Having already experienced the other five (incredible) National Heritage Sites protected by the Turks and Caicos National Trust (“TCNT”), I had low expectations for my final expedition. Could an hour-long trek through the bushes in Providenciales’ Leeward area possibly compare to the glorious history of Salt Cay, North Caicos’ Wade’s Green Plantation, Provo’s Cheshire Hall, or the natural wonderment of the Conch Bar Caves and Little Water Cay? After more than a little convincing from my editor, I decided to give the Bird Rock Point Heritage Fields Trail a try.
With squinted eyes and an arched eyebrow skeptically aimed at the welcome sign practically obscuring a gap-in-the-bush entrance to the trail, I fended off the sudden urge to head to the beach instead. Swallowed up by a canopy of coppice vegetation, the cool calm of the natural world transported me into an unexpectedly serene environment. That instant shift in energy from passing traffic and barking Potcakes, to the chirping soundtrack of unseen birds sheltered by a shaded wood perked my optimism that perhaps the next hour wouldn’t be so underwhelming.
Setting off onto the clearly cut trail enveloped by dense wild greenery, a carefully placed rock painted with a white arrow pointed ahead encouragingly.
The endorphin release of climbing steep lifts on a path and the perfume of Christmas vines and wild orchids relaxed me, suspending any awareness of a scheduled time to complete the hike. Rounding deeper bends that revealed ever more curiously shaped flora, my reluctant trudging progressed into a journey as gleeful as Dorothy’s trip down the yellow brick road. I found myself inspecting the pointy prickles of giant cacti that reminded me of some old forest hermit in a C.S. Lewis novel. Tiny fledgling birds and monarch butterflies swirled around me (yes, really – it’s like they haven’t seen humans before) accompanying me for whole sections of my walk. Having such animated residents come out from the trail’s green curtains really made me appreciate what hiking is all about.
Thoreau found contented peace in such natural simplicities and companions amongst the same whimsical creatures that accompanied me down the trail. A butterfly flew just ahead of me for almost a quarter of a mile, stopping to observe me periodically while flaunting its extravagantly painted wings, seemingly emboldened by my verbal admiration of them. “Stop talking to forest creatures Dom,” I laughed at myself, thoroughly enjoying myself by that time.
As the path went on, faint glimpses of ocean blue appeared on the horizon above vast clearings that quickly disappeared into thicker brush leading into higher and rockier terrain. When the drip, drip patterns of a passing rain cloud started, I hid beneath the protective fronds of a silver thatch palm tree that kept me dry like a bush umbrella. As I sat there, totally unrushed, actually grateful for a quiet moment to meditate, it reminded me of that famous quote by Bob Marley, “Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.”
Breathing in the deeply therapeutic aroma of fresh petrichor, I thanked the silvery fronds for their umbrage before continuing along my way. As I approached a rocky causeway that led across a mangrove wetland, “Aha,” I thought, “A challenge!”
The moment I victoriously set foot on dry land after making the hop-scotch crossing, I froze at the sight of something paralyzing in its majesty. A Great Blue Heron perched elegantly above me, making good on the trail’s eponymous name and reputation for fantastic bird watching. We took our time observing one another before he flew off and I moved on, amazed by our silent exchange.
As the sound of the ocean gave way to the sight of it, I arrived invigorated at the pinnacle of my hike, mildly embarrassed that I had ever doubted it could be so gratifying. Taking rest on the limestone cliffs of Provo’s most extreme eastern point, I took in the ocean view of Bird Rock cay, one of six uniquely stunning jewels in the crown of the TCNT’s National Heritage Sites.
Located at the southeastern-most point of Providenciales, the national heritage site showcases a plethora of flora & fauna.
With low-lying coastal coppice vegetation, small sandy coves and mangrove habitats, Bird Rock Point is a true nature lover’s paradise.
The approximately 111-acre site provides a welcome habitat for a variety of native wildlife, including the Reddish Egret.
if you go
Bird Rock Point Heritage Field is located on Providenciales at the East end of the Leeward Highway near Heaving Down Rock. It is ideal for walkers and hikers, offering an alternative to beaches and water-based activities within a short distance of the main resorts. For directions, inquiries and information on all Heritage Sites, visit the National Trust website:
Story & photos: Dominique Rolle/Caya Hico Media