Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Gert van Dijken, Editor

Caribbean Travel Roundup
Gert van Dijken, Editor
Edition 138
October 1, 2003

Last Update October 5, 2003

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- Press Release: Isla Cozumel to Host 2003 Reggae Festival
  • By: Marcia Rowland
  • Date: Fri, 12 Sep 2003 15:48:27 -0400




            COZUMEL, Mexico (Sept. 12, 2003) – Isla Cozumel, the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean, will host its first Reggae Festival on Sept. 28 to celebrate and promote the unique culture of the island through music.  With its Mexican roots and Caribbean influence, Cozumel has a rhythm of its own.  The Reggae at the Beach event will showcase music by eight of the best reggae bands in Mexico including Antidoping, Raz Carmelo, Ganja, Theremoto, Acuáticos, I & I, Splash and Planeta Tierra.

The festival, promising authentic Caribbean rhythms and beach-side excitement, will take place at the “Andale” Restaurant at San Martin beach.  The festivities begin at noon and bands will be playing throughout the day from 2:00 p.m. to midnight.  In addition to the performances by these top Mexican bands, some of Mexico’s best athletes and national champions will be presenting their skills in various extreme water sports including windsurfing, kiteboarding and surfing.  Tickets are available in advance at the Chedraui Supermarket, San Francisco Supermarket or Video Vision for $8 and are $10 if purchased the day of the event.

“We are excited to share this experience with guests of the island and hope to give them a taste of reggae, as well as the culture deeply rooted within Cozumel,” said Gaston Cantarell Diaz, president of the Isla Cozumel Hotel Association and private sector representative for the tourism foundation.  “We

look forward to continuing this as an annual celebration and hope that more visitors will join us each year for this tribute to the music and flavor of Cozumel.”  

            Named "Cuzamil" by the Maya who inhabited it more than 2,000 years ago, Isla Cozumel or "land of the swallows" is located in the state of Quintana Roo, east of the Yucatan PeninsulaCozumel, approximately 30 miles long and 10 miles wide, has an international snorkeling and diving reputation with the world's second-largest reef network featuring limestone caves, tunnels and rare black coral.  Cozumel Reefs National Park, a protected 30,000-acre national area covering 85 percent of the island’s dive sites and embracing the southern section of Cozumel, was created in 1996 for the purpose of conserving, monitoring and researching the reef formation and its natural habitat.  In 2002 a U.S. News & World Report Travel Agent Survey recognized Isla Cozumel as the North American/Caribbean destination offering the best vacation value.  Visit Cozumel on the World Wide Web at


- The Reef Resort, Grand Cayman
  • By: Jo-Ann Dunn
  • Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2003 12:07:11 -0400
Just returned from a week at The Reef Resort in Grand Cayman.  The Reef
is located at the east end of the island about 45 minutes from 7 mile

Flew US Air direct from Philly - flights in both directions arrived
early!  Were picked up at the Airport by a representative from McCurley
Car Rental.  They dropped us off at the Foster's IGA Supermarket for
about 1/2 hour to pick up supplies, then took us to The Reef.  Our car
was waiting for us when we arrived - it was a 4-door Nissan Sentra and
the cost was $225 for the week.

The Reef consists of  60 oceanfront units - either Studios, One Bedroom
or Two Bedroom.  We had a one-bedroom 2nd floor unit which was gorgeous
.  Unit had a full kitchen, dining area, living room, bedroom and bath
with Jacuzzi tub.  There were also 2 Murphy beds in the living room
which would be great if you had kids.  Balcony looked over the 3
interlocking pools with the beach just beyond the pool area.  Since I'm
an early riser, it was fantastic sitting out on the balcony with a cup
of coffee watching the sunrise over the water.  Ate dinner the 1st
evening at Castro's at the hotel.  Food was very good.

Sunday morning there was an orientation buffet breakfast offered by the
resort.  Since The Reef is a timeshare resort, we thought it would be a
pitch to buy a unit.  However, they introduced the staff, told you about
the week's activities and mentioned that if you were interested in
finding out more about buying, to contact the sales office.  That was
the first and only time it was mentioned.  It was nice not being
"hounded" to buy.

Monday we woke up to a bad thunderstorm and heavy rain.  And rain it
did.  It poured and poured all day.  We got 3 1/2" of rain in a day.  It
was only a tropical storm at the time, but ended up turning into
Tropical Storm Henri which hit the west coast of Florida.  But - after
one day, it never rained again.

Tuesday we took the Stingray City tour offered by the Resort.  It was
$35/person and worth every penny.  The drove us out to Rum Point and
then we snorkeled at 3 different sites, ending up with the Stingrays.
It's absolutely amazing how tame these creatures are.  There are
literally hundreds of them floating around you in the water.  It's an
experience not to be missed if you travel to Grand Cayman.

Spent a lot of time snorkeling right off the beach at the resort.  It is
a little rocky, so water shoes are suggested.  They have a great little
beach bar and make the best mudslides!  We are not divers, but Ocean
Frontiers Dive Shop is on the property and have a full schedule of dives
for those interested.

On Tuesday and Thursday, The Barefoot Man performs at Castro's.  He is
very good and his songs and very funny.  We particularly liked "That's A
Moray" and "Who Let the Cat's In".  

Had dinner at Portofino's (about 2 miles away from the resort).  Very
good Italian food.  Lunch at the Lighthouse was fantastic - you sit on a
dock right over the water.  But it is a little expensive - $55 for lunch
(and we had a 10% off coupon).  Also ate at David's at Morritt's which
is right next door.

Checked out the number of cruise ships in port and decided to go to
Georgetown on Friday when were none in port (on Thursday there were 7!).
Decided to drive to Hell - and it wasn't worth it.  Seven Mile beach is
gorgeous - but there are too many hotels and condos very close together.
Plus - there is a lot of construction, especially around the new  Ritz
they are building.   Glad we stayed at the quiet end of the island.

If you are looking for a lot of nightlife and partying, you don't want
to stay at the Reef.  But if you are looking for an exceptional resort
and a gorgeous beach with a lot of peace and quiet, then you definitely
should stay at the Reef.  We are already planning a trip back in 2004.

Jo-Ann Dunn

- St. John in Summer?
  • By: Alain Côté
  • Date: Wed, 3 Sep 2003 08:42:11 -0400
St. John in Summer?

We hesitated going to St. John, USVI, during the month of August, but we
finally went and are very glad we did. This is hurricane season, but we
got nearly perfect weather. Just a few 5-minute showers.

Here are, in bullet form, our comments and recommendations.
  • We flew from Toronto to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and slept there (at the imposing Embassy Suites Hotel and Casino, near the airport) and continued our trip with Cape Air to St. Thomas the next day.
  • The ferry trip to St. John is shorter from Red Hook, but the taxi ride from the airport to the ferry dock across the island can be nerve-racking. On the way back, we took the ferry to Charlotte Amalie, a longer trip that brings you to downtown St. Thomas. Since we like variety, glad we tried both routes.
  • We rented Orchid Villa through Caribbean Villas and Resorts. The villa was very clean and comfortable, and the view stunning. You can check it out at Caribbean Villas offers a wide range of villas and excellent service. They will come and pick you up at the ferry and bring you back at the end. The prices are understandingly much cheaper during the summer.
  • Most beaches are wonderful and not so crowded during the summer. The snorkelling trail at Trunk Bay is somewhat overrated. Try several beaches.
  • Do a guided walk with a National Park Service naturalist. You will learn a lot about the island.s fauna and flora.
  • There are plenty of good restaurants, some more expensive than others. To name just a few, we tried and thoroughly enjoyed ZoZo.s, the Stone Terrace and Asolare, not only for the food but also for the view. Time your reservation with the sunset.
  • The driving on the left side and on circuitous roads in bad shape can be a challenge, but less difficult than expected. A four-wheel drive car is required. If you stay at a place far from Cruz Bay, remember that you will have to drive the distance several times for shopping, the ferry, groceries, some restaurants, etc. Our villa, on quiet Klein Bay, was a 10-minute drive from .downtown..
  • We took an afternoon snorkelling trip on a sailboat with Captain Doug Ward, a former Californian who has been living on his boat for close to 20 years. Caribbean Villas can make the reservation for you. Highly recommended.
This is the closest place to heaven we have visited so far.

- The Inn On The Bay
  • By: Sally Scaman
  • Date: Sun, 21 Sep 2003 19:49:14 -0500

We visited the Inn On The Bay in St Lucia, Marigot Bay in August of 2003.  We wanted to share our experience with you. 

We truly felt as though we were old friends that Normand and Louise had invited as guests, not just paying transients. It was a remarkably memorable vacation that will live in our hearts and memories for many years to come. We will never forget the incredible experience of being guests at the Inn. We are planning on returning in 15 months and have convinced some of our friends and family to join us. We expect to fill the Inn.

Louise serves an excellent breakfast of local fresh fruit, homemade muffins and breads, croissants, and butter, fresh jams, and unique peanut butter.  Every morning we were treated to a new variety of muffin or croissant…Chocolate chip was definitely the best.  My husband just served some pineapple which he cut exactly as Louise does.  It is not nearly as good,
but brings back sweet memories.  We will not eat mangos or bananas for awhile because we know we will be disappointed.

We loved all the special attention and assistance lavished on us. It was such a thrill to feel that we were part of the small community of Marigot Bay, because we were Normand's guests. You cannot imagine our pleasant surprise when Gildette at the Chateau Mygo brought our check at the end of our first visit and asked if we were ready for her to call Normand. When we
asked how she knew we were staying with Normand, she replied that she saw him drop us off for dinner.
Normand was always available to give advice, schedule tours, make reservations, drive us up and down the hill, and invest untold energy in making our vacation perfect.

I am so pleased that we found The Inn On The Bay and trusted our instincts when we booked our stay. Normand made that decision easy by his quick response to our first email which he followed up with a phone call. I particularly appreciated the way that Normand and Louise foster a spirit of community among their guests. It was fun to meet so many interesting people and share the unique experience of being guests at the Inn.

One of our fondest memories is the evening that we spent with Normand and Louise at the Green Parrot. We highly recommend them as dinner guests to anyone. We completely enjoyed the lively conversation, relaxing atmosphere, excellent wine and delectable offerings of Chef say nothing of the free ride.

It seemed that our biggest decision of the day was whether we would noodle in the pool or go to the beach. We loved having no TV or phone. Quiet evenings just listening to the tree frogs or playing Monopoly and Scrabble were completely relaxing.

Favorite Drinks:
        JJ's Delight at JJ's
        Dirty Banana At Green Parrot
        Shack Attack at The Shack
        Black Kiss at the Coal Pot
        Coffee St Lucia at Chateau Mygo
        Crystal Lime and Sprite poolside at The Inn On The Bay *
*Normand will provide the sprite, but you have to get your own rum.

    Favorite Soup:
        Seafood chowder at Chateau Mygo
        Vichyssoise at The Green Parrot
        Seafood Gazpacho at Dasheene

    Favorite Salad/Appetizer:
        Seafood Caesar at Dasheene
        Conch Fritters at The Shack

    Favorite Entree:
        Cocoanut Tiger Shrimp at Oceana
        Warm-water Lobster at Anse La Raye Friday Jump Up
        Broiled Snapper at The Coal Pot
        Broiled Mahi Mahi at Chateau Mygo
        Fresh Seafood everywhere we ate

    Favorite Sandwich:
        Flying Fish Sandwich at Doolittles

    Favorite Dessert:
        Roasted Banana with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup at
            Dasheene Restaurant
        Banana Flambe at Cateau Mygo
        Creme Brulee at The Coal Pot

    Favorite Outings:
        Anse La Raye Friday Fish Jump Up
        Snorkeling at Anse Chastenet and buffet lunch at the hotel
        Sail to Soufrere
        Tour of Bounty Rhum

We spent 10 glorious days as the guests of Normand and Louise and we are looking forward to our next visit, which we scheduled before we left St Lucia. We have visited many Caribbean islands and enjoyed a number of wonderful trips, but this was truly the most unique island in the Caribbean, an unbelievably hospitable Inn, hosted by a delightful couple, and our best honeymoon ever (it was honeymoon # 11.)

 Sally Scaman and Bob Huff,

Chicago, Illinois, USA

- St. Martin: Whatever blows your hair back
  • By: Bruce & Kathryn Creechan
  • Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2003 12:00:05 +0000
This is the motto of our Captain, John Townsend who along with his petite
wife Debby, .The Admiral with a muscle., were our hosts for a week-long
catamaran cruise with Trade Winds Cruise Club out of Marigot, St. Martin,
F.W.I.  Imagine being able to exchange our Harbour Inn week through RCI
for a week in paradise and the opportunity to experience an all-new
vacation adventure.
With the release of the new RCI 2001/02 directory, we noticed the new
listing for Trade Winds at two locations and immediately went to their
website . . to check it out.  When we decided six
months later to try for the Caribbean, lo and behold, the first exchange
that came up was Trade Winds out of St. Martin.  Even though there is an
all-inclusive fee of $545 US we booked it immediately and then waited for
a second week that came up a few weeks later for The Towers at Mullet Bay.
We were really excited, but began to waiver when friends and neighbours
couldn.t understand how we could go away and spend a week on a boat with
people we did not know.  A few of our adventuresome friends urged us on,
but it was with a bit of apprehension that we boarded the airplane on Jan.
12th.  Luckily, everything ran smoothly.  We had no trouble finding Trade
Winds at Marina Port la Royale.  We left our luggage and explored the
capitol of the French side, Marigot, enjoyed lunch at one of the cafes
around the port and returned to board our home for the week . Solitaire .
a 48. catamaran.  Our new home had six cabins with private heads, three in
each pontoon.  We had never slept on a boat and found our quarters to be
very comfortable, with two hatches and the Caribbean breezes blowing, it
was well ventilated.  You could even have a shower in the head as the sink
faucet pulled out and you sat on the .john..  Once unpacked and back up on
deck, we met our traveling companions for the week over cocktails and knew
we were going to have a great time.  Dinner was prepared by Debby and
served by John and then they joined us and we made a toast to new friends
and new places.  We felt right at home.
Up bright and early Sunday morning after a wonderful night.s sleep, we set
out through Simpson Bay Lagoon bridge on the French side and into the open
sea, stopping in Marigot Bay and then off to the Island of Anguilla, a
British protectorate, only 5 miles north.  We stopped for lunch at Prickly
Pear Cay before checking in with the Coast Guard at Road Bay where we were
to spend the next 2 nights.  The village of Sandy Ground, located on the
strip between Road Bay and the salt marsh, was quite unique and even had
an Internet Caf.  The next day, John arranged for a tour of the Island and
the very luxurious resorts, with a stop in the main town to pick up some
hot sauce for Debby, then back to Solitaire for lunch.  That afternoon we
took off in the dinghy for Little Bay where we snorkeled, swam, kayaked
and climbed in a wonderful, secluded beach only accessible by boat.  We
were a hungry group returning to Solitaire as we envisioned what culinary
delights Debby would have waiting for us that evening.
After leaving Anguilla we returned to Grand Case, French St. Martin, for
an evening and enjoyed our night out on the town while Debby & John had a
break from us!  We had a feast of BBQ.d goat ribs and Johnnycakes for $4
at one of the hundred beachside restaurants.  They were great and the
price was right.  Back on board we were not ready to call it a night and
partied until the wee hours.
The next day we stopped in at Anse Marcel for gas and explored the area
before heading off to the Island of Tintamarre where we were all going to
get beautiful by pulverizing the clay and mixing it with sea water and
then covering ourselves with it.  We were quite a sight and it was no easy
task removing the mud.  We carried on to Ilet Pinel in Orient Bay,
spending the night there before our crossing the next day to St. Barth.s.
And what a crossing it was.  35-knot winds and 12. seas made for a few
queasy stomachs, but St. Bart.s was well worth the upsets!  Talk about
luxury!  Here we were sitting right in the middle of it!  Our return sail,
the next day, with a stop at Ile Fourche for a few to dive and others to
explore the uninhabited island, other than the goats, was a lot calmer.
We cruised into Great Bay with a stop in Philipsburg on the Dutch side of
Sint Maarten, before returning into Simpson Bay and to our anchor back at
Marina Royale on the French side for our last night on board.
What can we say?  We have enjoyed many great vacations, skied the Alps, a
few Super Bowls, motor scooters on most islands, but this was the best
adventure of all.  We felt so free and relaxed . no TV, no Radio, no
Newspapers, and no kids for a whole week.  Gourmet food and wine along
with super hospitality plus new friends who were strangers a week ago made
for an unforgettable exchange.  We highly recommend it.
See you sailing!

What a wonderful adventure sailing the Caribbean out of St.
Martin, FWI on Trade Winds Cruise Club 48. catamaran with 6 berths
including private .heads..  We cruised from Marigot to Anguilla and St.
Bart.s and were able to visit places only accessible by water and had all
the amenities on board such as snorkeling gear, dive equipment, kayaks and
even noodles.  The sun shone, the all-inclusive package was worth every
penny and we made great friends with the three couples who were our
traveling companions for the week.  Captain John and his petite wife Debby
were so informative and certainly made our week unforgettable.  Our thanks
to RCI and Trade Winds.

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