The Caribbean: Islands of Eden
Cooled by the constant trade winds, the Caribbean Islands may seem like the Islands of Eden, With white beaches and lapis skies in crystal waters, it’s easy to forget that the history of these Islands is filled with the time of bloody pirates and sugar plantations that created their great wealth, from the labor of slaves.
On St. Thomas, luxury hotels, Blackbeards Castle and old Ft. Christian speak of a violent history. At Megans Bay, one of the classical beaches of the Caribbean, there is shopping in the duty-free city of Charlotte Amelia and the underwater museum of Coral World.
On St. John, Cruise Bay and the mangrove forests of Virgin Island National Park preserve the native flora and creatures of the Island. On the north side of the Island we “flightsee” over and around the beaches, riding a huge kite towed by a boat.
On Virgin Gorda, exploring and picnicking in the grottoes between the enormous boulders, there is parasailing again for another bird’s eye view.
At Buck Island it's common to snorkel amid kissing fish, clown fish, globe fish, shark, yellow finned tuna and lobsters in the only underwater park in the U.S. National Park system.
On St. Croix, the capital city of Christianstad is the site of old Fort Christensvern. We also see the mouth of the Salt River where Columbus landed and go by horseback into the the highlands to explore the ruins of an old sugar plantation and the beautifully preserved Wimm Plantation to see how plantation life was lived.
The Island of St. Martin/San Martine we meet the people (and goats) on the French side and leave by boat for a tour of the island of St. Barts.
Saba is one of the smallest of the inhabited islands of the Caribbean. We climb it’s unique road which experts had called impossible to build.
On St. Kitts, we tour the fort of Brimstone Hill and join the local people for market. There is an industry of batik making with the designs of tradition .
On Martinique, it’s the capital city of Fort de France with it’s huge park and gardens with astonishing displays of flowers and a statue of Josephine, Napoleon’s empress.
On Barbados we’re just in time for church on Harvest Sunday. In Bridgetown we find crowds of people on the beach. Along the northern coast of Barbados are the caves of the 'animal flowers'. And then a tramway tour of Harrison’s Cave with freshwater streams flowing through it, and Sam Lord’s Castle, hearing how he lured unwary ships into the cliffs for their bounty. We follow the sugar cane harvest and see how cane sugar is processed.
The Island of Grenada is filled with stories of how people live. Native fishermen, holiday celebrations spent at the beach, native boat building and a game of cricket played in the jungle. We tour the Island, discover exotic fruits, attend market and envelope ourselves in a tropical storm. We also see remnants of the thwarted attempt by Russia to invade the Island in 1983.
“Carnival” time in Trinidad is a hubbub of activity in shops around the capital city of Port of Spain. Watching the mask and costume making can sort of prepare one for the fantastic parades and celebration that ends our visit.
These thirteen Islands of the Caribbean afford an unexpected variety of experiences and adventures. They are truly ‘Islands of Eden’.