Caribbean Charms – Part 1 of 4

Like one-of-a-kind beads threaded on a memory bracelet, each Caribbean Island holds its own charm; waiting for you to discover and create your own travel remembrances.

Through this 4 part series, let us introduce you to 21 islands. If you have not already experienced the Caribbean, these short entries may help you appreciate why so many people head to the islands for warm tropical breezes, hospitable people, stunning scenery, swaying palms, soft sands and warm clear water; where the only good use for a watch is to let one know when happy hour is about to start, where dinners are fresh caught, not frozen, and where learning to do nothing (limin’) is an art form you are never too old to learn.

St John UsviSt John USVI palm shadow on Cinniamon Bay

Besides playing in the surf, the National Park Service guided tour of Reef Bay Trail may make your stay educational as well as enjoyable. The $30 fee includes transportation to the trailhead, an informative guide leading the way, plus a boat at the end of the trail to take you back to Cruz Bay. The downward hike descends through some of St John’s original subtropical forest with glimpses of sugar estate ruins and petroglyphs by a sacred pool dating between 900 AD and Columbus’s arrival. For a difference in accommodation, step away from plush resorts and get closer to nature while camping or tenting with all the gear you need either included or available for rent (check accommodation providers for minimum stay requirements).

Tortola BVITortola BVI

“Limin'” is a Caribbean slang word which has two meanings: one is to hang out and party with friends; the other is just to lay around … do nothing important … take in some sun … relax. The term’s origins came from a nickname for British seamen (and later Brits in general). In the days of long trade voyages, seamen would come down with a disease called scurvy, caused by a lack of vitamin C. British seaman were given a ration of limes and they would suck on them, therefore gaining the nickname, limeys. During their shore leave, Islanders would see them relaxing and describe them as ‘liming’. Tortola is a good place to practice limin’, for unless you scuba dive or are part of the yachting community, there is little to do but enjoy the sun and sand.

AnguillaAnguilla wading surf Shoal Bay East Beach

Shoal Bay East beach is the ‘beach of postcards’. Fine cream coloured sand stretches on and on, defined by a palm tree border. “Uncle Ernie’s” modest beach-side snack shack is one of the best known eateries on Anguilla. Uncle Ernie is gone but his family carries on his legacy of good eats.  All around The Valley (name of Anguilla’s capital) weekend barbeques are set up on street corners. Ken’s BBQ (across the street from the Brooks and Son’s Complex) is bigger and busier than most. Ken tends the grills himself as he has been doing for fifteen years. His chicken is good and his pork excellent (he raises it himself). You have to get there early to get his Johnny cakes (a sweet little bun) because they sell out fast. The BBQ is so good some folks bring turkey roasters and have them filled for the evening’s gatherings. Ken is only open Friday and Saturday from noon until he sells out.

St MartinSt Martin horse riding beach

The island is the world’s smallest landmass shared by two nations. St Martin of the French West Indies and Sint Maarten, an independent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Water sports, fishing, hiking, zip-lining and horseback riding are some of the activities on St Martin but you may want to do what most visitors do in the Caribbean … as little as possible.

SabaSaba Sandy Cruz Trail vegetation coconut buds

An extinct volcano cone, Saba juts out of the Caribbean Sea to a height of 877 meters leaving the choice of direction: up, down or around. For hikers, both experienced and novice, Saba offers eleven trails ranging from moderate to extreme. Sandy Cruz trail (moderate) offers the most varied and interesting hike on the island; traversing well-developed dry forests, rainforests with wild banana, coconut and lemon trees (the latter possibly originating from seeds brought by Christopher Columbus) and steep ravines with ocean views along the way. The estimated time to complete the route to Troy Hill would be three and a half hours giving time to stop, gawk and take pictures. At the end of your hike stop into a pub for a beer and help keep Saba’s world record of consuming more Heineken per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Wait – there’s more! Caribbean Charms Part 2 is next!

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