CRUIS­ING THE BRITISH VIR­GIN IS­LANDS

Pack lightly and set sail in the Caribbean.

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY JOSEPHINE MATYAS

Not a carry-on bag, mind you, but a hand­bag. One with the usual purse ac­cou­trement—hair­brush, sun­screen, wal­let, pass­port—and the cloth­ing I’d need tossed into the empty cor­ners. Be­cause, as it turned out, all I re­ally needed on-board Prodi­gious, the six-cabin cata­ma­ran that is the largest of The Moor­ings BVI char­ter fleet, was a book, bathing suit, san­dals, cover up, shorts and T-shirts. Life could not be sim­pler.

I’ve been fas­ci­nated by sail­ing the Caribbean since I spent a high school sum­mer do­ing grunt work at a ma­rine bi­ol­ogy sta­tion in the south­east­ern Caribbean Sea. We worked long days bob­bing on a dive boat, snack­ing on white bread sand­wiches and map­ping the health of the coral reefs. I was hooked, and so a week on a crewed yacht seemed like the per­fect “adult” fit for my ma­rine ob­ses­sion. This time around, just lux­ury—high thread count linens in pri­vate cab­ins, gourmet cui­sine, on-board Wi-fi, air con­di­tion­ing and an itin­er­ary so flex­i­ble that we started each day on a whim.

A SAILOR’S DREAM

As it turns out, the British Vir­gin Is­lands (BVI) are the per­fect fit for work­ing with a highly change­able sched­ule. The close prox­im­ity of the is­lands lends it­self to that flex­i­bil­ity in day-to-day plan­ning. Sailors have long called the BVI, “the place on the way to ev­ery­where,” a nod to the many shel­tered har­bours that were a wel­come pause in the lengthy trade routes be­tween Europe and South Amer­ica. The first Euro­pean to dis­cover the is­lands was Christo­pher Colum­bus in 1493 on his sec­ond voy­age to the New World.

Prodi­gious’ cap­tain, Martin Street, has sailed the globe but when he ar­rived in BVI seven years ago he knew this was a place he wanted to an­chor. “First and fore­most, BVI is known as a sail­ing des­ti­na­tion—there are dinghy docks ev­ery­where, bars and restau­rants cater­ing to sailors. There are 60 is­lands in the Bvi—here we can jump be­tween is­lands so eas­ily. We have line-of-sight sail­ing— there’s much less open wa­ter sail­ing.”

Most char­ter boats de­part from Tor­tola, an is­land of steep hills and the main trans­porta­tion hub of the BVI. In the years of col­o­niza­tion—by the Span­ish, Dutch and English—smug­gling, piracy and pri­va­teer­ing were ram­pant. Sit­u­ated right on the trea­sure route, it was a mag­net for the likes of Black­beard, Cal­ico Jack and Ed­ward Eng­land. The is­lands were pre­dom­i­nately a plan­ta­tion econ­omy un­til the Eman­ci­pa­tion Act of Au­gust 1, 1834, af­ter which the freed slaves lived off the fruits of the land and sea. In the early 1900s the tourist trade be­gan to boom, es­pe­cially the char­ter sail­ing in­dus­try, which be­came the back­bone of the is­lands.

“There are two sides to the Caribbean,” ex­plained Martin, who—to­gether with chef Katie and stew­ard Kay—cater to guests’ de­sires. “There’s the beach bar side and then there’s the golden beaches, palm trees, snorkelling. What peo­ple choose varies.”

If you’re like me, and all about the snorkelling and palms, a bathing suit and cover up is just about all you’ll need to pack. Prodi­gious is well out­fit­ted with stand-up pad­dle­board, snorkelling gear, in­flat­a­bles and a small dinghy to get from moor­ing to dock. Chef Katie works magic from a clos­et­size gal­ley, cre­at­ing fresh healthy meals with lo­cal in­gre­di­ents like mahi mahi, lob­ster, pineap­ple and co­conut. Within a day we’d set a din­ing rhythm: hors d’oeu­vres and frosty trop­i­cal drinks on the fly bridge, meals al­fresco at a ta­ble on the back of the boat. More drinks post-din­ner while flopped in bean­bag chairs on the webbed bow.

OUR PER­FECT ITIN­ER­ARY

Our plan was to do a semi-cir­cle around Tor­tola, sail­ing to Jost Van Dyke first, then south to Nor­man Is­land (re­puted to be the in­spi­ra­tion for Trea­sure Is­land) and then on to Vir­gin Gorda. The clus­ter of is­lands is the top of moun­tains and vol­ca­noes pok­ing out above navy and turquoise wa­ters.

They say that Jost Van Dyke was named af­ter Dutch pri­va­teer Joost Van Dyke. The hilly is­land is known for its bar scene and beach par­ties—a hit with the sail­ing crowd—but, with a year-round pop­u­la­tion of about 297, there are still more goats than peo­ple. Be­fore the ar­rival of mo­tor­ized craft, the vil­lages here were renowned for build­ing sail­ing ves­sels.

We dropped an­chor at Great Har­bour, a shel­tered bay at the base of 300-me­tre peaks, and revved up the dinghy to head for White Bay with its beau­ti­ful stretch of sand beach. The bay is syn­ony­mous with the Soggy Dol­lar bar, so named for the soggy state of the dol­lar bills used to pay for drinks af­ter swim­ming ashore from an an­chored craft. One does not go to the Soggy Dol­lar with­out or­der­ing a Painkiller, a mix of crushed ice, dark rum, cream of co­conut, pineap­ple and orange juice. The fastest way to ban­ish thoughts of Cana­dian ice and snow is to sit un­der a co­conut palm, Painkiller in hand (although the yacht’s stew­ard Kay whips up her own ver­sion that gives any­thing on land a run for its money).

Next morn­ing, just a two-hour cruise away, we an­chored at Nor­man Is­land, slipped on flip­pers and masks and snorkelled The Caves. Din­ner out­side gave us a per­fect line on the sun­set, where we overnighted in The Bight, a well-shel­tered, deep har­bour. In be­tween snorkelling and sun­set there was a lit­tle read­ing, some sun­ning, more swim­ming, a hike to over­looks above Pi­rates Bight and the oc­ca­sional nap. Bed­time was the gen­tlest of rock­ing; a bassinet on the waves.

By break­fast the next morn­ing Martin had us well un­der­way to our fi­nal stop, The Baths Na­tional Park on Vir­gin Gorda. The shore­line park is known for its unique jum­ble of enor­mous gran­ite boul­ders formed when vol­canic lava was thrown sky high dur­ing an erup­tion mil­lions of years ago.

We dropped an­chor, hopped into the clear wa­ters and swam to shore. There’s a path­way wind­ing and loop­ing through the pile of boul­ders, with shal­low grot­tos for quick dips along the way and breath­tak­ing views mix­ing the gran­ite grey with the deep blue and aqua­ma­rine of the sea.

An­other day of swim-dry-re­peat. And an­other day when I didn’t miss my clothes closet back home.

Ex­pe­ri­ence NL, New­found­land and Labrador’s flag­ship bou­tique travel agency, is trans­form­ing how vis­i­tors ex­pe­ri­ence Canada’s mag­nif­i­cent east­ern prov­ince. Fea­tur­ing com­pelling, per­son­ally crafted itin­er­ar­ies that go be­yond rou­tine, the tour com­pany puts travel back in the hands of the trav­eller. By con­nect­ing guests to the essence of New­found­land, tour par­tic­i­pants blend in and ex­pe­ri­ence what life is truly like on “the Rock.” Stay and re­lax in lo­cally owned prop­er­ties, dine on fresh, authen­tic cui­sine, en­joy the com­pany of knowl­edge­able, lo­cal guides and at­tend com­mu­nity fes­ti­vals and events filled with mu­sic and cheer. ex­pe­ri­en­cenl.com

Sip a sun­downer on the banks of the Zam­bezi River or em­bark on a 4x4 jour­ney in search of the black rhino. It’s all part of Trafal­gar’s 10 new trips to sub-saharan Africa, in­clud­ing South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zam­bia, Kenya and Tan­za­nia. Whether you choose to ex­plore a sin­gle coun­try or visit sev­eral, trips are per­son­al­ized for four to 15 guests and packed with first-hand knowl­edge, her­itage, sto­ries and se­crets for an in-depth cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence. Save 10 per cent on se­lected Trafal­gar trips when paid in full by Jan­uary 17, 2019. trafal­gar.com

Just 20 min­utes from Louisville and three hours from Nashville, Old­ham County prom­ises vis­i­tors a per­fectly safe, au­then­ti­cally Ken­tucky ex­pe­ri­ence. Known for its nat­u­ral beauty, Old­ham County has be­come the pre­mier overnight des­ti­na­tion for those who want to re­lax and re­group af­ter a week of live coun­try mu­sic and rowdy crowds. Con­ve­niently lo­cated on In­ter­state 71 at Ex­its 14–22, Old­ham is home to Ken­tucky craft bour­bon, horse farm tours and bed and break­fasts, and trains that reg­u­larly run through the town’s his­toric Main Street. Just far enough from the city to breathe easy, yet close enough to en­joy the Ken­tucky Derby Mu­seum and Churchill Downs, Old­ham County is your per­fect Ken­tucky stay on your way home. Ky­farm­stay.com

Tokyo can be ex­pen­sive for Cana­dian trav­ellers, so why not take ad­van­tage of the city’s free bus ser­vices? The Metro Link Ni­hon­bashi is a ma­jor free bus line that op­er­ates be­tween 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. be­tween Tokyo Sta­tion (Yaesu Exit) and pop­u­lar at­trac­tions such as the Tokyo Stock Ex­change and Mit­sukoshi, Ja­pan’s old­est de­part­ment store. An­other line, the adorable Panda Bus, runs around the Asakusa area from 10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. be­tween the fa­mous Senso-ji tem­ple and Tokyo Skytree, the tallest struc­ture in Ja­pan. And, if you’re vis­it­ing Tokyo be­tween now and Jan­uary 31, 2019, check out the “Metro and Grutto” pass 2018, which comes with two 24-hour un­lim­ited ride Tokyo Metro tick­ets and free or dis­counted ad­mis­sion to 86 mu­se­ums in Tokyo and six at­trac­tions in Kana­gawa, Chiba and Saitama Pre­fec­tures. canada-tokyo.ca

The An­guilla–st. Maarten Ferry Ter­mi­nal has re­opened for busi­ness af­ter be­ing heav­ily dam­aged a year ago dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Irma. Tucked away in the north­ern Caribbean, the is­land of An­guilla is ringed with 33 beaches, con­sid­ered by many to be among the most beau­ti­ful in the world. It is eas­ily ac­cessed from Puerto Rico and St. Maarten. (Pas­sen­gers are re­minded of the US$5 levy charged on de­par­ture from An­guilla’s Blow­ing Point Ferry Ter­mi­nal.) ivis­i­tan­guilla.com

Although it’s been a long, hot sum­mer this year, per­haps you’re not quite ready to let it go just yet. South Carolina’s gor­geous Myr­tle Beach area cel­e­brates “60 More Days of Sum­mer” dur­ing the months of Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber with ex­clu­sive fall deals, events and plenty of spe­cial ac­tiv­i­ties. Un­de­ni­able af­ford­abil­ity com­bined with sum­mer-like tem­per­a­tures, warm ocean wa­ters and a more peace­ful am­biance add to Myr­tle Beach’s ap­peal. Bring the fam­ily for ocean­side fun or plan a ro­man­tic get­away. vis­it­myrtle­beach.com

Book your es­cape to the Caribbean is­lands of St. Vin­cent and The Gre­nadines this fall and win­ter. The Gre­nadines stretch 72 kilo­me­tres south from St. Vin­cent and in­clude eight in­hab­ited is­lands as well as the Tobago Cays (home of the na­tional ma­rine park and renowned for some of the best sail­ing wa­ters in the world). Sun­wing Air­lines (sun­wing.ca) of­fers weekly non-stop ser­vice from Toronto to St. Vin­cent dur­ing the sum­mer months while Air Canada (air­canada.com) op­er­ates non-stop ser­vice year-round be­tween Toronto and St. Vin­cent. Dis­cov­ersvg.com

From fes­ti­vals and vi­brant fo­liage to Hal­loween and Vet­er­ans Day ac­tiv­i­ties, Wash­ing­ton, DC, is full of free things to do in the fall. Na­tional mon­u­ments and memo­ri­als, in­clud­ing the Jef­fer­son Me­mo­rial, are stun­ning by moon­light. The Na­tional Gallery of Art hosts free live­mu­sic con­certs and fall is the most beau­ti­ful time to visit the Na­tional Ar­bore­tum, an oa­sis in North­east DC. From Thurs­day through Sun­day ad­mire the (free!) view from the clock tower of the Old Post Of­fice, now known as the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel. Fit­ness and movie buffs should check out the 75 su­per-steep stone stairs at the cor­ner of 36th and Prospect in Ge­orge­town, where Fa­ther Kar­ras tum­bled to his demise in the Ex­or­cist. wash­ing­ton.org

Travel closer to home next year with one of In­sight Va­ca­tions’ 15 es­corted jour­neys through Canada and the U.S., fea­tur­ing North Amer­ica’s most ma­jes­tic land­scapes, scenic des­ti­na­tions, and cul­tur­ally di­verse places. Join a lob­ster fish­er­man aboard his boat in She­diac Bay, taste wine at Sonoma’s Madrone Fam­ily vine­yards or meet the Alaskan cham­pion dog team of high-speed huskies. Stay in na­tional parks, in­clud­ing the Grand Canyon lodges and Zion Na­tional Park Lodge. Dine on authen­tic farm-to-ta­ble cui­sine at restau­rants and lo­cal homes. In­sight has added ex­tra de­par­ture dates for pop­u­lar jour­neys such as New Eng­land’s Fall Fo­liage and Jew­els of Alaska. Trav­ellers wish­ing to ex­plore North Amer­ica can save 10 per cent by pay­ing in full be­fore Jan­uary 17, 2019. in­sight­va­ca­tions.com

Travel with Vic­to­ria-based Outer Shores Ex­pe­di­tions to ex­plore the rich nat­u­ral and cul­tural his­tory of British Co­lum­bia aboard the schooner Pass­ing Cloud. With room for just six pas­sen­gers, spa­ces are fill­ing up quickly for 2019. Spring ad­ven­tures in­clude a five-day tour of Pa­cific Rim Na­tional Park, where you will stand among an­cient rain­forests of gi­ant western red cedar and Sitka spruce, watch bears for­age for food on beaches and wit­ness killer whales hunt for fish and seals. Shore ex­cur­sions in­clude vis­its to an­cient vil­lage sites of the na­tive peo­ple who have lived in this re­gion for thou­sands of years. out­er­shores.ca

The Hop­per, San Diego’s new­est tourist at­trac­tion and trans­porta­tion ser­vice, of­fers vis­i­tors and lo­cals a new way to ex­plore six of the city’s iconic neigh­bour­hoods: Old Town, Em­bar­cadero, Sea­port Vil­lage, Gaslamp Quar­ter, Bal­boa Park and Lit­tle Italy. De­sign your own day to cre­ate unique ex­pe­ri­ences while gain­ing anec­do­tal and his­tor­i­cal facts about the city. The dou­ble-decker buses stop at each lo­ca­tion ev­ery 30 min­utes, so you can hop on and off wher­ever you wish. On-board ameni­ties in­clude con­ces­sions, ta­ble-style seat­ing, Wi-fi ser­vice, an on-board re­stroom and out­lets in a com­fort­able, cli­mate-con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. ride­the­hop­per­bus.com

Asur­vey by the In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Ho­tels Group re­veals that six in 10 Cana­di­ans have or plan to make a bucket list of na­tional sites. Ni­a­gara Falls topped many lists, along with his­tor­i­cal spots such as the Diefen­bunker near Ot­tawa, built to pro­tect Cana­dian politi­cians in the event of nu­clear war. The Edge­walk atop Toronto’s CN Tower was a pop­u­lar choice, along with a walk across the Capi­lano Sus­pen­sion Bridge in Van­cou­ver. An­other BC favourite was the Rich­mond Olympic Oval, built for the 2010 Win­ter Games. This in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum tests your skills and re­flexes in sports rang­ing from ski-jump­ing and bob­sleigh to For­mula One rac­ing. Check out all 25 bucket-list spots. mul­tivu.com/play­ers/english/8324451-ihg-great-cana­dian-bucket-list

Blessed by its vast bio­di­ver­sity in the heart of Cen­tral Amer­ica, Hon­duras and ad­ven­ture go hand in hand. Dive with whale sharks in the morn­ing and hike the rain­for­est among ex­otic birds and mon­keys in the af­ter­noon. La Campa Canyon fea­tures the high­est and long­est zip line in Cen­tral Amer­ica. Ride through the canyon, end­ing up above the small town of La Campa. Head north­west to Santa Rosa de Copán, where the canopy tour de Los Sa­pos of­fers a bird’s-eye view of the Mayan ru­ins of Copán, con­sid­ered the Athens of the Mayan world. Divers will want to head to the Bay Is­lands of Roatán, Útila and Gua­naja, home to the largest bar­rier reef in the Western Hemi­sphere. hon­duras.com/tourism

For a re­fresh­ing change from the Lau­ren­tians’ tra­di­tional rus­tic ac­com­mo­da­tion, check out the Miniloft Vil­lage at Bel Air Trem­blant. Ninety mod­ern “mini-lofts” scat­tered over 219 hectares pro­vide a se­cluded hol­i­day re­treat in mod­ern units with stun­ning views of na­ture. The re­sort is lo­cated eight min­utes from Québec’s Mount Trem­blant, con­sid­ered the top ski re­sort in east­ern North Amer­ica. Bel Air is the first de­vel­op­ment to com­bine res­i­den­tial homes and va­ca­tion-rental lodg­ing within one com­mu­nity. It of­fers re­sort-style ameni­ties to both res­i­dents and guests as well as year-round recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties. be­lairtrem­blant.com

ABOVE: The char­ter sail­ing in­dus­try has be­come the back­bone of the British Vir­gin Is­lands.

RIGHT: The is­land Jost Van Dyke is a pop­u­lar stop for sailors. BE­LOW: The beach at Jost Van Dyke re­mains rel­a­tively un­spoiled. CEN­TRE: Meals aboard Prodi­gious em­pha­size lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. BOT­TOM: Dam­age from the 2017 hur­ri­cane sea­son is still vis­i­ble on Jost Van Dyke.

GAVIN TOLLMAN

NL TOURISM/BAR­RETT & MACKAY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

OLD­HAM KY TOURISM

JA­PAN COM­MU­NI­CA­TIONS INC.

MYR­TLE BEACH AREA CON­VEN­TION AND VIS­I­TORS BUREAU

DIS­COVER SVG

AN­GUILLA TOURIST BOARD

WASH­ING­TON.ORG

THE HOP­PER

COUR­TESY IN­SIGHT VA­CA­TIONS

CORPLOGIN-MY.SHARE­POINT.COM

OUTER SHORES EX­PE­DI­TIONS

BEL AIR TREM­BLANT

HON­DURAS TOURISM

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