Conch Culture: A Fascinating and Sustainable Food…and much more
Curious about this creature called the Conch? Why not spend the day enjoying all things conch (pronounced “konk”) in the Caicos Islands?
A morning visit to the Caicos Conch Farm is the perfect introduction to this creature which is such a symbol of Turks and Caicos culture that it has been shown on its stamps. Located at Heaving Down Rock, at the end of the Leeward Highway, Providenciales, the Caicos Conch Farm is the only place in the world where conch are commercially produced. The farm’s mission is to give conch the best possible start and growth process. The tour is 30-minutes long and allows you to see the operation and learn about the life cycle of the conch up close and personal. If you have children with you, there will be a chance for them to hold young conchs. There’s even Show & Tell time with live conchs Sally and Jerry.
Said one woman, “we enjoyed the guided tour; this place makes me smile.”
But the farm isn’t just about educating and entertaining tourists, its commitment is to protect the queen conch from further exploitation and to give back to the Providenciales and the Turks and Caicos community by providing jobs and education.
“This place is totally worth the visit,” commented one visitor, “it’s promoting sustainable marine farming”.
A Perfect Caribbean Lunch
The conch, you see, is the backbone of the island’s economy. There is a worldwide demand for it. It is a delicacy known for its versatility in cuisine. You’d be hard pressed to find any restaurant on Providenciales that doesn’t include it somewhere on the menu. So after your morning excursion, enjoy some conch fritters for lunch at Bugaloo’s. Off the beaten track, this restaurant is a top spot if you’re looking for Caribbean conch. Even first-time conch tasters are impressed.
One tourist remarked, “My husband and I started with the Conch Fritters. We had never had conch before and I have to admit, I was unsure. But they were fantastic!”
As well as providing great food, Bugaloo’s invites you into the Caicos culture. There’s live music and tourists can enjoy dancing and mixing with the locals to the calypso and reggae beats.
As one visitor exclaimed, “Sometimes life can’t get any better! Maybe a bit of Bugaloo’s time it just what’s needed.”
After a delightful lunch, you can enjoy some time beach combing or shopping for a conch to take home as a reminder of your Providenciales experience. While you might discover one on the beach, they are for sale at the Caicos Conch Farm, Da Conch Shack as well as other island shops. Conch shells are exquisite, but there are regulations in place to protect these treasures. It is illegal to take any shells from any national park in the islands where plant and marine life are protected. Conch shells cannot be taken off the islands during the breeding period from July 15th to October 16th and outside of that period permits are needed to remove more than three shells.
Given the restrictions and challenges with removing conch, one of Stanford Handfield’s creations might just be a solution for you. Born on Providenciales, Handfield is passionate about shells. He transforms these natural resources into exquisite works of art such as night lights, decorative bowls, plant holders, soda glasses and designer jewellery. Anna’s Art Gallery in the Salt Mills Plaza on Grace Bay Road is an excellent spot to purchase Handfield’s products. Or you can visit the Tiki Hut Restaurant at Turtle Cove or Ocean Club Gift Shop at Grace Bay.
Bid Adieu to you Day of Conch
After your day’s tour and shopping adventures, you’ll be more than ready to relax at the popular Da Conch Shack. This open air spot, located on Blue Hills Beach, is a mecca for conch. It’s fresh cuisine. The conch is harvested and prepared right on site. And there are dishes for all kinds of tastes such as conch fritters, conch ceviche, cracked conch and conch salad.
One diner commented, “Didn’t know you can cook conch in so many ways.”
Said another, “…the food is so good; I wish I was eating it right now!”
For those of you who’ve been lucky enough to enjoy this delicacy, you know the conch is more than just a wonderful example of Caribbean cuisine; it’s a delicious symbol of Turks and Caicos culture.