Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 92
February 1, 1999

Last Update 30 JAN 99

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ST. BARTHS BY MIKE JOHNSON

Trip 1/21 - 27, 1999

My husband, 15-year-old daughter and I traveled to St. Barths (our first
Caribbean vacation) and were awestruck!  Although we read numerous articles and
looked at pictures it did not come close to the real beauty and charm of the
island.

We flew American from Baltimore to San Juan, then connecting to St. Maarten,
and finally Air St. Barths (the later being the most confusing part of the
trip, very disorganized, but they got us there!).  We rented a Suzuki at the
airport and then said a prayer because the driving there is indescribable. I'm
not even going to try; you must experience it for yourself.  Everything we read
gave the impression that most of the people on the island spoke English but
that was not the case. After several days we found it easier to communicate.

We stayed at the Emeraude Plage at St. Jean, in a villa situated on the beach
with the turquoise water just feet from our sliding glass doors and kitchen,
living room terrace.  We met many couples there from the states that had
returned year after year.  This is very close to the airport and several shops
and restaurants.  There is a reef, which provided great snorkeling for my
husband.

Using our maps we set out to explore the different beaches and found that they
each have a special flavor.  One of our favorites was Shell Beach near
Gustavia.  We challenged ourselves with the Columbia climb, a 15-minute hike
down a steep mountain to reach the beach but the views were worth the energy.

The three of us tried scuba diving with a simple dive just for the experience.
I can't say that we saw much more with the dive than with snorkeling but we met
some wonderful people at the dive shop in Gustavia.

Our meals were wonderful, our favorites from Au Port and Eddy's in Gustavia.
Both of these are under-rated, not very fancy, just outrageous dishes with
different flavors and of course, desert! Our daughter had to try a famous
"cheeseburger in Paradise" from Jimmy Buffet fame.  We also bought food from
the supermarket at St. Jean and prepared meals at our villa.

There are many small boutiques with French clothing and goods, and many
interesting people to talk to.

As with so many people, we know we have to return to St. Barths-the allure of
the island and the people make it impossible to let go.

ST. LUCIA: LE SPORT BY LARA SOLONICKNE

My husband and I made our second trip to St. Lucia in January 1999. We had
booked seven nights at LeSport, the all-inclusive resort we stayed at on our
previous visit.

Consider this trip report as a continuation of our trip report from April 1998.
We will note any changes or differences we observed at the resort and the
island.

The Booking

During our last trip, LeSport was searching for volunteers to move to another
resort to help them with an overbooking problem. So for the last night of our
vacation, we switched resorts. For our "inconvenience", they rewarded us with a
seven-night stay at LeSport.

I thought that I might have problems redeeming the free trip--similar to the
problems we often have redeeming frequent flier miles. But LeSport reservations
staff and the deputy general manager were completely receptive. We had no
problems whatsoever for the dates we wanted to travel and they put us in the
top category oceanfront room.

When we opened the door to our room, LeSport welcomed us as returning guests
with LeSport polo shirts for each of us, a fresh fruit plate, and champagne
chilling in the refrigerator. This was a nice surprise, considering we did not
even pay for our return trip!

This is typical of the way LeSport treats its guests.

Rooms

Rooms were the same as on our previous visit-large and clean but showing their
age somewhat. Word at the resort was that LeSport will be adding more rooms in
the future, although I did not see any sign of that.

Clientele

As on our first visit, most of the guests were British-probably 90%. This time
there were some children at the resort: two infants under the age of two and
two boys in their early teens. No big deal. Most guests came in couples.

Restaurants

The food at LeSport had improved somewhat from our previous visit. I still have
a problem eating at the same place for three meals a day with many of the same
dishes being served. For instance, every day for lunch and dinner one entrée
was "seasoned local fish" which I think was kingfish. The fish was tasty, but
after you see it at every meal, you lose interest. Some desserts were good, but
I heard some guests complaining that the cheesecakes tasted like cardboard.

Other than meals being so-so, one of my few complaints about LeSport is the
service in the dining room at lunch. For many lunches we sat for the entire
meal with no water, no drinks of any kind (unless we walked over to the bar to
get them ourselves), and no napkins. My suggestion to LeSport is to make the
non-alcoholic beverages self serve: have a soda dispenser next to the buffet
and maybe provide water pitchers there as well. Interestingly, the service at
dinner was generally good. Wineglasses were filled constantly, dishes were
taken away promptly, etc.

I should note here that LeSport is building a specialty restaurant on the
cliffs above the golf instruction area. It looked almost complete and might
open in the spring of 1999.

We went off the resort for dinner three nights.

First, we went to the Great House at the Club St. Lucia resort in Cap Estate. I
had heard many great things about the restaurant from other visitors to St.
Lucia, so my expectations were high. The restaurant is in a restored plantation
house that is very beautiful. You sit upstairs and look out over the Club St.
Lucia resort, which is not the most romantic of views. Service was excellent;
food was just OK. Prices were high-I think we paid about $150 for the two of
us, including wine and dessert. The Great House does offer a three-course prix
fixe meal for $30? U.S. which is the best deal.

The second dinner we went to the Coal Pot in Vigie Harbor, the current "hot
spot". The Coal Pot is a very intimate restaurant with 10 tables, so call for
reservations. The atmosphere was great; I thoroughly enjoyed our meal here.
They have the menu set up where you pick from a list of meat and fish entrees
and then pick from a list of sauces. Entrees are served with vegetables. I had
lobster with garlic butter sauce that was well prepared, but my husband had the
Shrimp Creole that he thought was rather bland. Service was good; prices about
the same as at The Great House.

Another night we went to the Charthouse in Rodney Bay. The restaurant was
packed and tables are closely spaced. Unlike our previous visit, the service
was awful. Extremely slow and they messed up my order. To add to the
disappointment, the restaurant was not serving lobster because "the water was
so churned up the fisherman could not get any." We ordered steaks. After dinner
at the Charthouse, we went to the Snooty Agouti coffeehouse/art gallery. Cool
place.

Nightlife

As on our last visit, nightlife was almost non-existent at LeSport. The piano
bar had only a few people each night, and the night of the staff show many
people stayed up to watch it, but that was about it. This is understandable
because many people are up well before 7 AM to go on walks, attend early
morning yoga classes, and the like. The tennis courts were occupied at 6.30 AM
on some mornings, if that tells you anything about the activity level of the
guests here. Very little drinking going on.

Beach

When we visited LeSport in April the water was crystal clear and we could
snorkel a short distance away from the beach.

On this visit in January, the waves were big and the water was kicking up the
sand so visibility was greatly reduced. I am not sure if this is normal for
January, but the waves remained for the entire week that we were there.

Activities

The quality of the sports/activity instruction at LeSport continues to be
excellent.

My other big complaint with LeSport is the inadequate tennis facilities.
Another guest told me that they will be building some new courts, but I saw no
evidence of this. The resort next to LeSport, Club St. Lucia, recently unveiled
their new "Roscoe Tanner Tennis Center", and I had hoped to go there to play
since LeSport has a corporate membership there. Unfortunately, I called the
Club St. Lucia racquet club several times and no one ever bothered to return my
call to set up court and lesson times. (I hope that is not typical of the
service at Club St. Lucia!)

I did a lot of aerobics at LeSport-pool, "double impact", and step. The
instructors run fun classes, mostly at an intermediate level. One point I would
like to note here is that on three occasions, I was the only participant in the
aerobics class and the instructors conducted the full class anyway. I compare
this to Sandals Dunn's River, where the instructors for various activities
canceled classes (tennis, windsurfing, aerobics) arbitrarily, and if less than
three people showed up they just blew it off. This level of service is what
distinguishes LeSport from an all-inclusive like Sandals.

The Oasis

The Oasis spa and its basic treatments have changed slightly since our last
visit to LeSport. They charge for reflexology now. They have also added a new
treatment to the basic regime: chandra massage, which is a head, shoulders, and
neck massage.

Excursions

We went on one formal excursion in St. Lucia. We took a Brig Unicorn Sunset
Cruise offered through Sunlink Tours. This took about four hours. We took a bus
from LeSport to the Vigie harbor. From there we boarded the Brig Unicorn, which
is a replica of a 1700's sailing ship used in the movie Roots. Staff on the
ship was great. We were served rum punch, champagne, and appetizers as part of
the tour price. The boat was not crowded with plenty of seating and there was a
steel drum band performing. The tour cost us $40 U.S. apiece.

ST. MARTIN BY DICK HERODES

Trip February, 1998

General Comments:  Roads poor and marked poorly on Dutch side.  French side
better in both respects.  Dutch side (especially nearer airport) more built up
and glitzy. French side has more native character.  Eat on the French side
especially at Grand Case!  Taxis are rather expensive and would probably rent a
car next time.  The island is certainly worth a repeat visit. Visit the
butterfly farm near Orient Beach but make sure that Willie, the owner, gives
you the tour. He is extremely entertaining and his material very interesting.

Accommodations: Stayed at l’Habitation which is probably the most beautiful and
well kept location on the island - certainly has the most vegetation that we
saw. Protected private beach surrounded by mountains.  The concierge Valerie
was absolutely terrific - great smile, friendly, competent and always went out
of her way to be helpful.  She was full of good suggestions and a pleasure to
deal with.  The other desk staff was another story.  Someone should teach them
to smile and focus on what the customer wants - not just quote rigid rules.
The La Belle France restaurant on the premises was over priced and with staff
not particularly competent - didn’t even know  the house wine. Some courses
were good and others just marginal. The Veranda whose waiters were very good
and friendly was worth the price. Breakfast buffet was good with lots of fruit
etc. but at $17 per person no bargain. The big problem was that our air
conditioner was not satisfactory. They tried to fix it but the fix lasted at
best for one day.  So we opened the door to the Terrace (against the rules) and
it was then bearable with the evening breeze. The snorkeling wasn’t what it was
cracked up to be at l’Habitation.  You had to take a boat(weather  permitting)
to Anguilla or preferably Prickly Pear(weather cancellation for us) to get
really good snorkeling.  We might go back because of the beautiful setting and
Valerie but will probably go to the Grand Case Beach Club next time which is a
walking distance from all the great restaurants you could want.  We visited the
Club and found it attractive and well positioned on the beach with kitchen
setup etc.

Restaurants:  Here’s a summary of our experiences -  La Belle France at
l’Habitation -  Great fish soup and coconut ice cream. Warm potato salad  good
, red snapper OK and fruit salad OK. Main fish course very ordinary with
vegetables overcooked.  Help not competent or friendly - didn’t even know what
the house wine was (which was by the way very thin). $84 for two with a glass
of white wine.

Lousiane across from l’Habitation -  At $47  a positive surprise.  The
veloute(lobster soup) was out of this world(went back for it 3 times during the
week) as was the coconut ice cream.  Goat cheese salad  and snapper in vanilla
sauce very good. The goat cheese crepe was a big mistake.  The fruit salad (had
tried for breakfast) was again very good. This place became our breakfast place
as well as some lunches. Half bottle of Sancerre.

Jean Dupont in Marigot - Had a two course lunch here with half bottle of
Sancerre.  Shrimps and scallops in creamy sauce was excellent as was the
coconut ice cream.  The creme brule was a flop - it was runny and they
volunteered to take it back without charge.  $57 for two.  Except for the brule
the quality was high and rates a return.

Veranda at l’Habitation - The best of the restaurants at l’Habitation.  Very
friendly and competent French wait staff.  $75 with half bottle sancerre. Warm
potato salad very good. Both of us then had “Bouillabaisse” with local fish
which was excellent. Coconut ice cream was excellent(again!). I almost never
have ice cream at a restaurant so this tells you something. Finished with a
very old calvados! Sorry we didn’t go here the first night instead of La Belle
France.

Le Pressoir at Grand Case - This is a definite return! The owner was very
friendly and everything was high quality. A small and friendly feel in this
oldest house in Grand Case. $110 with half bottle of sancerre.  Fois gras and
crispy quail  wrapped in baked crepe with orange and cinnamon. Both were
wonderful.  We were both going to have the fois gras but the owner strongly
suggested the quail and was he ever right.  Sautéed island lobster in a
heavenly sauce and salmon, grouper and shrimp with local spices and flavors
were both excellent accompanied by a variety of island vegetables which were
cooked absolutely perfectly.  The tarte tatin exotique was even better than the
highly recommended hazelnut nougat.  My favorite place.

Chez Yvette in Orleans -  This was recommended as the best of the true native
cooking. We had conch salad, conch soup, conch with dumplings and conch stew.
The taxi driver told us that conch is good for your “energy” so we had it big
time. It was good and interesting especially the dumpling version. We split a
just OK piece of coconut pie.  With one Caribe beer it was $57 for two. Worth
the trip for the authentic native flavor.  We shared the dining room with 32
natives at a birthday party.

L’Alabama at Grand Case - The most creative and interesting of those we tried.
Excellent quality and friendly staff. Another must return and Connie’s
favorite. $104 with a glass of St. Emilion and Pouilly Fuisse.  Pumpkin soup
with ginger and ris de veau(sweat breads) in a brown sauce with mushrooms and
sage were excellent appetizers.  Magret with a unique cocoa flavored brown
sauce and mahi-mahi in a honey banana raspberry sauce were absolutely unique
and delicious. Shared a white chocolate and orange parfait with grand marnier
sauce.  The owner gave us complimentary calvados and amaretto.

LeTastevin at Grand Case - This was our last evening so we went a little wild.
$161 with a bottle of  1992 Chablis Grand Cru.  Escargot encased in a crisp
potato pancake(sort of like Swiss rosti) was maybe the best appetizer I had and
the conch with mango salad was very good also.  The shrimp and scallops in
lobster sauce and the salmon Nem in crispy crust (like a huge egg roll) were
both superb.  The fruit sorbet plate was excellent and the thin banana pie was
heavenly.  The help here was more starchy than the other two we tried in Grand
Case but I would come back anyway because the food was superb. We had the best
table in the place sticking right out over the beach (I suspect this was
Valerie’s doing) and watched the sun go down and the surf crashing on the
beach.

When I reflect on the restaurants you can see why I would eat in Grand Case
every night.  We missed a number of highly rated restaurants there and, with
the repeats, we probably could hold up there for a  month  - and burst. Grand
Case is reason enough to go to St. Martin!!!

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: BAREBOAT SAILING BY JOHN CUTTINO

Trip 12/98

Uneventful American Flights to St. Lucia via San Juan. Picked up by van and
taken to The Moorings in Marigot Bay. Spent one night there. Ate at Doolittles,
a nice bar and restaurant right on the beach. Spent next morning checking out
our boat (Beneteau 50 ft). Left around 1 and sailed to the Pitons and anchored
for the night. A bit rocky.  Vinnie Sites was out captain and Winslow Green was
second in command. The rest of us were deck hands etc.

 Were harassed by one nasty "boat boy", the only bad one for the week. "Boat
Boys" are local tradesmen who "hustle" predominantly sailors and tourists. They
can be kids (two 8-10 year olds tried to sell us a case of beer) but are
usually young men. They try to help you with moorings or anchoring (for a fee
of course) and try to sell you things. They will offer fresh bread, fruits, and
craft items. In the Tobago Cays they sell you T-shirts as well.  They are very
useful particularly in anchorages with no shore services (or stores). They are
also colorful characters and add a lot to the enjoyment of the Caribbean scene.
In some locales they will cook a lobster or fish dinner for you. We encountered
many and all but one (who was incensed we wouldn't pay him to hook a mooring)
were pleasant and drove off when we said "no thanks".  They cruise around in
homemade boats with speedy outboard motors.

I think anyone who doesn't take advantage of at least listening to them misses
out on a real unique experience.

For the first 4-5 days there was a Low pressure area over the entire Eastern
Caribbean that gave clouds, showers, and 20-30 knot winds. After that it became
more "normal" with gentle breezes, mostly sunny and scattered showers.
Invariably we would have 1 shower during the night necessitating getting up and
closing all the hatches.

Sailed the nest day in 25 knot winds to Bequia. We by-passed St. Vincent since
we had heard bad things about being harassed there. Anchored in Admiralty Bay.
Went ashore and swam at St. Margarets Beach. Ate at the Frangiapani. Great
drinks and meal. We loved Bequia, friendly people, interesting things to see
and do. We sailed the next morning to the other side of Bequia and anchored in
Friendship Bay.  Great Bar ashore with swinging bar stools. (adds to the effect
of the drinks).

Next day sailed to Mustique and took a tour with the helpful cab driver. (truly
and island for the rich and famous). Went on to Canouan for the night. Dinner
at La Palapa in the Tamarind Hotel. Very nice beach and resort but the
restaurant was only average.
Next day was the highlight, on to the Tobago Cays. The boat boys were helpful
and fun to watch. Anchored and snorkeled Horseshoe reef. went ashore on several
of the deserted islands. Outstanding snorkeling and diving.

Next day on to Mayreau and Salt Whistle Bay. Had a fabulous dinner ashore at
the Salt Whistle Bay Club. You make a reservation and order your food in
advance.
Next day on to Union Island to clear customs the to Palm Island for lunch. On
to Petit St. Vincent for anchoring for the night. Snorkeled and toured the
resort. They are eager to show you around. Truly a quiet wonderful place.

Next day on to Carriacou anchoring at Tyrell Bay.

Our final days long sail took us to Grenada to the Moorings marina. We spent
the night aboard there and ate at the Red Crab.
Next day they took us to the airport for our uneventful return to Boston via
Miami. The first plane was full of medical students leaving St. Georges Medical
School for Christmas break.

A final note: EC Dollars (Eastern Caribbean) is the currency in this part of
the Caribbean. US dollars are equally prevalent. There is really no need to get
EC before you go. We got EC dollars at a local Boston bank at 2.40 to $1 US.
Down there they gave 2.68. And also charged no exchange fee.

All in all a fabulous sailing trip. Winds were favorable, sailing not too
difficult. (our dingy did spring a leak and had to be pumped out frequently.).
The Moorings treated us well. They provide a cell phone for the boat so its
easy to call out.

We were all eager to plan the next trip.

TURKS AND CAICOS PROVIDENCIALES BY JOEL MANERS

Trip: May 23 - 30, 1998

 My wife and I returned from a trip to Providenciales, "Provo" as most people
call it, in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Provo is the most developed of the
Turks and Caicos islands. Direct flights from the U.S. make this island the
easiest of the Turks and Caicos to get to. We arrived on an afternoon flight
from Miami. The flight is a little over 1 hour and we arrived by 3:00PM. The
day we departed Provo, we didn't leave our hotel until 2:00PM. Because the
flight times are so favorable, it's like getting an extra day of vacation.

 Provo is a relatively flat dry island, the local rainfall amounts to just 20
inches a year, about the same as Tuscon, Arizona. The ground is very rocky and
the vegetation is thick, short and brushy. There are alot of pretty cactus, a
few Silver Palm trees, and a Divi Divi tree here and there. The real attraction
in the Turks and Caicos islands is not what's above ground but the shoreline as
well as the scenery below the water.

The primary reason many people come to Provo is the beautiful beaches. The
largest and easiest to get to is Grace Bay Beach. This beach runs some seven
miles along the northeast coast. Along this beach you'll find many resorts
including Beaches, Treasure Beach, LeDeck, Grace Bay Club, Ocean Club, and Club
Med. Turquoise Reef was closed and is scheduled to reopen as Callegro Resort in
December 1998. Across the street from the beach near Callegro is Comfort
Suites, a new, modern facility in the heart of the Grace Bay area. Other great
beaches include Long Bay, Cooper Jack, Sapodilla Bay and Taylor's Bay ( the
latter two are primarily used as boat anchorages), as well as Malcomb Road
Beach on the western end of the island. Most people settle in at Grace Bay and
rarely venture to any of the other beaches, and for good reason. The roads are
relatively poor and unmarked (many are unpaved and very rocky), and Grace Bay
is probably the best beach on the island.

The beach at Grace Bay is perfect. Almost too perfect in my opinion. There are
no waves on the beach, barely a ripple, especially at low tide, perfect for
small children. There are no rocks on the beach or in the water (except for the
incredible reef at the White House) so you don't have to worry about stepping
on something you shouldn't. However you will find the occasional starfish if
you keep your eyes open. The sand is so fine and soft a beach towel would
insult it. You will find some small shells right along the waters edge. The
water is an astonishing crystal clear blue. I never got tired of looking at it
and watching it change shades of blue as the sun descended on the horizon. And
there is almost no current. The only problem is that this beach is really too
perfect. There are no waves to body surf, no rip tide to fight, no rocks to
jump off or watch the waves crash into. No enough of the things that make a
beach... well... interesting. But if you have small children who are usually
afraid of the water, they'll love this beach and most of the beaches around
Provo. Grace Bay Beach can also be a bit busy with people running up and down
the beach. If you want real privacy , you'll have to find another beach.

If you rent a 4WD, a great beach to visit is Malcomb Road Beach on the western
end of the island. It takes about half an hour to get there and the last 3
miles of road are terribly rocky, but the beach is absolutely beautiful. Don't
count on having this beach to yourself though. Alot of people make the trek and
stay an hour or so and snorkel the area (the snorkeling is good but not great).
There are some private areas here if you're willing to walk the rugged
shoreline. To the north are some secluded areas of the shore and there is a
decent size beach to the south but there is no road there and it's difficult to
get to..

Scuba diving is also a major reason people come to these islands. At the
airport you'll see many dive and regulator bags. Most people take the plunge at
least once or twice during their vacation. The casual divers stay in the Grace
Bay area while the more adventuresome may venture out to Northwest Point and
West Caicos. If you really like to dive the walls, and you are staying at
Beaches, you'll have to dive with another operation. Beaches offers diving but
they operate only in Grace Bay. We also heard that the boats can be very
crowded at times. Other options include Dive Provo, Provo Turtle Divers, and
Caicos Adventure Diving. If you really want personal service, there are a
number of people who run small charter operations that will take you anywhere
you want to go.

The diving overall is good but not spectacular. You'll see the normal reef fish
here but nothing huge. You will see lots of barracuda. It was not uncommon to
find 8 to 12 swimming together at a time. You can occasionally see dolphins
riding the wake on the way to your dive. One day we saw 3 of them following us.
The coral and sponge formations though are very good, the best I've seen
outside of Little Cayman.

The best dives on Provo are off Northwest Point and West Caicos. One of the
better dives off Northwest Point is Thunder Dome. This dive includes a wall
dive as well as a swim through of a dome shaped steel structure encrusted with
coral and teeming with fish. If you go, make sure you're the first one off the
boat so you'll get a good look at the fish before the other divers scare them
off. The trip to West Caicos takes a little over an hour but it's well worth
it. The wall is very sheer and you'll find a few undercuts as well. If you go
to West Caicos or Northwest Point, you'll need to take lunch. The Grace Bay
trips are back by noon but the longer trips may be as late as 1:30 to 2:00PM
coming back.

We dove all week with Dive Provo. They have a great operation with a solid
staff and well laid out boats. The also leave a little later that I'm used to.
Every morning we arrived at the dive shop around 8:10 and were on the boat by
around 8:45. They can pick you up at your hotel in their van so you don't have
to rent a car. They have 3 dive boats that leave from either Leeward Marina or
Sapodilla Bay. The staff is good with dive briefings and they offer guided
dives on every trip. You can also dive with your computer and they don't mind
if you keep your computer profile and stay down a bit longer. Just in case
you're really stupid they do have a recompression chamber on the island. Make
sure your gear is in good working order. They don't keep extra regs on the
boat. One of the best things about Dive Provo is that they clean your gear
every night and have it on the boat set up the next morning. All you do is put
your gear in one of their large mesh bags after your last dive. They'll take
care of the rest. It's really nice not having to worry with cleaning and
hauling your gear back and forth to your hotel.

If you don't stay at one of the all-inclusive resorts, there are some other
solid options. If you have a family with children, stay at Beaches. If you want
to save a little and pay as you go, Ocean Club is very nice. It's also close to
the golf course at the eastern end of Grace Bay. If you have the money and want
a nice, quiet place with no kids, you can't beat the Grace Bay Club, truly
spectacular. If you want a Club Med... well... they have that too. The property
seems to attract more singles than families. Comfort Suites is across the
street from the beach but is a very nice property. This is probably the best
deal on the island. It's located near a shopping complex and the Dive Provo
office as well as a few restaurants, including Bella Luna. We stayed at LeDeck,
a small intimate property on a lonely section of Grace Bay beach. The 28 rooms
are situated around a beautiful garden and pool. Room 201 is the one with the
best view. There's also a very good restaurant there. If you're a budget
conscious couple looking for a romantic place on the beach, this is a good
choice. As far as dive lodges, you'll find Erebus Inn and Turtle Cove Inn to be
good choices. Erebus Inn is actually on a small hill overlooking Grace Bay and
Turtle Cove Marina.

If I were going back tomorrow, I would look for either a condo or a room with a
microwave and a refrigerator. A refrigerator and a trip to the grocery store
can save you alot of money on the island. Everything is almost exactly twice as
expensive as it is here in the states. Make sure you take a cooler bottle to
mix up powder drinks. This will save you alot of money. That $1 bottle of soft
drink will cost you $2 on Provo. Same goes for just about everything else. Buy
what you can before you leave home. They don't grow much of anything on the
island so there aren't alot of food deals here. But you can save alot of money
and time by buying luncheon meat and preparing sandwiches for lunch and eating
fruit for breakfast. With the money you save you can eat at a nice place for
dinner and not feel guilty about the expense. There are two major grocery
stores on the island including a large IGA store on the Leeward Highway. There
is a better store "downtown" across from the Shell station.

There are some wonderful places to eat on Provo. Choices range from inexpensive
cafes to luxurious restaurants. Some of the best cafes include Lone Star in
Ports of Call near the Comfort Inn. This is owned by the same people that run
the on in Grand Cayman. Hey Jose is also a great choice. Make sure you get one
of their pizzas before you leave the island. If you want something a little
more upscale, try the Gecko Grill near the Ocean Club Hotel. They serve a
fantastic Pork Chop with Caribbean chutney. Make sure you sit outside under the
trees at night. The lights are very romantic. By far the best meal he had was
at the restaurant in the Grace Bay Club called Anacanoa. You have to make
reservations and count on spending between $100 to $150 per couple. The food is
wonderful and the atmosphere is very romantic. We went there the evening of our
anniversary at the suggestion of friends and thoroughly enjoyed it. If you go,
make sure you get there before sunset (usually around 7:30). The view from the
terrace at the restaurant is magnificent. Another great choice is Bella Luna.
They have a wonderful selection of Italian dishes. The restaurant is located
near the Comfort Inn so it is easy to find. Make reservations for an outside
table overlooking the shoreline. Take a peek inside before you leave. The
interior is interestingly painted, especially the restrooms. Bella Luna is also
surprisingly affordable. Both Anacanoa and Bella Luna are great places to spend
an evening with your Significant Other.

You might not think it when you first arrive but there is some nice shopping on
Provo. There are some great deals to be found on local arts and crafts as well
as Hatian art. Port-Au-Prince is only a short flight away and alot of art makes
its way to the Provo stores to be sold. There are some good art stores like
Greensleeves and Bamboo Gallery where you can buy hand-crafted jewelry and
paintings but you can also find good buys among the tourist T-shirt shops as
well. Check out the stores in the plaza near Hey Jose'. Also look for Cuban
cigars. You'll find lots of them here.

Providenciales is one of those places that nearly has everything it takes to be
a great dive destination: close to the U.S., wonderful and varied
accommodations, superb dive operations, and great beaches and topside
attractions to top it all off. On the downside, Provo's infrastructure needs
some help. The roads need to be marked a little better, some of the beaches
need a little better access and the water tastes terrible (it is safe to drink
though). If you're looking for a tropical Island with swaying palms, forget it
unless you're staying in one of the larger resorts where the soil has been
shipped in. I kept thinking the whole time how a Loyalist must have felt being
told that this was his new home. Outside of tourism, this would be a difficult
place to make a living. The island seems desolate but there is also a certain
beauty in it's ruggedness. Driving out to Malcomb Road Beach I was struck by
how beautiful this untouched part of the island seems. Provo has a beauty above
the water, but you have to have an open mind to really see it. Provo is a
mixture of contradicting images: impoverished and wealthy, desolate and
beautiful, harsh but graceful and gentle.

The Caribbean Travel Roundup is available worldwide via Compuserve and INTERNET and is distributed through the facilities of America Online. The official CTR World Wide Web site is http://caribtravelnews.com. Contact: Paul Graveline, 9 Stirling St., Andover, MA 01810-1408 USA :Home (Voice or Fax) 978-470-1971. E-mail via editor@caribtravelnews.com or CTREDITOR@aol.com : On Prodigy - MKWC51A


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