Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 86
July 15, 1998

Last Update 20 July 900 A.M. ET

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NEVIS BY JOE AND JAMIE GAVULA

Trip 5/98

Left  Axa  on LIAT flight - supposed to leave at 1:15pm and fly to St.
Kitts  then  on  to  Nevis  and arrive at 2:15pm - we left Anguilla at
12:30pm  (45  mins early) - only 2 other people were flying and no one
was  going  to  St.  Kitts,  so  we  flew direct from AXA to Nevis and
arrived  about  1pm.  It  was another 9 passenger Carib Aviation plane
and  Joe  and  I  got  to  put our feet up and enjoy the views - great
flight with no problems! Took taxi to our hotel - $12 U.S.

Accommodations:  We  stayed at Pinneys Beach Hotel - it is at the very
end  of Pinneys (pronounced pennies) Beach and is close enough to walk
to  town  -  about  10  minutes. I knew that the hotel had seen better
days  and  that  was  certainly  true  -  it  is pretty ramshackle and
rundown  looking.  The  rooms did have a/c, cable tv, phone and when I
asked  about  a  refrigerator  - in about 5 mins a man carried a small
one  into  the  room  and  plugged  it  in.  The  mattress  was pretty
uncomfortable  and  the gold shag carpeting made you want to keep your
shoes  on.  In  typical island fashion, the sink was directly in front
of  the  toilet but they had wonderful water pressure and the location
worked well for us.

Joe  wanted  to  take  a break from driving so we didn't rent a car on
Nevis.  At  $90/night  the  hotel was OK but wouldn't stay there again
without  some  major  improvements. The manager said that they were in
the process of remodeling - but it looks like it might be awhile.

At  first  we  thought  we were alone at the hotel but we met a couple
from  England at the pool - they were on a leave of absence since Nov.
and  were  traveling  the  islands, also met 2 music teachers from New
Jersey  who  were  in Nevis for a week to teach classical music to the
primary  students.  Joe  talked  with  a  Jamaican from New York whose
sister-in-law's  husband  was from Nevis - being Memorial weekend they
were dedicating a burial plaque for the husband who had died.

The  best  thing  about  the  hotel  was  that  while  it really isn't
beachfront,  you  can  walk  to Pinneys beach with a few steps - it is
supposed  to  be at least 4 miles long - a good walking beach although
a  few  places  you do have to walk around the rocks and in the water.
We  walked  from  one  end  to  the  other  and  it took about 1 hour.
Luckily,  Tequila  Shelia's  is  at the end of the beach - for a well-
deserved beer!!!

Other  places  we  noticed  to  stay  next  time  were  Hurricane Cove
bungalows  on a hillside and Oualie (pronounced walley) Beach hotel on
a  small  beach,  but  our  favorite pick was Cades Bay Inn on Pinneys
beach  -  just  opened  in  Jan.  -  no  TV, no a/c, nice looking from
outside,  on  a  small  hill  over a beautiful swimming beach and bay,
there  is also a swimming pool. Tequila Shelia's Bar and Restaurant is
on  the  premises  and  they run the inn. All the hotels are right off
the  main  road  on  the beach side not far from the airport. Probably
need to rent a car though since it is pretty far from town.

There  are also villas and houses for rent and we plan to look into it
for  next year. We met a couple who had lived in Nevis for 5 years and
were  being  transferred  to Seattle (he works for Four Seasons), they
are  in  the  process  of putting their 3 bed villa with a pool on the
internet  for  rent.  Randy  said  it  was  only  about 5 minutes from
Tequila Shelia's, they had pictures and it really looked nice.

Restaurants  and  Bars:  Ah,  our  favorite  subject!  Tried EDDY'S in
Charlestown  our  1st  night  (Sat)-  had pizza and flying fish - very
good,  plentiful  and  reasonable prices, we sat a few hours drinking,
eating  and  talking with the bartender, Deb (she was from Wisconsin),
she  gave  us a ton of info on how to get around, where to go and when
things  were  going  on  - it was a pretty slow night and according to
Deb,  Wednesday  is  the  night to go to EDDY's- there have happy hour
and  are  packed.  One  nice touch - they have coozies (sp?) and offer
you  one  for  your  beer.  There are several hanging behind the bar -
some with names on the bottom.

Deb  is  the  one  who  told  us to try Tequila Shelia's (it is run by
Eddy's  wife,  Shelia)  and that we could walk to it from our hotel on
the beach.

Sunday,  TEQUILA SHELIA'S at Cades Bay was a godsend after walking the
beach  -  we arrived before noon and wound up spending all afternoon -
we  watched  volleyball,  talked  to  Shelia  and met a great crowd of
folks.  Deb,  the  bartender  showed up and introduced us around. They
were  serving  Sunday  Brunch  - Joe had steak and eggs, I had chicken
quesadillas,  good and reasonable priced. It was happy hour and Shelia
was  working  like crazy to keep up with the bar. She bought us a beer
and  gave us 2 of the famous Eddy and Shelia coozies for being patient
and able to last the day.

SUNSHINES  on  Pinneys beach - is a great famous beach shack where the
party  from  Tequila  Shelia's moved to on Sun night. We caught a ride
with  a  Guyanese man who's working in Nevis. I had been told to try a
"Killer  Bee"  by Merlin, our taxi driver on St. Kitts, but I had also
been  warned  by Deb so I stayed away from trying one. There was quite
a  crowd  and we stayed for dinner - had bbq chicken, salad and rice -
good  and  plentiful.  Great  Music  - we were told that Sunshine's is
about   the   only   place  to  hear  blues  or  anything  other  than
dancehall/rap.  We  didn't  know  Frank Sinatra had died but found out
when  Sunshine dedicated the evening to Frank Sinatra and we danced in
the  sand  to  old Sinatra tunes!! Someone started a bonfire and there
were  several  dinghy's  that  came in from boats anchored in the bay.
Sunshine  treated  us  to  complimentary shots of local moonshine when
Joe  told  him  Merlin said to say "hi" - (now I know what is probably
in  a  "killer  bee"!) We thought the day had been as perfect as a day
could get but we were in for more.

We  got  the chance to watch a gorgeous fireworks display - sitting on
the  beach,  listening  to  great  music and everyone awestruck by the
beautiful   images  of  fire  and  light.  (Turned  out  there  was  a
convention  of  investment bankers at Four Seasons (next door) and the
fireworks  were  part of a perk trip for their cream of the crop) - we
met  a couple who was part of that group at Tequila Shelia's - then we
saw  then  again  at Sunshines - we were getting ready to walk back to
the  hotel  and they told us not to leave yet. I'm glad we didn't miss
it - It was a great night, truly magical and memorable!!!

PINNEY'S  BEACH  RESTAURANT  - at hotel, only ate breakfast and it was
fine, sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

Walked  to  SEA  SPAWN Guest House - half a block from our hotel - ate
on  the porch for dinner one night, had chicken , rice and salad, plus
a  couple  of  beers and cokes - $24 - a VERY local place with OK food
and plenty of it.

SEAFOOD  MADNESS  is  across  the  street  from  the  hotel and we ate
breakfast  our  last  morning,  very good and wish we had tried it for
lunch or dinner. Coffee, eggs, toast, juice, etc. about $15.

Restaurants  continued:  We stopped at GOLDEN ROCK ESTATE for lunch on
our  island  tour  -  it  is one of the old sugar plantations that has
been  turned  into  an  inn.  We ate the lunch buffet - fish, chicken,
salads,  desserts,  very  delicious and I would go back - $25/pp total
bill  ran  $70  with drinks and service charge. The view was great and
there  were several people arriving for lunch while we were there. The
owner  said  that  they  don't  have refrigeration there and bring the
food prepared in ice chests to the hotel each day.

Our  last  dinner  was  at  Beachcomber Restaurant on Pinney's beach -
made  a  reservation and we were the only couple there to eat. Watched
the  sunset  through  the  rain  but it still was beautiful and a nice
evening  - had rum punches, appetizers, and lobster, just great - very
good  and would go back. We did met the manager and his family who are
British  -  I  think  this  rest. is owned by folks who have Old Manor
Estate/The  Cooperage  but  I'm not sure that it is open now, just the
Beachcomber. (Not sure about that).

Drinks:  Rum  punches  made  in  Nevis  were not the fruity drink I am
familiar  with  -  I heard one woman complain about not liking the rum
punches  in  Nevis. Shelia tried to make something else for her but it
wasn't  right - so she tried a vodka and TING, loved it and was happy.
I  like  Nevis  rum  punches  but  they  have  a lot a bitters and are
definitely different tasting.

Also  the Carib beer in St. Kitts and Nevis is not the same as what we
drink  in  Anguilla  - Anguilla's Carib is brewed in Trinidad, I think
and  St.  Kitts brews Carib for themselves and Nevis - I think the St.
Kitts  is  better, the bottles are smaller and run about $5 EC ($2 US)
and at happy hour $3 EC ($1.25 US).

Beaches:  Pinney's  Beach is THE beach on Nevis, there are others like
Oualie  beach  which  is  small and has a hotel, restaurant and sports
activity  dock. Nisbet Plantation is on the beach - nice but the water
is  not as calm as Pinney's. Pinney's is about 4 miles long, dark sand
with  palm  trees and seagrape lining the sand - behind is Mount Nevis
in  the clouds - very beautiful view and backdrop, reminds us a little
of  Kauai.  There  are  a  few  restaurants/bars  on this beach, and a
couple  of  the  inns have beach areas for their guests. Only 3 hotels
to  choose  from - Cades Bay Inn, Four Seasons Resort and Pinney Beach
Hotel.  It  must be one of the last undeveloped stretches of sand. Not
for long, I'm sure.

Bugs:  The  most mosquitoes we encountered on our trip. Lots of places
have  screened  porches though and we just used repellent, the look of
lushness and green does come at a price.

Island  Tour: We called Teach Tours for an island tour and enjoyed it.
We  would have never found some of the plantations - we were struck by
the  history  of  the  island  with a few buildings dating back to the
1600  and 1700s. Charlestown is the main town, small streets, a little
crowded  and  bustling,  a  little run down too, but there is a lot of
work going on.

A  big  surprise  was  the amusement park that an American from Philly
has  built  a  little way out of town - CARIBBEAN COVE - it was closed
but  Teach  (who used to be a school teacher) said it was very popular
with  kids.  There are bumper boats, minature golf and a games arcade,
restaurant  and bar. Who woulda thunk on an island of 8,000 people and
36   sq   miles!!  The  American  also  created  a  Botanical  Gardens
attraction but we skipped it.

Visited  the  plantations inns and Teach was a good guide - MONTPELIER
P.Inn  was  very nice, they don't allow tours through the property but
if  it is just a couple they may let you in. This is where Princess Di
stayed  -  it  felt  very  exclusive and I loved the mural on the wall
around  the  pool  - runs about $200/double off season and $300/double
on season.

HERMITAGE  P.Inn  has  a building from 1740, really interesting place,
there  is  a  variety  of  accommodations that are new buildings. Pool
area  is  attractive  and  inviting. Runs about $160 - $250/double off
season, $300-400/double on season.

GOLDEN  ROCK  ESTATE  was  nice and very interesting also, they have a
nature  trail - one about 30 mins and one about 2-3 hours hike - it is
supposed  to  be  the best place to see monkeys on Nevis. It is not as
expensive  as the others but it is not as luxurious as the other 2. We
almost  stayed  here  but  decided  to stay on the beach instead. Runs
about $130-$165/double off season and $200-$235/double on season.

NISBET  P.Inn  is  the only inn on a beach, it is very nice, manicured
and  groomed  landscape - a very large property but the most expensive
of all.

Stopped  at  the  FOUR  SEASONS  RESORT  and went into the gift shop -
absolutely  a  beautiful property and everyone seems very proud of it.
They  are  building  villas  and  expanding  -  the golf course looked
gorgeous  and  we  heard it runs about $100/game. We did see something
funny  -  about 10 donkeys galloping all over one of the greens in the
late afternoon - hey it's the Caribbean!!

We  learned  a  lot  about the island and were glad we took the tour -
ran  about $50-60 for 2-3 hours. We drove completely around the island
-  one  side is prettier than the other due to rainfull amounts. Nevis
grows  sea  cotton and its 2 main exports are cotton and lobster/fish.
Water  comes  from  springs and wells - some are hot so the cold water
out  of  the  tap at our hotel was perfect for a shower - basically we
never  turned  on  the hot water. We drank the tap water in Nevis with
no problems.

While  Charlestown  is  a  little  messy,  the  houses  and yards look
maintained  and  neat  in  the  countryside  and small villages - very
picturesque  and very Caribbean feeling. We were completely charmed by
the island and the people.

General  Impression  and  Gossip:  We  found  the locals to be shy and
reserved  but  very nice and helpful - when we walked to town, several
women  on  the  side of the road asked how we were enjoying ourselves.
Seems  like everyone knew Teach as we drove around - he took very good
care of us.

We  heard  that  Nevis  is  getting  a  reputation  as the "other" St.
Barths.  We also heard that Ritz Carlton is looking for property for a
hotel.  Kuwait  is  supposed  to  be loaning some of the money for the
deep  water  port  that  is  being  built north of Charlestown and the
airport  is  being  expanded and expected to be finished by end of the
year  -  they  want  to  accommodate 60 passenger planes like American
Eagle flies.

Nevis  is  definitely a Caribbean experience and worthwhile the island
is  wonderful  and  we  intend to go back and stay a little longer!! I
would  suggest  going soon as it looks like Nevis is about to get very
popular and upscale.

This  whole  trip was so refreshing and we are glad we tried somewhere
new.  Our  trips  are something we look forward to all year and thanks
to  everyone  who  helped  with  info  and  advice  - it makes all the
difference!!

PUERTO RICO: REPLY TO PREVIOUS ARTICLE JOESEPH R. TORRES

I  would like to respond to Sandra Rosenwald's comments about her trip
to  Puerto  Rico  ,  and  how  it's too much like a city and that she-
wouldn't  return.  Well,  San  Juan is a big city and that is what you
experienced.  If  you  had  left the big city and traveled to gorgeous
mountain  scenery  and  pretty  quaint  villages,  not  to mention the
fabulous  cave  system,  all  the  physical beauty of the Caribbean is
easily  duplicated  in  Puerto  Rico. But , you have to leave San Juan
and  explore  the  island  plus  the  two  little  gems of Culebra and
Vieques.  These  offshore  islands  are the real Caribbean of 50 years
ago .

Unfortunately,  what this lady experienced is typical of most tourists
to  Puerto  Rico  and  many  other places. It's like going to downtown
L.A.  and  writing  that  you'll never again visit California for it's
too much like a big city.

A   traveler   should   always   acquaint  themselves  with  reputable
information  about  a  destination. And not rely on the local taxi men
to be a competent source of information.

The  truth  is that throughout South America and the Caribbean Spanish
speaking   islands  there  is  a  natural  disregard  for  police  and
government  authority  similar  to what teen-agers in the mainland do.
The  best  example  of this is going through red lights at night after
stopping.  Although  there  are  car-jackings  like any other American
city,  here  it's  an  excuse for breaking the law and those who break
the law are usually young drivers...gee, I'm not surprised.

I  hope  that Mrs. Rosenwald gets another chance at Puerto Rico. Those
that  have  experienced her totally have a different story to tell..eg
some  of the other travel letters... I have been fortunate to see most
of  this  world,  and  Puerto Rico is one of the loveliest places with
wonderfully warm people as I have ever experienced...

ST. JOHN: CANEEL BAY BY ED ADAMS

(Ed Note: The following article by Ed Adams is copyrighted and used here with his permission.)

Trip May 98

Caneel   Bay   Resort  on  St.  John  in  the  US  Virgin  Islands  is
consistently  lauded as one of the Caribbean’s top 10 resorts. Article
after  article praises its seven beaches, top-tier food and impeccable
service.  Based  on  a  week-long vacation my wife and I took in early
May 1998, those laurels are more that justified.

But  Caneel  is  also one of the region’s priciest resorts, with daily
rates  for  a  beachfront  room in 1998 ranging from $650 a day in the
high  season  to  $375  a  day  during the summer. At those tariffs --
which  do  not include any meals -- even the smallest fault can ruin a
vacation.

Since  one  person’s  mere  annoyance is another’s major crisis, we’ve
tried  to  provide  in this travelogue as much detail about the resort
and  our stay there as possible, so you can judge for yourself whether
it  would  satisfy  your  needs.  While  this  may read in spots as an
extremely  picky  review  of Caneel, keep in mind that, on balance, we
had  a  tremendously  enjoyable  time,  and  would  have no hesitation
returning to the resort -- provided our bank account cooperates.

BACKGROUND

Caneel  Bay  was  made  famous by Laurance Rockefeller, who bought the
170-acre,  166-room  resort  in  1952.  He also had the foresight (and
wealth)  to  buy  up most of the surrounding land, which he later gave
to  the  US  government. Most of St. John is now a lush national park,
which  completely  surrounds  the  resort. Other than a stray house or
two,  the  hillsides  are  nothing  but  a  carpet of greenery, making
guests  feel  like  they  have  truly escaped to an island paradise --
albeit one with maid service and excellent food.

You  feel  as  if  you are part of the natural surroundings: our first
night,  two  donkeys  that  had  wandered down from the hills silently
ambled  past  our  room,  oblivious  to us sitting five feet away. One
morning,  a  young owl flew into the shrubs outside our room. A battle
ensued  in  the  midst  of the bushes, and a minute later a victorious
mongoose  emerged,  trotting  by  our  verandah  with  the hapless owl
clenched in his teeth.

The  resort  was  part of the RockResorts chain, along with its nearby
sister  resort,  Little  Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin
Islands.  RockResorts was eventually sold, and the resort went through
several  owners. Both Caneel and Little Dix were purchased by Rosewood
Hotels  in  1991.  Rosewood  runs  a  small collection of very upscale
properties  worldwide,  including  Dallas’ The Mansion on Turtle Creek
and The Lanesborough in London.

Caneel  still  very much trades on the cachet of the Rockefeller name,
and  retains  the country club atmosphere one would associate with one
of  the  world’s wealthiest families. It has a sedate, but not stuffy,
ambiance.  We  saw several guests who looked like Captains of Industry
straight  out  of  Central  Casting. But most of the guests during our
off-season  stay  seemed  to  be ages 30-50, and well-to-do but not on
the  Forbes  400  list.  Almost  all were Americans. There were just a
smattering  of  guests  who fit comfortably within the confines of the
old cliche about people who go to pricey Caribbean resorts: the newly-
wed, the over-fed and the nearly-dead.

Rosewood,  for  obvious  financial  reasons,  is  trying to expand the
resort’s  appeal,  to  include  families  with  children and corporate
groups.  There  is  a  relatively  new children’s activity center in a
secluded  corner  of  the  resort, and we saw a handful of guests with
children.  Most  were  well-behaved  babies  or toddlers. But we met a
couple  who  said  the  baby  next door to them provided their morning
wake-up  call  --  plenty early for them to be the first people in the
dining  room for breakfast. Also while we were there, a group of 40 or
so  salespeople  from  a  chemical  company  was  having  a retreat at
Caneel.  We  encountered  several  of  them as they came back from the
nearby  town  of  Cruz  Bay  with  a cooler of ice and a case of beer,
loudly  urging  their  comrades  to stop by for a cold one that night.
There  were  exactly  the  people we were trying to avoid by coming to
Caneel. Fortunately, they were staying far from our room.

Caneel  is also a very large resort. While that provides guests with a
variety  of room, dining and activity options, it is not the place for
people  who  are  seeking  true seclusion. During our off-season stay,
we’d  guess  the  resort  was  50-75 percent full. At times, we had to
settle  for  a  dinner reservation 15 minutes later than we wanted, or
had  to schedule a massage for a day later than desired -- nothing too
troubling.  But  during  high  season, when the resort is full, we can
imagine  that  making  decisions  about which restaurant to eat in and
what  activity to do require more advance planning that we would like.


A  road  runs  around  the  interior  of  the resort’s grounds, and an
electric-powered  shuttle  bus  comes  along every 15 minutes or so to
ferry  guests around the property. Before we took our trip, we thought
this  must  be  an  amenity  used  almost exclusively by guests in the
“nearly-dead”  category.  But a sweaty 15-minute walk to breakfast one
morning  convinced  these  two  30-something visitors that the bus was
the  way to go. It seemed, based on the volume of ridership, that most
of the other guests agreed.

GETTING THERE

Paradise,  unfortunately, is rarely close at hand. We’ve found many of
the  best  Caribbean  resorts are also the hardest the get to, and the
journey  to  Caneel  is no exception. Five modes of transportation are
involved:

1. The car or cab to the airport.

2.  The  plane  to St. Thomas -- the most populated of the three major
US  Virgin  Islands.  We chose a flight leaving at 8 a.m., even though
it  required  us to wake up at 4 a.m. We also spent the extra cash for
a  non-stop  flight,  which  touched  down  at  1  p.m., rather than a
connecting  flight that would have gotten us in at 5 p.m. We were glad
on  both  scores,  since  it allowed us to spend half our first day on
the  beach.  You’ll  be met at the airport by a Caneel representative,
who  checks  you  into the resort at an office adjacent to the baggage
claim.  Once  you  touch  down in St. Thomas, Caneel takes care of all
arrangements to get you to the resort.

3.  The  “troop  transport”  from  the  airport to the ferry dock. The
transport  --  our  nickname,  not  the resort’s -- is a flatbed truck
with  six padded bench seats facing forward, and an awning overhead to
protect  you  from the sun. Depending on what time your plane arrives,
the  trip  is either a 15 minute dash to the dock in Charlotte Amalie,
which  is  St. Thomas’ largest settlement, or a 45 minute jaunt to Red
Hook,  on  the  far  end  of the island. We were told that during high
season,  Charlotte  Amalie  can  have  as  many as five massive cruise
ships  in  port at one time. It has all the standard shops designed to
separate  those cruise passengers from their money. Caneel has several
shopping  trips  into  Charlottte Amalie and St. John’s Cruz Bay every
week,  and  even  a  weekly  presentation  by a shopping consultant on
where  to  find  the  most  interesting merchandise, for those who are
interested in such things.

4.  At  the  dock,  you’ll be met by Caneel’s own high-speed ferry. On
board,  you  can  have  your first rum punch of the trip. Depending on
which  dock  you’re  at,  it’s  a  15-30  minute  ride directly to the
resort’s dock.

5.  Stepping  off  the  dock at Caneel, you’ll be met with cold towels
for  your  face,  the  ice  still  clinging  to the terry cloth. (When
guests  leave  the  resort,  a  Caneel employee waves to the departing
ferry  from  the  dock)  Then  it’s  into a golf cart -- your bags are
following on another cart -- to your room.

ROOMS

The  166  rooms  at  Caneel  are not all the same. Ours was Room 81 on
Scott  Beach (for more on beaches, see below). Upon arrival, your room
is  stocked  with  a  complimentary bottle of rum, two cans of Coke, a
bucket  of ice and a large bottle of water. (Tap water is drinkable at
Caneel)  Our  package  included  a  bottle  of champagne upon arrival,
which  was missing. It finally arrived near the end of our stay, after
we  asked  for  it  twice. Ice is replenished once a day, generally in
the  morning.  During  the heat of the off season, twice a day service
would  be appreciated. In addition to the typical ice bucket, there is
a  small  cooler  filled  with ice you can take to the beach. There is
also the standard minibar, with the standard $2.75 Cokes.

Our  room  had  a king size bed, two side tables, dresser, small desk,
two  large  wicker chairs and a small table in between. The chairs get
extra  style  points  --  the right arms had a two-inch hole built in,
with  a  coaster at the bottom, where you could rest your drink. There
are  no  phones,  radios  or  televisions  in Caneel rooms. There is a
phone  near  each  beach which connects you to the front desk, and can
be  used  to  call  outside the resort. There is also a small business
center  near  the  front desk that includes a personal computer. There
is  a  TV  in the main bar that receives satellite broadcasts from the
States.  During our stay, it was used only for special events: the NBA
playoff   games  and  the  finale  of  “Seinfeld.”  The  resort  plays
videotaped  movies  each  night  in  a room at the children’s activity
center, which is near the Turtle Bay Estate House.

There  was  an  adjustable-speed  ceiling  fan above our bed, which we
found  sufficient to keep the room relatively cool. Only a very few of
Caneel’s  rooms  have  air conditioning, the absence of which we found
lent  it  a tropical ambiance. But we can imagine that if you visit in
June,  July, August or early September, the heat could be suffocating.
We  heard  a  rumor  that  the  resort  was  planning  to  install air
conditioning  in  all  the  rooms.  There was no glass in the windows,
just  screens  and  louvers. There are blinds, but they keep only some
of  the  light out. We loved living on island time, waking up as early
as  5  a.m.  when the sun rose, and going to bed as early as 9:30 p.m.
Light-sensitive  guests who want to sleep-in may find the Caneel rooms
a challenge.

Our  bathroom  had  a  roomy  closet,  safe,  two  sinks, toilet and a
windowed  shower  that  looked out onto a wall of greenery. The shower
head  was  one of the lowest we have ever encountered -- about 5 feet,
3  inches  high,  requiring  us  to bend over to shampoo. The bathroom
also  had  a  ceiling  fan.  There  was  no tub. There was a basket of
coconut-  and  mango-scented  toiletries,  two robes and a hair dryer.
The  resort  did  a  very  good  job of replenishing towels; we almost
always had four bath towels and four beach towels ready for use.

The  room  also  had  a  can of Raid and a can of Off to keep the bugs
away.  On  any lush Caribbean island, there are bound to be mosquitoes
and  their smaller cousins, “no-see-ums.” They tend to come out around
dinner  time, and we both sustained several bites a night, despite our
best  precautions  --  which included Skin So Soft and DEET we brought
from  home.  If  you dream of laying on the beach at night, staring at
the  full  moon,  the  bugs  will be a problem. But frankly, we’ve had
worse  experiences  in other tropical locales, and encountered no bugs
during the daylight hours.

BEACHES

You  can  request  a  particular beach at the time you book your room,
but  there is no guarantee they will be able to honor your request. In
our  experience,  which  beach  you  are  on  can  make  a significant
difference in your stay.

The  ferry  pulls  up to the resort’s dock at one end of Caneel Beach,
which  has  a  dozen  rooms  in  single-story  units  strung along its
length.  (None  of  the  beaches at Caneel is terribly long. You could
walk  the  longest  --  Scott -- in 7 leisurely minutes) We would have
found  this  beach  too  busy for our tastes, because of the sounds of
boats  motoring  in and out of the bay, plus the adjacent main dinning
room.  The  side  door  into Room 14 openings almost directly into the
dinning room.

Looking  at  the  resort  from  the water, to the right of the dock is
Little  Caneel Beach, on the hillside above which are a dozen rooms in
single-story  units. We met a couple who moved away from Little Caneel
because  of  the  smell  from  the  resort’s  sewage  system, which is
located  perhaps  100 yards down the coastline from Little Caneel. The
noise  of  boats  would  also  be  a problem in the rooms above Little
Caneel.

If  you  walk on a path through the greenery from Little Caneel, again
to  the  right,  you  come  to  Honeymoon Beach -- so named because no
rooms  are  adjacent  to  it.  We  never visited it, but we did see it
inundated  with  a  boatload of perhaps 30 cruise ship passengers on a
day trip -- which could really ruin that honeymoon feeling.

Returning  to  the  resort’s dock, if you look back toward land and to
your  left,  beyond  Caneel Beach is a small peninsula. Around that is
tiny  Paradise  Beach,  above  which  are several one-story units, and
Cottage  Seven,  the  old  Rockefeller  family  house  that  has  been
subdivided into several units.

Continuing  to  your  left,  around  a  small outcropping of rocks, is
Scott  Beach.  It  has 20 single-story units of four rooms each strung
along  its  length. They each have covered porches, with two chairs, a
table  and  a chaise lounge. They are separated from the beach by only
small  sea  grape  plants  and palm trees. There is a two-foot by two-
foot  concrete  basin filled with water outside each room, for getting
the sand off your feet before you return to your room.

We  found  Scott Beach almost ideal. The rooms are five steps from the
beach,  which  can  be seen when you’re lounging on your verandah. The
beach  faces  more  or  less  West,  so  you don’t have to worry about
direct  sunlight  until  about  9:30 a.m. or so, and you get fantastic
sunsets.  After  dark, you can see the lights of St. Thomas off in the
distance.  (Though  it  should  be noted that those lights, plus those
from  the  resort,  combine to obscure some of the night’s stars.) And
since  they  are single story units, they afford as much privacy as is
available  at  Caneel.  All  Scott  Beach  rooms  are  in the resort’s
Premium category, but we felt they were worth the extra money.

Another  plus  is  that  Scott is a five-minute walk from the resort’s
two  remaining  beaches  -- Turtle and Hawksnest. As you look at Scott
from  the water, Turtle is to your left, around yet another peninsula.
It  has  a dozen rooms in two-story units. They are separated from the
beach  by  a  relatively high wall of trees and sea grape. It appeared
that  only  some  of  the  rooms,  generally on the second floor, have
unobstructed  views  of  the water and the unpopulated islands beyond.
Turtle   is  the  farthest  beach  from  Caneel  Beach  and  the  main
restaurant. It has very good shade in the morning.

If  you  were  to  follow a trail through the foliage around the final
peninsula,  you’d  find  yourself  at Hawksnest Beach. It is faces the
opposite  way  from  Scott -- to the east. It gets the morning sun. It
also  is  the  windiest  of the beaches, and has the most shade in the
afternoons.  We  often  decamped there after lunch. It has 24 rooms in
three two-story units.

Up  a  hill  from  the  main  Caneel  Beach are Courtside rooms, where
you’ll  hear  the  “tink”  of tennis balls on the resort’s six courts,
and  the Garden View rooms, at the top of the hill. Neither have views
of  the  water;  both  are close to the resort’s little-used pool. Set
well  back  from  Caneel  Beach  are rooms in the Ocean View category.
They  have a great deal of pedestrian traffic passing by, as guests go
to  and from the main bar and restaurant, and are the least private of
the options.

In  our  judgment, if you’re going to come all this way and (no matter
which  rooms  you  select)  spend all this money, we’d recommend Scott
Beach  rooms.  If you’re concerned about having a breeze, we’d suggest
you  opt  for Hawksnest. Turtle is also quite lovely. If you can, have
the  resort  fax  you its map, so you can actually see where the rooms
are located.

ACTIVITIES

If  you want to do more than simply lie on Caneel’s seven beaches (all
of  which,  except  Honeymoon, have chaise lounges), the resort offers
plenty  of  options,  even  in  the off season. There will be a weekly
activity  sheet in your room. Options include daily scuba trips, tours
of  St.  John,  aerobics  and tennis. Twice a week, the resort hosts a
snorkel  and  swim  trip  on one of its boats, which ends with a beach
barbecue  on  an unpopulated beach. It has trips to its sister resort,
Little  Dix  Bay  on the British Virgin Islands, twice a week, as well
as separate day-long snorkeling trips to the BVIs.

There  are  sunset  cocktail cruises and sails, and a day-long trip to
the  BVIs Jost Van Dyke, on which just 150-some people live. It’s home
to  Foxy’s,  probably  the Caribbean’s most famous beachfront bar. The
resort  also  has  daily tea, an artist-in-residence who you can watch
paint  lovely  watercolors  of  St.  John, and a massage center -- the
latter  unfortunately  within  earshot  of the tennis courts. Sunfish,
kayaks  and  other  non-motorized water sports equipment are available
on  the  main beach. Golf fanatics, be warned: you must take a boat to
St. Thomas to find the nearest course.

We  love  to  snorkel,  and  have  previously  explored the waters off
Tortola  and  Virgin Gorda (including the famous Baths) in the British
Virgin  Islands,  Provo  and Mexico’s Cozumel Island. We found some of
the  best  snorkeling  we’ve  ever  experienced at Caneel. Standing on
Scott  Beach,  facing  the water, there is a reef shelf that begins on
your  right,  almost  at  the end of the beach, and extends around the
peninsula.  We  saw  a pair of black Angel fish, Parrot fish, Sergeant
Majors,  Groupers,  a  school  of  thousands  of  tiny One-Eyed Jacks,
several  Barracuda, two Skates and Wrasses. There is also an excellent
reef  to  the  left of Turtle Beach, where there is an amazing variety
of  coral.  Both reefs are just off shore, easy to reach even for poor
swimmers.

Caneel  puts  a different spin on the standard snorkel trips by having
a  former  marine  biology  teacher named Lucy do twice-daily trips to
the  off-shore reefs. Her encyclopedic knowledge of the fish and coral
formations  add enormously to the experience. She also gives a once-a-
week  slide presentation that’s worth your time, provided you have the
energy to stay awake for it.

Caneel  can  also  fulfill  special  requests.  We  wanted  to  find a
deserted  beach.  The  resort arranged for a boat to pick us up at the
Caneel  dock  and  go  down  the coast several bays to Little Cinnamon
Beach,  in  the  national  park.  It  dropped us off, and picked us up
again  3  hours  later. We alternately swam and sat under a palm tree,
marveling at our own private version of paradise.

Unless  you’re  on a package (see COST, below), most activities are an
additional  fee.  All  activities,  as  well  as  all reservations for
evening  meals,  must  be booked through the activities desk, near the
main beach and restaurant.

FOOD

We wish we could move some of Caneel’s restaurants to New York City --
  the  food is that good. And it’s in the food that the size of Caneel
works  to  its  advantage,  offering guests a variety of choices every
day in where and what to eat.

There  is  a  free continental breakfast beginning at 6:30 in the main
bar,  which  is  near  the  Caneel  Beach. The beach bar also serves a
light  menu  of  sandwiches  and  salads all day, every day. Breakfast
proper  begins  at  7:30  in  the  main  restaurant  (the Caneel Beach
Terrace),  and  stretches  to 10. We generally don’t like buffets, but
Caneel’s  breakfast buffet was marvelous. It included a dozen tropical
fruits  -- from mangos to pineapples to strawberries -- seven kinds of
juices,  cereals,  breads  and muffins, French toast, bacon and corned
beef  hash. There was a station for eggs, pancakes and waffles made to
order.  The  quality of the food was outstanding, and the kitchen made
sure  the  buffet  never ran out of anything. A limited breakfast menu
can  also  be  ordered  by  room  service  -- the only meal of the day
served in the rooms.

The  Beach  Terrace  is  open  on  three  sides  to  the beach and the
manicured  grounds  of  the resort, with the roof supported by columns
made  to  look like palm trees. It also serves lunch, which is again a
buffet,  this  time  with salads, entrees, and hamburgers, hot dogs or
chicken  sandwiches  grilled  to order. (Guests going off the property
during  the  day can order a picnic lunch to take with them) The Beach
Terrace  also had an evening buffet twice a week, and also had an a la
carte  menu  one  night  during  our stay. On evenings when there is a
buffet  at  the Terrace, it was our only option for dinner, other than
the  main  bar.  On  the other nights, we had the choice of either the
Equator or the Turtle Bay Estate Restaurant.

Up  a  small  hill, in a building made to look like an old sugar mill,
is  the  Equator  Restaurant. It was open only for dinner when we were
there.  Its  conceit  is  to  serve  dishes  from  countries along the
equator.  Dinners  look  out  to  the  lights  of  St.  Thomas  in the
distance.  The  food  was  good, but we found the restaurant to be hot
and  buggy,  even  with ceiling fans. We’d recommend you sit along the
ledge,  in  the  middle  of  the  semi-circle  of  dinners,  where the
occasional breeze is most likely to reach you.

The  Turtle Bay restaurant is the most formal of the three, with white
table  clothes  and  a ban on children under 8 years old. Here’s where
you  can  have an appetizer, soup, salad, and a “light” little entree,
like  filet  mignon  or  shrimp, scallops and lobster in a wine sauce.
The  food  was  every bit as good as the best restaurants in New York.
The  restaurant  is air-conditioned, and it was on when we were there,
even  though  the  French  doors  that look out onto the greenery were
open.  There  is  also  an  open-air  terrace  where you can watch the
sunsets.

During   the   day,   shirts   and  cover-ups  were  required  in  all
restaurants.  In the evening, men were required to wear long pants and
collared  shirts.  Dinner  generally  looked  like the J. Crew catalog
come  to  life.  During the high season, the resort may require either
jackets  or  ties  for  men  --  we  don’t know, but it’s that kind of
place.  Also,  in  all  of Caneel’s restaurants, whenever guests leave
their  table,  a  waiter  appears to fold their napkin over the arm of
the  chair.  It  was a charming custom in the fancier restaurants, and
almost  comical  in  its  formality when you’re returning to the table
with your hot dog at lunch.

Evening  entertainment  is  the one aspect of the Caneel experience we
were  most  disappointed in. Some kind of musical group would play for
a  couple  of hours each night in the main bar. They ranged from a guy
who  was  literally  a one-man band to a jazz quartet. The groups were
as  sedate  as  the  resort’s oldest customers, and no one was dancing
whenever  we  passed  through  the  bar. We would have liked to hear a
little  Caribbean music, from bands just lively enough to coax patrons
onto the dance floor.

COST

You’re  probably going to want to book one of Caneel’s packages, which
will likely save you somewhat on the overall cost of your vacation.

The  town  of Cruz Bay, which is a 10-minute taxi ride away (about $10
round-trip),  has its share of restaurants, but we think you’d be hard
pressed  to  find  food  as  consistently  good as what you’ll have at
Caneel.

Even  if  you  eat  a couple of meals in town, the packages make sense
because  of  the extremely high cost of meals at Caneel. Breakfast and
lunch  are  $20  a person. In the Turtle Bay restaurant, entrees alone
topped  out  at  $39,  with entrees in the Equator not far behind. You
figure  you’ll  be satisfied with a hamburger in the main bar? That’ll
be $15, please.

As  of  summer 1998, the Pure Romance package was going for $4,300 for
seven  nights  in  a  Premium  category room, or about $614 per night.
Without  the  package,  the  room  alone  cost  $425 a night. With the
package,  you  got  three  meals a day, champagne upon arrival, round-
trip  transfers to the airport ($50 for those not in the package), the
beach  BBQ, two hours of massage, day trips to Little Dix and a sunset
cocktail  cruise.  The Classic Caribbean package, which gives you most
of  that  minus  daily  lunch, was running $550 a night for the summer
1998 season.

More  information  about  the  resort  and  its  rates can be found on
Caneel’s excellent web site: http://www.caneelbay.com

For  management  at a resort of Caneel’s quality, there is a fine line
between  recouping  the  substantial  costs  of running the resort and
making  guests  feel that you are trying to wring every last penny out
of  them.  At  times,  we felt Caneel crossed that line. For instance,
even  with the packages, any beverages -- including soft drinks -- are
extra.  We would have liked Caneel to simply adjust its rates slightly
to  include drinks of all kinds in its packages, as other high-quality
resorts  have  done  in  recent years. The resort also has an enormous
gift  shop,  where  you  can  outfit  yourself with everything from t-
shirts  to  resort  wear,  all  of  it bearing Caneel’s logo (even the
disposable  cameras).  Nothing  wrong  with  that,  but  is  it really
necessary to charge $22.50 for four ounces of sunscreen?

ST. KITTS BY JOE GAVULA

Trip 5/98

Our  1st  trip  to St. Kitts - left OKC at 11am on AA, all connections
worked  out  through DFW and SJU, we had no problems other than sudden
turbulence  over  St. Thomas, it lasted all of about 45 seconds but if
we  hadn't  had  our  seat  belts  fastened  we would have been in the
aisle,  as  it happened I only wound up with my socks and shoes soaked
with  coke  and  rum.  Luckily,  there  were  only 7 passengers on the
plane.  We arrived in St. Kitts about 9pm and took a taxi to our hotel
$14U.S.  Coconut  Beach  Hotel - formerly Timothy Colony Beach Hotel -
on the Caribbean side of St. Kitts.

We  had  a  1  bed  apt  - kitchen, microwave, coffeemaker, living and
dining  area,  balcony,  bath with tub and separate bedroom ,cable TV,
phone,  and  a/c  for $95/night - really an excellent deal - looks out
over  a  salt  pond  and  not the beach but we didn't mind at all. Not
fancy  and  lots  of  stairs but we would stay there again, didn't see
any  other  place  that  was  more  interesting.  There  is  a bar and
restaurant  -  Coconuts (?) - good breakfasts and rum punch. The beach
is  small  and  dark  sand with a sports center - waverunners, kayaks,
windsailing, etc. - umbrellas and chairs for rent and the MONKEY BAR -
  we  found  out  it  is a very popular local place with very good rum
punches and lots of interesting folks.

The  beach  was  full  of  people  that  day but they were mostly from
cruise  ship,  we  did  have  a  few beach vendors hit us up - shells,
jewelry,  braids,  etc.  We  wound  up  spending  all day on the beach
having a great time.

We  only  had  1  day left so we took a taxi to Turtle Beach and spent
the  next  day  there.  Beautiful  views  on  the 20 minute drive, saw
monkeys,  cows,  goats, you name it. Joe snorkeled and we ate burgers,
a  very  nice place to spend a relaxing day. We ran into people we met
at  the Monkey Bar the night before - they recommended we eat at Sprat
Net for dinner, which we did.

Sprat  Net is about 20 minutes from BasseTerre and on the water - Fri.
night  is a big night and you have to get there early to get lobster -
it  is  a  rustic  picnic table sort of place and we enjoyed the food,
etc.,  mostly  tourists  early  in  the evening. The food was good and
reasonably  priced  -  johnnycake,  corn on cob and lobster or fish or
chicken  or  ribs.  We  were going to go to Fisherman's originally for
dinner  but  our  taxi  driver,  Merlin,  also  recommended Sprat Net.
Definitely  would go back to eat. BTW, Merlin is a Nevisian working on
St.  Kitts  -  he was very informative and a really pleasant and happy
person - he made a great guide.

We  heard  there was going to be a party at the Monkey Bar around 10pm
so  we headed that way later - it was closed, we met another couple in
Coconuts  bar  and  talked to them for awhile then we went back to our
apt  and  sat on the balcony watching the parade of maybe 30 - 40 cars
drive  down to the Monkey Bar and turn around. It would have been some
kind of party - too bad it was canceled.

We  left  the  next day for Anguilla - we never took an island tour or
rented  a  car  on  St.  Kitts,  so  we don't have a good feel for the
island.

A  very  big  plus  for SKB is that the tap water is drinkable - comes
from  mountain springs - they don't have the water problem AXA and SBH
do.

We  probably  won't  go  back  but  mostly because we realize we enjoy
small  islands with fewer people and we are basically beach people. If
we  were  more  outdoor  sports enthusiasts, ST. Kitts would be a good
choice.  We  had  a  good  time and enjoyed our stay, wish we had more
time to explore.

ST. LUCIA: JALOUSIE HILTON BY CRAIG THOMPSON

Trip 5/98

I  just  returned  from  8 days at the Jalousie Hilton in St. Lucia. I
have  been researching St. Lucia for a while, reading various reports,
and thought I would post my own opinion.

Diving:  Absolutely  wonderful.  I  dove only in and around Soufriere.
This  is  the best diving on the island. I have read many trip reports
that  warned  St. Lucia was not as good as Cayman, Bonaire, etc. Well,
I  have  been  to  these  places, and many others, and St. Lucia ranks
right  up  there  with  these sites. The vis was about 80'+, sometimes
100'.  The  coral  was  in great shape and vibrant. Thousands of fish,
many  small, but some were fairly large (cuda, etc.). The walls around
the  pitons  rivaled what I saw last year on Little Cayman!! Even more
dramatic  in  places.  Overall,  I  would  rank  the diving as good as
anywhere  else  I  have  been.  Short  boat rides, no waves, excellent
weather.  I  dove  with  Frogs  which  is located at the Jalousie. New
boat, good equipment, great staff.

Island:  Lots  to do and see!! Great rain forest, volcano, waterfalls,
gardens,  great  eco  island. The Jalouise Hilton is right between the
two  Pitons  in one of the most dramatic settings I have been in. Huge
mountains,  great  views.  Bonaire,  Cayman,  Cozumel  can't even come
close.  The  roads  are narrow, and rough, but we rented a car and had
no  problems at all. We drove all over. We got lost several times. The
locals  are  very  friendly  and  always  answered  our  requests  for
directions  with  delight. Although some offered to be our guides, for
a  fee,  we  refused,  and  they would then give directions freely. No
shopping,  hard  to  even  find  a  t-shirt shop! Little night life as
well,   but  the  Jalousie  did  have  entertainment  several  nights,
including  a  steel drum band, etc. So we had all the entertainment we
needed.

Lodging:  The  Jalousie  Hilton  was awesome. The best "dive" resort I
have  stayed in. The staff was about the best I have ever encountered,
and  I travel a lot!! We had our own private 2 room villa with our own
private  plunge pool. Very nice. The resort has a top notch spa, which
my  wife  loved,  good  restaurants,  a good beach, and over all great
facilities.

There  are  very few places I would return to as I like to explore new
locations  every  year.  This  is  one I plan to return to. With out a
doubt, the best overall dive trips I have ever had.

ST. MARTIN BY SHERRI THACKER

Trip 6/98

Just  got back from our first time on St. Martin. We loved it!! And we
can't wait to return.

We  stayed  at  Le  Habitation,  beautiful  resort!!  The  road up the
mountain  (and  down!)  was  pretty  adventurous  but it didn't really
bother  us  too  much.  In  fact,  all  the  roads  over  there are an
adventure!  Anyway, the hotel was nice and we liked the small beach it
was on too.

We  snorkeled  a  lot  at  Dawn Beach, saw some pretty fish. Our first
trip  there, we had locked our digital camera in the trunk and when we
returned,  we  noticed  it was missing. That really made us mad but we
learned our lesson not to use the rental car as a "safe".

Restaurants  were  not  crowded  at  all.  Sometimes  we were the only
people eating at 7 pm.

Restaurants  we  went to were: Le Fish Pot - had lobster ravioli and a
salad  with  goat  cheese.  Pretty good. Le Bar de la Mar in Marigot -
had  a  wonderful  grilled  lobster  and  shrimp. Cheris Cafe - yummy!
Rainbow  - this was a disappointment. I had shrimp over risotto and it
was  too  heavy for my taste. Don Camillo - had veal marsala which was
great  and  i  had lasagna - not so great! I think our best dinner was
at  Turtle  Pier  Bar  &  Restaurant  over  by the airport. Ate only 2
lunches out, the other days we ate crackers and peanuts.

We  ate  lunch at Scavengers on Dawn Beach, she makes a wonderful rice
salad  and  a  great  coleslaw!  Also  ate  lunch at Bikini Cafe-great
burgers!  Ate  breakfast  3 mornings at the La Habitation restaurants.
Ate  one breakfast in Marigot at La Croissantre (sp?), those chocolate
croissants  were so mouth-watering!! MMMMMM! The other mornings we ate
rice crispy cereal in our room.

We  really  had  a  wonderful time and can't wait to go back! I really
wanted  to go over to St. Barts or Anguilla for a day but just ran out
of  time. We had beautiful weather except for only one day of rain off
& on.

Went  shopping  in  Phillipsburg  on Tues. because we heard the cruise
ships  were  in  port  on  Mon.,  Wed  &  Fri. that week so it was not
crowded at all!!

Marigot  also  was not that crowded. In fact, the whole island did not
seem  crowded to us. Of course, traffic was really bad around 8 am and
5-6 PM but we learned to avoid being out then.

The  beaches  were  beautiful.  our best had to be Dawn Beach and Baie
Rouge.  I  was  surprised  that Orient Beach was "as dirty as it was".
Lots  &  lots  of  seaweed  stuff  washed  up  on  the whole beach. We
ventured  over to the nude beach once and walked up & down just to say
we saw it. Definitely different! ha ha

All in all, it was a great week in Paradise!

ST. MARTIN BY DAVID AND ERICA RUITENBACH

My  wife and I just returned from our second trip to St. Martin. Prior
to  our  trips  to  St. Martin we have read all of the St. Martin trip
reports  contained in the Caribbean Travel Roundup. We found them very
informative and useful. So now it's our turn to contribute.

  Our  first  trip to St. Martin last June was wonderful. We loved the
Island  beauty, wonderful beaches, diverse population and the European
atmosphere  and  attitudes.  So  as  you  probably  have guessed, this
second trip was filled with high expectations and optimism.

Unfortunately  the  trip  got  off  to  a  shaky  start. Due to flight
cancellations  and Continental Airlines refusal to re-route us because
we were on Frequent Flyer tickets, our trip was delayed one day.

Weather

Upon  arrival  it  was  raining and it apparently had been raining all
day.  However,  it  soon  cleared  and  stayed  partly cloudy and warm
throughout  our stay. A couple of rain showers while on the beach, but
they did not last long.

Accommodations.

Our  first  stop  was  the  Hotel  Mt. Vernon on Orient Bay. We stayed
there   last   year   and   found   it   relatively   comfortable  and
accommodating.  The  hotel is not very crowded in June although it did
have  quite  a  diverse  group  of  guests;  French, Germans, Spanish,
Brazilians,  English  and Americans. You hear many different languages
while  enjoying  their  complimentary buffet breakfast in the morning.
My  only  complaint  about  the  Hotel  is that things sort of seem in
disrepair  and not enough attention to detail. For example, our TV and
in-  room  refrigerator did not work properly, nor did they last year.
I  noticed  that all of the chase lounges on the beach in front of the
hotel  were  never  put  back  on order by the staff at the end of the
day.  It  had looked each morning as if a cyclone had hit their little
portion  of  beach. Not a big deal, it just seemed that this and other
small things were basic hotel/motel management 101.

We  moved to Grand case on our sixth day to the L'Atlantide hotel. The
L'Atlantide  is  a  very charming small hotel in the lovely village of
Grand  Case.  We  had  the  studio, and although not large by American
standards,  very  comfortable.  If  you are looking for a full service
hotel  or  don't speak French, this is probably not the place for you.
During  the  summer,  the front desk staff of one, is only available a
few  hours  per  day.  They  do have maid service daily but everything
else  is  "help yourself." My only concern about the Hotel is the lack
of  security.  You park your car either under the hotel in open stalls
or  on  the  street.  The  first night someone broke in to the drivers
side  door  of our rental car with a crowbar. Nothing in the car but a
few  dog  biscuits  my wife kept in the car to feed the homeless dogs.
(Yes,  believe  it or not, they did steel the dog biscuits.) They also
severely  damaged  the  front  door to the point that it will probably
have  to  be replaced. Good thing I used my VISA Gold card to rent the
car.  This  was not our first break in. Several nights earlier my wife
and  I  were leaving the Kontiki restaurant on Orient only to find two
men  opening  our  trunk.  Even though we caught them in the act, they
continued  to  deny  any wrong doing. I decided for mine and my wife's
health  and  safety,  it was best not to pursue the matter any further
as   we   caught  them  before  they  could  steal  anything.  We  did
immediately  go  back  to  our  hotel  and  report  them and their car
license  number  to the local gendarmes. After these two incidents and
several  conversations  with the local police about local crime, I was
much  more  cautious  about  our security and safety than on our first
visit.  My advise; unless you are at a resort with full time security,
leave  the  diamond  earrings  and  gold necklaces in the safe deposit
boxes  when  you  go  out in the evenings. I also think that when your
car  is  parked  in town or at the beach, you should leave it unlocked
with  the  glove compartment open. This tells a potential prowler that
you  are  not  dumb  enough  to leave anything of value in the car for
them  to steal. If they want to steal the car itself, locking it won't
deter them.

Beaches

We  spent  most of our time at Cupecoy, Long Bay and Orient Beach. Our
first  day was spent at the far end of Cupecoy. This is a great beach,
especially  for  swimming and sunning. We met a nice couple there from
Raleigh,  NC  and  spent  several  evenings with them during our stay.
Unfortunately,   since  Cupecoy  is  clothing  optional  and  somewhat
isolated,  it  does  attract some undesirable elements. Several times,
mainly  late  in  the afternoon, a group of men would assemble down at
the  far  end  of  the  beach  for  purposes  other then sunbathing or
swimming.  I am sure what they were doing on a public beach (alone and
with  each  other)  is illegal even in liberal St. Martin. We spoke to
some  of  the  local  beach  vendors  about  this  and they were quite
frustrated  also.  They  say people complain but the authorities don't
or  can't  do  anything about it. I guess there are perverts all over,
even  in  paradise.  To  bad  because  its  a  great beach, relatively
uncrowded  and  most  of  the  populace  is  respectful of each others
clothing/no  clothing  preferences.  This  activity can really make it
uncomfortable to be there, however.

We  spent  a  couple of days at Long Bay beach and loved it. The beach
was  basically  empty  and  at times it felt like we had the whole two
mile  stretch  to  ourselves.  Although  Long  Bay  is  not officially
clothing  optional,  on  the  far  west  end  (opposite La Samanna) we
noticed  several couples au naturel most likely due to the vast amount
of privacy one enjoys on this great stretch of beach.

Restaurants

My  wife  and  I  don't  put  a  high priority on eating out or gormet
dining,  so not a lot to report here. We did have a few notable diners
however.  The  first  was  notable for the wrong reason. We had a late
afternoon  dinner  at the Kontiki on Orient beach our second night. We
had  eaten  several  times  at  the  Kontiki on our previous visit and
enjoyed  the  meals and atmosphere. We were basically the only ones in
the  restaurant.  I usually don't order fish anywhere, unless I caught
and  cooked  it  myself,  but  I  made an exception this time. My wife
ordered  the  salad and also shared a small portion of my main course.
Everything  tasted  great.  The  next  morning  however, we both awoke
feeling  somewhat sick. I got worse by the hour. I was definitely food
poisoning and I attribute it to the fish.

The  fourth  night  we had dinner at L'Alabama in Grand Case. Both the
service  and  the  food was excellent. It was recommended to us by the
proprietors  of  Michael's  Cafe,  also in Grand Case. Michael and his
wife  recently  moved to Grand Case from Boston and opened their small
ocean  side  restaurant  and  bar.  Great  people  and  great view. If
you're'  looking  for a inexpensive breakfast or light dinner, I would
highly recommend Michael's.

Our  last  dinner of note was enjoyed at La Tropicana at the marina in
Marigot.  Although I thought the food took an excessive amount of time
to  arrive  between  courses,  (they  were quite busy) it tasted great
once  it  got there. Great presentation and service. The owners really
made   you   feel   welcomed.  After  dinner  everyone  was  served  a
complimentary shot of their banana rum liquor.

In  summary,  we  had  a  great  trip  despite  some  of  the problems
mentioned.  Would  we  go back? I am debating but my wife says yes. So
we  will  see.  Maybe  the  memories  of  the  car  break  ins and the
incidents  on  the  beach  will  diminish  and the visions of the blue
ocean  and  white  sand  beaches  will emerge to the forefront as time
passes.  One  thing  we  do  want  to mention is that the homeless pet
problem  did  not seem to be as bad this year. Apparently, this can be
partly  attributed  to  a  women  and  her staff whom are dedicated to
taking  care  of  these  forgotten  pets. For those of you who want to
make a donation to this worthwhile effort, you can send it to:

 Lyne Coffin
% of The Animal Shelter
Le'Gailion, St. Martin F.W.I
We are sure any amount would be appreciated.

ST. MARTIN BY R. BAILEY

This  is  a  report  of  our  (my wife and I) trip to St. Martin for 2
weeks  in  mid-June.  We flew in from Kennedy on AA on a Saturday in a
plane  that was perhaps 3/4 full; no hassles. Ditto leaving. We were a
week  too  early  to experience the new Arrivals Lounge. I will not go
into  details of our activities, but will try to give some information
about the island as we experienced it.

Because  of  some recommendations on the newsgroups, we reserved a car
with  Alain Arnell (AAA Car Rental) for $140/week. Someone was waiting
for  us  at  the  airport as promised, but it was not Alain and he did
not  have  our  car.  Alain  was  hung  up  with  it  because  of road
construction  (on  driving around I could see how it could happen) and
we  cooled  our heels at the Stop and Shop across from the airport for
20  minutes  until he did arrive. The car itself was in good condition
inside  and  ran  well,  but  the  lock on the passenger door had been
punched  out  and you had to lock and unlock it from the inside. Also,
a  tire had a slow leak and we had to add air a couple of times during
our  stay  (but good tread and a spare). These things didn't bother us
enough  to  warrant  taking  the  time  to  do anything about them. On
dropping  off  the car, someone was waiting at the departure gate just
as  promised,  and  Alain  also had told us what to do with the car if
there  wasn't  anyone.  Alain  seems  to  be running a small operation
based  on  a  great personality and an attempt to give good prices and
personalized  service.  Sometimes a glitch appears that he can't cover
as  smoothly  as  a large operation might but, if you are prepared for
this, then I would recommend him.

Our  hotel  was Grand Case Beach Club, where we have stayed many times
and  have  commented  on  in  earlier reports. It remains our choice -
good  location, good beaches, good in-room facilities, friendly staff,
well  taken  care  of,  good  off-season  price.  A simple continental
breakfast  at  the  Sunset  Cafe,  the  independent  restaurant at the
hotel,  is  included.  Other  menu  items can be bought - pretty good,
friendly personnel.

It  has been several years since we spent enough time on the island to
do  much  exploring,  so this time we did a lot more driving around to
see  the  changes.  The main roads are pretty good, but there is a lot
of  road  work  going  on.  Traffic can be heavy at times, and you may
find  yourself  going up hill behind a 10-wheel gravel truck at 1 mph,
but  he  will  be faster going down. Some roads off to the beaches are
heavily  pot-holed  and  in  some cases unpaved. We tried Pic Paradis,
which  we had gone up a number of years ago. At that time, we were not
particularly  impressed by the view, perhaps because we had not picked
the  clearest  day.  The road up is generally bad; narrow (of course),
with  some  deep  holes where the edge of the pavement has broken away
that  could  be  interesting  if  you  meet  another vehicle. However,
somewhere  near  the  top  conditions  got  so  bad that I had serious
concerns  about getting hung up on a rock or breaking something, so we
said  the  hell  with it and turned back. If you try it, either take a
jeep  or plan to hike the last portion. There is a lookout with a nice
view  of  Marigot  part way up, however. Incidentally, if you dead end
at a communications tower with no view, you missed a left turn.

If  you  want  a  good view, go up to Fort Louis at Marigot on a clear
morning.  When we first went up, the path was a dirt and rock trail up
the  steep  hill. Now it is an easy concrete stairway. Oh how easy the
modern  tourist has it! - Takes away half the fun!! The fort itself is
partially restored and interesting.

Here  are  some observations on beaches. One thing we have noticed the
past  couple  of  years is that many St. Martin beaches now have beach
bars  where  you  can  get  beach  chairs  as well as refreshments. No
longer  the  almost  deserted  beach  feeling,  but  makes  them  more
convenient in other ways.


Isle  Pinel - a 5 minute, $5 boat ride from Cul de Sac - is very nice.
Has  a  lot  of  activity  -  a  couple  of  beach bars, water sports,
snorkeling  -  but  not  as excessive as parts of Orient. Pick a chair
and someone will come along to collect.


Orient  - unquestionably the best on the island for beach-walking, and
always   cooled   by  a  good  bre

establishments  the regiments of side-by side chairs and umbrellas and
the  multitude  of jet skis take away from its previous charm. I guess
it  is  a  question of whether you like lots of room on a nearly empty
beach  or  to be part of a crowd. The area near the "main" entrance at
Pedro's  is  most  crowded,  probably because this is where the cruise
ship  passengers  come  in.  The  road leading into BooBooJam gets you
near  the  least  busy  part  of  the  beach.  Some nudity along here,
although most is at the Club Orient end.


Coconut  Grove  -  Baie L'Emboucheur - another nice beach for walking.
There  is  a  wind surfing operation, and we saw people riding donkeys
in  the  water. If you drive through the grounds of the old hotel, you
get  easy access to the beach. It seems to be popular with people with
young  children  as the water is quite protected and shallow. Unlikely
to be crowded.


Lucas  Bay  -  it  is an interesting drive from Orleans to Oyster Pond
via  Lucas  Bay.  There  does  not seem to be an obvious access to the
beach  except through the Coralita Hotel grounds. We have used this in
the  past,  but  things seemed pretty deserted this year, although the
hotel did not appear to be closed.


Dawn  Beach - this beach is now as good as it gets. The old Dawn Beach
Hotel  that  was  never  rebuilt  after  the hurricane has been mostly
removed,  and  you  can  drive in to a new beach bar called Scavengers
that  seems  nice.  Reportedly  a new hotel will be built on the site,
but  perhaps  not  so close to the beach. At any rate, now is the time
to  enjoy  it,  although  it can be a bit rough for swimming. There is
also  a  popular beach bar, Mr. Busby's, on the Oyster Pond end of the
beach.
Guana  Bay - an attractive beach, but too rough for swimming. There is
a  beach  bar  at  the north end. A lot of expensive development still
going on in this area.


Cupecoy  -  the  other  major  CO beach on St. Martin. Guys rent beach
chairs  ($5  each  is  standard  price  on the island) but there is no
beach  bar;  though  they may sell a cold drink out of a cooler. There
are  people  pushing  time  shares and selling clothing on this beach,
but  they  don't  seem  to hassle you if you just tell them you're not
interested.  The  beach is backed by cliffs and can be hot; also rough
if the wind is strong, but a nice place to hang out.


Long  Bay  is  lightly  populated  and  does  not  seem  to  have  any
facilities  except  the  hotel  at  the  end. We didn't spend any time
there, it is a difficult beach to walk; something we like to do.


Baie  Rouge is popular; some people call it the prettiest beach, but I
don't  see  it  that  way,  although  it is nice enough. Some discrete
nudist use on the far end. Lots of people at the beach bar.

There  are  a  couple  of  newish  beach  bars  on Nettle Bay in Sandy
Ground.  A  lot  of  hotels  in  this  area;  though  the beach is not
particularly good.


Friar's  Bay is another nice beach that went from essentially deserted
a  few  years  ago  to  where it now hosts no fewer than 3 beach bars.
Certainly  wasn't  crowded when we were there. The only negative about
this  beach is that there are sometimes smells coming in from the salt
pond behind it.


Grand  Case  Beach, and Petite Plage at the Beach Club, are quiet, not
crowded,  and  quite  nice. Facilities are available at GCBC. The main
beach  runs  the  length  of  the  village,  separated from Grand Case
Boulevard  by  a row of buildings. There are a few openings for public
access  from  the  main street, but access through GCBC is preferable.
There  are  a  few  small  hotels  along  this stretch, but they don't
appear  to  offer  facilities  for  the  casual visitor off the beach.
Likewise,  the  various  restaurants  that  overlook the beach are not
geared  to beach traffic. There is a beach bar type establishment near
the  pier,  but  in general it is not a beach for the public to rent a
chair and umbrella.


We  didn't  see  any of the other beaches. We were going to stop in at
Little  Bay, but the hotel looks so uninviting with guarded gates that
we  didn't  bother.  For those who care, most of these beaches on both
sides of the island had topless use.

We  generally  avoid  Philipsburg  in the day time. We did go in twice
this  trip, however. Once was on a rainy afternoon when we went to see
the  museum.  It  is small but interesting; not as good as the Marigot
museum  only  because the Dutch haven't put as much support behind it.
Probably  they  have  been  too  busy trying to make Front Street into
little  Las  Vegas.  We  drove  down  it  one  night  after going to a
restaurant;  the  neon  is  ugly,  garish and out of place. One of the
local  politicians  is now saying that they should try to restore some
of  the  original  character  to the town; about 10 years too late. We
also  went  in  on a Monday morning to try to find some Saba Spice. We
assumed  that  there  would not be cruise ships, but there was one. To
add  to the mess, the power in St. Maarten went out early that morning
for  half  the day - the official excuse being that a rat ate a cable.
Interesting  with shops trying to sell things from the back shelves by
flashlight.  Front  Street has someone pushing time shares or T-shirts
every  few  feet,  it seems. Mostly, you can ignore them, but in total
they  are pretty tiresome. Marigot is more pleasurable for shopping or
walking,  although  it  gets  busy with cruise passengers coming in on
tourist  busses  -  and  not  just the 15 passenger variety. There are
some  nice  shops,  and  also  the local market, which has degenerated
into  a  field  of  T-shirt  and  souvenir stands - not that it is all
junk.  The  produce  market  from  which  this descended (the word was
chosen  deliberately)  is  still  there  behind the T-shirts. There is
talk  of  trying  to  bring  larger  cruise ships into Marigot harbor,
which will further spoil things for the stay-over visitors.

We  use  the  local  supermarkets  for  supplies for lunch and snacks.
Match  in  Marigot  has more French goods; the market in Cole Bay is a
little  more  American  in  style,  with some Dutch supplies. The Food
Center  near  Philipsburg  is  new  and  large,  and has its own power
generator - possibly useful if the island power goes out again.

We   took  one  day  trip  -  the  ferry  from  Marigot  to  Anguilla.
Surprisingly,  the  fare collected on the boat ($10) was less than the
posted  value  ($12).  There  is  no formal car rental at the Anguilla
ferry  dock, but most of the taxi drivers can provide one. We ran into
someone  from  Connors  first - a regular rental place. The price, $40
for  the  day,  might have been high, but at east they are known to be
reliable  if  you  have a problem, and are a nice outfit to deal with.
We  simply  wanted  to explore, as it has been quite a few years since
we  were  there.  We  were disappointed at Shoal Bay, not by the beach
but  by  the  way  it  has  been  built  up,  making  access much less
convenient  than  it  used  to  be. Had a nice but simple lunch at the
beach  bar to the left of Uncle Ernie's (can't recall the name), and a
beer at Johno's - still a nice place, little changed over the years.

We  have a number of favorite restaurants on St. Martin that we always
look  forward  to  revisiting,  but this trip we had time to try a few
new  ones  as  well. In spite of the many excellent French restaurants
here,   our   taste  is  in  other  directions.  Most  are  relatively
inexpensive  by  St. Martin standards. Current exchange rate is 6ff/$,
which helps.

Mark's  -  Bush  Road  near  Philipsburg. Quite a different atmosphere
from  his old place in Cul de Sac, but the food and prices are just as
good.   Try  the  octopus  stew  and  christophine  farcie.  There  is
entertainment some nights.

Tou'Bagaille  -  a new place on the Marigot side of Grand Case, with a
highly  varied menu including some Japanese yakitori style dishes that
are  very  good.  The  miso soup and seaweed salad that come with them
are exceptional.

Arhawak  -  on  the port in Marigot - would have overlooked the harbor
if  they hadn't filled it in to make room for the T-shirt stands - but
a   pleasant   sidewalk   restaurant.   The   blaff  (a  special)  was
outstanding; otherwise food was pretty good but nothing special.

Portofino  -  Grand  Case.  We  tried this partly because someone said
they  have the best pizzas in St. Martin. We can't dispute this, as we
haven't  had  any  other  pizza in St. Martin. They are thin crust and
very  good,  but  not  quite the best we've ever had in the Caribbean.
There  is  also  entertainment  several nights a week. A fun place but
loud!

La  Diva  - Rue Hollande in Marigot. We liked this Italian place quite
a  lot years ago, but for one reason or another haven't been there for
a  while.  Food is very good, generous portions, reasonable price. The
one  drawback  was  very slow service - not that we felt ignored; just
that, though gracious, it took forever!!

Wajang  Doll - Philipsburg. An Indonesian restaurant that we have been
going  to  for  years.  Continues  to  be  a favorite of ours, with an
excellent  rijsstaffel, and mango or papaya desserts that my wife says
are  "to  die for" (she who almost never eats dessert!). A little more
expensive than the others, but worth it.

Yvette's  - Orleans. St. Martin style Creole - even better than on our
last  visit  a  couple of years ago. Excellent salt fish cakes, johnny
cakes and stewed conch.

ShivSagar  -  Philipsburg.  A  favorite  Indian restaurant with a good
menu  selection.  The nan is delectable, the condiments great, and the
paneer tikka a favorite.

Don  Carlos  - near the airport. We use it occasionally for breakfast,
especially the day we fly out. I like their fritata.

Someone's  report  raved  so much about ZeeBest's chocolate croissants
that  we decided to try them. Very nice - tasty, and not too sweet. It
turns  out  that  Michael  grew up in the next town to the one that my
wife grew up in.

Altogether,  a  good,  restful time. Decent weather - a couple of very
windy  days,  a couple of days with a bit of rain, but mostly good. In
spite  of  a  lot  of  negatives, St. Martin remains a favorite. It is
always  sad  to  leave,  and the $20 pp departure tax doesn't make you
any happier.

TURKS AND CAICOS: BEACHES BY MARK ROMAN

We  just returned from a week at Beaches, Turks and Caicos. We flew on
their  direct  charter  flight  from  Philadelphia,  it  was great not
having  to  change  planes.  We  stayed  in  a ‘deluxe room’. It was a
typical  room  with  two double beds, a small table with 2 chairs, and
an  armoire  with  the TV in it. It was clean but not fancy. There are
larger  and more expensive (much more) rooms available. The staff were
all very friendly and helpful.

There  are  five  restaurants  to  choose  from.  Kimonos is a typical
Japanese  steak  house,  where  they  cook  the food at the table. You
don’t  get  a choice of entree; they prepare everything on the menu (6
items)  and  you  can  try  what  you  want to. You do get a choice of
individual  appetizers.  The  food was good but not special. Arizona’s
is  a  tex  mex  restaurant.  They  have  a lunch buffet everyday with
burgers,  hot dogs, chicken or fish, a variety of salads and fruit and
a  desert  bar.  The dinner was good, but again not special. Sapadilos
is  the  ‘fancy’ one, with adults only. It is elegant and the food was
delicious.  The  filet  mignon  was  terrific  as were the appetizers.
There  was a good selection, especially if you like to try new things.
Schooners  is  the  seafood  place,  with very good food. Portions are
small,  but  you  can  ask  for double servings. Also, if you order an
appetizer,  main  course  and  desert, it’s more than enough. It has a
great  setting  on  the beach. We watched 2 wonderful sunsets from the
outside  tables.  Reflections  has  a  nightly  buffet which we didn’t
sample.  Their  breakfast  buffet  is  very extensive, eggs anyway you
want,  pancakes,  meat,  cereal, juice, fruit, toast/bagels, danishes,
muffins,  etc. I found that the all-inclusive encouraged me to eat and
drink more.

This  is  not  a  quiet place for couples. There were lots of families
with  lots  of children. The pools were very noisy because of this. So
were  some of the restaurants. We spent most of our time at the beach,
which  was  one  of the nicest in the Caribbean that we’ve been to. If
you  snorkel,  take your own equipment, otherwise you’ll be limited to
the  Beaches trips. The best snorkeling from the beach was a 10 minute
walk  to  the  left, in front of The White House (a rental place). You
could  just  walk  in  the water up to your waist and be surrounded by
many  colorful  fish.  We  got  to  see barracuda, squids, manta rays.
Someone  people  reported  seeing  turtles and even a small hammerhead
shark.  At the beach in front of the hotel, we saw a starfish at least
a foot wide and rays feeding close to shore.

Watersports  equipment,  such  as hobie cats, water tricycles, kayaks,
and  wind  surfers are included in the all-inclusive price. So are the
snorkeling  and  scuba  trips; we didn’t go on any so we can’t comment
on them.

Forget  shopping, there isn’t any. Unless you like to drive around and
see the island scenery, you won’t need a car.

We  both  agree  we  would return to Turks. I’m not sure I’d return to
Beaches.  I do not have children and was not expecting so many of them
around  and  making things noisy. We also heard several horror stories
about  Beaches  overbooking  and  people  arriving  without a room and
getting  shipped  to  the  Comfort Inn, one of these being a honeymoon
couple.

TURKS AND CAICOS BY JONATHAN GAL-EDD

Trip July 98

After  visiting  Cozumel,  Cancun,  Cayman,  Bonaire  and  Curacao  we
decided  on  Turks  and  Caicos.  We a great vacation with some not so
great adventures

Our  original  plan  was  to  spend  4  days in Salt Cay and 4 days in
Provo.  We  ended  spending  a  day in Provo, 3 in Grand Turk and 4 in
Provo.....

Getting There

  We  flew  American  Airlines  from  Washington D.C to Miami , with a
connection  to  Provo.  Miami airport was closed for two hours because
of  bad  weather. Our plain landed to refuel at West Palm Beach and we
arrived  in Miami 2 hours late. By the time we landed in Miami we were
1:30  Late  for  our Provo connection. We ran to the gate and... there
was  our  plane.  90  minuets  later  ( 8 O'clock at night) we were in
Provo.  We  were in Provo, but our luggage was not. We also missed our
connection  from  Prove  to  Salt Cay. American Airlines put us in a (
forgot  the  name)  suite  hotel  (run by Days Inn)hotel near Port the
Calls  on Grace bay , a 5 minutes walk to the beach. Grace bay is very
pretty  beach  with white sand and rum color water perfect. At 3:00 we
headed  back  to  the airport to meet the next American flight and our
luggage.  By 3:45 we were on our way with Inter Island Airline to Salt
Cay.  Inter  Island has 8 seaters. The 8 on our flight were: half of a
family  visited Salt Cay three times and was raving about it, a second
family  (  with  a 6 year old) that has been to Grand Turk and decided
to give Salt cay a try, and my wife and me , the new comers..

Salt Cay Mt. Unpleasant

  We  all were booked for diving and full board with Mt Pleasant. Salt
Cay  has  one  taxi  which  met us at the airport. Teddi, a local, the
Taxi  driver told my wife and me that as we are a couple we will get a
"private"  house.  A  few minutes later we were dropped in a middle of
village  (  not  near the beach) in a house with no air condition. The
shower  was out door. We refused to go in and asked to Mt Pleasant. On
the  way to Mt. Pleasant the Taxi driver showed us several houses that
we could stay inn.

When  we  arrived  at Mt Pleasant the owner , Brian Shehy informed us,
yelling,  that  if  stay  in  other properties on the Island ( such as
Castaways)  he  will  not refund us, he would let us use the meal plan
we  paid for. Two hours and $690 latter we were back in the airport on
our  way  to  Grand Turk. As a "bonus" each couple had to pay the Taxi
driver  $20.  The rate of Taxi is $2 per person per mile, we drove for
5 miles there for $20.

 Grand Turk

In  Grand Turk we stayed at the Arrowak. Arrowak is the pre mire hotel
on  the  Island ( there about 5-6 hotels)with about 15 rooms. It is on
the  beach  on  the  south  west  of Grand Turk. The cost was $120/per
room/  night,  about  $150  with  taxes. The rooms are nice and have a
kitchen  (  we  did not bring food as we had a meal plan in Salt Cay).
It  is a very relaxing and laid back island with about two restaurant.
To  get  from  Arrowak  to down town at night you need a Taxi ($10 one
way  two people). We ended up eating once down town at Turks Inn ( the
food was great), other nights we ate at the Arrowak.

We  spent  three  nights in Grand Turk, two nights we were the biggest
news  item  on  the Island. One day, we visited and the tourist office
and  submitted  an  official complaint against Mt Pleasant. One day we
saw Mantas. The other night the big news was graduation ...

 Grand Turk Diving

  The  hotel  in Grand Turk called Oasis divers. Aroawak already had a
group  of 6 more divers from Michigan were diving with Oasis. Oasis is
run  by  a  couple  ,  Everett  ( Local, used to be the captain of the
Aggressor  live  aboard) and Dale ( from the US). A two tank dive cost
$50.  I  expected  Oasis  to  send  one boat for all the divers in the
Hotel.  Instead  they  gave  4 of us (the Salt Cay refugees..) our own
boat,  with  our own dive master named Paul. The Boat was a very small
(15  feet),  you  dive  one  tank ,go to the dive store for a surfaces
interval  and  get  new  tanks. After the second tank you choose to go
back  to  your hotel, or go "down" town. Dale ( the owner) would drive
you  back  from town to the hotel. On the way back Dale stopped for us
at the store.

  The diving in Grand Turk is excellent. The Wall diving and coral was
pretty  (Better  than  Grand  Cayman),nice reefs with tropical fish at
about  25-  40  feet  and you see "big stuff" (which we did not see in
Bonaire).  The  visibility  was  not great (60FT) due to plankton. The
visibility  tends  to be better at the northern side of the Island. We
dove:   Black  Forest,  McDonald,  Coral  Garden.  In  Coral  gardens,
Alexander  the  Nassau  Grouper  likes  to  be  petted  and follow you
through  out the dive. We saw many groupers, a few eels, a nurse shark
( small free swimming), and the typical tropical fish.

  From  the hotel we made two sore dives one to the wall and one under
the  old  town  peer. In the old town peer we saw several spotted eels
and  two  Bat  fish  (  Ugly).  The Michigan divers made several early
morning  (  4;30  AM  )  dives  from  the  hotel. (it takes 10 minutes
swimming to get to the wall).

 Above the water we saw dolphins and turtles.

  We  really  enjoyed  the  Gibs  Ray  sting ray snorkel/picnic trip (
recommended  by  Roadle magazine). On the way to Gibs Cay we skin dove
to  get our own Conch, which we made a salad. At Gibs Cay several (10)
sting  rays gathered around you (similar to sting ray city in Cayman).
When  we  snorkeled  we  saw  18 Squid swimming together. We were also
visited by an Eagle Ray ( in 3 feet of water) several times.

  The last dive was the best. I suggested we dive Tunnels on the south
side,  (this  site  in  the  Pieces diving guide showed a picture of a
Manta).  The  rest  of  the  divers  (my  wife  and  the other couple)
reluctantly  agreed.  The  dive  was that Paul ( the divemaster)and me
will  go  through  the  Tunnels ( deep dive) and the rest will stay at
about 60 feet. Before I

  jumped in I called: "if you see the Manta in 60 feet, make it summer
salt  for  awhile so we get a chance to see it". I hit the water first
and  landed  in front of the Manta. By the time the rest of the divers
were  under  he  disappeared.  Paul  and me headed towards the Tunnel,
Paul  pointed toward a turtle, suddenly behind the Turtle the Manta re
appeared.  We  followed  the  Manta  and  before too long we had three
Manta's,  two of which were somersault salting around us. One on top (
40  feet)  one  on  the  bottom  (  80 feet). We spent the entire tank
looking  at  the  Mantas. When we were out of air, we went back to the
dive  store got more tanks and used our second tank with One manta. We
were  so  focused on the Mantas that we ignored the turtle was with us
the  entire time, A barracuda was under the boat, and a pair of squid.


 Provo

  Coming  from  Grand  Turk  to  Provo, Provo seemed very touristy and
Americanized.  Provo  has  several  hotels,  and  two  all  inclusive:
Sandals and Club Med.

We  stayed  at  the  Turtle  cove Inn, $95 a night/room. The Hotel was
charming,  and  within  walking  distance to 5 very good restaurants (
more  than  entire  Grand Turk). Turtle Cove is located on the marina,
and  is a 15 minute walk to the beach. The staff at the desk were very
friendly  . They gave us a ride to the beach with our equipment, so we
can  do  a shore dive at Smith's reef. The Hotel was full because of a
deep  water  fishing competition. Every night at 6 , the Marlin of the
day  was weighed in the dock. We enjoyed the food at the restaurants (
Tiki  Hut and the terrace), and felt that Turtle cove was an excellent
value.

 Provo Diving

  Provo  has  a variety of dive operations, The biggest is Turtle cove
diving  (they  operate  from  Turtle cove Inn). They ran two big boats
full  of  divers  a day. They dove in Provo or Pine Cay. A second type
were  operations  associated  with  Beaches and Club med. Club Med has
with their new one million dollar boat.

We  dove  with  Caicos  Adventures. Caicos adventure goes every day to
West  Caicos.  A two tank dive cost $75, and includes a lunch. Surface
interval  are  done  at  a  snorkeling  spot  in  West  Caicos.  While
snorkeling  we  saw  Squid  and  Octopus.  Philip  the owner of Caicos
adventure  is  character,  and  we  enjoyed his sense of humor. Philip
(Pepe)  used  to  work  in  Club  Med.  The Boat was big with about 16
divers.  Half were Club Med folks that had enough of being in Club Med
and  wanted  something  different,  a few beginners, and some advanced
divers.  If  you  have a computer you can dive with your buddy. Diving
profile  in  West  Caicos is deep diving. The wall begins at about 100
feet,  and  the  reef is at about 60. On our dives we saw a very large
lobster  walking,  and  on  two dives we spent following a 6 foot reef
shark.  The  diving  was  good, but the profile did not allow a s much
bottom  time  as  in  Grand Turk. On the water we saw sharks and sting
rays.

We  made  a  shore snorkel and dive from the Hotel. Smith's reef is no
deeper  than  20 feet. On the snorkel we saw a nurse shark and a a big
s  orange  star  fish. On the shore dive we saw several tropical fish,
some lobster and a big king crab.

We  did  no see JOJO. JOJO's trainer was away on vacation, and when he
is away JOJO stays away.

 Bottom Line

  We  had  a  great  vacation,  the  people are very friendly and very
helpful. We plan to come back.

The Caribbean Travel Roundup is available worldwide via Compuserve and INTERNET
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Selected features appear on Prodigy.

Contact:

Paul Graveline
9 Stirling St.
Andover, MA 01810-1408 USA
Home (Voice or Fax) 978-470-1971

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