Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 74
April 1, 1997

Last updated 29 Mar. 97 1730ET

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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 

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 

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 

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 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 

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 

Historic  sights 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 

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 

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:

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