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Barbados has retained many of the trappings of its British colonial heritage. Judges and barristers wear proper robes and wigs, police don helmets styled after London bobbies and cricket remains a national passion. Barbados also has all the sporting appeal of the rest of the Caribbean, with pristine beaches, powerful surf and crystal clear waters. Brightly colored homes and hibiscus flowers mingle with mahogany trees and English churches dating back to the 17th century.
Bequia’s Admiralty Bay is a favorite yachtsman’s anchorage. They ferry ashore to join the friendly, low-key locals “under the almond tree,” the chosen meeting place. Stroll along the Belmont Walkway to the Gingerbread for homemade nutmeg ice cream, or Frangipani, run by the daughter of a former prime minister. Continue to lovely, golden Princess Margaret Beach, or round the bend to Lower Bay. Don’t miss the excellent craftsmanship at the Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop, it’s a Bequia specialty.
Saint-Pierre is a port town on the southwestern coast of Réunion Island, a French department in the Indian Ocean. Lively cafes and restaurants line its waterfront. Reefs protect the town’s sandy beach. Notable landmarks include the 18th-century Town Hall, a former warehouse. The Saga du Rhum museum chronicles the history of rum production on the island. Terre Sainte, a fishing village, is southeast of town.
Guadeloupe’s de facto capital is located near the narrow isthmus connecting the butterfly-shaped island’s two wings. Grand Terre is the larger wing, fringed with the sort of beaches that bring visitors to the Caribbean. The museum of Saint-John Perse is housed in an intact colonial-era mansion, and is dedicated to the Nobel Laureate Alexis Léger, whose nom de plume was St-John Perse. The house is a chance to see typical Creole domestic interiors of the period and find out more about his life and works. Recently opened to rave reviews is the Musée ACTe, a modern museum dedicated to the history and heritage of slavery in the Caribbean. It is the only museum of its kind in the world, explicating the effects of the institution in a clear-eyed and educational way.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Nevis was one of the richest colonies of Britain and a playground of the rich and famous. There are also many tales of chivalry and romance. Lord Nelson’s courtship of and idyllic marriage to the Nevisian beauty, Fanny Nisbett is a love story of international renown. The Jewish Cemetery is all that remains of the community, which settled in Nevis after being expelled from Brazil in the 17th century. Its members were valued merchants and are credited with introducing sugar production technology to the Leeward Islands. The sugarcane fields, which once covered the slopes of the island have long since disappeared, leaving the ruins of once busy sugar mills and luxurious great houses. These are the heritage of an era of prosperity when Nevis was known as the “Queen of the Caribbees.” Today, this is an island for relaxing and unwinding, with magnificent beaches and tiny hamlets with names like Chicken Stone or Hard Times, which tell their own story.
Antigua is blessed with an abundance of shining white beaches, and many of these have sprouted top-end resort hotels that engender golf courses and other amenities counted among the best in the Caribbean. A pleasant drive up through farms and tiny villages leads to the commanding fortress on Shirley Heights, from which you can survey the town and the harbor of Nelson’s Dockyard across the island. Once a carenage for British frigates, today it is an enclave of shops and restaurants.
A classic golden arc of sugary sand at South Friar’s Bay, Carambola is home to the island’s most luxurious beach clubs and restaurants. Umbrellas, loungers and optional water sports abound for those so inclined. Otherwise St. Kitts has other attractions, including a number of lovingly preserved plantation great houses, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brimstone Hill Fortress and a scenic narrow gauge sugarcane railway.
Since 2010, Sint Maarten has been a constituent country within the kingdom of The Netherlands. It comprises the “Dutch Side” of the island of Saint-Martin, the other half being a French overseas territory. Philipsburg is its capital and a busy deep-water port city. It is a popular port for cruise ships, and consequently boasts a thriving duty-free shopping community, a range of resorts and villas, and numerous leisure and sightseeing activities, as well as a well-served airport.
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