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Travel Logs February 2015

Compulsive Traveler

Islands of the Caribbean

By Sandra Scott

There are more than 700 islands and cays to explore but most people go to Nassau, the capital, and the adjacent Paradise Island where they can bask in the sun, be kissed by a dolphin, and frolic with hundreds of red flamingos.

Pick any island in the Caribbean and you are sure to have a great time. There are more than 7,000 islands of which 13 are independent countries. The islands offer magical vacations with palm trees, sweeping beaches, blue waters, coral reefs, varied cultures, history and, best of all, sunshine. Many are popular ports of call for cruise ships but to truly experience an island stay a week or more. There are plenty of hotels and rental condos to choose from – something for every pocketbook. You won’t be disappointed.

  1. Dominican Republic: Visit the island where Columbus touched land in the Western Hemisphere for the first time. Santo Domingo has many sites relating to the days of Columbus and it is one place where the body of Columbus is said to reside; however, the main reason most people visit is to enjoy the many wonderful beaches lined with resorts in all categories.
  2. Haiti: Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic but has its own unique history. It was the first independent nation in Latin America and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt. As part of their recovery from the devastating 2010 earthquake they are promoting tourism to their many beaches and historical sites.
  3. Jamaica: A popular destination that offers sun, sand and sea. Feel the beat at the Bob Marley Museum, go rafting on the Rio Grande, go crocodile spotting on the Black River Great Morass, but you can’t say you have been to Jamaica if you haven’t visited Dunn’s River waterfalls.
  4. Bahamas: The Bahamas are not technically in the Caribbean Sea but culturally and politically they are closely associated with the other Caribbean islands. There are more than 700 islands and cays to explore but most people go to Nassau, the capital, and the adjacent Paradise Island where they can bask in the sun, be kissed by a dolphin, and frolic with hundreds of red flamingos.
  5. Antigua: Admiral Horatio Nelson established Great Britain’s Caribbean base on the island in 1784. Today Nelson’s Dockyard is the island’s largest national park and a do-not-miss. Visitors can zip through the rainforest on a canopy tour and swim with the stingrays at Stingray City. Don’t leave until you try their national dish, Fungi & Pepperpot.
  6. Dominica: Dominica likes to tout its unspoiled beauty. There are volcanic peaks, waterfalls, and underwater beauty. Don’t miss the hand-oared boat ride on the Indian River surrounded by the pristine forest. Feel like you are in a scene from “The Pirates of the Caribbean.” Upriver enjoy a refreshing libation at the Bush Bar.
  7. St. Lucia: St. Lucia is another perfect island destination with gorgeous palm-fringed beaches and unspoiled rainforest. There are many upmarket resorts perfect for romantic getaways. The island is dotted with cocoa plantations so don’t miss the chance to learn about cocoa production.
  8. Roatan: Roatan is a Honduran island and has been a mecca for divers for years and is now a popular leisure for travelers. Besides diving, fishing and beach time it is a great place to learn about dolphins and even swim with them at Anthony’s Key Resort.
  9. Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States where English is widely spoken. Explore Old San Juan and the massive fort. The island is home to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System and a must for visitors.
  10. Cuba: For decades Cuba has been a no-can-go destination for Americans even though many have visited by private boat or by transiting via another country. There are now tours that allow Americans to visit legally and US-Cuban relations seem to be on the path to normality. It is a fascinating country with welcoming people.

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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