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Archive for caribbean

The Peaceful Parish

By Linda Tancs

Hedonists flock to Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril. Looking for Jamaica’s quieter charm? Then head to Port Antonio, capital of the parish of Portland on the northeastern coast. Once the bustling banana capital of the world, the sleepy harbor town offers some impressive sights in and around its environs. Check out the ruins of Folly Mansion, a once glorious testament to love, wealth and excess. American millionaire Alfred Mitchell built the grand two-story mansion with 60 rooms, Doric columns, inner courtyards and spectacular stairways for his family in the early 1900s but it failed to survive the elements. One palatial residence that has survived is Trident Castle. Just 10 minutes outside town, the Austrian Baroque style palace overlooking the sea is the only castle in the Caribbean. Also overlooking the sea is Port Antonio’s Folly Lighthouse, a candy cane-striped landmark about 40 feet high sitting atop honeycombed limestone. A self-guided walking tour under two miles long starts at Market Square and ends at the lighthouse.

The Gibraltar of the Caribbean

By Linda Tancs

The most popular historic site in Puerto Rico is undoubtedly El Morro in Old San Juan. Otherwise known as Castillo San Felipe del Morro, it’s a citadel named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, built to defend what was a jewel in the crown of the Spanish empire in the Americas. And defend it did, for the most part. The fortress only fell once–to the Earl of Cumberland, who took the fortress by land for about 33 days in 1598. You’ll capture it the same way: on foot, down a large green field. You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking ocean views.

Green Mountains and Blue Water

By Linda Tancs

When Christopher Columbus discovered present day Haiti, he thought he’d landed in Asia or India and not the gateway to the Caribbean. The island might be better known for the port of Labadee, a cruise ship destination boasting a private resort owned by the cruise line Royal Caribbean International, but the real charm is just outside Jacmel. That’s where you’ll find Bassin Bleu, an idyllic respite of cascading waterfalls surrounded by green mountains and blue water. Hopefully you’ll find the commute well worth it, after being rattled to and fro in a 4×4 for 30 minutes. Despite the common wisdom, in this case it’s the destination that counts, not the journey.

One Happy Island

By Linda Tancs

The southern Caribbean island of Aruba considers itself to be one happy place.  And why not?  With a daily temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, consistently sunny skies, enviable gastronomy, family-friendly fun and some of the world’s top beaches, there’s a lot to smile about. So c’mon, get happy!

All Aboard in St. Kitts

By Linda Tancs

What could be better than a tropical drink-laden narrow gauge train ride through an unspoiled paradise rife with lush vegetation, rainforest canopies, secret beaches, sugar estates and a volcanic cone?  That’s what you’ll get when you travel on the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, the last railway in the West Indies, built to transport the island’s sugar cane during boom times.  Timed to coincide with cruise ship schedules in-season (December through April), a leisurely three-hour tour features 18 miles of rail travel and another 12 miles of historic sightseeing by bus.  From sugar train to scenic train, don’t miss the chance to experience island history amid the warm trade winds.

Catching the Wind in Bonaire

By Linda Tancs

Part of the Dutch Antilles, Bonaire’s Caribbean flair includes pastel-colored Dutch colonials to complement an abundance of pink flamingos and fiery sunsets.  This island, sans a single traffic light, has 86 official dive sites.  But the strongest draw is windsurfing, thanks to continual winds, shallow waters and excellent weather.  In fact, whether novice or pro, Bonaire (and Lac Bay in particular) has been recognized as one of the best places in the world to windsurf.

Fire and Brimstone

By Linda Tancs

The one-time sugar cane island of St. Kitts in the West Indies boasts one of the best-preserved historic fortifications in the Americas, located at Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.  Its walls, up to 12 feet thick, were built by African slaves from blackened basalt rock.  A testament to British military engineering, it was dubbed the Gibraltar of the West Indies due to its imposing size and design.  The 24-pound cannons and Magazine Bastion defended against the increasing use of explosive artillery shells.  History buffs will love the remains of a complete military community of the 18th century.

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