As a Certified Travel Agent, international airline employee, researcher, writer, teacher and photographer for forty years, traveling, whether for pleasure or business, has always been an important and integral part of my life. Nearly 400 trips around the world by road, rail, sea and air required destinations both mundane and exotic. This article focuses on those in the Caribbean.
Significant, multimodal travel encompassed 18 islands, often on more than one occasion.
Antigua, St. John’s, Shirley Heights, Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, and the Blockhouse ruins required a road tour.
It included Oranjestad, its colorful capital and cruise port, and tourist destinations such as Aruba, Oranjestad. Parliament, Queen Wilhelmina Park, Queen Beatrix International Airport, Santa Cruz, Agnochi Catashi rock formations, Ayo rock formations, Natural Bridge, Aruba Aloe Plant and Museum, and high-rise hotels in Palm Beach and low-rises in Eagle Beach.
Barbados, the capital of Bridgetown, required touring many of its neighborhoods and included attractions such as Santa Cruz, the Barbados Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Barbados Concorde Experience, located near Grantley Adams International Airport.
It required attractions such as Bonaire, Gotomeer, Seru Largu, and Washington Slagbaai National Park, which Kralendijk serves. Bon is a 14,830-acre nature preserve located in the northwest region, originally inhabited by South Americans, and during the Colonial Period was the site of the island’s two largest plantations that grew divi-divi trees and aloe, and produced charcoal. Accessed from both a 15- and 22-mile route, the park featured significant topographical diversity, including desert areas, white and black sand beaches, caves, flamingo-dense salt flats, reefs, coral-filled coves and pink ponds. Its entrance housed a visitor center and museum.
Curacao, which paints the streets of Willemstad with colorful Dutch architecture, the Waterfront from 1634, the Plaza Pier, the Amsterdam Castle, the Queen Emma: the pontoon Bridge, the Wilhelmina Suspension Bridge, the Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue and the Jewish Museum.
Journeys beyond Willemstad required the Curacao Liquor Factory; Nassau Castle; Boca Tabla Cave; Knip Plantation House; Knip Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches of the island, where pure sugar sand meets the turquoise Caribbean Sea; General scenes from cunucu, which means “country” in Papiamento, were watched.
Lush and velvety green Dominica is notable for its famous Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a 17,000-acre ecological area located on the south side of the island. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only place in the Eastern Caribbean to have one of the world’s last oceanic rainforests. Accessed by narrow, towering, pitted paths and featured crater lakes, cave-fed waterfalls, freshwater lakes and the three peaks of the Morne Trois Pitons. Mist often rose over the dark green growth of this primeval rainforest. An aerial tram offered spectacular views of this Swiss reminiscent location.
Other areas visited included Trafalgar Falls and Laudat Village.
It meant Grand Cayman, George Town, Hell, Seven Mile Beach and West Bay.
Spice island Grenada, St. George’s, Fort Frederick, Annandale Falls, Grand Etang National Park and Douglaston Spice Estate.
The famous Casa de Campos was the symbol of the Dominican Republic on the island of Hispaniola.
With its lush, mountainous interior, Jamaica offered images of mainland forests, and landmarks included Dunn’s River Falls, Mountain Valley, Montego Bay beaches, and Ocho Rios. A plantation jitney tour and bamboo rafting on the Martha Brae River were highlights.
Puerto Rico is characterized by San Juan, Playa de Luquillo, the El Yunque Rainforest, and Isla Verde. Old San Juan was home to the San Juan National Historic Site, with 16th-century buildings including the forts of San Felipe del Morro and San Cristóbal, and the old city walls.
st. Barthelemy, the capital and port Gustava, the first of the island Den Rock Hotel, the highest peak of the island with 281 meters Morne Vitet, Anse de Grand Cul de Sac, Anse de Marigot, Loreint Beach, St. Jean Beach and Turtle Island is the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
With its Danish heritage, the Croix included visits to its two main cities, Christiansted and Frederiksted. Fort Christiansvaern was among the Danish colonial buildings in Christiansted’s National Historic Site. West St. George Village Botanical Gardens occupied a former sugar plantation. Boat cruise to Buck Island Reef Monument, a small, uninhabited, 176-acre island 2.5 miles north of St. Croix offered scuba diving opportunities.
The smallest of the US Virgin Islands, John, St. Reached by an inter-island ferry from John. Thomas and the Virgin Islands National Park, which covers most of the island. Its beaches, such as Trunk Bay, surrounded by forest, and Francis Bay, whose calm waters are home to sea turtles, were surrounded by coral reefs. Annaberg Plantation was once the site of an 18th-century sugar plantation, and trails through the tropical forest led to the ruins of Reef Bay Sugar Mill.
Lucia in the eastern Caribbean was an island nation of the Pitons, a pair of tapering mountains that line the west coast, home to volcanic beaches, reef dive sites, luxury resorts, and fishing villages. Trails in the interior of the rainforest often ended at waterfalls such as the 15-metre-high Toraille that spilled from a cliff into the garden.
Discovery from the cruise port of Castires, St. Mark’s trading house, 18th-century built in 1942, using the original structure’s 1920 foundation; Caribelle Batik; Marigot Bay; Roseau Valley banana plantation; Anse LaRaye; and a guided tour and St. Lucia foods: fried green banana, breadfruit, cane sugar, grapefruit, yellow banana, and banana ketchup.
Maarten/St. Martin, their main city, the French St. Martin and Philipsburg Martin in Dutch.
Thomas’ attractions included Skyline Drive, a view from the Top of the Mountain, Charlette Amalie, Fort Christian, and climbing the Paradise Point Tram. But a special highlight was a parachute flight over its bay.
Attached to a parachute and launched into the air from the stern of a speedboat, the parachute instantly surrendered to the aerodynamic forces and flew into the air, the world retreating and miniaturized in seconds until even the sound of the boat’s engine faded into silence. 600 feet to the left, St. I was left alone with the surreal perspective of Port Thomas and the island below; the gusts of wind that filled my parachute and held me strangely aloft; and my thoughts.
Trinidad is marked by its capital, Port-of-Spain.