Just Add Land
Before or after setting sail, stretch your stay on these Caribbean islands.
WHEN IT COMES TO THE DELICIOU BOUILLABAISSE THAT IS CARIBBEAN
cultures, three islands stand out: Stay in Barbados to go British, San Juan for Old Spain, or Sint Maarten/St. Martin for a touch of Dutch with dinner in France. Besides serving as gateways to the unique delights of a Caribbean cruise, all three embarkation ports are destinations worth discovering. So if time allows before or after your next cruise to the region, take some extra time to discover the unique mélange that each island offers.
BARBADOS: LITTLE ENGLAND _ The dewdropshaped island is only 21 miles long, but its 11 parishes offer an extensive menu of activities. Start by visiting a place of worship. Historic parish churches such as St. Michael’s Cathedral ( built in 1784 on a site consecrated in 1665), St. James Parish Church (1627), and Nidhe Israel Synagogue ( 1654) provide a deep sense of this island’s heritage.
The second religion on Barbados is sports. Join locals at a cricket match, track meet, auto race, or horse race. Play golf in sea breezes and tropic greenery. Go sailing, surfing, paddleboarding, sportfishing, snorkeling, and reef or wreck diving in the clearest of waters. Play polo, croquet, or tennis in true British style.
Come sundown, head off to a rum shop, the island version of a British pub. Perhaps a festival will be going on at Queen’s Park that will surely include a tuk band made up of drums, triangle, and penny whistle musicians as well as traditional costumed figures such as Shaggy Bear, the Donkey Man, Mother Sally, and the Stiltman.
Don’t leave Bridgetown without hitting the city’s highlights. Take selfies with the stately Parliament Buildings and the bronze statue of British naval hero Horatio Nelson, which was erected decades earlier than the famous Nelson landmark at London’s Trafalgar Square. Shop for local pottery and rum cakes, or explore the island’s art and history museums, which are among the best in the Caribbean. Buses offer excellent service island-wide and depart Bridgetown on the hour for a 50-minute ride to the internationally famous Andromeda Botanic Gardens.
Accommodations are many and varied, from five-star luxury resorts to Britishstyle bed-and-breakfasts to self-catering apartments.
SAN JUAN: UNCLE SAM EN ESPAÑOL _ Picture yourself in sunbaked Seville, centuries ago. The language, architecture, sights, and sounds are Spanish, yet you’re on American soil in a time warp of narrow streets, ancient buildings, and tree-shaded plazas. This is Old San Juan, a part and heart of Puerto Rico that many visitors never want to leave.
If you do want to venture “out on the island” as locals say, there is much more. Hike the misty heights of El Yunque National Forest, a 29,000-acre rainforest that’s home to hundreds of animal and plant species, some of which are found only here. Go deep into the wondrous Rio Camuy caves, the third largest underground cave system in the world. Or find brown-sugar beaches in any direction and find your perfect slice of heaven.
More water-based adventures await such as a nighttime kayak tour in the iridescent
Clockwise from above: St. James Parish Church in Barbados, an aerial view of Old San Juan, El Yunque National Forest, a refreshing Barbados drink