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The island of Barbados is rimmed with mile after mile of pristine beaches. The eastern edge, rugged and hilly, lies on the Atlantic Ocean. The west coast, washed by the calmer leeward sea has most of the resort hotels. It is here that you will find the capital, Bridgetown, and older colonial settlements. Tour the meticulously restored 17th-century Sunbury Plantation House or admire the spectacular views from Gun Hill Signal Station. Adventures abound at sea by catamaran or Atlantis submersible and on land by an off-road island safari. Not to miss delicacies include the sweet and tender flying fish, washed down with a glass of Barbados’ famous Mount Gay rum.
Castries is the capital, commercial center and main cruise port of St Lucia. Founded by the French in about 1768, it changed hands in the earlier 1800’s, when the British made the town a major naval port and built fortifications on Morne Fortune, overlooking the harbor. Today, the port offers something for everyone. Bargain hunters can head over to the duty-free shops at Pointe Seraphine; Castries Waterworks Forest Reserve allows visitors a rare glimpse of rain forest flora and fauna; and, for those looking for a fun day trip, a visit to the Grand Pitons or a hike up to Fort Charlotte on Morne Fortune offer beautiful vistas and historical perspective.
Roseau, a small town with plenty of colonial charm, offers the colorful New Market, where you can stop for a refreshing coconut drink. Dominica’s real beauty lies in its unspoiled natural landscape – the dense rain forests, lush foliage, natural springs and rivers and tall, smoldering peaks. Dominica is home to one of the Caribbean’s great natural wonders-the scenic Valley of Desolation, where in a verdant tropical gorge, white mists from bubbling hot springs swirl in the air.
Touting 365 beaches, most protected by coral reefs; a ring of forts; and quaint Colonial architecture, Antigua, and particularly St. John’s, is a classic example of the British Caribbean. Sites to see include St. John’s Cathedral, destroyed by earthquakes and rebuilt on the same spot at least three times, the last time in 1845; and the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda, which, in addition to island history, also offers a fascinating exhibition of semiprecious stones. For a stroll in nature, make your way to Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, or the nature trail to Shirley Heights. St. John’s offers several hot spots for nightlife and live music. And be sure to stop at a local restaurant to taste the buttery “flying fish,” unique to this part of the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico’s first inhabitants were the Taino Indians, who encountered Columbus in 1493. The Spanish quickly settled, defending their territory against the Dutch and British. This is evident by the imposing fortresses of Old San Juan, namely the El Morro Castle, dominating the old section of this capital city. In 1897, Spain declared Puerto Rico an autonomous state. Spain later ceded Puerto Rico to the U.S. and residents were granted American citizenship in 1917.
Discover the luxurious resort town of La Romana with its sugar-white sand beaches, and pristine turquoise water. Explore Altos de Chavon, the beautiful and authentically recreated Mediterranean Village clinging to the cliff above La Romana. Stroll through the cobblestone streets and visit the stunning Church of St. Stanislausis and the pre-Columbian Indian artifacts in the Regional Museum of Archaeology. Browse through the boutiques and galleries of La Marina. Look for exquisite Larimar stone jewelry and amber, designer clothing, fine hand-rolled cigars, embroidered linens, pottery, fine arts and woven crafts.
Port Antonio is a city on Jamaica’s northeast coast and the capital of Portland Parish. It’s known as a gateway to nearby tropical jungles, mountains and waterfalls. In the John Crow Mountains, Reach Falls flows into a river pool. Near Hope Bay, Somerset Falls flows on the grounds of a former plantation. In the east, the Blue Lagoon is known for its blue waters, fed by the Caribbean Sea and underground springs.
Sunny Florida skies, year-round warmth and sunshine, a buzzing nightlife and a mix of cultures define this cosmopolitan city. Celebrity-drenched South Beach attracts people-watchers and the Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world. Tropical style shopping experience’s are readily available from Bal Harbor to Lincoln Road and Coconut Grove. Enjoy authentic Cuban cuisine and culture along Calle Ocho or travel back in time with a visit to the historic Venetian Pool. There is something for everyone in this city dubbed the “Gateway to the America’s.”
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