Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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I had visited the Caribbean many times for relaxation, sun and fun. Most recently I had decided to pick up the sport of windsurfing. Once in Aruba I took a lesson and really enjoyed this challenging sport. While Aruba is one of the best Caribbean windsurf destinations I decided to try my hand at it in Antigua. Antigua is best known for it's 365 beaches, Nelson's Dockyard, a historic naval setting from the early British naval days and Shirley Heights, a hilltop party venue on the grounds of an 1800 British naval fort and installation. As with most Caribbean islands, the trade winds blow in fact down right howl so why not windsurf? I hooked up with Patrick Scales at Windsurfing Antigua. His operation is based out a brightly painted yellow shack on Dutchman's Bay. Patrick, a 30 something Antigua is wirey and energetic yet possesses that slow Antigua manner of no problem attitude. Despite his calm demeanor he proved to be a worthy teacher and role model. It is here that I spent the next 7 day enjoying the brilliant turquoise waters and feeling the typical 17 mph trades. Patrick and I spent initially about 2 hours together where I learned the basics. He taught me about tack and jibe. I learned on a land simulator and then progressed to a big board and small 2.0 sail. While I spent hours up hauling the sail, I watched seasoned local and tourist wind surfers glide past me into the blue Caribbean Sea. I aspired to progress to that level maybe not today but tomorrow? Fat chance. The next day I was so sore I could barely walk. It felt as if every bone in my body had been battered and bruised. Despite the pain I set out again for another 4 hour day at sea. Some days were better than others. I actually sailed a few feet on a few days while others I went out well over 100 yards. Once I gained some sense of balance I was able to begin to feel the breeze and sail. What an exhilarating experience. My last day was to be spent learning to water start but alas, I contracted some sort of flu that left me laying on the beach wearing my winter L.L. Bean jacket. I would not give up the sun and succumb to my bed. Other diversions I enjoyed was snorkeling at Galley Bay. There, I saw fat lazy parrot fish, an evasive grouper and many brightly colored doctor fish. I ate lovely lunches at some exciting places. The most memorable was at Chez Pascallocated in Five Islands overlooking Galley Bay. This hilltop restaurant is set around a lovely pool which guests may enjoy after lunch. We dined on local snapper, rice and beans and lovely fresh local vegetables. Outstanding setting with fresh indigenous food. We did shop for some perfume and liquor as well as Caribbean literature found at The Map Shop. What vacation is complete without a bit of spending. So while I did not get in my last lesson I gained the confidence needed to continue my pursuit of this very challenging sport. During the next few months I have read windsurf magazines, tried on wet suits and have started planning my next holiday in the sun. Aruba awaits me so beware, I have only just begun.
Had a great time, of course. Weather was a little off a few days. This was our ninth trip and we found lots of new things to do. Down between the Marriott and the new time share Marriott there is a road that leads to a pier. There is a boat you can charter (just the two of us) for $35 each for 2 hrs. This was great because I don't like to be on a boat and if I want to go back to shore I can't. Plus he took us where ever we wanted. We went from 5-7 and first he took us to snorkel by Malmok, then by the wreck, then down by Casa Del Mar. Also they now have horses and buggy rides by the high rise and downtown. We took a ride d/t and it was great. It took about 35 minutes ($15 ea.) and he took us through a bunch of back streets and past a lot of homes - some quite expensive. We also went to the golf course because I wanted to get my husband a new hat ( he lost his deep-sea fishing a few days before) and we got the hat and a jacket and ended up hitting a bucket of balls. $5!!!!!! I thought that was great - we got a cart, three clubs and the balls. Best five bucks I spent. Tony, my hubby also took a helicopter ride and got some great pictures. We also toured one of the condos but the golf course - not impressed. We went to DePalm on Valentines Day as we did last year. Great bargain for the ferry ride etc. Brought my own bread to feed the fish - they went nuts. Come to find out they quit selling bread because the fish aren't eating the natural stuff so they put on quite a show for us. Got some great pictures where they come right up on the steps and eat out your hand as well as some good underwater shots. Upon arrival we had quite a time at the airport - I've never seen it like that - took two hours to get our luggage -5 planes in at once and it was all mixed up together. So when we got to Casa Del Mar it was almost 6 - we saw the long check in line and went to Tony Romas. That was a great idea no crowd -plus we were starved - had a blooming onion, spare ribs and the hot brownie in a pan. DELICIOUS!!!!!! Then we went back and no check in line. Pretty smart huh!! Ate at the lighthouse for dinner once - it was 9:00 so the view was good but it is much better for a sunset dinner. Food OK. Ate at Calet Swiss 3 times - our anniversary, Valentines Day and one other time. Food and service fantastic. Bennie says Hi to every one. Got Rigalettos to go one night. FANTASTIC!!! Tony Romas 2 more times and a new one downtown - Steak 5. Very good - a little pricey but we'll definitely go back. Also a bunch of us went to the Ranch - OK. The Sun Club at Costa Linda was wonderful - another first. All in all a great time - over too soon. Any questions e-mail me. Also a brand new store Kong King right next to Pueblos - beautiful and well stocked - very big. You'll be happy to know we stopped by Hooters - they opened around Valentines Day - I wanted some shirts - my first Hooters - not happy to see in Aruba. Big place - bad food - but I guess people don't really go for the food. GG
My Mom and Dad just got in last night from their 1-month trip to Aruba. Of course they loved it and had perfect weather. They did mention a couple of things that surprised me -- but maybe some of you have already heard about them. I thought I post what they told me...of course, stories to get embellished along the way. First they said just before they got there 2/1 Columbian Emeralds (at the Marriott, I believe) was robbed my men with machine guns who shot up the jewelry cases. I don't believe the store was open at the time, however I'm not certain. Now Columbian Emeralds has security all around with 9mm pistols. Then there was a supposed "hit" on someone in town. The gunman shot the wrong person and an Aruban woman was shot (I do not know if she was killed). Evidently the Arubans were protesting on the streets after this incident because the hitman was Venezuelan or Columbian. My parents were visiting friend of their who were staying at the Americana. They were seated under a few palms close to the sidewalk that runs between the hotels and the beach - on the edge of the Americana near the watersport place by the Radisson. My mom left her beachbag with nothing in it but sunglasses, lotions, an inexpensive watch and some "junk". She had the beachbag fastened closed with the rope that secures it and had it tied to the lounge chair while my parents took a walk into the Radisson for something. When they came back she went into her bag which was still tied to the lounge and she found that someone had taken her watch and sunglasses. After they had taken her stuff they had the time to secure the bag like she had it. She then noticed a Dutch couple nearby them who said that someone had stolen their entire beach bag! So don't bring much to the beach and take it with you when you wander. They've been going for 10 years and never have had an incident. An interesting note was they said there was a yacht about 150 foot long docked by Sonesta. My Dad was talking to the crew who told him that Tom Cruise had been on it, and had just left the day before. Also they mentioned that they are opening a brewery jointly with Grolish (sp? I'm not up on the proper spelling of my beers). And that it will be an Aruban beer. Maybe the beer prices will be more reasonable. All in all they had a great time, good food and came home slightly up a few $$ on the gambling end. I can't imagine going to the casinos every night for 30 days. They're ready for next year and so am I.
My wife and I traveled to the Bahamas, the last week of February 1997. We had not been there before and went on the advice of a travel agent. In the past, I've done a lot of research on a destination and we've always had good experiences. This was the first time we'd let someone else suggest a vacation spot, and will probably be the last. We traveled to New Providence, the island on which the Bahamas capital, Nassau, is located. We went there on an Apple Vacations package. We've taken 2 previous trips with Apple and have always been pleased with the service and the value of the trips. The charter flight from Cincinnati took only 2 and a half hours, making the Bahamas about the closest island vacation spot for us. We'd considered St. Lucia and other Windward Islands but the long flight didn't appeal to my wife, who's a very impatient traveler. This was part of the reason the travel agent suggested the Bahamas. Upon landing and claiming our baggage we were waved through customs and our Apple/Majestic Tours representatives directed us to a van that would take us to our hotel. Our travel agent suggested The South Ocean Golf and Beach Resort, located far away from everything on the southwestern corner of New Providence. It was about a 15 minute ride from the airport. We'd mentioned that we didn't like a lot of hustle-bustle and preferred a low key kind of place. She had stayed at this property a couple of years ago and she and her husband, who is a diver like I am, loved the place. She had pictures from their stay and the place looked great; elegant but quiet, with things to do without a circus atmosphere. We discovered that while things generally change slowly in the islands, they can and do change, and not always for the better. We arrived there at around 10am so our rooms weren't ready. We were told where we could change into swimsuits so we could go to the beach while we waited for our room. Our first shock was the condition of the courtesy room we were allowed to use for changing. It was a disaster area, with wet towels strewn about, the bare furnishings looked like they'd been rescued from a yard sale. But, it was 34 degrees at home and we were pretty excited at the prospect of being able to wear shorts for the first time in months. A lot of people had probably been through the room so we shrugged it off. As we were walking through the lobby we noticed a lot of peeling paint on walls, scuffed and scratched walls and baseboards and molding. The place just needed some elbow grease and a little paint, I thought. The resort is divided into 2 parts. The lobby and restaurant is located in a main building that is situated on the resort's golf course. It sits about a quarter mile inland. There is a pool area here as well as a number of guest rooms. Down a lane, going toward the beach, is the newer part of the property. It consists of about 6 or 8, 3 story buildings with guest rooms. A central pool area also has a bar, restaurant, and a couple of small gift shops. We found a couple of beach chairs and settled in. That moment when your brain kicks into your "on vacation" mode is better than any drug. Around noon, we began to think about lunch and walked up to the pavilion area. On thing that struck me as odd was some yellow tape, reminiscent of that which you see at police crime scenes, wrapped around the front columns of the pool area, leading to the beach. We ate and walked as we walked down the beach we figured out what the tape was for. The bottom step from the pool deck was now about 3 feet above the sand. Apparently a good deal of the beach had washed away. Two large rows of rocks, wrapped in wire mesh ran the width of the beach, in an apparent attempt to anchor what was left of the beach in place and prevent further erosion. At this point that foggy, good feeling you get from being in vacation mode began to lift and it slowly began to dawn on us, that this place sucked. The pool area was poorly maintained. The water was cloudy and lots of tiles were missing. Many of the beach chairs were in dilapidated condition. The facilities were just plain run down. After we got our room we found other disappointments. The whirlpool bathtub didn't work. The towels were as bad or worse than the ones I used to wash the car with, very thin, threadbare and scratchy. On more than one occasion, there was a disturbing shortage of hot, even warm, water. Anyone who's married can guess what happened next. We began sniping at each other, generally acting pissy and cranky. We were taking out our bad feelings toward the hotel on one another. This carried over until we went to dinner. Our dining experience brought us out of our marital discord. Not because it was good, but because it was so bad. We began laughing at how bad the service was and at the highly indifferent attitude of the staff. It took about 20 minutes for the waitress to take our order, another 15 for salads to arrive. Water came in about 10 more. An hour into the enterprise, she cleared the salad plates. Our entire meal took over two hours. It was so bad but we were cracking up, making up excuses the staff might use. Over the course of the week, it improved slightly and we learned little tricks like ordering 2 drinks at a time and ordering dessert when the entree' arrived rather that when we were finished. The next day we put our heads together and decided to suck it up and make the best of the place. In general our room was nice and located on the first floor within spitting distance of the beach. The air conditioner worked great and we got about 30 channels of satellite TV. Plus we were on the All-Inclusive plan so I could start drinking at 10 when the bar opened. This place seems like it was really nice at one time but has just been allowed to deteriorate. If you drove by you'd really be knocked out by it, but close inspection reveals a lot of work that needs to be done. The staff is friendly enough but highly indifferent to taking care of their guests. We have since found that this property has been in receivership for some time, waiting for a buyer. It looks like a place nobody wants. Given the bad vibe we were getting from the resort, we chose the tactic of busying ourselves off the property as much as possible. The first jaunt we took was into Nassau itself. We were told that a cab ride to town cost around $25 so we chose a bus trip that was just $5, round trip. It stopped at Cable Beach, downtown Nassau, and Paradise Island. What surprised me most about Nassau, especially as compared to other "tourist towns" I've been to, is the busy commercial nature of the city. Tourism, while certainly important, doesn't appear to be it's reason for being. With all the banks and other businesses, you saw nearly as many people in business suits as shorts and T-shirts. There was definitely a faster pace to Nassau. While unexpected, I didn't find this unpleasant. We'd been warned about the Straw Market, how people will bug you to death and practically attach themselves to you like a cockelburr until you buy something. I found that a big, goofy smile, and a polite "no thank you" allowed me to pass through the junk emporium unmolested. If they'd put a couple samples of each different item offered there, they could shrink the size of the Straw Market about 95%. I guess scope is more important than selection in this segment of retailing. We moseyed up Bay Street and did find some good buys, particularly in China and ceramics. The Cigar Boom has certainly hit Nassau. I was surprised there weren't Cuban Cigar vendors walking the streets; it seemed every store offered a selection of these highly prized smokes. The problem of cigar counterfeiting has arrived as well. I saw Cohiba Esplendidos priced from $18 to $64 each. It seemed to me that if you stayed away from Monte Cristos and Cohibas, you could avoid being the victim of fake Cubans. It was nice and warm for our entire stay in the Bahamas. Not being used to the 80 degree weather slowed us down some. We did make it up the Queen's Staircase and took the elevator to the top of the water tower. This gives you an excellent view of the harbor, Paradise Island and most of New Providence. Maybe I was just in a good mood being away from the hotel, but I rather liked the "freelance" tour guides we encountered. One guy at the top of the water tower gave an amazing spiel, for which he requested a tip. Another man met us at the opening to the Queen's Staircase and greeted us like we were long lost relatives. I don't think my wife realized he was just a guy working for tips. She asked him several questions about this huge quarrying effort done by slave labor. He gave very thorough answers. Who knows if the information was accurate, but he sounded convincing. For another day trip we signed up for The Robinson Crusoe Cruise. This was a trip to Rose Cay, a narrow island east of Paradise Island. This was a somewhat tacky, tourist jaunt, but the island itself was absolutely beautiful, uninhabited with beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. There was a snorkeling area on one side of the island and while show the ill effects of too much human contact, the fish life was abundant. We saw some very large French Angel fish, several filefish, trunkfish, sergent majors, parrotfish, and small grouper. I did a couple of dives while in the Bahamas. Stuart Cove's Dive South Ocean is very well respected and right next door to our hotel. It's proximity to this excellent dive shop is about the only good thing about our hotel. The crew was very helpful and really interested in your safety, comfort and enjoyment of the dives. We dove on the North Tunnel Wall. This was a wall dive to about 80 feet that featured a lot of tunnels and tubes through the coral reef that you could swim through. A hammerhead shark who resides in the area was not seen, but I did see the biggest barracuda I've encountered. There were not many large fish but lots of smaller specimens as well as coral, sponges, and invertebrates. Another dive was on a couple of wrecks used in James Bond films. These weren't really great wreck dives. The fact that they were movie props and were supposed to look like real shipwrecks gave them an artificial feel. The frame of a fake Vulcan bomber, used in "Thunderball" was covered with soft coral, sponges, etc. We felt the call of the Slot Machine while in the Bahamas, and actually came out ahead. The highlight of the evening wasn't leaving the casino with more money than we came with though. Waiting for a cab outside, we realized we were in the company of Regis Philbin! He and Kathie Lee were in the Bahamas the same week we were, taping their show at Atlantis. Asking myself, what would Burt Buckman do in this situation?, I yelled "Hey Regis!" He was nice and turned around and waved at us and let me snap his picture. His lovely wife Joy, on the other hand, didn't seem amused by my coarsely familiar tone. On the day before our departure, having all those gambling winnings burning a hole in my pocket, I went into town by myself. My wife can lay on the beach from 8am to 6pm; I get bored in about an hour. I always like to take a day by myself and go into town and just poke around. I've had some great experiences in Puerto Vallarta and other spots, just roaming around, rubbing shoulders with the locals. My first stop was at La Casa del Habano to pick up a Monte Cristo #2. Counterfeit cigars should not be a problem at this well known chain or tobacconists. Enjoying a fine cigar in a particular locale can really cement that moment into your memory. I'll always remember the Cohiba I enjoyed watching the sunset in Cozumel or the Romeo y Julietta that night we anchored off Jost Van Dyke. I walked down Bay Street to St. Matthews cemetery and continued on to Potter's Cay. Fisherman back their boats right up to stands and sell their fresh catch. The guy who wrote the song Funky Nassau must have been near the fish stands when he was writing. There were some unusual people, like a Rastafarian in a very regal looking costume (unfortunately he didn't want to be photographed) and a very intoxicated young woman who made me an offer I had no trouble refusing. The "funk" arising from the fish too was pretty potent as well. Returning to Rawson Square, I spent the balance of my afternoon hanging out with the winos. I got a kick out of watching the tourists clutching their belongings closely as they hurried past us. At no time did my companions or I attempt to accost a tourist, but I guess we just looked suspicious. I walked back to the McDonald's, right across from the British Colonial, to wait for my bus. What better place for the US Embassy than next door to McDonalds! I had a couple of shots left so I decided to take a snapshot of the embassy. A guard quickly stopped me and told me the photographing the embassy was forbidden. I expressed surprise at this and he said, "Surely you know about the situation in the US now? We can't be too careful." I asked him what situation since I hadn't seen a paper in a week. I thought something major had happened. He said that with the bombings in Atlanta recently they were concerned for the embassy's security. I said, "As long as you fellas aren't running an abortion clinic or gay nightclub in there, you'll probably be safe from most American terrorists." Security guards are a humorless bunch and realizing that my wry comments only irritated this man, I quickly retreated to the safety of the Golden Arches. The only surprise on our departure was that we cleared Customs in the Bahamas and not at home. This was a relief since it saved us an hour or 2 trying to complete this process in Cincinnati. Overall we liked New Providence but hated our hotel. I'm not sure I'd go back soon. I'd rather visit one of the Out Islands but if you like lots of activity, shopping, and nightlife, you should find no end of things to do in Nassau. Just don't mess with the guards at the US Embassy.
Quite a few people were helpful to me when I was agonizing over where to take a family vacation, so I want to post a rather detailed trip report, in the hopes that it may help someone. We went to Barbados for 6 days with our children, a boy 17 and a girl 12. I'll say up front that our daughter loved the place and our son couldn't wait to get home. She's willing to do new things, and he doesn't like anything that isn't on either ESPN or MTV. There is definitely plenty to do there....you just have to want to do it. We wanted more time...we didn't get to do half of what we wanted. The flight down was non-stop from JFK to Grantley Adams International Airport. If you're used to other Caribbean airports, this place is a modern palace. If you're not used to the Caribbean, well, you'll start slowing down right away. Immigration clearance was quick, easy, and friendly. The people seem genuinFrom CTREDITOR@compuserve.comMon Apr 7 22:25:24 1997 the airport. Baggage handlers, cab drivers, etc, are readily available but not overly pushy. We rented a car, a "Mini-moke". The best way I can describe the moke is to call it a cross between an open jeep and a dune buggy. Its definitely the way to see the island, but it seats 4 with no baggage space. We got a cab for my wife, daughter, and baggage, and the driver was more than happy to wait while I got the rental car and followed him to the hotel. If you rent a car from the States, you'll be asked for a 100% deposit. Bring proof that it was paid..our agent at the airport didn't have a record, and had to make a phone call to verify the receipt I presented. Again, very politely. I have to comment on the friendliness of the Bajan people. I've been a number of other places in the Caribbean, and I've never experienced hospitality like this. They must genuinely like visitors....they could not just put on an act like this. Everything with a smile, some conversation, joking with the kids, etc. We did not meet one single person who was rude, pushy, or had an attitude. I can't even say that about many destinations in the States. We stayed at the Sea Breeze Beach hotel on the south coast. Very nice, but not overly formal. Friendly staff, nice beach, decent restaurant, but maybe not enough activity for some tastes. They did have my reservation messed up, but recovered nicely. Two pools, Jacuzzi, gift shop. The St. Lawrence Gap area on the south coast is loaded with restaurants and shops. The ones we were able to sample were pretty good. The island is crowded, bustling. Your hotel may not feel crowded, but once you leave the friendly confines of the property you will be reminded that Barbados is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Get out of the Bridgetown area,(and you should), and the population thins, but there still aren't many wide open spaces. Restaurant prices are "resort high" but not outrageous. I was gouged worse in Orlando this winter or New Orleans 2 years ago. Souvenirs are similarly priced...not cheap, but you don't feel cheated, either. Definitely, get a map and a guide book and visit some of little craft shops in the interior, if you like that sort of thing. Driving is on the left, and roads are poorly marked, so it makes an interesting trip, but if you pull off the road and start reading a map someone will almost always stop to help. Its a nice feeling to drive through cane fields and small villages, obviously a tourist, and have people stop their work and wave. British heritage is everywhere, right down to the Anglican church and neatly uniformed school children. This is not a place to go if you need glitzy Las Vegas style casinos and hotels, nor is it the place to go if you need solitude. Historic sights abound....you just have to get time to find them or take a tour. We didn't, but wanted to. If you like history, this island was settled by Europeans in the 1620's. Many historical sights remain, and Bajans are VERY proud of their heritage. Easily available activities include beach, swimming, snorkeling, scuba (free trial lessons at most hotels), shopping, horseback riding, hiking, sightseeing, and just doing nothing. The pace for everything is Caribbean Slow. Don't expect rapid fire service anywhere, but it will be friendly and efficient. Weather, 99% of the daylight hours, was sunny and 85. We had a couple of little rain storms, but they lasted 15 minutes and were gone. Constant trade winds make it feel cooler than it is, making sunburn a real risk. Be careful..that sun is very hot, even if it doesn't feel it. The standard of living is higher than I've seen elsewhere in the Caribbean. The people generally aren't wealthy, but the place isn't covered with tin shacks like some other islands. We took a glass bottom boat trip that was OK, although a number of people became seasick. There's a submarine (Atlantis Submarine) that probably provides a better experience. We were amazed at the number of tourists from other countries. Most common were Canadians, English, and Germans. They told us that the U.S. was their largest source of tourism, but frankly we didn't feel we were a majority. Tourists were also extremely friendly. We had the feeling of being safe the entire time we were there. Hotels have private security, but at ours it wasn't real visible. Police are visible but discreet...also extremely neat appearing, friendly, and unarmed. But deep down you have the feeling you probably don't want to mess with them. Upon leaving, clearance again was efficient and friendly. We would definitely go back (and hope to soon)
After hours and hours of internet and message board research, we decided to take our Christmas vacation to Tortola and stay at the Ole Works Inn at Cane Garden Bay. For us, and our interests, it turned out to be a fantastic choice. The reasons we picked Tortola is that it is kind of undeveloped (at least as far as glitzy resorts and major hotel chains are concerned), it has a very, very low crime rate, and there are no beggars. In short, a typical Caribbean experience with lots of island music to be found and really friendly natives. The best way to get there is to fly into St. Thomas and take the beautiful 45 minute ferry ride to West End. I'm leaving prices out, because it wasn't our main concern. On our arrival, we were taken by the dramatic scenery. There are almost no flat parts on the island, with mountains coming right to the sea in most places. If your looking to golf, skip Tortola. We shared a cab with an older, affluent couple from Connecticut who'd been going there for 32 years, three months a year. That should tell you something. The roads are the next thing to capture your attention. They really are just old mule paths that have been widened a little and paved. You drive on the left, but the steering wheel is the same. That leaves your front seat passenger feeling a mite exposed (in this case my wife), but she got over it. The turns are hairpin, the grades extreme. I kind of enjoyed it, especially since its hard to go over 30 mph and even a crash would not result in tragedy. We dropped the couple at Long Bay, and proceeded over the next hill/mt. to Cane Garden Bay. It is a magnificent, crescent - shaped white sand beach with calm water, and a small community. It used to be cut off from the rest of the island, and still has an isolated feel. We pulled up to the Ole Works at dusk on Christmas day. The older part of the hotel is built on the remains of a 200 year-old sugar mill, the newer part just next to it. The small road which runs through the village is all that separates the hotel from the beach. Right across the road is Quito's Gazebo. This is the restaurant/bar that is owned, like the hotel, by Quito Rhymer. He is the local reggae "star" and he plays there with his band on the weekend, and solo during the week. He's great, and a really nice person. They also have good food there, and breakfast, which is included in the room price, is served on the deck with the waves literally lapping under your feet. That was the best unexpected pleasure of the trip. Our room was a junior suite on the second floor. It had a small kitchenette, two double beds, and French doors leading onto a big balcony where we would spend alot of time. The beach is west facing, so the sunsets were spectacular night after night. We killed just a few screwdrivers out there. The rooms are not luxurious, but for the price of a Holiday Inn in New York City, do the math. The staff of the hotel was extremely helpful, down to finding us a babysitter for our year-old son so we could do a daysail and go out on New Year's Eve. The next day, International Motors was open for business, so I took a cab to Roadtown (just ten minutes away) to pick up our rental. A 4wd Subaru Vitara that I would rent again. Then I challenged the roads. It's hard to get lost, since there are so few roads. The car would serve us well all week. The first place we used it to go was the Riteway grocery store in Roadtown. The food was pretty expensive, but the liquor very cheap. We spent the week exploring the islands' other beaches some days, hanging at CGB on others. The only day our beach was crowded was the day the cruise ships came in. Brewer's Bay was our other favorite, although we never made it to Smuggler's Cove, which we heard was great too. I have driven on roads from Switzerland to San Francisco, but never on one as crazy as the road to Brewer's Bay. Not for the faint of heart. One day we took the 40 minute drive along the ridge road to East End. The views were spectacular, and Elizabeth Beach was gorgeous, albeit not white sand and no services. There may have been 10 people there. Another day we ferried to Virgin Gorda and the world famous Baths. Even as crowded as it got, it was the most unique snorkeling experience I've had. From 30-foot deep water with boulders almost that big, to caves and inlets where your snorkel would touch the rock above you in 3 feet of water. Our daysail was aboard the Patouche II. It was a little pricey, but Claudia Bishop is truly a marine educator, and the trip was great. We snorkeled in a school of millions of fry (kind of an anchovy), with stingrays and a school of tarpon feasting on the same. Of course, the beer and rum punch was included. Claudia made the difference, as you knew everything you were seeing. That evening, on the recommendation of a Dutch girl on the boat, I ventured out to the Bomba Shack by myself. Again, just 10 minutes from CGB. It's got to be seen to be believed. A literal shack on the beach, somehow with enough electricity for a band, and the strongest punch I had all week. Sunday nights or on the full moon is the night to go. Myett's in CGB was also good fun on certain nights, although as easy as it is to make friends on Tortola, any night is good. We ate at The Sugar Mill one night, undoubtedly the best meal on the island. The menu changes every day and the owners write for Bon Appetit magazine. The restaurant is another 200-year old mill with a terrific ambiance. You guessed it, just 10 minutes from CGB. On New Years Eve we hooked up with a couple we had met on the Patouche, and headed for the famous Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. This is the island directly across the water from CGB. Glen from CGB Boat Rentals was running a special boat that night from the dock 50 feet from the Ole Works. At Great Harbour, there were probably over 500 boats anchored. What a sight. On the beach, there were bars stretched out maybe 300 yards and about 4-5000 people. It was like Mardi Gras on the beach. We had a great time and danced past midnight at Foxy's. On the way back at 2:30am, with the moon hanging brightly over CGB, we wished the trip would last hours (its only about 30 minutes). Quito's band was still rockin', and we danced there for another hour. The next day we had to leave. It was hard, another in a string of near-perfect weather days. Low 80's during the day, never below 70 at night. We made a lot of friends, whom we'll surely see there again, and that day can't come soon enough. p.s. Here are the URL's of pictures of Cane Garden Bay I found on the net: http://www.pacintl.com/gifs/lagoon1.jpg http://www.bviguide.com/pics/q8.JPG http://www.bviguide.com/ole.html
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