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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.
Pointe-à-Pitre lies on Grande-Terre and is the largest city of Guadeloupe. Whether visiting the spectacular waterfalls in the jungle of Basse-Terre, taking a scenic hike to the top of La Grande Soufrière volcano or sampling local rum on a distillery tour, you will find a diverse array of activities to enjoy. Pointe-à-Pitre offers luxury items imported from France as well as handicrafts at open-air markets throughout the city.
Known as the “City of Arches” because of the many volcanic stone archways throughout the downtown area, Kingstown was first settled by the French. In the following decades, the island was ceded to the British. Stroll along Bay Street and duck into one of its many shops, but for truly authentic island goods, visit the outdoor waterfront market and the large produce market.
Scarborough is a large, multicultural area that contains the Scarborough Bluffs, huge cliffs overlooking Lake Ontario, lined with parks, beaches, and hiking trails. Inland, the sprawling Toronto Zoo features global animal pavilions, close-up encounters, and a wildlife health centre. The area is also known for its diverse spread of restaurants, including regional Southeast Asian, Chinese, and Indian cuisine.
Discover a touch of old Amsterdam transported to an island paradise. Pastel-hued buildings decorate the waterfront of this very Dutch Caribbean island. Don’t miss a visit to the colorful floating market, just a short walk from the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge. A World Heritage site, the Punda district preserves hundreds of buildings as national monuments including Fort Amsterdam, the Governor’s Palace, Mikve Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, one of the first synagogue’s in the New World, and the waterfront’s colorful Penha building.
While the city exhibits beautiful examples of both Dutch and Spanish architecture, it is now a Dutch city, taking its name from the Dutch royal house of Orange, and became the capital Aruba in 1979. When not heading for the famed beaches, the first spot most visitors enjoy is Wilhelmina Park, a lovely tropical garden by the waterfront, great for catching the Caribbean breezes. From here, travel on to the Archaeological Museum of Aruba or the Numismatic Museum of Aruba. The first offers an historical perspective; the latter, a fascinating display of coins from over 400 countries. Fort Zoutman (1796) is the oldest example of Dutch architecture on the island. In 1867, Willem III tower was added. Not only an excellent vantage point for photos, the fort also hosts music festivals and craft fairs.
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.
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