That old adage that when you have seen one rock in the seas or oceans, you have seen them all does not apply to the Caribbeans. Each island nation or country in the Caribbean is uniquely different. The culture, heritage, and flavor of the food, and the method of cooking the food set each island apart from its neighbor. One island may have been influenced by Spain, France, England, while another may have been influenced by the Netherlands, or Dutch; however, they all have a Taino, Carib, Arawak, Chiboney, who are the indigenous people of the Caribbeans, and a African infusion. The indigenous people traditions, and those of the West Africans who were brought to the Caribbeans as slaves to work the sugar cane fields left and indelible and still have an undeniable impact on the Caribbeans. A blending of the indigenous people, the Africans, and some of the flavors of Europe make the Caribbean an exotic, must see, must do vacation area. Now I can not speak for all of the Islands of the Caribbeans, only those that I have visited, such as: The Bahamas,The Caymans, Barbados,The U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, ST. Lucia, ST. Maarten/ST.Martin, Antigua, Grenada, Puerto Rico, and Cozumel, Mexico. I worked on a school project for fifteen days in ST.Kitts/Nevis, for the military. I also worked for fifteen days on a road and school project in Su Nombre es Jesus Cristo near the former Howard Air Force Base in Panama for the military. If by chance you have the opportunity to go to the Caribbeans on a cruise, or take an all inclusive Apple or Sandals Resort Vacation I would strongly suggest that you take some common sense and get out and about, away from the safe and sanitized confinement of the cruise ship or resort and get a taste and feel of the real Caribbean.The Caribbeans has something for everyone. There is swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, yachting, sailing, beaches, shopping, night clubs, nature hikes, museums, historic sites, food, food galore, and some of the best rum and rum punch in the world. As for the music, you can dance and party on down, shake what your mama gave you at carinval, or sit back and relax to the sounds of reggae, dance hall, soca, calypso, junkanoo, merengue, steel bands, soul, jazz and blues. Now, here is what the tour guide books say of a few select islands and places of the Caribbeans.
Old San Juan,Puerto Rico This is a 465-year-old neighborhood originally conceived as a military stronghold. Its 7-square-block area has evolved into a charming residential and commercial district. The streets here are paved with cobbles of adoquine, a blue stone cast from furnace slag; they were brought over a ballast on Spanish ships and time and moisture have lent them their characteristic color. The city includes more than 400 carefully restored 16th- and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings. The Old San Juan attracts many tourists, who also enjoy the gambling casinos, fine beaches, and tropical climate. More tourists visit San Juan each year than any other spot in the Caribbean. A leisurely foot tour is advisable for those who really want to experience this bit of the Old World, especially given the narrow, steep streets and frequently heavy traffic. To really do justice to these wonderful old sites, you’ll need two mornings or a full day.
Old San Juan has several plazas: Plaza de San José is a favorite meeting place for young and old alike. At its center stands the bronze statue of Ponce de León, made from a British cannons captured during Sir Ralph Abercromby’s attack in 1797. The plaza is skirted by a number of historic buildings.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica The name “Ocho Rios” has two possible origins: it is either a direct translation from Spanish meaning “eight rivers” or an adulteration of “las chorreras” (the spouts), reflecting the large number of waterfalls in the area. Ocho Rios is located in St. Ann’s parish about 60 miles from Annotto to Discovery Bay on a half-moon shaped cove in the middle of Jamaica’s northern coastline. It was formerly a fishing port and was also known for its banana exports. Now it is a pretty resort town with stunning waterfalls and beaches and interesting colonial-period buildings like the Geddes Memorial Church and the Anglican Church. The town’s business and commercial center is Pineapple Place.
When not indulging in the many activities available–horseback riding, polo, golf, tennis, shopping, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, swimming or sunbathing–there are a number of interesting sights worth seeing in the environs of Ocho Rios:
Rio Nuevo In 1658 it was the site of a clash between Spanish and British troops over who would possess the island. As we now know, the British won the fray.
Port Maria Located on Pagee Beach, it has a number of well-preserved buildings of the colonial period.
Dunn’s River Falls The Dunn’s River cascades over a number of rock terraces on its way to the sea and a beautiful beach. The stepping stones of the falls allow easy access up and down their 600 feet, under a stimulating shower. There is a Dunn’s River feast every week with dancing, music and swimming.
Discovery Bay The Spanish established a port here after Christopher Columbus’ arrival in 1494. The three-acre Columbus Park nearby has buildings from the Spanish colonial period.
Fern Gully A former river bed, it is now possible to walk three miles through the valley in the shadows of magnificent ferns (600 types) and hardwood trees.
Plantations Working plantations still exist at Prospect Estates and Brimmer Hall, model agricultural centers which the produce some of the island’s major exports, coconuts, bananas and citrus fruits. Tours of the estates in coconuts include lessons on the life cycle of the banana plant and the proper way to carry a bunch of coconuts in a head basket.
ST. Lucia St. Lucia is the sort of island that travelers to the Caribbean dream about–a small, lush tropical gem that is still relatively unknown. One of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, it is located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. St. Lucia is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado (depending on your taste). The Atlantic Ocean kisses its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.
Grenada Grenada is a rolling, mountainous island, covered with fragrant spice trees and rare tropical flowers. Bordered by stunning beaches, and dotted with picturesque towns, this verdant island has long been a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa. The seductive drifts through the colorful Saturday markets and Grenada’s dense forests. In the interior of this volcanic island are cascading rivers and waterfalls, lush rain-forests, and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain lakes imaginable. The capital, St. George’s, is widely held to be the loveliest city in the Caribbean. Its horseshoe-shaped harbor is surrounded by a pastel rainbow of dockside warehouses and the red-tiled roofs of traditional shops and homes. Grenada’s physical beauty is complemented by its rich history and vibrant, living cultural heritage. Local festivals, fairs, and markets remain an integral part of life on Grenada. Its centuries-old spice plantations and rum distilleries still use traditional methods, emphasizing quality rather than quantity. Although the tourist industry has become more substantial in recent years, the island’s easy rhythms and the friendly openness of its residents evoke an atmosphere that has long since vanished elsewhere.
St. Maarten/St. Martin A spicy marriage of European and Caribbean cultures, St. Martin boasts lavish elegance and secluded beaches on the cosmopolitan French side and a bustling shopping center and cruise port in Dutch-hued St. Maarten. The island has been under joint French and Dutch control for 350 years. Taxis and jitney vans link both sides, seamlessly crossing the imperceptible border. Zouk, calypso, reggae and jazz provide the soundtrack to romantic dining experiences at some of the Caribbean’s best restaurants.
Barbados Many Caribbean islands have beaches, but where Barbados differs is what lies behind the surf and sand. No matter your budget or style, you can find a place to stay that suits you, whether cheap, funky, restful or posh. All the comforts of home are close at hand if you want them as Barbados is one of the most developed islands in the region. The literacy rate approaches 98% and the capital Bridgetown and its surrounds are booming.
Away from the luxury resorts of the west coast and the well-developed south coast, however, is where you’ll find what makes the island special. Central Barbados has a rolling terrain of limestone hills and amid this lush scenery are fascinating survivors of the colonial past. Vast plantation homes show the wealth of these settlers and face up to the brutality of the slave trade. Museums document this engrossing history while several botanic gardens exploit the beauty possible from the perfect growing conditions.
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands St. Thomas is home to the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte
Amalie. It has been the heart of St. Thomas’ activities from colonial times to present. Historic buildings found throughout downtown Charlotte Amalie take visitors back to the Danish era when the town was a bustling port of trade; while modern additions of taxis, shops, souvenir vendors and cruise ships in the harbor remind that it is tourism that currently drives the economy. Charlotte Amalie, the main area and the sub district, is home to almost half of the islands 51,000+ residents. Other residents live on the East End, West End and North Side. These references might seem quite broad however on an island just 32 square miles they work well. If you ask for directions you are likely to hear them. St. Thomas is largely mountainous. Many roads around the island offer terrific panoramic views of the island and ocean. Amongst the hills on St. Thomas and along the beaches you will find an assortment of accommodations; resorts, historic inns, guest houses, vacation homes, villas and condos. St. Thomas is a water lover’s paradise.
Tortola, British Virgin Island – envision it. Banana, mango and palm trees swaying gently in the warm tropical breeze. Exotic steel drum music. Some of the best white-sand beaches in the British Virgin Islands. And that’s just the north side of the island. On the south side, Tortola’s rugged mountain roads lead to spectacular views. There’s no lack of adventure here. Rent a bareboat and set sail. Grab some SCUBA gear and explore the wreck of the HMS Rhone or the Chikuzen.
St. Kitts & Nevis St. Kitts and Nevis are mountainous siblings representing two sides of one handsome coin, and sharing a St. Kitts-based government. Nevis, the smaller of the two, boasts important historic sights: Nevis is the birthplace of American statesman Alexander Hamilton, and his former home is now a museum; Great Britain’s famed naval hero Admiral Horatio Nelson met and married Nevisian Fanny Brice here in 1787, and their marriage license is recorded at Fig Tree Church. Visitors partake in watersports on Pinney’s Beach (home of the Four Seasons) and Oualie Beach, plus there’s mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, diving and snorkeling trips. The local botanical garden contains one of the largest collections of palms in the region, and the Four Seasons golf course and tennis facilities are among the Caribbean’s finest. “Liming” – relaxing – at the various beach bars is worth a few lazy afternoons, while evenings are best spent on gourmet dining.
Antigua and Barbuda All the signs pointed towards Antigua. The island had warm, steady winds, a complex coastline of safe harbors, and a protective, nearly unbroken wall of coral reef. It would make a perfect place to hide a fleet. And so in 1784 the legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson sailed to Antigua and established Great Britain’s most important Caribbean base. Little did he know that over 200 years later the same unique characteristics that attracted the Royal Navy would transform Antigua and Barbuda in one of the Caribbean’s premier tourist destinations. The signs are still there, they just point to different things. The Trade Winds that once blew British men-of-war safely into English Harbour now fuel one of the world’s foremost maritime events, Sailing Week. The expansive, winding coastline that made Antigua difficult for outsiders to navigate is where today’s trekkers encounter a tremendous wealth of secluded, powdery soft beaches. The coral reefs, once the bane of marauding enemy ships, now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the fascinating little island of Barbuda — once a scavenger’s paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs — is now home to one of the region’s most significant bird sanctuaries.
Cayman Islands The Cayman Islands are located in the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea about 150 miles south of Cuba. The Cayman Islands are made up of three main islands. The largest and most developed, Grand Cayman, has a population of about 35,000 and is 76 square miles or 22 miles long and 8 miles at its widest point. Grand Cayman stands 90 miles away from Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are separated by only 5 miles. Cayman Brac is the next largest island, with 1600 inhabitants on 14 square miles or 12 miles long and 1 mile at its widest spot. Cayman Brac has the highest point in all of the Islands with the impressive “Bluff” that rises 140 feet out of the sea. The smallest island is appropriately named, Little Cayman. This islands’ 10 square miles of land is home to a population nearing 150. Caymanians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the West Indies. Most residents are Protestants of British or African descent and many are of mixed racial ethnicity. The islands’ main industries are tourism and offshore banking, thanks to the absence of direct taxes. The Cayman Islands are located about 20 degrees north of the Equator. This results in nice temperatures year-round. The coldest month in the Islands is February, with the warmest month being in July.
Nassau, Bahamas Nassau is a laidback tropical island with copious amounts of candy-pink colonial (and sometimes funky) charm, Nassau is the capital of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas — and the largest city on New Providence, one of its smaller islands. In fact, half of the Bahamas’ quarter million residents live on New Providence. Famous Cable Beach and Paradise Island are but a stone’s throw from downtown Nassau.
A city with a vibrant swashbuckling pirate past, it offers tropical tree-lined streets filled with horse-drawn surreys ruled by policemen in white starched jackets and colorful pith helmets; soft-sanded beaches for kicking back and catching ocean breezes; lavish Vegas-type casinos with attractions to match; dozens of obscenely good .restaurants and enough duty-free shopping stops to please even the most jaded of fashionistas. It’s the largest and one of the most well-trafficked cruise ship ports, handling up to seven vessels in a day. One reason for its immense popularity is its close and easy proximity to the Florida coast — making it the perfect stop, if not the cornerstone, for many Caribbean trips, be it for overnight or weeklong voyages.
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
Click to View Photo slide show Of a cruise to The Caribbean.
Posted by: crossroads49 | November 6, 2011
The Caribbeans, life is good.
- Travel-Road Trips
- — South Korea, uijongbu to Cheju
- Cold Lake To Saskatoon Canada
- Cruising the Caribbean and the Mediterranean
- Guam,"Where America's Day Begins" Hafa Adai
- Israel, tours against the grain
- Mesa Verde and the four corners region.
- Mull of Kintrye Machrihanish Glasgow Scotland
- Nova Scotia & New Brunswick To Labrador
- Off The Beaten Track In Israel
- Planing A Cruise
- Road trip from Venice to Khartoum, the Mediterranean Region
- Road Tripping In Spain
- Sicily..Palermo to Catania, and Siracusa
- South Korea, uijongbu to Cheju
- The Caribbeans,life is good.
- Windsor To Winnipeg Canada