So I have been on a little hiatus… mainly because I Broke. My. Shoulder! Once again, who does that? I have to be the most accident prone person around. Mark says he is giving up and wrapping me in bubble wrap from now on. It still isn’t fully healed, but I have returned to work and I can type with both hands now which is a major plus!
I was in the middle of telling you all about our summer cruise excursions and I am anxious to get back to that. Our first stop on the 8 day part of our cruise was Grand Turk. We had never been there before and we excited because we loved seeing all the pictures where the beach was right off the boat!
This is totally a port where you do not have to book an excursion if you don't want too. You literally walk down the pier and you are on the beach. For the Main Dining Room Fashion Police.... pictured above are Beach Flip Flops... They come with sand. Don't wear them to eat dinner.
One of Mark’s dreams has always been to ride horses along the beach, so I started looking at the excursions. I found one offered by Carnival and I found another that was offered by a private company. I started comparing the reviews of both. Price wise the private excursion was about $15 per person cheaper. Carnival does have the excursion guarantee where if you find something for a cheaper price than they have it, they will honor the other price. The problem is... they can't compete with the quality. From reading the reviews it seemed like with the Carnival excursion you were only able to ride the horses in the ocean for around 5 minutes. The private company offered longer “actual beach” riding times. For that reason, we booked with the private company.
We booked with Sunset Rides and Tours. It was $85 for adults and $70 for children. They accepted all riding levels. You filled out a questionnaire online when you booked with each riders weight and riding skill level. Trenton and his friend were 12 had never ridden a horse and they did just fine. Better than me, in fact, and I have ridden a horse many of times.
If you go with this excursion you must walk outside of the terminal area, pass the taxi’s and through the parking lot. At the corner of the parking lot you will see a little sand and shell path. You follow it out to the main road.
There were people there renting scooters. Just a little past them we saw the guys with the horses. There they assessed our riding expertise (or lack thereof) and sizes and placed us on appropriate horses.
The guides did speak English, but it was with a very thick accent and kind of fast. Being from Texas, we probably caught every 4th or 5th word. The horses looked pretty skinny. I wished I had smuggled some apples off the ship for them.... they seemed healthy enough, but I guess everything is bigger in Texas. We have a horse pasture behind our house and there are some pretty hefty horses back there. Probably doesn't hurt that we are always hanging over the fence with apples and carrots though.
We began our ride through town and then down on the beach. The main guide said my horse was known for trying to walk faster than everyone else. I think that was a lie. He kept leading me off the road and into trees. I kept pulling him back up on the road. The guide kept saying “control the horse”… I thought that is what I was doing… he just wasn’t listening. We didn’t seem to have good communication at all. but we did seem to have an equal amount of stubbornness. He finally got so pissed at me he just flat out stopped. I don't think he was confused.... I just don't think he liked being told what to do. The guide came back and got me and the horse started walking again, but from that point on it was at a granny pace. I know he was thinking "Fine, I'll walk, but I'm not going.... any.... faster.... than.... this...." More than once everyone stopped and waited for "Pokey" and Me to catch up. He saw when this was happening and walked even slower … if that was at all possible.
We saw the Carnival excursion and they were on the beach very close to the ship. We were able to ride quite a ways through town. We ended up on the same beach, but much farther away from the crowds. Matter of fact, we were the only people down that far which was really nice. At least from my vantage point in the back of the pack, I got some good pictures. I had nothing else to do back there while walking at a turtle's pace.
The water was spectacular. I could not believe the color. In all the places we have traveled, I would have to say, this was the most beautiful. In fact, Mark and I are always scouting out the islands and trying to figure out where we are going to live one day and he has not stopped looking. This is his view. We rode down to an abandoned house where they gave us a chance to get off the horses, apply sunscreen and get ready to go into the water. Mark started looking for a real estate sign and even came home and tried to Google it because he has decided we are purchasing this house.
I felt safe leaving our things because literally, we were the only ones around. One guide came into the water with us to lead the horses and the other stayed on the beach with my camera. He probably took over 100 pictures which was fantastic! It gave us lots to choose from. We rode back and forth in the ocean for quite a while then back up on the beach to dry off and change.
The boys played in the water some and we just relaxed while they took care of the horses until they said it was time to start heading back. We rode back through town to the starting point. We passed the Carnival excursion again and they had different riders this time, so I felt like we had made the right decision.
All 4 of us agreed this was the best excursion of the entire trip. The boys LOVED it! The water was amazing and I felt like we had good time on the horses and got our money's worth. The guides were very nice, kept us safe, and patiently answered all of our questions. I would recommend this excursion and this company if you are making your way to Grand Turk. We were there in July and I was concerned it would be too hot, but it was very pleasant. I'll leave you with a picture of me and "Pokey".