There are probably not many regions in this world which unite so many geological differences on such a small space like in the Caribbean. Since we started to travel to Caribbean islands in the early 90’s we realized, that every island has something specific and unmistakable - but something they have in common: an unbeatable hospitality, which seemed a little “suspicious” to us before we realized that it was their usual natural behaviour. But we also had to determine, that there are rather big differences between the small, familiar island and the bigger, from mass tourism “attacked” islands. We have to admit, that we surely do not personify the prototype of the German all-inclusive-tourist and can live with relatively little comfort. We prefer to be in touch with the native people more than the battle at the cold buffet. So we can’t and don’t want to give generally valid suggestions to everybody referring accomodations or restaurants, but we will try to assess their conditions as realistic as possible. Our manner to travel is to book our flights in our travel agency and find out hotels or guest houses via Internet or the annual ITB (International Tourist Fair Berlin). Internet and ITB are great sources for reasonable and good accomodation. We never went wrong but of course there are certain distinctions in comfort.
The following short introductions of Caribbean islands we have been on are not understood as travel guides but could be used as a help to your decision if you are planning a trip to any of those islands. We have tried to bring our most important and impressive experiences into our short reports. Of course we don’t lay claim to completeness and surely are no "reference tourists". So you may collect your own - possibly different practical experiences..
The Bahamas are a group of over 700 islands, of which only 30 are inhabited. For people, who want to be spared from the tourism hurly burly we honestly recommend the Out Islands - also called Family Islands. In Germany we can’t find many info about the Out Islands in our travel agencies. Till now we have been to New Providence, the political and economical center of the Bahamas, to Bimini, Crooked Island and the Berry Islands. Though New Providence belongs to the rather small islands of the Bahamas more than half of the 200 000 inhabitants of this country live here. Here the tourism takes place. It catches the eyes at once that tourism is the main source of revenue, swarms of tourists are looking for bargains in the Baystreet and on the Straw Market. Cruise ships are continously spitting tourists. Who likes it whirly, here he is in good company. Of course there are quiet and contemplative places on New Providence too. We would recommend "Orange Hill Beach Inn" in Cable Beach, a few miles outside Nassau.
Here meet the anglers to catch the "Blue Marlins", which are living in the Bahamas in a relatively big number. A paradise for bonefishing too.
Who likes it less spectacularly, who enjoys tranquility and relaxation more should go to the "Out Islands" for vacation. Meanwhile there are lots of information about those islands at the internet.
In the real sense of the word you belong to “family” in the so called "Family Islands". On Crooked Island, where - at least our travel guide told us - live two rare species: an only there existing lizard and tourists. We were invited the first night for a beach party with the natives. Also the next days we spent our time with our new friends. Pinder, the island Constable, came regularly to invite us for some island trips on his duty tours.
We also should mention, that our hotel room door did not have any lock. Because we probably looked a little bewildered - my laptop computer and all the ham radio equipment is not even cheap - our host declared, that there never was stolen anything and really: we left Crooked Island with all our stuff 12 days later.
After our visit to Dayton’s Ham Vention in 2000 our third Bahamas trip lead us to Berry Islands, a small archipelago of about 30 large cays and numerous smaller ones north of New Providence.
Our Six-Seater-Island-Hopper started in Nassau and we arrived in Great Harbour Cay after a 20 minute flight.
Our bungalow at “Beach Villas” lies on the north-eastcoast at a miles long beach. Passing the small airport you reach a spit of land. Just about 200 meters from the shore is another small island - Hawksnest Cay - you can reach through the knee deep water (at low tide). There you can find many “sand dollars”, sea-urchin skeletons and wonderful sea shells but you should be back before high tide. We forgot the time while collecting those treasures and had to carry them overhead, because the water came to our shoulders.
With a little luck - we had it several times - you can watch manatees in the harbour of Great Harbour Cay. They probably came from the Everglades in Florida and lost their way home ...
In May 2005 we came back to the Bahamas and stayed in Long Island. Thereafter we met our friends Kay and Chet (AB4XK) in Eagle Lake/Florida and joined the guys at the HamVention in Dayton.
You may find an extra website under www.qslnet.de/c6aka or www.qsl.net/c6aka.
There are some photographs, a travel report, the log and some useful information about the Bahamas.
Barbados is the easternmost island of the Antilles with a good infra structure and one of the best
Don’t get spoiled when you hear the prices for accomodation in Barbados from your travel agent. Of course you can stay there for a thousand Dollars per night(and more), but you will also find many neat and praiseworthy guest houses already for 30 to 50 US$.
Barbados is a coral island with only moderate heights difference. The highest elevation of the island is about 340m.
There are several objects of interest and scenic attractive regions. Besides an obligatory visit of the Mount Gay Rum Destillery you should add to your check list the following items:
« Welchman Hall Gully, the last still existing jungle region with the “bearded” ficus
trees, which gave Barbados it’s name;
« Gun Hill, former signal station in the center of the island with a wonderful view;
« North Point with the "Animal Flower Cave", a grotto with sea anemones;
« Scotland District, the "Scotland" Barbados' at the Atlantic coast in the north-east of the
island, rugged steep shore and hilly landscape;
« Bottom Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches at the south-east shore near Crane;
« St. Lawrence Gap, the “Mile of amusement” a little outside of Bridgetown in direction
Oistins, with many restaurants, discos und Reggae-Lounges;
« Bathsheba, a picturesque fishing village at the east coast. Hotel "Atlantis" is wellknown
for the best native cuisine.
« Andromeda Gardens, a more than 20 km² big Botanical Garden at the steep road above
Bathsheba with countless orchids, palm-trees, cactus, hibiscus bushes with a big variety
of blossom colours and forms, ferns and other exotic plants;
« Harrison's Cave, a giant stalactite cave. You can enter in a small train. The cave is unique to
the tropical world. Crystal clear waters form pools and waterfalls.
« The Fishmarket in Oistins is always worth a visit, even if you don’t prepare your fish
yourself. At the booths you can eat excellent fresh fish and have a look at the catch of the
fishermen, Sharks, Barracudas, Dolphins (NO flipper but a kind of mackerel) and the
famous Flying Fish. Did you ever caress a Shark? Try it - first in direction from head to
tail then the other way!
« Sam Lord's Castle has been a pirates nest the legends say. The guys set lights in the dark to
make the sailors believe, it was the harbour of Bridgetown and robbed the stranded ships.
Don’t leave Barbados without trying the legendary "Flying Fish" !!!
Dominica, also called "Nature Island" (don’t mix it up with the Dominican Republic!), stands for soft tourism. This island is a MUST for people who love tranquility and relaxation. Don’t forget your boots!
You probably won’t find any other island in the Caribbean with such a large amount of rivers and rills. Remarkable are countless waterfalls, the volcano "Mourne Diablotin", the Cabrits National Park near Portsmouth with Fort Shirley, the Central Forest Reserve, the Carib Reservation at the east coast and the "Valley of Desolation" with the "Boiling Lake". We recommend a boat trip on the Indian River through the rain forest near Portsmouth. You will find a guide at the estuary in Portsmouth for sure.
Near the University in the south of Portsmouth you can find "Cabrits Dive Center". The owner, the German Michael Salzer, knows the best diving sites like his own pockets. The SCUBA diving gear is in top conditions at the newest standard.
Our hotels are located in Calibishie at the north coast. The first half of our vacation we stay at "Sea Cliff Cottages", the rest at "Pointe Baptiste". "Seacliff Cottages" is the non plus ultra for ham radio activities. Lot of space even for big aerials and a free “shot” to Europe, the USA and Japan. George, K5KG, has announced his participation in the CQWW as J75KG from “Seacliff Cottages” before us so we moved to "Pointe Baptiste", which lies just half a kilometer away, to avoid interference during the contest. It worked - at least in one direction ... my 100W vs his kilowatt. BUT: we are still good friends =:o)
"Pointe Baptiste" is located under big trees at the cliffs about 50 meters above the sea. From here you can see the islet Marie Galante, which belongs to Guadeloupe, with the naked eye.
Calibishie is a picturesque village, and hectic seems to be an unknown word for its inhabitants. The people here are very friendly. You should not be surprised, if you are greeted from unknown people in the street.
Grenada is the "Spice Island" of the Caribbean. You will already notice the smell of spices when you leave the plane in St. George’s. Here in Grenada grow nutmeg, cinnamon, coaoa, clove, bayleave and ginger. Grenada is one of the largest exporters of nutmeg in the world. You can see nutmeg trees with their wonderful looking fruits wherever you go.
Our hotel "Lance aux Epines" is situated near the airport on one of the numerous peninsulas in the south of Grenada.
After Grand Anse the peninsula Lance aux Epines is the second largest tourism area in Grenada.
“Lance aux Epines” faces the sea and consists of an apartment house and some cottages. The cottages are spacious and well equipped, contain a kitchenette and included is maid service.
If you want to explore the island: there are countless objects of interest.
Besides St. George’s with its picturesque bay, the colourful market and a magnificent view from the forts you should not miss a visit in the nutmeg-”plant” in Gouyave in the north of Grenada. Our nutmeg consumption has increased heavily since we visited the plant and got some nuts from every quality.
You may visit the oldest Rum destillery of the Caribbean, the River Antoine Rum Destillery, on the same trip. It is located near Lake Antoine, a lake in a former volcano. Do your trip at least on one tour via Grand Étang National Park in the center of the island. AND: take a little time for a walk around the small lake some meters besides the street. There is a path around the lake and you can do a lot of discoveries.
Grenada has many rivers, lakes and waterfalls - the most important are the Concorde Falls.
In 2007 we made a second trip to Grenada with a two weeks side trip to Carriacou Island.
You can read more about this journey on my website at www.qslnet.de/j3-dl7vog.
Jamaica belongs to the Bigger Antilles and is located some 100 km south of Cuba. The island is mountainous and covered with a lush green vegetation. Big palm forests change to jungle like rain forests. There are lagoons, lots of waterfalls and fantastic beaches. The tourist centres are rather extended.
Admittedly you can visit a lot of interesting and remarkable places of interest. We made some very enjoyable trips which brought us closer in friendship to the island.
But to be true: we enjoy more to be on “our” small islands, which sometimes are less spectecular in their nature but balance a lot with the friendliness of their people. We prefer the tranquil and friendly atmosphere on the smaller islands instead of fighting battles around the buffet desk, even when we have to prepare our breakfast ourselves.
By the way - give Jerk Chicken a try. That’s a well spiced chicken, roasted over pimento wood. Try also the hot and spicy shrimps they sell by the roadside in some regions.
Montserrat, the “emerald” of the Caribbean, was hit seriously by Hurricane "Hugo" in 1989 and the awful volcano eruption in 1996. Initially the island was destined to be given up. Many Montserratians have left their island but more and more come back again. The caribbean climate has healed the wounds of the nature but scars can still be found anywhere.
According to this matter Montserrat is not even overcrowded with tourists. We wanted to take a look behind the curtain of negative headlines in newspapers, radio and TV and were surprised to find such a jewel. But
Montserrat can be entered with a fast ferry boat or helicopter from Antigua. The price for both is nearly equal. We have chosen the ferry boat.
Already short after we left the harbour in Antigua we noticed the trail of smoke of the volcano on Montserrat.
The volcano is still active, so two third of the 100 km² large island are forbidden zone for the public. Only the north of Montserrat is relatively secure. The people probably got accustomed to the clouds of ashes, the volcano still spits in more or less regular periods. We were spared of it during those ten days.
Some days before we arrived in Montserrat Hurricane "Lenny", which we knew from St. Kitts, had emptied the beaches from sand. So we only reached the water staggering and balancing over rocks and gravel. The next storms should restore the beaches again.
San Andrés y Providencia is a small archipelago near the Nicaraguan coast, belongs to Colombia and consists of San Andrés, Providencia, Santa Catalina and some small "cayos", islets of some meters in diameter.
While San Andrés as a free trade zone is opened up to tourism - many Colombians make weekend shopping trips to San Andrés -, Providencia and Santa Catalina are miles away from mass tourism. If you are looking for tranquility and relaxation, here is your place. Who loves to snorkel or dive, here is your “Eldorado”, the third biggest coral reef of the world. After a short while we had webbed feet and hands.
Our hotel in San Andrés, the "Cocoplum Beach Hotel" is located at the eastcoast away from the tourist mile at the “city”-limit of San Luis. It is the only hotel direct at the beach. It may not be the most comfortable but undisputed the most familiar hotel on the island. If you get a room with ocean view you will have a really wonderful vacation. We met some German tourists, who were there already twice or more often. That tells enough about the familiar atmosphere there.
The four days on Providencia we spent in the Hotel "Deep Blue" at the east coast. There is no beach but the access to the water is easy and the first coral reef is not more than 100 m from the shore.
You may find a more detailed travel report about San Andrés and Providencia, when you click the button below.
You may find an extra website about HKØGU: www.qsl.net/hk0gu or www.qslnet.de/hk0gu.
In "Fisherman's Wharf" in Basseterre you can eat very good fresh fish and “Fruit de mer”. Try Dolphin (that is not “Flipper”!), the extraordinary good gold mackerel.
There are regularly flights between St. Kitts and Nevis. But we recommend the ferry boat, which goes several times per day in about 45 minutes between the two islands.
You should visit the Museum of Nevis History and the Nelson-Museum. The Nevis Philatelic Bureau is worth a visit too, even if you aren’t a stamp collector. Nevis’ stamps are world famous. By the way: Nevis issues own stamps besides St. Kitts.
And: when you are in Nevis, have a drink in "Sunshines" Beach Bar at "Pinney's Beach". Everybody here knows "Sunshine". His cocktail "Killerbee" is legendary. Our tip: NOT more than one, maximum two!!! - We were witnesses of a new dutch “record attempt”, which ended in an emergency car after the 15. "Killerbee". Try the spitted shrimps! We never had something good like this before and after.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - the island group is located between St. Lucia in the north and Grenada in the south.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines consist of the main island St. Vincent, some smaller islands like Bequia, Canouan, Union Island and Mustique as well as some 30 islets and cays. In the contrary to it’s neighbours St. Lucia and Grenada St. Vincent is fortunately far away from mass tourism. Take it as an advantage, the islanders are still very friendly and helpful.
There are some nice beaches in the south and south-west of the main island, good restaurants and hotels as well as pure nature.
The Botanical Garden in Kingstowns north is the oldest in the western hemisphere at all. Here you can find plants of every kind, herbs, exotic trees like cannonball, cinnamon, clove, teak, mahogany and many more. Even a breadfruit tree is still “in service” which was brought here with the “Bounty” of Captain Bligh. AND: spend a few Dollars for a guide! Without a guide you will not see half of the beauty or you will overlook a lot. Ask for Leroy !
Also the smaller islands have an overwhelming charme. We love Bequia very much, the biggest of the Grenadines Islands. Beautiful beaches, extraordinarily friendly people and good opportunities to snorkel, dive or simply relax. There are some good restaurants. Dawn’s and Willi’s "Creole Garden" at the end of the Lower Bay is our tip. Here you can also rent a room. We had a breathtaking view to Admirality Bay. You should not leave Bequia without spending an evening with Theresa - also at Lower Bay. Theresa does magic in her kitchen and produces the most delicious creole meals - try conch fritters.
A very good possibility to make vacation for about 400 US $ per week and cottage you can find at "Kingsville Apartments" - guess where: ... in Lower Bay ;o)
Maybe you have already heard about Athneal Olivierre, the last whaler, who cought whales with “his hands” until some years ago. The men rowed the boat and cought the whale with a harpoon - as food for the people of Bequia.
Athneal has arranged a small whaler museum in his house. You should not miss to drop in. He enjoys to tell you his stories.
And when you already are in the Grenadines, don’t forget to visit the Tobago Cays. You can do a daytrip to those inhabited islands in the southern Grenadines. You can take a small plane to Union Island, embark a catamaran, which brings you via Palm Island to the Tobago Cays. Breathtaking coral reefs in the shallow water let your heart beat faster. It is told that the Tobago Cays are the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. The trip costs 100 US $ from Saint Vincent and is worth every dime.
The Cays can also be reached by planes and the mentioned catamaran from St. Lucia, Barbados, Grenada and probably some more islands.