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Archive for caribbean

Park Country

By Linda Tancs

Chances are, if you’ve visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you’ve encountered Virgin Islands National Park. That’s because two-thirds of the island is parkland, with key attractions like Annaberg Plantation and Trunk Bay in its borders. With so much area to explore, you needn’t fear going it alone. Ranger-guided tours abound in the park, covering hikes, shore walks, bird walks and even snorkel tours. The Reef Bay Trail is a year round hiking tour, where the island’s oldest and tallest trees are found amidst sugar plantation ruins, stone walls from cattle grazing and ancient rock carvings left behind by the pre-Colombian Taino. The L’Esperance Hike (available November thru April) follows an old Danish road that leads to a scenic transition from shady tropical forest to a desert-like landscape. Along the way you’ll find the island’s only baobab, a sacred tree species that was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. Both hikes end with a 40-minute boat ride back to the Cruz Bay Visitor Center.

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A Community Under the Sea

By Linda Tancs

Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument includes federal submerged lands off the island of St. John supporting a diverse and complex system of coral reefs and other ecosystems such as shoreline mangrove forests and seagrass beds. In fact, an area within the monument known as Hurricane Hole includes some of the least disturbed mangrove ecosystems remaining in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Mangroves act as nurseries for grunts and other fish like queen angelfish and gray snappers. St. John is accessible via ferry service from St. Thomas. Once on St. John, the only part of the monument accessible by land is in Hurricane Hole. To get there, follow route 10 from Cruz Bay to Estate Hermitage. The majority of the monument extends eastward from Borck Creek to Haulover Bay along the southern shoreline of the island.

A Butterfly in the Caribbean

By Linda Tancs

Seen from the sky, Guadeloupe’s two main islands look like the wings of a butterfly in the Caribbean. A French overseas territory, Guadeloupe is an archipelago of over a dozen islands with scenic displays ranging from a tropical forest and volcano to endless white, sandy beaches. The easygoing beach atmosphere is evident in Grande-Terre (the eastern half of the butterfly). Mountainous Basse-Terre, the western island, is home to Parc National de la Guadeloupe, which is crowned by the spectacular La Soufrière volcano. Of the smaller islands, don’t miss a visit to Marie-Galante, source of the nickname “isle of a hundred mills” thanks to its production of rum—reputedly among the best in the world.

 

The World’s Only Drive-In Volcano

By Linda Tancs

On the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia, Sulphur Springs is a place where you can drive—and dive—right in. On the drive-in side, there’s the collapsed caldera of the dormant Soufrière volcano, offering a drive-thru experience like no other with lots of boiling springs, steam and bubbling mud pots. After that, maybe you’ll want to dive into the mud baths in the geothermal park, where you’re promised rejuvenation and detoxification. Then wash it all off at a nearby waterfall. The volcano emits hydrogen sulphide (that rotten eggs smell) so be forewarned.

A MINI Tour of Jamaica

By Linda Tancs

There’s nothing miniature about the new MINI tour routes being offered in Jamaica. Led by a tour guide, you can drive yourself around in an island-inspired MINI on a six-hour tour from Montego Bay to either Ocho Rios or Negril. Along the way you’ll see, touch and taste the best of the island, eating local grub and taking in the ecological wonders and famous landmarks. You’ll be given a short driving orientation to keep you on track.

Geological Variety in Aruba

By Linda Tancs

More than just a haven for flora and fauna, Aruba’s Arikok National Park boasts amazing geological diversity. The landscape has three primary geological formations: the Aruba lava formation, batholithic quartz and limestone rocks from fossilized coral. The park is also prized for its bays and the Natural Pool, a basin formed by rock and volcanic stone circles. Culturally,  the Caquetío Indians left rock paintings in Cunucu Arikok and Fontein Cave. The bird drawing in the park logo is a copy of one of these historical artistic expressions. Comprising almost 20% of the island, the park is located in the northeast in the area of Santa Cruz.

Antiguan Festival Celebrates Milestone

By Linda Tancs

Regarded by some as the best summer Caribbean festival, Antigua’s Carnival 2017 is celebrating its 60th birthday this year. The annual event is a celebration of the emancipation of slavery in the country held annually from the end of July to the beginning of August. Amid a flow of colorful costumes and festive music, the party includes competitions like the Party Monarch and Calypso Monarch competitions of Calypsonians, the Panorama steel band competition and the parade of bands to the Miss Antigua Pageant and the Caribbean Queen’s Competition. This year’s carnival begins tomorrow and ends on August 8.

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