Last month’s post on new European destinations that had entered my travel radar, inspired me to write one on the Caribbean, a region of the world I have very little experience with. While I’ve been to the Bahamas three times (all on Disney cruises), that’s it for me and the Caribbean, an area that comprises more than 700 islands. (One island out of 700, well, you can see how pitiful the numbers are.)
I somewhat know why the Caribbean has never been at the top of my travel radar-I’ve never been the all-inclusive type meaning I definitely want to get out and explore my surroundings, I don’t tan…I burn, so sunning myself eight hours a day has never seem particularly appealing, and since I’ve lived on the East Coast all my life, the Caribbean doesn’t seem as “impressively cool” as say a place like Hawaii (silly, I know). But even with the above reasons mentioned, I know there’s a lot about the Caribbean that would intrigue and wow me-their colonial history (I love history), the no jet-lag factor (huge plus for any traveler), and their gorgeous scenery. While I’m sure all of the Caribbean islands have their unique charms, here are the three at the top of my list.
P.S. You all know my love and ardent desire for wanting to visit Cuba. But since I’ve written scores about it before, I decided to go with three new destinations.
I’ve wanted to visit Barbados since…forever. Well, if I had to pick a specific time, it probably would be the eight grade after having read the children’s classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. While it predominantly takes place in 17th century New England, it begins in Barbados, when Barbados of course was an English colony. I know there are many Caribbean islands that have wonderfully preserved their colonial past, but Barbados seems to be the best of them all. There’s the Sunbury Plantation House, a residence dating from the 17th century that just oozes with history (they also offer a five-course meal a couple times a week)…The Mount Gay Rum distillery (this is a close second to my favorite rum, Nicaragua’s Flor de Caña)…and of course breathtaking views and vistas at every turn. Obviously I can’t travel back in time to the 1700s for instance but a visit to Barbados seems like it might be the next best thing.
At one point we were seriously considering going to St. Lucia. However, it’s not the easiest place to get it. Unlike some Caribbean locales in which there are multiple flights a day from an American city, St. Lucia has more limited flight options which means your actual vacation time (the fun part of the trip) is cut into by all of the time spent transiting. That and most flights from the United States fly into its one airport but many of the popular hotels are located on the opposite side of the island. And the thing about islands and developing nations is that road conditions are never their best so journeys take a lot longer than you would think. However, St. Lucia is the place I would like stay in a hotel where I have my own private plunge pool and can gaze out at its most famous site, the pitons, two mountainous volcanic plugs.
I love colorful buildings, period. (My time spent in Latin America and Spain has definitely fostered this lifelong preference.) Well, while so much of the Caribbean is colorful (at least from pictures I’ve seen), Curacao seems like it may just be the winner in the color department. In the capital of Willemstad, visitors will find scores of colorful houses that mark the shores of Punda. The origin of these bright houses is that a past governor complained that the intense sun reflecting off the white buildings hurt his eyes and game him migraines, so the buildings were ordered to be painted in bright colors instead of white. There’s not any accuracy to this story but it’s cute all the same. Curacao was once part of the former Dutch Antilles, and today it is a polygot society with its official languages being Dutch, Papiamentu (a language derived from African and Portuguese languages), and English although Dutch is the sole language for all administration and legal matters. And what’s particularly interesting to me about Curacao is that the island has the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americans, dating to 1651. The Curacao synagogue is the oldest synagogue of the Americas in continuous use, since its completion in 1732 on the site of a previous synagogue.
What Caribbean island do you dream about visiting?