our options for the day’s activities.  Today is a perfectly calm day.  The glassy ocean beckons.  Before we can change our minds – and instead pick up a book in favor of lounging at our private beachfront tiki – we decide that we cannot pass up the opportunity to go out on the daily snorkeling trip.

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Driving along the sandy road in the battery-operated golf cart, the heat announces itself in earnest and we are anxious to find relief in the cool waters off Pine Cay.

We quickly pick out our masks, snorkels and fins from the large selection available at the Marina and board the Reef Runner.  Captain Raymond, a 30+ year ocean veteran, briefs us on the safety features of the boat and welcomes us to another glorious day of snorkeling in the colorful reefs off Pine Cay.  Off we go!

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The Reef Runner skims across the pale blue-green water, past the 3 pelicans hunting at the homeowners’ dock and heads toward the open ocean.  We speed past the bank of white sand at Fort George Cay, taking in the startling postcard-perfect contrast between the powdery sand and the crystalline waters.

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Less than 15-minutes away await The Gardens, a vibrant carpet of sponge, boulder and brain corals that are the playground for a fantastic assortment of fish.  Once the anchor is lowered, Captain Raymond instructs us on the current flow, reminds us where we should swim and cautions us against swimming too close to the coral lest we cause any damage.  With instructions completed he lowers the stairs, tosses in the safety ring and tells us to enjoy.

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We need no further incentive to jump in.  The clear water is just the soothing balm we are seeking to cool off from the heat.  And within seconds we are off exploring the myriad of fish and corals.  It is quickly apparent why snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos Islands is such a delight.

Schools of fish go by in shimmering curtains; the corals appear to be breathing as tiny fish dart in and out of the colorful globes.  All around the hazy light and the buoyant waters cocoon us in a mesmerizing underwater adventure park.  There’s so much to left to see yet it’s so fascinating to hover over one area and simply lose oneself in this little section of The Gardens.  We bob around for a while before venturing further afield, every once in a while coming up to check our bearings.

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We see Angelfish, Surgeonfish, and small Barracuda; there is a breathtaking array of fish around us and countless, brightly colored ones we can’t identify.   We are hoping to see some rays but that may have to wait for another day.

We return to the Reef Runner feeling quite satisfied with our adventure and glance over the fish charts to see if we can identify any more fish, but our limited knowledge about ocean life and our fish-like memories leave something to be desired.

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As we head back to the Pine Cay Marina, the breeze drying our hair and suits we take in the serene vistas along our course.  The Meridian Club is home for another 5 nights.  Weather permitting we will be back out tomorrow morning to look for rays.

Private Island with Airport

For guests of The Meridian Club

The snorkel boat leaves the Marina around 10:30am each morning and is a wonderful way for guests at The Meridian Club to experience the beauty of the waters around Pine Cay and to enjoy the brilliant marine life with an experienced Captain.  If you are interested in joining the daily excursion simply add your name to the list in the reception area and head down to the marina where your boat awaits.

Where do you go to find the Best Beach in the World?

The Beach on Pine Cay

By Susan Clark McBride
LinkedIn Profile

The beach on Pine Cay is breathtaking. The well-traveled say as lovely as any in the world.

As with most islands, Pine Cay is ringed by sand that’s suede-like and soft, a texture that’s almost impossible to feel. Azure blue waters ebb and flow rhythmically at this Caribbean coastline – widening, narrowing, defining a two-mile sliver.

Private Island with Airport
Unlike most islands, however, the beach at Pine Cay is undeveloped, unpopulated, devoid of structures and patterned with few footprints other than your own. For decades, the group of homeowners who collectively decide how the island evolves are making sure it stays that way. Guests of The Meridian Club on Pine Cay are the beneficiaries.

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Depending on time of day and point of view, the beach is often one’s introduction to the ocean. Saunter across and let it launch you into the water. And then, look back. Savor the beauty of this stretch of sand, whose arms reach toward Providenciales and beyond Sand Dollar Point. It’s a remarkable view.

Private Island Resort

Pristine, cream-colored, miniscule, and innumerable, these grains of sand welcome star fish, sand dollars, shells, and occasional flotsam and jetsam. You never know what you’ll almost step on, what gifts you may receive, what items you’ll toss back. The mystery of each day at the beach centers the fun.

We walk the beach at sunrise to see what’s made its way to the lap-line of the slightly-pitched dune. We might discover something new, like a baby octopus struggling to get back to the depths of its world . . . enjoy the familiar, yet ever-changing variety of shells or land crabs so small they’re easy to miss as they scoot sideways before ducking into their burrows . . . or simply enjoy our stroll.

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Later, having checked the chart at the Club’s front desk to determine the arrival of low tide, we make our way back to Sand Dollar Point. The water may now only be as high as our ankles, perhaps our knees, allowing us to gather sand dollars by the handful. Or maybe not. Mother Nature decides. Things change through the years. And so we may return with arms and pockets laden with treasure or submerge into the sea for another swim.

We end the day watching the setting sun paint the horizon, sand and water – an unforgettable scene that reminds us there likely is no prettier beach than Pine Cay, no better place to be.

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Meet a Pine Cay Homeowner

Sallie Adams McBride – A Passion for Travel

By Susan Clark McBride
LinkedIn Profile

In the seventh grade, a young girl living in rural Virginia read an article in the travel section of the Sunday newspaper about the life of a “stewardess.” Intrigued with the possibility, upon graduation from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia in the spring of 1949, she applied to and was hired by Pan American Airways. A Spanish major fluent in the language, she completed training, donned a blue uniform, white gloves, and pillbox hat and spent two years flying from the East Coast of the U.S. to and throughout Latin America. Still today, her favorite destinations include Rio and Buenos Aires.

Sallie McBride 1949 Pan American Airways

Sallie McBride in 1949 with Pan American Airways

In the 1950s, flight attendants often stopped work when they married, certainly when they had children. So, pregnant with her first child in 1951, she stopped serving Pan Am passengers and doing the work she so enjoyed – but never let go of her love of travel.

Her name is Sallie Adams McBride. She and her husband George are among the original founders and homeowners on Pine Cay. The McBrides also owned and managed the Turks Head Inn on Grand Turk. When not in the Turks and Caicos, which to this day Sallie enjoys for weeks and months at a time, her personal travel adventures have taken her to most every continent, dozens of countries, and almost all 50 states.

Sallie and George circa 197070

Sallie and George on Pine Cay circa 1970

Sallie McBride’s childhood may have begun in rural Virginia – but the world soon became her “oyster” or, perhaps, her “conch shell.” If you’re in the Turks and Caicos when Sallie is “a belonger,” be sure to ask her to tell some global adventure stories and tales of decades on Pine Cay. She has much to tell.

Sallie McBride on Pine Cay today

Sallie McBride on Pine Cay today

We Miss You Too: “Wish You Were Here”

We are so pleased to release our new video of our unique part of the world, entitled “Wish You Were Here”. We think it does a wonderful job capturing the magic of Pine Cay and The Meridian Club.

It is our hope that watching this video will bring back cherished memories of your time with us, and perhaps even entice you to consider joining us again in the future… ;-)

Please, feel free to leave your comments and feedback. Enjoy!

Dining on a Caribbean Island

World Class Chef Takes the Reins at The Meridian Club

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay is a unique destination in the Turks and Caicos Islands. With only 13 beachfront bungalows and some 30 homes, an unbelievable white-sand beach stretching for 2-miles and many features which are reminiscent of simpler times, the island guarantees an almost spiritual vacation. Eco-friendly infrastructure throughout the island means that there are no unnecessary buildings or wasted resources. But it also means that there is just one restaurant on the island…and so it had better be good!

Shane Coffey, Executive Chef

“It’s isolated, but it’s a good spot for me,” says Executive Chef and culinary wizard, Shane Coffey. For a man who has lived in the spotlight at some of the most popular restaurants in New York and Colorado, it may appear to some that he has turned his back on his rise to stardom as a celebrated chef in exchange for running a compact kitchen, on a secluded island, literally in the middle of nowhere.

Shane Coffey, Executive Chef at The Meridian Club, Pine Cay, Turks and CaicosBut herein lies the difference. Shane doesn’t think he has given up all that much. “I’m really lucky! I love my job,” he confirms enthusiastically, “It’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had!”

Born in Ohio 44 years ago, Shane played college football, earned a degree in economics from the University of Cincinnati and began his career running a multi-million dollar technology company in the field of voice over fiber optics. Hardly the resume for an aspiring chef.

“I’d been working in restaurants and bars since I was 15 years old,” he explains when asked about the 180 degree shift in his interest. “After 7 years in technology I decided to go to culinary school,” he states.

An Adventurous Culinary Career

Shane graduated from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, and shortly after, in 2003, took over as Executive Chef at Alias on New York’s Lower East Side. “It was a turnaround exercise,” he describes with just a hint of pride in his voice, “we had some nights without a single cover when I first started. Within the time I was there we had lineups and had become immensely popular.”

On the tails of this successful venture, Shane suddenly picked up and left New York in 2007. “I saw an ad in Craigslist for a restaurant in Aspen, and pursued it,” he laughs. This spontaneous move proved to be another successful adventure for Shane, who landed the role as the Executive Chef at Lulu Wilson in Aspen. “We had 90 seats and did 250 to 300 covers a night!” And once again, Chef Coffey executed a brilliant turnaround by bringing to the table as much locally-sourced, organic and antibiotic free items as he could find. “It wasn’t as easy as shopping in New York where I could jump in a cab and shop at the farmer’s market in Union Square, but we were very selective about our ingredients and made sure we had a viable supply.”

In 2010, Shane made the move to Pine Cay. “When I heard about an opening at The Meridian Club, I was intrigued,” he explains. “I knew the pastry chef from culinary school and felt like I was ready for another change.”

Within a few months, Shane had accepted the position as Executive Chef on the isolated, 800-acre island in the string of cays and islets which make up the Turks and Caicos. “It was a challenge right from the get go. Meal planning became very difficult and the average grocery shop would take 4 hours assuming I had the order in the night before!” There is no local produce on Pine Cay and all ingredients except for fish have to be brought over by boat from Providenciales. “This was shopping on a whole different level than I had ever experienced.”

If you haven’t already gathered, Chef Coffey doesn’t shy away from challenges. He leaps into them feet first and embraces them tightly with intention and passion. He admits that this role at The Meridian Club is the most challenging he’s ever had, but it’s the challenges that continue to inspire him. “As long as I’m becoming a better chef, then I’m happy,” he says more seriously, “I am inspired by the inherent difficulties of practicing my craft on a deserted island. I am constantly inspired to see my kitchen staff develop the skills that I had taken for granted in New York and Colorado.”

Dining at The Meridian Club – A “Tasting” Sensation

Shane has changed the way people dine at The Meridian Club. As his kitchen team became more skilled and practiced, Shane experimented with his menu. “I can demand more from my team, and I can put out the quality of ingredients and flavors that our guests should expect from our restaurant,” he explains. “It all takes time and patience and it is immeasurably rewarding.”

Guests at The Meridian Club will enjoy a five-course tasting menu about 5 days of the week when dinner takes place in the dining room. Entree choices are made at lunch time from the dinner menu list provided on a blackboard in the dining room.

Sample Dinner Menu

    • Pan Seared Scallop – roasted cauliflower, smoky tomato broth, lime butter
    • Strawberry Salad – ricotta, fried caper, balsamic, arugula
    • Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce-parmesan, rosemary
    • Choice of
      • Grilled Snapper – corn puree, salsa, lime vinaigrette
      • Truffle Potato Ravioli in Pesto -green bean, lemon zest
      • Beef Tenderloin -caramelized red onion jam, asparagus
    • Dessert a la carte

“My food is not pretentious or overly-spiced to mask the fresh flavors. My goal is to showcase the ingredients and let each plate be its own unique experience to my guest,” he explains. This goal he achieves in spades. And while Shane may be reluctant sing his own praises, guests will be sure to crow about their foodie experience. Shane is a perfectionist and he takes pleasure in elevating the ingredients he uses. There are no extraneous ingredients on his plates, and those which are selected are as harmonious to the eye as they are to the palate.

A Salad to Beat all Others?

Speaking of his standout characteristics – unpretentious and spontaneous – Chef Coffey tells a story of a particular dinner service at Alias when the kitchen ran out of Brussels sprouts for its signature mid-course, complimentary dish.

To Shane, guests expecting the mouth watering combination of Parmesan cheese and Brussels sprouts would still be taken care of…but with what? In a stroke of brilliance – some may call it luck; others an accident – Chef Coffey finely chopped market fresh kale chiffonade-style, and added olive oil, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. To offset the bitterness of the kale, he added raisins. And still not quite satisfied, he tossed in some untoasted pine nuts. Well, the result was incredible. The mid-course complimentary salad was an instant hit. Word got out and guests began to request it as a dish unto itself!

Kale Salad | Meridian Club, Pine Cay, Turks and CaicosThank goodness you don’t have to imagine what this ingenious salad tastes like. Guests at The Meridian Club enjoy Kale Salad during the buffet lunch service and sometimes it will make an appearance at dinner. Delicious and wildly original, this salad speaks volumes about its creator.

When you are at The Meridian Club, don’t expect to see Chef Coffey fraternizing among the guests. He is usually occupied behind the scenes, and generally prefers to stay out of the limelight, save for a quick shy hello.

But if want to know him…it’s all right there in front of you on the plate. That is Chef Coffey.

What makes Pine Cay in the Turks & Caicos such a Special Destination?

Pine Cay
Barefoot Perfect

By Susan Clark McBride
LinkedIn Profile

Pine Cay was part of my husband John’s dowry and we’ve been spending time there for 35 years. For our children, Sam and Meredith, going to “the island” is like going to the proverbial cabin in Wisconsin, albeit a little warmer, farther down the road, and anchored with activities based on sand and sea.

There are no cars, a single restaurant and bar, and one small gift shop with shirts, flip flops and a few other sand dollar logoed selections. So unless you crave traffic and congestion, are compelled to wonder and decide where to wine and dine each day, or simply must satisfy your inner shopaholic, consider Pine Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Located southeast of the Bahamian archipelago, the Turks and Caicos are part of the British Commonwealth and comprise a string of islands, islets and cays in the Atlantic Ocean on the border of the Caribbean Sea. Some believe Christopher Columbus made landfall in the Turks and Caicos Islands on his second trip to the New World. Perhaps the fresh water lakes on Pine Cay filled his water barrels. Perhaps the cannons discovered underwater at the north end of the isle stood tall at the British fort during the 1400s to prevent pirates from invading. Whatever its history, Pine Cay is 800 acres of barefoot perfect. So kick off your shoes and join us.

Apart from a settlement of Taino Indians, likely dating to the 11th century, Pine Cay had no permanent population until the 1970s, when a small group of adventurers, including my in-laws, discovered a place featuring coral gardens teeming with marine life perfect for diving and fishing, and so built their houses and the Meridian Club. Today, a limited group of individuals from around the world own the properties and oversee management of the Club, an environmentally sensitive resort ideally suited for those seeking an unspoiled, upscale, unpretentious retreat.

Guests at the Meridian Club, which serves as the social center and features a gourmet restaurant and lounge, max out the 12 guestrooms and separate “Sand Dollar Cottage” with 26 occupants. Of the 36 homes that dot the island, several are available to rent. All totaled, at the height of holiday season, often a reunion time for members through the decades, perhaps 200 or so club guests, homeowners and Meridian Club staff (who quickly become as familiar as family) are “on island.” Once you are – what to do? Or . . . better yet, what “to don’t?”

After what’s inevitably a long travel day regardless of where your journey began (it takes awhile to get to paradise), our 40-year tradition is to toss our bags in the house, rush on our swimsuits and run into the ocean. Refreshing and welcoming, the unending crystal clear water and stretch of beach are vivid reminders of why a few choose Pine Cay and why we always come back. The two-mile beach that leads to Sand Dollar Point, the inspiration behind the Meridian Club logo, is untouched but by nature. The pristine, cream-colored sand is so soft your toes barely feel it. Myriad hues of turquoise and azure blue paint the ocean – which often settles into a placid and warm state to serve as a soothing bath, but sometimes features white-capped wave tips to provide a brisk, refreshing splash. Either way, dive in. You’ll always remember and never regret that moment.

Offshore, miles of undisturbed barrier reefs and waters surrounding Pine Cay contain a remarkable variety of marine habitats. High drop-offs and tidal flats are often but yards apart. Coral, grass and mangrove communities make the area particularly interesting for marine biologists and the ocean hosts many yet-unidentified species. Thanks to the diversity of habitats and variety of species, fishing is superb – both deep sea and the elusive bonefish. Spear guns are prohibited and there are relatively few divers, so the marine life thrives and is not “shy.” Snorkelers and divers obey the mantra: “Take only pictures, kill only time, leave only bubbles.” Fish, corals, sponges, and fans in unimaginable numbers are found in water six to 15 feet deep, offering opportunity for outstanding underwater photography. Try the leeward side of the island, where the water is almost always calm.

Surrounding waters, at a pleasant 75° – 80° Fahrenheit, teem with marine life. Underwater visibility often exceeds 100 feet and miles of coral gardens are within a five-minute boat ride from the dock. Pine Cay is a pristine natural habitat with vast open space and seven freshwater ponds. It’s a perfect habitat for the abundant local fauna and flora. It’s also ideal for Caribbean fishing trips.

Settle your business before you “reach” Pine Cay and enjoy the liberation of being unplugged. Internet availability is limited to a small footprint surrounding the Meridian Club’s common area. Mobile phones are prohibited in public, frowned upon in private. If you require daily news, a mini New York Times is printed and placed near the front desk each morning. Read and return so it can be reused and recycled, even if you completed the crossword. No one will mind.

Even during “high season,” the beach rarely has footprints other than yours, the tennis court is often open for the taking, and the sailboats, kayaks and paddle boards are free to enjoy. Prefer to read a book by the pool or under a tiki hut with the sea as a backdrop? There are plenty of places to plop down, crack a cover, and nap between chapters. Remember your sunscreen; you’re close to the equator. Other daily activities involve snorkels and masks, fishing poles, fat-tire bikes, conversations with new friends from around the world, jigsaw puzzles, dominoes, and complete R&R.

A nine-hole beach “golf course” couples handmade mini-golf creativity with 360-degree sand traps and unending view of the ocean. Choose the wedge and putter, maybe a 7 iron and, since you’re barefoot (highly likely, even when dressed up for dinner), watch out for sand burrs. If you do get one, pull it out and carry on.

Wednesday evenings include features at Sand Dollar Cinema, as the airstrip on the island transforms into an outdoor movie theater. Residents and guests arrive in golf carts as soon as it’s dark to watch a “short.” Faulty Towers, Hogan’s Heroes, and Gilligan’s Island are among the favorites played after the sun goes down and before the dinner bell rings (waiters ring the bell to announce lunch and dinner; it’s charming). This will be your only encounter with mass media; there are no televisions at the Club. There are one or two tucked away in the private homes, but no one’s telling . . . and they’re tough to find, as the satellite dishes are camouflaged.

Remember to take time to relax and chat with guests and homeowners on the upstairs deck at the club during cocktail hour. If the sun sets on a day when clouds don’t touch the horizon, you might witness the Green Flash. Decades of trying and I never have, but friends and relatives insist they have. They claim there’s a brilliant splash of green just as the sun dips below the horizon. I’ll never know if it’s real or it’s due to a sip or two of a libation. Either way, the tradition of waiting and watching is delightful.

If you time it right, five or so days after a full moon and about an hour after sunset, you’ll find yourself on a boat sipping rum punch and noshing conch fritters. Get ready. You’re about to witness a phosphorescent mating phenomenon created by glow worms. For about 15 minutes, or about as long as it takes to enjoy your drink, it’s as if stars are falling from the sky, spreading out on the sea. Mystical, whimsical, rarely seen glow worms elicit “oohs” and “aahs” from all those observing the marine firework display from aboard the flat top. The experience also spurs on expected and corny lines about the animal’s momentary state of ecstasy and whether the moment is worthwhile. After all, the male glow worm mates and dies. Think about it.

If you’re still itching for an excursion, charter a boat or plane to Grand Turk and walk through history of the islands and their connection to Christopher Columbus . . . head back to Providenciales, your customs entry point and the bevvy of tourism and business in the Turks and Caicos, to shop and dine . . . or make your way to Little Water Cay and wander down the boardwalks throughout the preserve to catch a glimpse of native iguanas. Keep in mind that you really don’t need to leave the island to see an iguana or two as you stroll, run, or bike on the sandy roads that crisscross the beautiful terrain.

It’s probably best to take a tip from those of us who’ve loved and lived on the island for decades and simply stay put. Instead of thinking of what “to do,” consider what “to don’t.” It doesn’t get any better than Pine Cay. If you do decide to join us, one last tip: Cay is an English term meaning “small island,” and is pronounced “key.” So remember to say it correctly, take off your shoes, and enjoy one of the most extraordinary places in the world. If lack of cars, bars, and shops is what you’re looking for, you’ll fit right in. You’ll also likely come back.

Try, Tri … Again?

Pine Cay Offers Restful Recovery for Resident Triathlete

It seems we have a triathlete in our ranks. Not just your run-of-the-mill “sprint” triathlete, with a mere 1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike and 3 mile run (a race this writer has attempted now and again), but an actual ironman … or in this case ironwoman. We are proud of our resident from Illinois, who managed her first race in what Wikipedia calls the “ultra-distance”, with an unfathomable 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike, and then if that isn’t enough, a 26.2 mile run. Merely writing these distances is exhausting enough. So where did she go for some R&R after the race? You guessed it; Pine Cay.

In a brief chat with her earlier this month on-island about the race, she reluctantly talks, and says, it’s “no big deal”. Case in point, she answers questions about her race time in vague terms, so we won’t tell. The discussion was eye opening. We learned there is something called “sympathy training” or more accurately, “sympathy eating”. Her significant other says he gained 8 pounds during her training! She loves Pine Cay for so many obvious reasons but her favorite thing about the secluded private island is the perfect beach.

When asked if she will return to Madison, Wisconsin again in 2014, her reply, with a curious smile, “right now I am just enjoying the fact that I don’t have to train.”

So, she paddles boards all day…

The Amorous Dance of the Turks and Caicos Islands

Love is in the “Water” with this unique monthly mating ritual off the coast of Providenciales

It’s a sight to behold, and not just because it’s impossible to take photographs.

Each month, just like clockwork, glow worms perform a scintillating mating ritual shortly after sunset. Based on the lunar cycle, this amorous exhibition takes place 5 nights after a full moon and last only 15 minutes. But it’s quite the spectacle to behold.

The tiny female glow worm (odontosyllis enopla) releases a glowing egg mass that is fertilized by the male in a sparkling ballet just below the water’s surface. The mesmerizing display is soon over and the male glow worm, having completed his microscopic opus dies shortly after.

However, the beautiful wash of luminescence, the gentle rocking of the boat and the warm sea air will be a lasting memory of your sunset excursion in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Glow Worm Cruises from The Meridian Club

The Meridian Club, a secluded island resort located on Pine Cay offers sunset cruises to lover’s lane – technically the Caicos Banks – where the miles of 2 ft to 4.5 ft deep waters offer the perfect vantage for the mating ritual. To minimize disruption to this natural phenomenon, flash photography is not to be used.

For 2014, the Glow Worm Cruise Schedule is tentatively scheduled for the following dates:

  • January 21, 2014
  • February 19, 2014
  • March 21, 2014
  • April 20, 2014
  • May 19, 2014
  • June 18, 2014
  • July 17, 2014
  • November 11, 2014
  • December 11, 2014

Travel time: approximately 10 mins to Pine Cay Marina and an additional 10 minutes to the viewing spot

What to expect when you go on the Glow Worm Cruise

In pure Meridian Club tradition, first and foremost, expect to have a good time with some quirkiness thrown in (you are going to watch worms mating after all!).

Don your casual clothes including a light long sleeve tunic/shirt to keep you comfortable as the boat heads out.

Be ready to head out from the Club House 10 minutes after sunset Pine Cay Time (PCT)*. Within 20 minutes you will be at the observation spot where you will be offered hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Here you will enjoy the calm waters, warm breezes and a little bit of Barry White and The Glow Worm Song by the Mills Brother (circa 1957) – we warned you it would be a bit quirky – to get the glow worms in the right mood for their upcoming performance. A good estimate of the wait time is approximately 55 minutes after sunset.

*Daylight Savings is not observed on Pine Cay

How should you schedule your vacation to Pine Cay to see the Glow Worm mating ritual?

If you are a nature buff, or just like to be out on the water enjoying the sunset, and have never experienced this monthly ritual, you should be a part of the Glow Worm Cruise. We suggest that you schedule your stay to include at least one day on either side of the planned excursion dates shown above. For example, if you would like to see the Glow Worm display on May 19th, be sure to book your stay at The Meridian Club to include the nights of the 18th and the 20th as there may be one night of the three which turns out to be better suited to watching the Glow Worms. See the Glow Worm Cruise Schedule for upcoming years.

To book your stay at The Meridian Club during the Glow Worm mating period, please visit our Reservations page.