Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 67
Sept. 1 1996

Last updated 30 Aug 96 1900EDT (2300Z)

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BAHAMAS: ELEUTHERA BY APRIL LONG

Eleuthera  is  a  difficult island to describe -- a hundred miles long 
and  rarely  more  than two miles wide, full of scrub brush and vistas 
to  the  vast  blue-green  sea.   Yet  for  an  island  of this square 
mileage,  there  are  relatively  few  people  --  only  about 10,000, 
clustered  in  the  8-10 main "settlements" (towns) on the island.  It 
is  an  island  of  poverty,  that is rich in generosity, an island of 
beautiful beaches, with almost no tourists.

We  researched  Eleuthera  (what  little  information  we  could find) 
before  we  set  out  for  our  six days of R&R.  We were in search of 
deserted   beaches,   some  snorkeling,  possibly  some  sailing,  and 
definitely  some exploration.  And that's pretty much what we got with 
the exception of the sailing.  

My  husband  and  I rented a cottage right on the beach at a beautiful 
location  on a 5 mile stretch of sand in Governor's Harbour.  It was a 
stunning  spot,  yet  no one else was there.  We had complete privacy.  
This  feeling of remoteness might have been frightening back home, but 
here it was nirvana.

One  highlight  of  the  week  came  the  first day we arrived when we 
attended  the Pineapple Festival in Gregorytown.  A small "pineathlon" 
(swim,  run, bike) competition was the focal point of the morning.  It 
was  supposed  to begin around 10 a.m., but didn't really rev up until 
about  12  noon.   It  didn't  matter  much.   In Eleuthera, people do 
things  on  "Bahaman  time" -- which roughly translates to whenever it 
happens, it happens.

  We participated in a relay with a local guy from Nassau.  He did the 
run,  my  husband  and I the bike and swim, respectively.  Our runner, 
Kenny,  turned  out  to  be  quite  a local hero, holding the title of 
Boxing   Champion   of  the  Bahamas.   He  along  with  most  of  the 
competitors  travel  from  other  islands  in  the  Bahamas to compete 
annually  in  the  event.   And the prizes aren't small!  A round trip 
airline  ticket to Miami for the first place individual, 3 tickets for 
the first place team!

The   mood   is  very  casual  --  none  of  the  insurance  and  bike 
inspection/helmet  stuff  is  required,  as  it  is in the states.  In 
fact,  to  orient  the athletes with the course, everyone jumps in the 
back  of  a  truck,  and they drive the course before the race begins.  
Anyway,  we  didn't  win the airline tickets, but we met some terrific 
people  and  enjoyed  the rum, the reggae, and all the wonderful foods 
available  at  the  festival which ran late into the night, long after 
we'd gone home to bed.

The  rest  of our week we alternated between exploring and hanging out 
at  our  beach  house.   We like to find unmarked dirt roads and drive 
down  them, hoping to find an unspoiled piece of heaven at the end. It 
almost  never  happens that way.  One time we took this horrible bumpy 
road  with  branches  scraping at us through the windows.  No beach at 
the  end,  just  an  orange and mango grove and lots of bugs!  And the 
fruits weren't even ripe!  

Another  road,  which  we dubbed "the road to nowhere" because it went 
on  for  at least 5 miles and the island's only supposed to be 2 miles 
wide,  took  us to a beach, but a rough one at that.  Actually, on the 
way  out,  we explored a sound where my husband snorkeled, so the trip 
wasn't  a total loss.  You have to remember though, at $3 a gallon for 
gas,  on  remote,  infrequently  traveled  roads,  exploration  can be 
costly and dangerous without food and water to accompany. 

The  towns  on  Eleuthera, are picturesque, but there is nothing to do 
in  them,  save talking with the locals or grabbing a bite to eat.  We 
took  down  our  own  meat and staples, and so ate only two meals out.  
One  was  at  "Sammy's"  in  Rock Sound toward the southern end of the 
island.   The  other at Angelina's on Harbour Island.  Both were great 
meals including fried conch and fried fish.  

My  better  half  was  fond  of  the cracked conch salad which you see 
being  made  on  docks  everywhere.   The conch are removed from there 
shells  and  soaked  in salt water to "take off the slime."  Then they 
are  scored,  cut,  and  mixed  with  chopped  peppers and onions, and 
marinated  in  lime juice.  The result is a yummy, crunchy, spicy, raw 
conch salad for about $5 a bowl.

While  we're  on  food,  a  word  on  liquor.   Rum  is cheap, beer is 
expensive  -- about $16/6 pack.  Yes, you read right.  In Gregorytown, 
you  can  get  a  case of beer starting at $32.  Individual beers will 
run  you  $2.50  to  $3.00,  except at the airport in North Eleuthera, 
where they can be had for the low low bargain price of $2.00 each.

On shopping:  

We  found  only  2 stores that sold T-shirts/souvenir type items.  One 
is  in  Gregorytown, called Island Made.  It is one of the only places 
that  takes  credit  also.   If you need to buy on credit, Island Made 
will  run your card, and then you can take the slip to the store where 
you  want  to  purchase  your goods.  No ATM's on the island, and bank 
hours  are  limited, so take your cash.  American dollars are excepted 
everywhere,  but sometimes you get Bahamian change.  No big deal, they 
exchange at a one-one ratio.  

Harbour  Island,  a  $4  ferry  ride  from  North  Eleuthera  near the 
airport,  is  a  little  more  "citified"  with  picturesque homes and 
pastel  paint  everywhere.  There may be more shopping there -- but we 
didn't  pay much attention.  We enjoyed just watching the boats in the 
harbour and spent a couple hours on famous "Pink Sand Beach."

As  for places to stay, you are limited there as well.  Harbour Island 
boasts  a  few  hotel/guest  houses for varying prices.  Most start at 
around $150/night off season.  

Eleuthera  has  Club  Med  with  the circus set up for kids.  Our kids 
would  have  loved  it,  but the one morning we jogged there we had to 
laugh  at  the  over-enthusiasm  of  the  staff.   One  G.O.  (genteel 
organiseur)  walked  up  to  us  beaming and belted out, "GOOD MORNING 
JOGGERS!"    It  was  all we could do to not bust out in laughter!  In 
fairness to him though, he was friendly and there to help.

There  is  Unique Village, a nice cropping of bungalows with great sea 
views  and beach below--at the end of the long beach we stayed on.  It 
looks like it has a nice restaurant too.  

North  of  Gregorytown  sits  The  Cove, also adequate accommodations.  
Both  start at about $80 night off season.  Both will arrange any type 
of  water play or excursions you might be interested in.  Scuba divers 
(we  are, but didn't this trip) will enjoy a large number of wrecks to 
explore.

Last,  but  not  least,  I'd  be  doing  a disservice to the people of 
Eleuthera  if I didn't mention their friendliness.  Everywhere we went 
people  waved  and  said  hello,  first!   Even  small  and adolescent 
children  were  friendly.   We  picked  up  several  hitch  hikers and 
learned  a  good  deal  about the island.  One electric company worker 
told 

us  about  his  wife  and baby.  They flew to the Nassau to induce the 
labor   because   the  clinic  on  the  island,  they  felt,  was  not 
sophisticated enough to handle potential complications.

There  was  the older gentleman from Upper Bogue who told us about his 
friend  who  had too much rum at the Pineapple Festival.  He said that 
now  that  the  police knew this man, they would watch him and that is 
why  there  is  so  little  crime.  There was the deaf girl from Lower 
Bogue  heading  into  the  pineapple  festival to sell her water color 
fish  paintings.   And  Lionel,  owner of the Sunset Inn in Governor's 
Harbour,  and  cousin  to the electrical worker, who called the man we 
rented  our  car  from,  when we had a flat tire.  It was fixed before 
the  sun  ever  set.   And speaking of the man from whom we rented our 
car,  Tommy  Pinder,  what  a trusting guy!  We ran out of cash and so 
had  to  pay  him  upon arrival back in the states.  That was after we 
picked  up  the car without ever meeting him, keys inside, no payment, 
no contract, just hospitality, Bahamian-style.

BAHAMAS: PARADISE ISLAND FUN CLUB BY KATHY PEARLMAN

I  have  just  returned  from  a trip to the Bahamas. We stayed at the 
Paradise  Island  Fun  Club.  We  had  considered the Atlantis, but it 
sounded  a  little  too  big  and too ritzy for our family. We are not 
casino  people  and don't care too much for the type of accommodations 
that cater to people who go on vacation to see casinos...

At  any  rate, the Fun Club was a wonderful place and a wonderful buy! 
We  had  a nice room, nothing too fancy, but the pillows were soft and 
the  beds  were firm, which is a big plus for me. The air conditioning 
worked wonderfully and we slept very comfortably. 

The  meals  were  terrific,  with choices of eggs, pancakes or waffles 
every  morning,  with  sausages or ham as an accompaniment. Eggs could 
be  cooked to order, too. Breads ranged from white toast to croissants 
and there were always two kind of Danish.

Lunches  were  also  wonderful,  with all kinds of options. There were 
always  potatoes,  each day done a different way, another vegetable or 
two  and  a  meat, a pasta and a fish. There were tuna salads and cold 
cuts  as  well  as a salad bar with at least 6 different salads. There 
were  hot  dogs  and hamburgers going on a grill just outside the main 
dining  room  and  they  served  both before and after the buffet shut 
down.  There  was  also a pizza and pasta bar by the pool which served 
at  the  same  times as the grill - before during and after the dining 
room hours.

Dinner  was much like lunch only more choices and the meats and fishes 
were  more  elegant. They had poached grouper that I loved, creole and 
cajun  fish,  as well as the plain meat and potatoes kind of food that 
some Americans, like my husband, seem to exist solely upon.

The  lagoon outside the hotel is "man-made", but the fish seem to love 
it.  There  is  a  boardwalk  over the lagoon, which goes from side to 
side  and has a small covered portion to sit on. You can see fish come 
into  the lagoon from the bay and watch all the boats go by. There are 
snorkels  available  at the pool area and the fish near the rocks seem 
to  be acquainted with the idea of snorkelers, because they don't seem 
too  frightened. The inevitable seargent major fish were all around in 
every  size  imaginable,  as  well  as  black  angel fish, blue headed 
wrasses,  yellow  fish  in  large  groups,  rockfish, parrot fish, and 
others that I can't even begin to describe!

The  club  also  has  a  miniature  golf  course, which my 10 year old 
daughter  loved.  She and her father played almost every night we were 
there.  It had some pretty tricky holes, but the lighting was good and 
lost  balls  were  no  problem. The course was open until 2 am, so the 
lighting  had  to  be  good... The pool has no lifeguard, but it has a 
fairly  shallow  end  of  4 feet, so there are always a lot of kids in 
the pool. 

The  bar  at  the pool has a "sip and dip" section, as I heard someone 
describing  it, where you can order a drink and sip it, then sink into 
the  water  below  your stool and cool off and return to your stool or 
take your drink to the edge and float while you drink.

The  club  has  an  afternoon  cruise  to another island where you can 
snorkel  or swim and a sunset cruise out past Nassau, although the sun 
doesn't  always  want  to  cooperate  by  setting with the spectacular 
colors you see on the post cards.

The  bicycles  are old foot brake types, which are so easy to ride and 
are  maintained  so  well  that a trip to the little mall for shopping 
right   down   the  street  is  simple  and  quick.  Just  be  careful 
dismounting  -  I  fell off, but just once! One man asked whether they 
were  coaster brakes and when I told him yes, that was the only kind I 
could  ride,  he  smiled  and  said  that he could only ride that type 
bike, too.

The  tour desk at the Fun Club assisted with some wonderful side trips 
from  outside  the  club.  They included the Dolphin Excursions, which 
went  to  visit  Flipper  -  actually three dolphins played him in the 
last  movie.  We  got  to pet a bottle nosed dolphin named Fatman (his 
associate,  Jake,  was  one of the movie Flippers) and got a kiss from 
him.  It is very commercial, but is exciting and I found myself making 
a  fool  of myself talking to Fatman and giving him a big kiss when it 
was  my turn. It was the most expensive of the trips that would appeal 
to  the  family  ($30  per  person,  with  the swimming encounter even 
more), but it was worth it.

We  also  went  to Coral World, which has an underwater aquarium and a 
reef  tank  aquarium. We got to feed sting rays and pet a nurse shark. 
It  is  a  trip  that is a must, even if you only send a post card (40 
cents postage to the US and Canada) home from the underwater mailbox.

We  went to the Ardastra Zoo and Botanical Gardens where we got to see 
the  marching  flamingos.  They  are  beautiful birds - and one person 
gets  to  stand  out with them- like me- and pretend to be a flamingo! 
After  the  flamingos  finish parading, their trainer brings out a boa 
constrictor  and  lets  the crowd pet it and a few brave souls wear it 
before  the  show  is  over. The flamingos and their friend Benji, the 
boa  constrictor  only do two shows a day. The rest of the tour around 
the  grounds  is  lovely  and  you can find uncaged small animals like 
lizards  and  frogs  if  you  watch  for them on the ground and in the 
little  stream. The tour package included bus service. a t-shirt and a 
glass  of  punch,  which  was a nice bonus after walking around for so 
long - and pretending to be a flamingo.

We  had  a  wonderful time on Paradise Island and the Fun Club made it 
even   better   with  wonderful  people  working  there  and  all  the 
privileges  we  needed.  The freedom we had by having an ALL-inclusive 
package  made  us  enjoy  everything  we had to pay for even more. The 
servers  were nice and friendly even though they knew there was no tip 
involved for them. 

BVI BY GINNY NOYES

We  were  in  the  BVI  during Hurricane Bertha. Thought I would share 
some of our experience with everyone. 

We  arrived  in Tortola 7/3 PM. After putting our gear in our rooms at 
Maria's  By  The  Sea  (nice  rooms  &  staff)  we walked to Spaghetti 
Junction  for another wonderful dinner. You must try his seafood dish, 
Frutti  Di  Mare  with  white wine sauce!!! And don't forget the choc. 
mousse. 

Next  day  we  provisioned  and  left  the  marina just after 1 PM. We 
sailed  down  to  Bare  Ass Bay, Gt. St. James Island across from Cruz 
Bay.  We  anchored with two other boats full of friends for the night. 
Fireworks  went  off  at  9 PM and it was a wonderful show. So glad we 
did this. May have to make it an annual event. 

Next  morning  went  in  to  Cruz Bay and cleared customs. They didn't 
understand  why we didn't come in last night be we told them we didn't 
get there til 6 PM and thought they would be closed. 

After  a  nice  lunch  at  Mongoose  Junction  we picked up some light 
provisions  and  ice  and  sailed  to Jost Van Dyke. We had a birthday 
girl  in  our  group and had our celebration at Foxy's. It was a great 
dinner,  BBQ  ribs, chicken and fish, great band and real fun evening. 
You should hear happy birthday sung island style. 

Next  morning  we  sailed to Soper's Hole for water. Some of our group 
had  not  sailed  with us before and didn't appreciate saving water so 
we  had  to  refill. We had heard weather reports but it was not clear 
yet  if  we would have to return to our marina. We picked up a weather 
fax at Sunsail and it did not look good. 

We  sailed to the Bight, Norman for the night. Great news!!! They were 
installing  30  mooring  balls.  Sure  makes  that  a more comfortable 
anchorage.   We   actually   were   so  taken  with  weather  reports, 
snorkeling,  etc.  we  never  made  it over to the Willie T just a few 
hundred feet away. 

We  were  unable  to  get  much news and the weather channel would not 
come  in  where  we  were  so  called Tucson to get an update from the 
weather  channel.  We  had  coordinates  and  were charting the storms 
path. Things didn't look good. 

Our  base  called at 7:30 Sun AM and said come home. We headed back to 
Fat Hog's Bay and arrived there by noon. 

Our  base  people  got  us 2 rooms at Tamarind Club. Cannot say enough 
about  these  people. They were closed and leaving the island that day 
until  they got so many calls from people needing rooms they opened up 
and  took everyone they could. Even gave their son's room to a couple. 


Without  staff or any outside help this couple prepared the rooms with 
extra  mattresses,  made  dinner  for  a  full  house, had the weather 
updates  on  the  TV  in  the  bar until the power went out and ran an 
honor  bar  where  you sign a book for your drinks. They also gave the 
rooms  at  a  huge  discount.  We  were so grateful and impressed with 
them. 

Monday  morning  came  early. Everyone was up and waiting as the winds 
began  to  increase.  Bertha arrived about 9 AM. We put the mattresses 
between  us  and the windows on the side getting the hit. Once we felt 
safe  we  ended  up  sitting  in  lawn  chairs  on the balcony outside 
watching  the winds and rain. We had one portable radio and one of our 
group  stayed  tuned  throughout. We now call her Sparks. We continued 
to chart Bertha with every update.

About  12:15  PM  the  winds and rain stopped. The sun came out but it 
was  very  eerie, so still, and the air was very thick. We realized we 
were  right in the eye of the hurricane. Everyone came down around the 
pool  which  was  full  of  all the tables and chairs we threw in last 
night.  We shared info we were able to get by radio. The owners warned 
not  to  get  too  far  from  your room because the second part of the 
storm  will  come  very  quickly  and will be more violent. There were 
tree  branches  all  over.  Many  smaller trees were uprooted. But the 
building was well intact. 

We  made  sandwiches  in  our  rooms from the food we brought from the 
boat  along  with  plenty  of  liquid refreshment. At 1:30 Bertha came 
back  with  a  vengeance. We moved the mattresses to the other side of 
our  rooms (two rooms with 4 people each) and settled in. At one point 
one  of  our  men from the other room walked down the balcony to check 
on  us.  Before  we could open the door he was blown back down the way 
like moonwalking. He stayed in his room. 

We  heard  more  news  from  St. Thomas than the BVI on the radio. The 
police  were out arresting people who had no sense about being inside. 
There  was  a  curfew  in  the  USVI. Some surfers were arrested while 
trying to catch the ultimate wave. Talk about crazy. 

Bertha  had  passed  just  after  5  PM. We went out and walked up the 
street  hoping  to  see  our  marina  and  our  boat. No such luck but 
neighbors  were  out  everywhere  cleaning  up the roads so cars could 
pass.  We  helped  clean  up  at our hotel. There was water, dirt, and 
leaves everywhere, some minor damage to lattice, etc. 

One  neighbor  offered to drive us down to the marina. We were able to 
get  through  but  had  to dodge some trees and power lines downed. We 
could  see  the  mast on our boat and it looked okay. Further down the 
road  we  could see the large boat next to it and all was in the right 
place.  We  were  still  without  power but ate dinner in the open air 
patio  thanks  to  our  wonderful hosts. We spent the evening visiting 
with  other  guests  about our experience. All in all, knowing we were 
okay everyone seemed quite excited about having this experience. 

Tuesday  morning  we  ate  English  muffins  and  peanut butter in our 
rooms.  We were able to call our base on a cellular phone belonging to 
one  of  the  guests.  Hotel  phones  were out. We agreed to be at the 
marina  in  a couple hours. The base manager had been out to the boats 
and  all  looked  well  but  the tide was so low we could not move our 
boat  for  a  couple hours. At noon we went over by dinghy and started 
putting  things  back  together and untying everything. We had 7 boats 
rafted  together  and all tied bow and stern to the mangrove trees. It 
seemed to work well. Not one scratch. 

Once  we  were back to the dock we had a couple hours of work to clean 
off  the  stains from the mangrove leaves. That was the hardest job we 
had.  By  5 PM we were on our way to Cooper Island for the night. They 
were  not  serving dinner but we had enough on board to get by and had 
a very nice evening.

  Since  we had not slept too well through the hurricane we decided to 
make  an  easy  day.  We  stayed  at  Cooper,  talked to the dive shop 
people,  made  reservations  for  dinner  that night and spent the day 
snorkeling,  reading, walking on the beach, cocktails at sunset and an 
excellent dinner as usual. 

Next  day  we  sailed  to Spanish Town for a few provisions and water. 
Then  motored  past  Little  Dix  and  in  to  Mahoe  Bay just up from 
Savannah  Bay.  What  a beautiful setting. We took much care coming in 
as  there  is reef everywhere. The snorkeling was excellent. We walked 
on  the  beach  and had a great BBQ dinner after sunset. One couple in 
our  group  was  leaving  at  noon  so we sailed across the channel to 
Trellis  Bay.  We  had heard they were hit harder. There were 11 boats 
on  the  shore, some more damaged than others. We watched one man chop 
up  and  burn  what  was  left.  We got our friends to the airport and 
checked  in. Computers were down but everything else was working fine. 


We  had  hamburgers  at  De  Loose  Mongoose, great as always, and bid 
farewell  to  our  friends.  Then  over to Marina Cay for the day. The 
snorkeling  was not the best, poor visibility. We walked around Marina 
Cay  and  had  a  very nice dinner at Pussers...a pleasant surprise as 
last  trip  it was very disappointing. Again, our greatest respect for 
everyone in getting things back to normal so quickly. 

Next  day  we  sailed  around the area, snorkeled at a couple favorite 
places  on  Guana Island and anchored for the day. The end of our trip 
was very easy going. Dinner on board again. 

Next  day  we sailed down to Road Town for our last day shopping, etc. 
and  back to Fat Hog's Bay for our final stop this trip. After getting 
our  packing started we went to dinner at C&F. What a wonderful meal!! 
We  enjoyed  ribs,  chicken,  conch, shrimp. Everything was excellent. 
And the key lime pie was out of this world. 

After  checking  our  bags,  etc.  at  the airport the next morning we 
headed  across  the street for lunch at the little restaurant. Half of 
their room was missing but the burgers were great. 

Bottom  line,  it  is  still  paradise.  Everything  was  wonderful as 
always. No trip is ever long enough. 

BVI BY KRIS BURDETTE

I have returned from a wonderful trip to the BVI.  

I  stayed  on  Tortola  at  the Prospect Reef resort in Road Town.  We 
stayed  in  the  simplest  and cheapest of their wide choice of rooms.  
Reef  room  which  faced  the  Sir  Francis  Drake  Channel on the 2nd 
floor.   No  a/c but never regretted it at all constant cross  breezes 
through  screened  windows  that  faced the pool and screened door and 
windows  that  faced  the  channel .  Ceiling fan all that was needed.  
Best  of  all  no  a/c  at  night  or  even day to drown the beautiful 
relaxing sound of the sea that lulled us to sleep. 
Room  was  simple  but  very  clean, no bugs, maid service daily.  The 
resort  has  kiddie  pools,  dive  pool,  regular pool, tennis courts, 
pitch  and  putt  golf, hairdresser, laundry facilities, small grocery 
store,  few  gift  shops, seaside snack bar Seapool Bar and Grill that 
serves simple sands for lunch, drinks from 11 am to 6pm.  

Wonderful  dining  in  there restaurant The Scuttlebutt Bar and Grill.  
They  are  open  for b/l/d excellent homemade soups and nightly dinner 
specials.   Night  time  dining  candlelit  on  covered open air patio 
overlooking  the  harbour,  casual dress.  Courtesy bus take guests to 
Cane  Garden  Bay  beach  certain  days  of  the week for free need to 
notify  guest services day before and they will sign you up. Leaves at 
10  and  departs  CGB  at  3pm.   Guest  services  offers  free use of 
snorkeling  gear,  clean  daily  beach  towels,  beach  bags and other 
items.  Very friendly service.  Our room was $337 pp for 7 nights.  

This  resort  is  on  the  water,  no  real beach.  There are seapools 
wonderful  to  snorkel  in  and  great  for  beginners  to  learn  the 
techniques.   The seapools have small manmade like beaches.  Not a bad 
place  to  hang  out for a day.  This resort is a very convenient easy 
walk  (20 minutes) to Road Town which we walked to several times a day 
to  catch  ferries,  eat,  shop.  Even walked at night, safe.  No real 
sidewalks so just stay as far off the road as possible.

Traveler's check accepted everywhere.  

Do  not  use  Barclays  Bank  on Tortola to cash travelers checks they 
will  charge  you an unfair amt.  No problems using ATM machines, used 
one  at  Banco  Popular  and  Chase  Manhattan both in Road Town $2.00 
service  charge  debited from my account with each use, no special PIN 
needed.
Cab  fares  were $15 from airport to Road Town, $15 to Cane Garden Bay 
, Brewers Bay, Carrot Bay , West End from Road Town.  

Found  the   cab  drivers  to be reliable, they will sort of adopt you 
for  your stay, let them know your needs and they will be there at the 
right  time  and place to take or pick you up.  Very easy to find cabs 
in  Road  Town, especially at the ferry dock.  Cabs flock at the ferry 
docks  and  are  easily found outside of restaurants.  Your hotel will 
call for you or even restaurants will if you need one.

The only negatives I have about my trip below; 
Rhymer's  at  Cane  Garden  Bay,  Tortola.  Read alot about this place 
couldn't  wait  to  try  it  out.   Girls  working  there  down  right 
unsociable.   They  gave  me  the  impression that to serve me was not 
what  they wanted to do in the least, no smile, what can i get you, no 
words  exchanged.   I  observed  other  workers behavior towards other 
patrons  and  saw  the same.  Never encountered it anywhere else on my 
trip,  but  really made me want to take the 2 drinks I ordered and put 
them  you know  where and ask for the $4 tip back, which I never heard 
a thank you for it or saw a kind  facial expression.

SPEEDY's  ferry  service.  I avoided them completely.  Situation being 
I  was  going  to  Vgorda  for  the  day  knew  I wanted Smith's Ferry 
service.   Guy  from Speedy's all but grabbed me to get me to take his 
supposedly  bigger,  better boat for the same price.  They have a very 
rude  sales  tactic.  Told him no I was going to use Smiths and he got 
ticked  mumbling  about  his  better equipment.  Smith's ferry guy was 
courteous, not trying to compete with Speedys in the least.

First  day  we  went  to  St. John USVI. Ferry leaves out of  West End 
which  is  a  $15  cab  ride  from  Road  Town  to  WEND.  We got some 
delicious  homemade breads/cakes at Zelma's which is right across from 
the  ferry  dock.  The ferry  was $36 p/p Roundtrip to Cruz Bay.  Once 
on  Cruz Bay taxis were easy to find waiting at ferry dock to take you 
anywhere on the island.  

We  chose  to  go  to  Trunk Bay.  The cab ride was $6 for 2.  I heard 
this  place  got  crowded,  it  never  did.  I heard that Friday was a 
better  day  and  it  evidently  was.   We got there around 930am, the 
place  was  ours alone no one there except the park ranger, lifeguard, 
2   stray  donkeys  and  concession  stand  workers.   The  beach  was 
beautiful.   People  did not start to show up until around 11ish and I 
would  say  there  were no more than 15-20 people spread out along the 
beach  and  in  the  water never felt our privacy was invaded.  Little 
snack  bar on beach that serves burgers, fries, hotdogs, sodas, chips, 
beer.   Small  gift  shop  and  stand that rents snorkeling equipment, 
lockers,  beachchairs.   Clean  large  restrooms there with large free 
showers.   Great for cleaning up at day at beach and changing for some 
roaming  in  Cruz  Bay.   Neat  little  area  with shops, restaurants.  
Trunk  Bay's  biggest  plus  is  its underwater snorkeling trail.  The 
beach  has  a  lifeguard  who will direct you, the trails is marked by 
bouys.   Underwater  you  will see signs directing you and showing you 
pictures  of what fish and plant life you will see.  Rent a snorkeling 
vest  at the stand for beginners or non swimmers the water is about 15 
ft  deep.   The  vests  make it wonderful,  easy and enjoyable.  First 
time  my  daughter  experienced  this.  She held my hand at first, but 
soon let go she loved it.

Do  not  miss  a  trip to Jost Van Dyke.  The ferry leaves out of West 
End  ferry  called  the When.  I heard it got the name because the man 
who  runs  it  works "when" he feels.  We left about a half hour after 
ferries'  scheduled  departure,  but we got there and he came back for 
the  last  pickup  at  5pm.   It  was $15r/t per person and $10r/t per 
child.   The boat will take to Great Harbour, JVD.  As soon as you get 
off  of the ferry dock there are signs with arrows pointing you to the 
different  restaurants.   You  must go to the Bun and Christine Bakery 
which  is  right  down  the  short road straight off the ferry dock- 3  
min  walk.   They have got wonderfully delicious baked cakes, breads - 
you  have  to  go there first because the selections get limited later 
in  the  day.   You  will  not be disappointed.  There is a water taxi 
available  inquire  at  Cocco  Loccos  to  the left off the ferry dock 
which  will  take  you  to beautiful, quiet, clear water of White Bay.  
Water  taxi  $5.   We were not aware of the water taxi until after the 
fact  so  we  hiked  up  the  very  steep  mountainous climb just past 
Rudys.   It  took  us  about  20 minutes to get to White Bay which was 
well  worth  it.   Great  cardio  workout easier heading back to Great 
Harbour.   We  had  lunch  if that's what you'd call it at Ali Baba's.  
They  were  out  of almost everything on the menu because they had not 
gotten  their  shipment  from  Tortola  yet.   We  did  get  wonderful 
service,  drinks  only  at the Club Paradise.   Delicious Pina Coladas 
and  very  kind lady at the bar.  Clean restrooms here and okay at Ali 
Baba's.   Stay  away from the bathroom at Happy Laurry's- stinking and 
pretty  close  to  outhouse like, writing on the wall says "don't even 
think about flushing a #1. YUCK!!!!

Trip  to Virgin Gorda wonderful.  Different vegetation on this island, 
more  desert  like with lots of cactus.  We took trip to Baths.  Ferry 
leaves  from  Road Town and arrives at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour.  
We  used  Smith's  Ferry  Service.   $19  r/t per person no charge for 
children.   Cab  cost  $4 from VGYH to the Baths dropoff where it is a 
350  ft  downhill  climb among well marked easy to do trail.  The site 
of  these large boulders everywhere is unbelievable.  You sort of feel 
like  dinosaurs out to pop out somewhere.  Beautiful beach with palms, 
bring  lots  of  film.  This was the most crowded beach we encountered 
on  our  trip,  but  saying  most  crowded  really means like 20 or so 
people  spread  out over a big area.  We found our own spot to snorkel 
in where no one else came.

There  is  a sign directing you to another beach Devils Bay via a very 
to  say  the  least challenging trail through caves  and rocks through 
wading  knee  deep water, up and down man made ladders, pretty fun but 
not  safe  for  young  children  and  it  would  be hard to carry them 
through  the  whole  trail.  At the drop of to the Baths is the Top of 
the  Baths Restaurant.  Breathtaking views, it is located 350 ft above 
the  Baths.   This  restaurant was the prettiest I encountered.  Great 
food,  reasonable  prices,  excellent  service.  Open  air dining with 
small  pool on premises that patrons are allowed to use.  Another plus 
I  give  them the "Cleanest Bathroom Award".  I make a big deal out of 
this but you will know what I mean or you already do from experience.

I know there are flights that can take you to Anegada.  

We  went  by  boat  through Dive BVI located at Marina Cay.  We had to 
take  a  cab  from  our  hotel  to the government dock  at Trellis Bay 
(near  the airport) $15 cab fare.  From there you take a free ferry to 
Marina  Cay  where  from  there  you  take  a fast comfortable boat to 
Anegada,  which  I  believe  is  about  20  miles  northeast of Virgin 
Gorda.   It  is  a flat, coral and limestone atoll, not visible by sea 
until you are about 5 miles from it.

For  $75  p/p   you  get  transfers  to  and  from  Trellis Bay/Marina 
Cay/Anegada  once  on  Anegada  a  cab will take you to Loblolly beach 
where  you  may snorkel , walk , hang out at the Big Bamboo Beach Bar, 
or  whatever.   We snorkeled and walked to Flash of Beauty Beach which 
was  very  close.  Beautiful, clear water.  The capt. of the boat will 
direct  you  to  the  good snorkeling spots.  That price also includes 
cab  ride  back  to  the  Anegada  Reef  Hotel   where you will have a 
lobster  lunch  other  menu  choices  are available, this includes all 
gratuities.   There  is a gift shop on the premises, restrooms (clean) 
and  ask  to  go to the  bakery  I believe it is Pat's or Pams and she 
too  has  excellent homemade goodies.  You will have plenty of time to 
walk there after lunch.  

The  boat  ride to and from Anegada is beautiful ,  you'll see all the 
different  shades  of  the  water  unbelievable.   To make the trip to 
Anegada  contact  Simon  at Dive BVI- 809-495-5513, he's wonderful and 
will  give  you  all  the  details.   The small islet of Marina Cay is 
worth  hiking around and grabbing a drink while waiting for your ferry 
trip  back  to  Trellis  Bay.   Lots  of  tropical  plants, cactus and 
another one of the famous Pussers' Restaurant.

Ignore  all  that  you may have heard about how expensive Peter Island 
is.   You  can  go  there for a daytrip and enjoy the whole day there.  
The  ferry  departs  from Peter Island Ferry Dock which is not an easy 
walk  from  Road Town, the cab will cost $3 from Road Town for 2.  The 
ferry  is  the  latest  running of all the ferries coming back to Road 
Town  as  late  as  11pm.  The r/t pp price is $15.  This is a private 
island  with  unbelievable  palm  covered  beaches.  They ask that you 
respect  the privacy of the guests by not using their hammocks or lawn 
furniture.   There is another quiet beach just down from Deadman's Bay 
where  we used the beach chairs, no one was around on the beach to use 
them.   Good  snorkeling  out  by  the  rocks.   We wondered where the 
guests  were  because  with  the  exception  of  a  few boats anchored 
offshore  we  were alone.  This is supposedly one of the most romantic 
beaches  in the world.  Looked like it for sure.  You start out at the 
dock  and sign will direct you where to go .  There is a fitness trail 
you can follow good for photo opportunities up high.

You  will  enjoy  the  outstanding,  almost  too  formal lunch service 
you'll  receive-remember your beach  shorts/shirt or coverup.  For $25 
p/p  cheaper  for children you can get a complete lunch pkg. including 
salad  bar  w/  homemade  pasta  salads,  cheeses,  crackers, homemade 
breads,  fresh  fruits,  dessert bar with actual homemade desserts and 
one  ala  carte  item  ranging  from  burgers,  grilled  chicken sand, 
grilled  fish sand, blt, grilled cheese, etc. including fries.  Drinks 
are  not included and gratuity will be added to your bill.  Definitely 
worth it, delicious and very filling.  They open at 12:30pm.

About  the  restaurants on Tortola, I can say I was not impressed with 
the  famous  Pussers  located in several locations throughout the BVI.  
The  prettiest  was on Marina Cay, liveliest was at Soper's Hole.  The 
food  was  not  bad  just  not remarkable enough to rave about.  Their 
pizza  I  found  to be very bland.  Spaghetti Junction In Road Town- a 
deceiving  little  joint, almost looks on the outside like it couldn't 
be  a  good  dining  place,  wrong!!!!!  This  place  has all sorts of 
salads,  pastas, garlic bread different ways and Fettucini Alfredo was 
the  best  I  have  ever  eaten.   Excellent service, seated promptly, 
reasonable  prices.   Not  open on Sundays and the place is very small 
so  I  would  advise making reservations, well worth it.  If they have 
the  Creme  Brulee  order it for dessert you will not be disappointed.  
Capriccio  Di  Mare- in Road Town on Waterfront Drive a few doors down 
from  the  ferry  dock.   This  is the place to get pizza.  Once again 
good  service,  pastas,  salads, sands, expresso, cappuccino.  Try the 
Tirami  Su  for  dessert,  large  piece really enough for two to share 
unless you like your sweets like I do.  
Paradise  Pub  in  Road Town-  if you are looking for French Toast for 
breakfast  this  is  the place to go - 7am.  The order of French Toast 
with  bacon  will  leave  you full all day or be wasted because it was 
too  much  for you to eat as in my case.  For dinner they have nightly 
dinner  specials,  try the stuffed mushrooms in marinara sauce - never 
had  them  this  way  till  then, different switch.  Service here gets  
the  "BEST  SERVICE AWARD AT DINNER " out of all of the places we went 
to.

BVI TRIP REPORT BY JOSEPH SCAFARIO

We  returned  from  a  great  sailing-diving  trip  that  started with 
Tortola Marine Management on 8/5/96. 

This  is the first flight I have taken since the new security measures 
were  put into effect. We departed fm Philadelphia and always carry on 
our  luggage.  I  thought  we  would  be  a  target  as  we carry more 
electronic  stuff  than  clothing and I'm sure it looks strange to the 
xray  machine.  We  were searched leaving the US but not entering BVI. 
The  customs  agent at the airport in Tortola asked about our food and 
its value.(that was a first) 

On  to the trip. We had a tough time getting to our dock as it was the 
first  day  of carnival. Most of the town was closed and the main drag 
blocked  off  due  to  the  parade.  After some bobbing and weaving we 
arrived  at  TMM.  They are always great about checking us out as soon 
as  possible  so we can get underway. The wind was honking about 20-25 
knots  (a mere freshning breeze <G>) for the first few days. Great for 
sailing  but  not  good  for  diving  viz.  We  were  trying  to  make 
Spanishtown  in  Virgin  Gorda  to  dive  the wreck Chickuzen (sp) the 
following  morning.  Dive  BVI  does that dive on Tuesdays only and of 
course  the  wind  was  on our nose so we bailed for Cooper Island and 
bagged  the  wreck  dive  and  hit Alice's Wonderland for what was our 
best  dive.  Viz was fair, but the sealife was outrageous. The largest 
lobster  & French angelfish I have ever seen.(certified in '78) and of 
course  my  camera jammed. ugh! I still don't know if that dive seemed 
so  good  because  it was the first in months, or it was actually that 
good. So we hit it again later in the trip and it was the site. 

Our  second dive was the Step in the same area as Alice's. It was good 
not  great.  We  then  made  for  North Sound with a stop at Leverick, 
filled  our  tanks  and  moved  on  to Bitter End. I was amazed at the 
amount  of  traffic  for this time of year. Had a cocktail at BEYC and 
departed  for  Anegada  in  the  AM.  What  a  sail.  A  beam reach at 
20+knots...I am still grinning. 

Got  to  Anegada  and  as  we  looked  around  we did some touring and 
decided  to  head  to  cockroach  at the dogs for the days first dive. 
Again  the  viz (or lack of it) made what could have been a great dive 
only fair. 

Moved  on  to  George  Dog for our second dive. Better viz not alot of 
sealife.  Left  for  Marina  Cay.  Next to White bay on Jost Van Dyke, 
Marina  Cay  is  a  favorite  stop.  It was here we learned that Fritz 
Seyarth  (sp) a local author and legend had died in his sleep. He will 
be truly missed. We drank many to his memory. 

Up  and  at em early for Alice's again the next day. It was as good as 
the  first  dive.  #1  on  the dive list. From this point on it gets a 
little  foggy.  I  remember  dropping  the hook in the Bight at Norman 
Island  and making it over to the William Thornton From that point on, 
well,  they  have this water ski hanging from the ceiling with glasses 
velcroed  to  it and you line up and do group shots...get the picture. 
What  a  great  place  to yuk it up and meet people. Oh...I heard they 
have food there too. 

Called  for  a  lay day the next day and just took our time enroute to 
Jost,  White  Bay.  Had  a  nice  visit logged time in the hammock and 
moved  over  to Great Harbour for the night. Returned to White Bay the 
next  day  for some more quiet. There is now a road from great harbour 
to  white  bay  and  I  don't think that little piece of paradise will 
ever  be the same. As one of the locals put it. I don't know if I want 
to  hear  a car horn honking while I am in my home. I have never heard 
one  and I don't want it to start now." I never thought of it that way 
but he's got a point. 

Anyway  off for our last dive at the Indians and then over to West end 
for our final day. 

All  in  all it was great to be back in the land of fun and sun...(you 
know  the rest) There was very little noticeable damage from Bertha. I 
only  hope  they  are  spared  the  wrath of storms that they had last 
year.  Living  in  a  coastal  tourist  community,  I know the fear of 
Hurricane season. 

BONAIRE BY LARRY MILLER

BONAIRE DIVE TRIP

At  long  last  I take keyboard in hand and offer my review of life in 
the  slow  lane  on  Bonaire.   I'm  going to throw in prices that are 
current  in  1995,  but  are  obviously  subject to change.  Prices at 
island  shops  are  often quoted in US dollars, sometimes in Guilders.  
If  it  has  the  dollar  sign,  it's US. Guilder prices usually  have 
"NAF"  next  to  them.   Either  dollars or Guilders are accepted, and 
most  stores have calculators by the cash registers to figure the 1.77 
exchange  rate  (1.77  Guilder  to  1  US  dollar).  Credit cards were 
frequently  not accepted unless the total was over $20, and the prices 
were always listed as US on the credit card slips.

Unlike  most  dive travelers, we decided not to take a "package" trip, 
mainly  because we had two novices (just got certified the week before 
we  left),  one  not-too-interested  diver,  and myself.  I figured if 
everyone  else  was  nice enough to take my suggestion of Bonaire as a 
vacation  spot, I had better not push diving too hard.  We arranged to 
stay  in  a  townhouse  just south of the main town of Kralendijk, and 
then  see  what kind of deal we could get on renting tanks and weights 
from one of the shops in town.

I  am  happy  to  report that a 6 day "unlimited shore diving" package 
ranges  from  $79  to  $95,  depending  on  where  you decide to rent.  
Before  you  jump at that $79 deal, be aware that you are assigned one 
tank,  and  you  bring  it  back  to  the shop after every dive to get 
refilled.   Since  the  island  is  only  28  miles long, it's never a 
terribly  long  trip,  but  it  could be a pain if you wanted to night 
dive  and  dive  early the next morning, too. (Something we frequently 
did.)   We  chose  Bon  Bini  Divers as our gear supplier.  The people 
were  very  friendly  and  informative, and our neighbor at the resort 
got  us  a 10% discount on the rental.  You are required to "sign out" 
all  tanks you take, but you can take as many as you can carry in your 
vehicle.   There  are also packages which include boat dives ($205 for 
6  boat dives plus unlimited shore diving, $300 for 11 boat dives plus 
unlimited shore diving).

If  you  are  shore diving rather than boat diving, you need a mode of 
transport.   We  rented  a  "minivan"  from  AB Rentals for $176 for a 
week.   When  we looked at the price of boat diving, we found that the 
cost  of one boat dive for the four of us would just about pay the van 
rental.   It  meant  no  dives  on Klein Bonaire, but you take the bad 
with  the  good.  (We later noticed the dive kayaks at Bon Bini Divers 
which  could be used to get to Klein, and found that the water taxi to 
Klein  cost  only  $11,  so  we  could have gotten there.)  It is also 
worth  noting  that  many  of the boat trips were to the south part of 
the  island, an area where shore  entries are very easy.  Why pay $30-
40  to  take  a  boat  to  the same place  you can drive to? At almost 
every  dive  site  we  went  to during our stay  there a dive boat was 
either  just  leaving  as  we  arrived,  or  just arriving  as we were 
leaving.

If   you  feel  the  desire  to  do  some  underwater  photography  or 
videography,  but  forgot  to  bring  your camera, no problem.  Sunset 
Beach  and  Sand  Dollar  both rent cameras and camcorders for $30-$60 
per  day.   They  also do the loading and reloading, so you don't have 
to worry about flooding their equipment.

Finding  dive  sites is easy.  Each site has two yellow rocks with the 
name  of  the dive site at the entrance to the parking area.  There is 
also  a yellow mooring buoy for the dive boats.  None of the buoys are 
more  than 150 yards offshore, so swimming out to the areas frequented 
by  the dive boats is a piece of cake.  Most of the buoys are in 15-20 
feet  of  water,  just  at the edge of the flats before the reef drops 
down.   Picking  a dive site was made more interesting by checking out 
our  guide  books.   We  checked  both "Diving Bonaire", and an out of 
print  book  called  "Guide  to Bonaire Marine Park." The out of print 
book  is  by  far the better - if you can find it in a used bookstore, 
it's  worth  getting.   I  am  now  scouring  old bookstores to find a 
copy.   We  would pick the depth, terrain, and types of marine life we 
wanted  to  see  then  head out for the place the guidebooks indicated 
was best for our needs.

All  of  southern Bonaire is fronted by a double reef.  The flats from 
the  shore go out about 100 yards or so, then drop down to 50-130 feet 
to  a  sand channel, then the outer reef rises to within 20-30 feet of 
the  surface, only to drop again to 600+ feet.   The further South you 
go,  the  shallower  the  sand  channel,  so  you  can easily choose a 
comfortable  depth.  The adventurous can go over the outer reef to get 
all of the depth they can handle.

The  marine  life  varies  from  location  to location.  One site, for 
instance,  was  loaded with garden eels, while other sites that looked 
similar  in  terrain  had none.  Some sites have various type of black 
coral,  others  have none.  Basket stars are abundant at one site, but 
relatively  rare  elsewhere.  It is almost as though the park had been 
planned so you would have to check it all out.

Favorite   sites   for   us   were  "Angel  City",  "Salt  City",  and 
"Invisibles".   All   are  part  of  what  is  called  the  "Alice-in-
Wonderland"  complex,  so named for its bizarre coralscapes.  It looks 
very  much  like  a  fairyland, or Munchkin Land, maybe even Hobbiton.  
We  dove  Angel  City  several  times for video and still photography.  
The  coral scenes were fantastic, and the variety of fish life made it 
easy to pick subjects.

The  "Hilma Hooker" is the resident wreck.  It is a fairly large ship, 
but  has  only  been  underwater  for  about  10  years.   It  has the 
requisite  groupers  hanging around, but is only beginning to become a 
coral  garden.   Wire  corals  are  common on it, but not many others.  
The  Hooker  lies  on  her  starboard side, bow facing south.  She was 
scuttled  to  land  in  the  sand  channel between the inner and outer 
reefs.   The three mooring buoys hooked to her port rail mark the bow, 
amidships,  and  stern.   The  only  thing  which  kept  the ship from 
turning  turtle  was the presence of her masts.  These act as props to 
keep  the  ship  on its side, rather than upside down, but the deck is 
tilted  wildly.   When  you  sit on the sand at 95 feet and look up at 
the  ship,  it  is easy to imagine that she is going to topple over on 
you.  Too  easy.   Since the four of us were non-wreck types, we opted 
for  a  look  at  the reef after a quick look at the Hooker.  The reef 
here  is  wonderful,  particularly the outer reef.  There is almost no 
diver  pressure on it because everyone is attracted to the ship rather 
than the reef.

Don't  expect  a  lot  of excitement and nightlife in Kralendijk.  The 
town  is  about  three  blocks  long  and  two blocks deep.  The major 
stores  are gift shops for tourists, with a grocery store and a couple 
of  banks  thrown  in  to  round things out.  There is a casino at the 
Divi  Flamingo,  perhaps the smallest casino in the world.  It has two 
blackjack  tables,  one  roulette  table,  and  about  two  dozen slot 
machines.  I suspect that the dive resorts are the hot spots for "fun-
loving"  Americans.   We  dubbed  the Sunset Beach "Hangover Central", 
since  when  we  went  to  the dive shop the most frequent question we 
heard people ask each other was "How's your head this morning?"

We  went  to  a few of the free slide shows which are presented by the 
resorts.  Our  favorite was Dee Scarr's presentation at Captain Don's. 
It   was   45   minutes  of  excellent  photos  with  informative  and 
interesting  commentary.  For  a  bit  of  fun Dee has a set of slides 
"choreographed"  to  "Rock  and Roll Reef".  All of the slide shows we 
saw  were  great,  and easily the best value on the island.  Expect to 
see  the presenters in your travels about the island.  We ran into Dee 
Scarr  several  times, and most of the other presenters at least once.  
It's  a  small  island  with  a  very  small  area of it frequented by 
tourists.

The  park  at  the  northern  end of the island is worth a full day to 
visit.  Plan  on  spending  your  non-dive day up there.  It is loaded 
with  various  birds  and  lizards,  not  to  mention  wild burros and 
goats.   The  landscape  is beautiful, but definitely desert.  You are 
surrounded  by  huge cactus and parched dirt, yet in the midst of this 
is  an  enormous  lake  full  of  flamingos.   Additionally  there are 
various  site  of  "Indian  Inscriptions", the petroglyphs etched into 
the coral caves by early inhabitants of the island. 

One  of  our  favorite relaxation spots was Pink Beach, near the slave 
huts.  The  beach is fine sand which has a pinkish cast to it, and was 
all  but  deserted  every  time we went there.  On the quarter mile of 
beach  there  were  only  fifteen  to  twenty people, even on a Sunday 
afternoon.   Of  course  the  natives  think  that  the  85 degree air 
temperature  and  80 degree water temperature in February are too cold 
for beach-going, so things may be different in the Summer.

Those  looking  for  more  active pastimes can head over to Lac Bay on 
the  windward  side of the island and check out Jibe City.  Lac Bay is 
a  very  large, shallow bay (average 3 feet) and is an excellent place 
to  learn  to  windsurf, or to polish up your jibing skills if you are 
an  old  hand  at  the  sport.   The wind is fairly constant, and they 
considered  the  15-20 mph wind that was blowing the day we were there 
to  be  "dead".  Rental rates are $20 for 1 hour, $30 for two, $50 for 
all  day,  and $250 for a week.  For your money you get to try as many 
different  boards  and sails as you want, and if you want to share the 
time  with  a  friend  or two, that's OK, too. We rented one board for 
four  of  us  and  took  turns.   A  nice  feature of Jibe City is the 
ability  to buy food and refreshment there, or bring your own. The bar 
tender  spent  much  of  the  day opening beer that people had brought 
from town, rather than selling them beer from his bar.

Food  in  Bonaire  is  fairly  expensive.   We  found  that  lunch was 
affordable  ($6.25  for  a  Burger  or  Fish Sandwich and Fries at the 
Green  Parrot)  but  dinner  seemed  to start at $17 and go up.  To be 
fair,  we  didn't  look  around for cheap places to eat since we had a 
place  to  cook.  The least expensive place we saw was the cafe at the 
airport.  Fish sandwiches went for $4.00 there, and weren't too bad.

Expect  the  odd  wild burro or two to wander across the road any time 
you  are out and about on Bonaire.  They have little fear of vehicles, 
and  have  no respect for private property.  We were serenaded several 
mornings  by a burro in the parking lot of our resort.  We were almost 
victims  in  a minivan/burro accident on our way home from Dee Scarr's 
show.   Fortunately  the  brakes  in  the  van were excellent and both 
burros  and  minivan left unharmed.  Burros have no running lights, so 
they are hard to see at night.

As  a final note, we felt our accommodations were great and reasonably 
priced.  Our  townhouse was fifty feet from the water on a sand beach.  
It  was  a two bedroom place with three full bathrooms.  It also had a 
full  kitchen, which radically cut down eating costs.  The place rents 
out  for $115 - $140 per night depending upon the season.  Since there 
were  two  couples  involved,  our  rental worked out to $65 per night 
(after  the  Bonaire  bed  tax)  per  couple, less than a "reasonable" 
hotel  in  the  States.   Of course we needed a car to get around, and 
couldn't  walk  to  the dive shop to get our tanks like you can at the 
dive  resorts,  but  we  managed.  (Minivans easily hold 8 tanks, dive 
gear,  and  four  adults).   I might add that as a result of this trip 
the  not-too-interested  diver is now an interested diver, and the two 
novices  (who  only came to Bonaire for the windsurfing) are now madly 
buying gear so they don't have to rent it on their next dive trip.  

CANCUN BY: BRYAN JOHNSON

Our  last  trip to Cancun was in 1985 and by comparison I can tell you 
that  this  sleepy little tourist destination on the Yucatan Peninsula 
has  evolved  into a world class Caribbean Resort. Personally we enjoy 
something  a  little more secluded and not so well known. However, the 
Mexican  government  has  done  a  wonderful  job  of creating a sunny 
destination  for  singles,  couples and families with kids of all ages 
(ours are 2 and 4).
 

The  first  thing  we noticed was that the airport has been modernized 
considerably.    Air   conditioning   in   spots   (specifically   the 
boarding/departing   gates).  No  more  stairs  existing/entering  the 
airplane  and  then  a  long  walk  across the tarmac. They have those 
"hall  ways"  that come out to meet the plane now. And as for the ever 
alluring  meeting  with  the  customs  official,  well  he  was  quite 
pleasant!
 

We  rented  from Budget and as expected there was the normal 3rd world 
country  wait  for  our car. The wait, however, was quite shorter then 
our  last  visit (and much, much shorter then most other places in the 
Caribbean).  AND,  the  car  was  washed  inside  and  out and in good 
working  order! A marked improvement from our 1985 visit (I don't even 
think Budget, Hertz or Avis had agencies in Cancun then?).
 

After  checking  into  our room at the Plaza Los Glorias we headed for 
the  pool for a refreshing dip and cold margarita. The sun was already 
slipping  behind the horizon and after enjoying a splendid sunset with 
palm  trees  swaying  in the cool ocean breeze we retired early to our 
room so that we could get a fresh start the next morning.
  We  spent  our  first  full  day  surveying the new hotels that have 
sprung  up  over the last 11 years. Each one bigger and more grandiose 
than  the one before. Our favorite was the Omni with the Westin (right 
down  the beach from Club Med) running a close second. After splashing 
and  dipping  in  several  of  the  mega  resort pools we had an early 
dinner  (late  lunch)  at  Captain's Cove that was enjoyably tasteful! 
Nice patio seating too with an entrancing view of the lagoon.
 

About  midweek  we  got  a  late  start  up  the Cancun/Tulum corridor 
arriving  as  far  south  as  Captian  Lafitte's.  This  little  hotel 
(currently  little  but already in the expansion mode) is a short dirt 
road  drive off of Hwy. 307 (which is being turned into 4 lanes, it is 
currently  only  2).  One  does not have to have great intelligence to 
figure  out  that  what has happen to Cancun will surely happen to the 
rest  of  the  Cancun/Tulum corridor in the not to distant future. Our 
afternoon  at Captian Laffitte's was spent in the small (but adequate) 
pool  and walking along the great expanse of beach on which it fronts. 
We  could  have  spent  the whole week here. The lunch we had at about 
3:30pm  (even  though  they are suppose to quit serving at 3:00pm) was 
delectable  and  abundant.  The  grounds  at  Captian  Lafitte's  were 
impeccably  maintained  with  a  great  amount  of  attention given to 
detail.  Children's  play area, TV room (if you "need" it), recreation 
room  with  pool  tables and ping pong, etc. Check this place out soon 
before it to is discovered by the masses.
 

Just  about  no  vacation  to Cancun is complete without a trip to the 
alluring  pyramid  and  structures  of Chichen Itza. In order to avoid 
the  tour  bus  crowds  we  arrived  in Chichen Itza around 2:00pm and 
checked  into  the Mayaland Hotel. The top of El Castillo (the castle) 
can  be  seen from the road in front of the Mayaland Hotel, and what a 
mystical  site  it is. We made arrangements for the Light & Sound Show 
later  that  evening.  In the meantime we made a visit to the pool for 
snacks  and  drinks.  While  there  we  were  surprised with a cooling 
summer  down  pour (complete with thunder in the distance), refreshing 
to  say  the  least.  Fortunately the rain subsided and we were off to 
the  ruins of Chichen Itza later that evening for the dramatic Light & 
Sound  Show.  Although  not  quite the presentation we had expected it 
was  still  worth the small admission price paid given the history and 
facts provided in the narrative portion of the show.
 

The  following  morning  we  spent exploring the many ruins of Chichen 
Itza.  Using  the  knowledge  obtained  from last night's show made it 
even  more  interesting. A climb up the outside of El Castillo for its 
panoramic  vistas  should  not  be  missed.  The  62 step climb up the 
confined  interior  of  El  Castillo to the awaiting jaguar is another 
story.  To  many  people  in  to close quarters for my tastes. Extreme 
heat  and  humidity  added  to an uncomfortable experience (at least I 
can say I did it, for whatever that is worth?).
 

And  lastly, if you haven't heard of the newest craze to hit Cancun by 
now  you  will  within minutes of disembarking from your airplane. The 
Disneyland  type  amusement  park  known as Xcaret. Again, I'm not one 
that  enjoys  crowds  but, we had to go see what this Xcaret thing was 
all  about.  I  say  Disneyland  "type"  because of the way things are 
maintained  and  handle  at  the  park.  Constantly  cleaned with full 
service  and  attention given to the visitors/patrons. It's not really 
an  amusement  park  purse'  but  more  of  a fantasy island with zoo, 
shows,   Mayan   village,   ruins,   underground   snorkeling,  and  a 
beach/lagoon  area that (if not for the sheer numbers of people) would 
be  quite  romantic.  Now  that  I've  been Xcaret I don't know that I 
would  feel  the  need  to return. However, if you're in Cancun a FULL 
day trip to Xcaret should be included in your itinerary.
 

This  Trip Report is in no way intended to be all inclusive. Cancun is 
now  a  place with so much to see and do that it would be difficult to 
provide  a single report covering it all. If you plan to go Cancun one 
small  warning still rings true when visiting Mexico - don't drink the 
water!  Other  than  that,  enjoy your stay Cancun and when you return 
share your experiences with the rest of us.

CAYMAN ISLANDS BY KENNETH KASPER

My  family  just returned from a week at the Westin. While Bertha blew 
through  the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas, life was grand in GCM. We 
only had a brief thunderstorm one day at lunch. 

Food-  it  was  expensive! For breakfast, we stayed at the hotel using 
discount  coupons.  For  lunch, we hit the fast food several times and 
also  adopted  a  strategy  of eating at a fancier restaurant at lunch 
and  picking up something small for dinner. Restaurants: Eat's (not as 
cheap  as  expected,  so-so food), Ferdinands (at the hotel, expensive 
even  at the casual hotel restaurant), Whitehall Bay (good seafood and 
nice  view),  The  Lighthouse (good seafood, good view) and The Almond 
Tree (casual patio dining, good conch fritters). 

Activities:  We  hung out at the hotel quite a bit. The pool and beach 
are  OK.  We snorkeled at Cemetary Reef and Governor's Reef and really 
liked  Cemetary. We went on a 1/2 day trip with Capt. Marvin and had a 
lot  of  fun  with the stingrays. We hit the turtle farm (educational) 
and  took  a  trip  on  the  Atlantis  submarine.  We went over to the 
Holiday Inn and listened to Barefoot. 

Stingray  Beer: I have never seen anything on the board regarding this 
GCM  microbrew. It was quite good and a bargain at $7 CM per six pack. 
We visited the brewery and brought home a tee shirt. 

Reflections:  A  car is a must. Our mid-size from Andy's was small but 
served  the  purpose.  The  Westin  was very nice. However, the island 
view  rooms  look over the front parking lot. Go for the partial ocean 
view.  Stingray  City  (sandbar)  is a must. If you don't dive, take a 
snorleling  trip  there.  I recommend Captain Marvin. Book direct, pay 
cash  and use the 20% discount coupon in the tourist book.Barefoot was 
fun. Buy his CDs direct during the show. 

CAYMAN ISLANDS BY WILLIAM EDGEWORTH

Just  back  from  first   trip  to  GCo. First impressions: I am now a 
believer.  Thought maybe many of the comments concerning how expensive 
it  was  were  a  little  inflated  as  we  have found most if not all 
"islands"  to  be  expensive  vacation  destinations. Wrong! It is the 
most expensive we have found-by far! 

We  had a car for our entire stay and explored the island extensively. 
It  seems the whole island is "for sale". Have never seen so many real 
estate signs. 

We  stayed  out on the northside having rented a beach front house and 
it  was  lovely.  Quiet,  serene,  light,  bright  a  and  airy-just a 
delightful  place.  The downside was that restaurants out that way are 
few and far between so we ate in a lot. 

We  tried the Edge in Boddentown and the food was good but the service 
was  extremely slow. We had a good dinner at the Lighthouse so we went 
back  again  and  it  was  not  as good. We found the service there is 
efficient  but  cool and aloof. Just under $100.00 American both trips 
including gratuity.

We  had  lunch  3  or  4 times at the Lone Star. Their Ranch Burger is 
great!--and  it  is  a  fun  place. Also had lunch at the Hog Sty Cafe 
overlooking the harbor and that was a good time. 

The snorkeling-which -for me- is the main reason to go to the islands-
was  disappointing.  I  have always heard about the clear water in the 
Caym
part.  We  took  3 boat trips-more about that later-and on two of them 
the  water  was  clear and the snorkeling at the Coral Gardens(which I 
don't  think  is  a  great  snorkeling  spot-but  it  is  good for the 
operators  as  it  is  close to Sting Ray City and the Barrier Reef so 
they  don't  have  to  go  far  from one to the other). The reef was a 
great snorkel-too short. Sting ray city was both interesting and fun

  We  bought  a  "Snorkeling and Diving Site Map" for $4 bucks to help 
locate  the  sites  recommended  here  on the board and we hit most of 
them.  Eden  Rock-Grotto area, Cemetary reef, Parrots Landing, Smith's 
Cove  were  just  some of the spots we hit and all were good spots but 
the  water  simply  was  not clear when we were there so it was not as 
enjoyable  as it could have been. Interestingly some of the best water 
Clarity  we encountered was the day we snorkeled the very shallow reef 
close  to  the  beach  across  from the Indies House or whatever it is 
called. 

We  rented  a car from Mc Curleys Tours North Side. BA for Beth Ann is 
Mrs.  Mc  Curley  and  she picked us up from the air port, stopped for 
groceries  and  wine and took us to our house where she had our rental 
car  waiting.  Gave  us a wealth of info on the way to the house. Then 
she  picked  us  up  and  took  us  to  the airport-all for the fee of 
$225.00  per  week  American.  They run tours and Taxi's and BA is the 
only  American  who  works  on the island and is allowed to pick up at 
the  airport.  She is married to an islander. Anyway, I recommend them 
highly. 

We  went shopping for the usual tourist-souvenir stuff and didn't find 
any  big  bargains. It is fun to go downtown when the Cruise Ships are 
in  just  to  watch  people-certainly not to shop. These folks have to 
wait  in  line to get on the tenders to come to shore, wait in line to 
get  off the tenders, wait in line even to get in to some of the shops 
as  there are so many people disgorged at once. Sometimes they seem to 
be  turning  in  circles  and I was told by one "Cruiser" that they do 
not  have  much time ashore. Then they have to "que"? and wait in line 
to  catch  the  tender  back  to the ship. It sure looks like a lot of 
fun. 

I  mentioned  earlier  that  we  took  3 boat trips. 1 was good, 1 was 
great,  and  one was a disaster. Will do another session later and let 
you know which one to avoid at all costs. 

One  place  we  enjoyed  during  our  shopping  expeditions  was Cathy 
Church's  Photo Gallery. Her underwater photography is exciting. Marie 
and  I  have been doing "Islands" since the early 60's when we fell in 
love  with them on our first trip. We have been to Nassau and Freeport 
many  times  but not recently. We have been to many of the Bahamas out 
islands  and  prefer that atmosphere now. We have also been privileged 
to  visit  the American Virgins, The British Virgins, and Puerto Rico-
all  on a number of occasions. In addition we have enjoyed Martinique, 
Barbados,  and Anguilla among others. As you have probably gathered we 
are   getting   a  little  bit  old-even  though  we  don't  feel  so-
particularly mentally. .

So  what's happening on the quiet northside of the island? To tell the 
truth-as  we  see  it-not  a lot. There is the "Kaibo"-a small outdoor 
restaurant  located  next to a public beach and dock. OK for lunch but 
not  really  much to see and we think that "Rum Point" would be a much 
better  choice. The operation serves dinner but we did not consider it 
an  option  as  the  seating arrangements are less than comfortable. A 
lot  of  the  boat  operators  put in for lunch at this spot under the 
arrangement  that  the tour guests may use the "Kaibo's" picnic tables 
in  exchange  for buying their drinks from the restaurant. Taking your 
own  sodas  or  beer is not allowed. A can of Pepsi is $2.50 American. 
Mudslides  are  $8.00  American  Sorry  to  say we just can't say much 
about  the  "Kaibo"  as a place to visit. Unfortunately the same holds 
true  for the Cayman Kai Resort. I know it is off season but the place 
is  dying. We stopped by at lunch time a couple days and one day there 
was  one couple having lunch and the next time there was nobody. I did 
some  snooping  and  was  told  that  the  "Hyatt"  is  looking at the 
property. For now-forget it-in our opinion. 

We  found  "Rum  Pointe" the place to go on the north side. We had not 
been  there  prior  to  the  "Hyatt"  regime  so  have  no  basis  for 
comparison  but  the  food was good for lunch, the site is nice, and I 
would  think  it would be a neat day trip on the ferry from Georgetown 
for  those  who  are staying in town. There is swimming, snorkeling, a 
water  sports  desk  where you can book trips to snorkel etc, hammocks 
big  enough  for two and comfortable, and not to be missed-"Rum Pointe 
Thomas"  the resident cat who seems to preside over everything when he 
is  not  sleeping.  They also have a nice gift shop and good rest room 
facilities. 

There  is  also a new pricey gourmet restaurant which looks very nice-
it  opens  at 5 PM when the snack shop on the beach closes. However we 
did   not   try  it  as  it  is  almost  exclusively  sea  food  which 
Unfortunately  I  am allergic to all kinds. Entrees are $20 Cayman and 
up and do not include a salad. 

Having  been advised by fellow travelers to try a mudslid or 2-we did. 
The  first  and  worst  was  at the Paradise bar and cafe on the water 
downtown.  $6.95  Cayman  and  it was not very good!! Don't!!!! Things 
got  better from there, however. We had several at the Lone Star $6.00 
Cayman  and  they were very good. We had one at the Bayview Restaurant 
on  the  2nd  floor overlooking the harbor and it was very good. $6.95 
Cayman.  The  best  one  we had was at the "Cracked Conch" next to the 
Turtle  Farm where they use Chocolate Chip Ice cream in the mix-it was 
great!!!  Had  a  great  price, too--$8.00 Cayman--$10.00 American for 
one drink and not including gratuity. Wow! 

So  we  took  3  boat  trips and observed several other operators from 
close  distance.  It  seems  they  all  go  to  the  same places-Coral 
Gardens,  Barrier  Reef,  and  Sting Ray Sandbar. Of the three we took 
"Soto  Cruises"  won  hands  down. No contest. They have a great boat-
"Sea  Hunt"  and  it  is big and comfortable and the crew pleasant and 
helpful.  The  other  operator  we  went  with  and would recommend is 
Frank's.  Same  trip- smaller boat but not overcrowded and they served 
rum   punch   on  the  leisurely  trip  back  in.  The  third--Bayside 
Watersports-operating  out  of  Morgan's  Harbour  Marina  and  Fall's 
Shopping  Center-Avoid!  Avoid!  Avoid.  I  was told on the phone that 
they  offered  a fullday with lunch from 9AM-3PM. They had us back and 
off  the  boat  at  2:15  after  a run at full throttle from the final 
snorkeling  site-the  best  one-the  reef-where  they  allowed only 25 
minutes.  They  also  said  on  the  phone  the do not overcrowd their 
boats.  They  had  29  of us on a 33 ft boat and I can tell you it was 
way  overcrowded.  Way  overcrowded.  They also said on the phone that 
their  crew  was  one of the best and devoted their day to making sure 
the  guests had a great time. That was the biggest crock. The Captain-
whom  some  of  us nicknamed "Captain Luv" had his girlfriend, another 
gal  and  her  mother(I  think)  and  they  had one big party all day-
monopolizing  the best spots on the boat-while the guests were left to 
fend  for  themselves.  Capt. Luv seldom left his honey and I think he 
had  big  plans  for  the afternoon which is probably why we had short 
snorkels and got back early. 

I  could  go on and on about how poorly this trip was run but and will 
answer  any  inquiries.  Avoid  Bayside  Watersports and don't believe 
anything  they  tell  you  on  the  phone. They feature large boats in 
their  ads  and  took  us  out on the smallest boat they had-the "Reel 
Hooker" or something like that. It was the lowpoint of our trip. 

Of  the  other  operations  we  observed, would stay away from "Cayman 
Delight  Cruises". It looked like a cattle car every time we saw their 
boat.  Capt.  Marvin  appeared to have a great crew but their boat was 
very crowded all three times we saw them on the water. 

We  have  been  traveling  the  Islands  since the early 60's and love 
them.  We enjoyed our trip to GC but will probably not return. We feel 
there  are better values elsewhere. Prices were not just expensive but 
border  on  the outrageous. We stayed on the North Side so had limited 
choices  for restaurants and no night life and that was our choice. We 
would  probably  stay closer to town if we did it again. We just don't 
feel  high  rises, heavy traffic, etc. do much to give a tropical isle 
flavor. Not knocking, mind you, it is just not our thing. 

CAYMAN ISLANDS BY RICHARD FINE

Well  folks  we just got back from our family vacation on grand Cayman 
island  and  we had a GREAT time. it is now my favorite place anywhere 
(including Hawaii). 

1.  Hyatt Regency--It was great, although as several people mentioned, 
not  on  the  beach.  We  stayed  at  the  villas which were about a 5 
minutes  walk  and about a 1 minute ride (Hyatt folks were always very 
willing  and  prompt to come pick us to take us, but by the end of the 
week,  we  hadn't gotten used to enjoying the walk--even our 10, 7 and 
5  yr.  old  kids ). Only drawbacks at Hyatt were: (a) VERY expensive, 
and  (b)  although the concierge said the camp Hyatt menu for kids was 
available  everywhere,  it was NOT available at Hemingways or at pools 
(at pools you could get it, but you had to order through room service-
-very  much  of a hassle)(other food at Hyatt didn't thrill the kids). 
we  had  a  kitchen  in  our  villa,  went  to  the  grocery  store by 
Benjamin's  on  the  roof (reasonably priced) and cooked breakfast for 
the kids rather than the room service. 

2.  Prices--a  little  offensive  at  times  (e.g.  underwater cameras 
priced  at  $8 in the US were $30US in Cayman shops. to the extent you 
could, buy everything you could anticipate needing in US. 

3.  Red Sail Sports--We took several trips on these 65 foot catamarans 
(a  half-day  snorkeling  trip  to  various  spots, a half-day trip to 
Sting  Ray  City,  and a resort dive course where you don't have to be 
certified  but  get  morning instruction and then go on 40 ft. dive in 
the  afternoon).  Red  Sail  folks  were  fabulous,  all very nice and 
knowledgeable.  on  each trip, they had photographer shooting video so 
that  you  could  buy  a  tape  of  your trip above and below water. a 
little  expensive,  but one of those things if you don't buy, you will 
have  wished you did when you get back home. we only bought a video of 
the  sting ray city trip, but when we got back home, called and bought 
the  other  video  of  the  resort  dive.  Bridgett  was  one  of  the 
photographers:  she  was very pretty, extremely nice and talented, and 
you  should  ask for her . We also used Red Sea to go water-skiing and 
on  a  banana  boat  ride.  in summary, right there on the Hyatt beach 
couldn't have been more convenient, and they were great folks. 

4.  Submarine Ride--We went on the 100 ft. odyssey trip. expensive for 
the  first  trip ($82US for adults and $41US for children). they offer 
you  a  $30/$15  price  if  you  take  a  second  trip,  which is more 
reasonable,  but  you  really  only  need  to  do this once. for those 
worried  about  claustrophobia--  not a problem. the folks at Atlantis 
taking  the money are kinda rude, but the people on the sub are great. 
definitely worth doing once, but that's about it. 

5.  Restaurants--The  Wharf--good food (we took our kids; they ate the 
chicken),  they  have  9pm tarpon feeding where they let the kids take 
the  days  food  scraps  and  feed  them  to  these  50lb  tarpons who 
anticipate  their  nightly meal with relish , feeding only lasts about 
5  minutes,  but kids enjoy it . Benjamins on the Roof--food was kinda 
heavy,  but  the  piano player was FABULOUS (one of the best I've ever 
listened  to,  you should definitely buy one of his tapes and no, i am 
not  his  agent ). Lantanas--best food on the island that we found. we 
went  to  Lantanas  sans kids (they went to camp Hyatt and loved their 
time  with  another  girl  named Bridgett --from NY and the kids loved 
her);  if you go to Lantanas-save room for the souffles for dessert-my 
wife  had the chocolate and i had the fat-free raspberry (which, after 
tasting  my  wife's chocolate, as delicious as that was, i believe was 
superior  to  the  chocolate).  really  a  great restaurant whose food 
rivaled  those  of  the best that we have in Houston (including Tony's 
and  cafe  Annie); kinda expensive--dinner for 2: $140US with drinks . 
Lone Star: very average, kids liked but don't expect a lot. 

6.  Miniature  Golf  near the Hyatt: we did this twice, the kids loved 
it,  its  a  pretty  nice  little  miniature  golf  layout,  and well-
maintained.   again,   kinda  expensive  ($10CI  for  adults/$5CI  for 
children--oh  yeah,  the  conversion rate for those that don't know is 
$1US = $.80CI). 

COZUMEL: PLAYA DEL CARMEN BY MIKE GREENLEAF

We  stayed  three  nights  on Cozumel at El Presidente and then stayed 
four  nights on the Mexican mainland about 15 miles south of Playa Del 
Carmen at Robinson Club Tulum.

I  don't  wish  to  be  redundant with respect to the already existing 
reports, however there are a few items I would like to cover:

GETTING THERE

We  flew  US  Air  from  Cincinnati  through  Charlotte. It was a good 
flight,  not  too  crowded  and took about 2.5 hours from Charlotte to 
Cancun.  We  used  a  special  fare  that  required a certificate from 
Kroger's  supermarket  and  paid  $299  each.  In  case  the reader is 
interested,  the  fare  is  available until August 31, 1996 for travel 
until  December  15,  1996.  We are using the same coupon to go to St. 
Martin in November (also $299 each, round trip).

We  got  a  cab  to  Playa Del Carmen from the airport for $50 for the 
five  of  us. Too high, but better than the $70 fare originally quoted 
(they will bargain). Took the ferry from PDC to Cozumel.

El  Presidente  was  an  outstanding hotel. The grounds were beautiful 
and  our  room  was very large (about 15 ft. by 22 ft.) The beach area 
was  much larger than it appears on their brochure. Snorkeling off the 
beach   was   great  and  constituted  the  next  best  snorkeling  to 
Chankanaab Park (five minutes south by cab).

As  stated  in  many  previous  reports,  the locals are very kind and 
considerate  people.  We found a cab driver that we liked and used him 
almost  exclusively.  The first night we ate at Pepe's Grill which has 
a  great  view  of  the  water-  front. I had their chateaubriand with 
bernaise  sauce  for  $13  US. The food was very good and the bill for 
three  of us was under $50 US. The next night our driver recommended a 
fish  place  that  he billed as the best restaurant on the island, but 
he  further  advised  that it was not a place frequented by tourists - 
only locals. He pronounced it 'Papaya El Marino'. 

As  we  arrived  I  noticed a sign with a picture of Popeye the Sailor 
and   Olive   Oil   and   realized   that  I  had  misinterpreted  his 
pronunciation  of  the  name.  After  looking  again  at  the  English 
spelling   'Popeye'  and  considering  the  Spanish  pronunciation  of 
vowels,  I  realized my error. In any event, we were seated at a table 
and  a  menu was offered. We were the only customers there and none of 
the  staff  spoke  English.  We  managed,  by  butchering  the Spanish 
language, to order dinner.

The  fish  was  outstanding and the price turned out to be about $4 US 
each.

The  best place we ate during our stay on Cozumel was Pizza Rolandi on 
the  main street facing the harbor, about 2 blocks north of Carlos and 
Charlie's.  It  is not only a pizza place, they have great steaks. The 
bill  for the three of us was about $45 US. The dining room is an open 
air  courtyard  with  candles  and  tablecloths.  Not  at  all  what I 
expected. 

Snorkeling  at  Chankanaab  was outstanding. We got there early before 
the  crowd  arrived  and had a great time. The visibility was probably 
over  100  feet.  Around  noon  the crowds arrived. A couple of ladies 
doffed  their  tops  but  were  quickly told by the staff that topless 
bathing  is  not  allowed.  In contrast, topless bathing was the rule, 
rather  than the exception at Robinson Club Tulum, which was inhabited 
primarily  by Europeans. I have always admired the European casualness 
about  topless  beach  attire.  Were  I  a  woman, I would probably go 
topless too. 

El  Presidente  was  clearly  the best hotel on the island and I would 
return  there if I went back to Cozumel. It was a little pricey but it 
was outstanding in every way. 

We  went  to  La  Ceiba  to  snorkel  because my son wanted to see the 
airplane  underwater.  Not much to it, certainly not worth the effort. 
The snorkeling at El Presidente was much better. 

After  three  nights  we  packed  up  and went to Robinson Club Tulum, 
taking  the  ferry  across  the  channel  and a vehicle about 15 miles 
south of Playa Del Carmen. 

Robinson  Club  Tulum occupies about 20 acres on the Caribbean and has 
a  great beachfront with occasional fenced-off turtle nesting grounds. 
The  beach  is  about  50  yards  wide,  with the first 30 yards being 
moderately  shaded  by palm trees. There is a beach bar and restaurant 
that is occasionally used for evening meals.

We  found  the  food  at RCT to be very good. There was plenty of wine 
with  dinner  and there were about 10-12 different food 'stations' for 
salads,  entrees,  desserts and etc. Tables are arranged with eight at 
a  table  and  generally  you  are seated with other guests, which was 
interesting  since we were one of the few who spoke English. The crowd 
appeared  to  be  overwhelmingly German. One thing we learned was that 
most  of  the  Germans  we  talked to wished they would put the Berlin 
Wall  back  up.  Apparently  they  are being heavily taxed in order to 
subsidize  East  Germany.  I  was struck by the notion that the tax is 
basically  a cost attributable to World War II and it is, moreover, an 
inter-generational tax not unlike our current Social Security morass.

RCT  is  apparently  owned  and  managed  by Germans. It operates with 
classic  German  efficiency.  For example, at 10 AM and 4 PM the staff 
congregates  on  the  pool  deck with a wireless microphone to explain 
the  days  activities. I noticed that this event took place at exactly 
10:00, not 9:59 or 10:01. You could set your watch by it.

The  rooms  are small but efficiently organized. In each wing there is 
a washer and dryer for the guests' use. 

We  went  to  the  ruins  at  Tulum  and went snorkeling at Xel-Ha. We 
arrived  at  Tulum  early and were impressed by the ruins. It is worth 
the  trip. Xel-Ha was unimpressive. The water was murky and there were 
very  few  fish.  The snorkeling at Cozumel was 1000 percent better. I 
would not waste my time again on Xel-Ha.

RCT  also  had a short driving range (about 100 yards long) and rented 
golf  balls  for  about $4 for 25. Too high, considering that you were 
required  to  hit  off  plastic  mats.  They had a PGA pro who ran the 
range  and  the  'golf  program'. The golf program consisted of a free 
session  on  the  range  for beginning golfers on Friday evenings. The 
pro  is  from  Scotland  and his name is Mark James. He is a very good 
pro  and  conducted the best 15 minute introduction to the game I have 
ever  seen. My son and I are pretty experienced golfers and were bored 
by  the  presentation,  but we knew that was going to happen going in. 
Mark  the  pro  still  picked up a swing flaw that I have that is very 
hard  to detect and offered a cure. I was impressed. He obviously is a 
very  good  teacher.  Apparently  he  also  gives  private  lessons to 
guests.  The  range  balls  were  not included in the 'all- inclusive' 
price.

Also  not included were many of the watersports. In order to windsurf, 
you  were required to either carry some sort of windsurfing competency 
card  or  prove  your  competency  to the staff. In the event you were 
incompetent  to  operate  the  windsurfer, you were required to take a 
class  which  cost  about  $100.  Scuba  was  also not included in the 
price. It was about $100 for a short course. 

We  paid  $1400  for  3  of  us  for 4 nights. I thought the price was 
fairly  reasonable  even  considering  that which was not included. El 
Presidente  had  a  special  of $300 for two rooms (first room at $200 
and  the  extra  room  for  half-price  or something like that). Since 
there were five of us it worked out pretty well.

Were  I  to  return to that part of Mexico I would probably only go to 
Cozumel.  The  Tulum  area  is  nice  but you are pretty much stuck at 
whatever  hotel you happen to be staying. At Cozumel downtown is never 
very  far  away  and  is  always  interesting. I guess I like a little 
activity.

We  chose  our  hotels on the basis of reports filed on Compuserve. We 
found  them to be very accurate and hope that this report is as useful 
as the ones before it. 

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