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.
There is a lot to see on Martinique if it isn’t a Sunday. Even Cathedral St Louis, built in 1895, with its large organ is closed on Sundays after 11am and eating establishments are at a minimum (oddly enough KFC is open Sundays and offers good salads). In the evening, the action is on Fort-de-France’s waterside promenade where groups of boys take turns diving off the dock into cooling waters, vendors sell ice cream and brown paper cones filled with peanuts in the shell, while families walk together as the sun sets and the city’s lights join an flotilla of evening stars.
A testament to St Lucia’s richness and beauty is found in her history; 14 times the island has changed hands between the British and French. There is so much to see and do on St Lucia it is no wonder the island has a large population of luxury condos, all-inclusive resorts and a busy cruise ship harbor. The ‘real’ St Lucia isn’t far, in distance, from the tourist beaches and city souvenir tables frequented by winter-crazed northerners. A visit to the ‘real’ St Lucia is a good ‘reality check’. Anse La Raye is a fishing village of tiny wooden homes (a number over 100 years old), some with peeling paint and rusting roofs, some leaning into each other with front steps protruding onto the sidewalk. Many visitors take in Anse La Raye’s Friday Night Fish Fry which is fun, but the wee village can be just as enjoyable to experience during daylight hours any day of the week.
Bridgetown, the capital and largest city of Barbados, has plenty of accommodation options and public transportation is easy, extensive and inexpensive. The colonial town of Speightstown is a worthwhile day trip from the captol. Besides the obvious 17th century history of this seaport, take in the good eats at the Fisherman’s Pub. This is your opportunity to try local specialties like flying fish, conkies, cou-cou (an okra and cornmeal mash), pumpkin fritters and jug-jug (a combination of cornmeal, green peas and salted meat). If it is Friday or Saturday leave some tummy room for the ‘Jump-Up’ at Oistins’ Fish Fry (Barbados’ second highest-rated attraction (after Harrison Caves). At the Jump-Up you can browse through tents of local artisans, pick and choose all manner of barbeque from different food tents and join a table to eat, drink and share conversation. Live bands and local singers fill night air with Raggae and calypso music while the delicious barbeque smoke adds a rock concert haze to the atmosphere.
Bequia’s (pronounced beck-way) Admiralty Bay, usually cluttered with yachts, and the town of Port Elizabeth are the focal points of this small, seven square mile island. Sailing regattas (the largest at Easter), scuba diving (there are several wrecks and shallow caves) and hiking (3-4 hour treks are done in the morning to avoid afternoon heat) of varying skill levels are main attractions for active visitors. For those who are learning the art of limin’ (hanging out, not doing much of anything), Bequia seems a most pleasant spot to master inactivity.
Turtle tourism is playing an increasing role in Union’s economy. As well as seeing their underwater habitat, eco-tourism guides can help visitors witness firsthand big sea turtles laying eggs at night; providing camping with all the necessary equipment. A local environmental NGO has been instrumental in preserving a clean environment for the turtles and a moratorium on catching or killing of turtles between March 1 and July 31.
Whether you are celebrating the successful laying of turtle eggs or the outcome of a sailing regatta, there are many bars in Clifton willing to pour your preferred libation. If travelling in the off season, be sure to check ferry schedules and then check them again upon arrival or you could be staying longer than originally planned.