The Beautiful Caribbean
When you talk about the Caribbean, visions of islands washed with teal and aqua waters washing up to white sandy beaches, palm trees and sea breezes blowing ashore with the tropical smells, aromas and titillating romance of brilliant blue skies shining down on sunbathed bodies, with vibrant colors of gold, bronze, tan, brown and red will naturally come to mind. There are over 7,000 islands in this tropical paradise, with cuisine that melts in your mouth and explodes an erotic sense of flavors, warming your insides like the margaritas that splash into your eager mouth. It is a place of islanders browned by centuries of the brilliant sun shining down more days than rain, where live is slow and easy, mostly quiet and serene, except for the slapping sound of the waves breaking ashore. The islands are referred to as the West Indies, because of Christopher Columbus, thinking he had reached the exotic shores of the far east. The Caribbean is broken up into groups of islands that include the Antilles, the Bahamas, the Turks and the Caicos, that are really in the Atlantic Ocean, but have been included in the list anyway. Aruba is one of the most favorite island in the Caribbean, with the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin and the Cayman islands almost as popular. Another favorite is the islands of Jamaica, and at one time, perhaps the most accessible, the island of Cuba.
Aruba, in the Lesser Antilles, sits just above Venezuela, and is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with a dry climate and arid, cactus filled landscape that seems to be one of the most popular places for tourists, since it also lies outside of the hurricane belt. The island is fairly flat, without rivers and famous for its white sandy beaches, sheltered coves and inlets where the tides aren't as rough as the northern and eastern coasts, and not too frequented by tourists. Oranjestad is the capital, with its excellent foods and marvelous cuisine, and the entire island probably has the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. The temperature usually runs in the mid 80s, all year long, with less than 20 inches of rain each year. The majority of tourists come from Venezuela and the United States, as does the major trading. And the majority of the islands economy rests in the tourism trade. The island is well known for its exciting scuba diving, with a wealth of gorgeous multi-colored coral reefs and underwater beauty, as well as some ship wrecks that entice you into exploring every inch. The abundance of sea life is astounding, another reason the scuba diving experience is such an attractive destination, with a few options available if you don't or aren't interested in scuba diving. Snorkeling is at its best here, with beautifully clear waters caressing you as you flip along the surface, mesmerized by the sights of the incredible sea life that swims around the ocean waters, oblivious to those monsters on the surface with huge looking faces and long strange fins. It is a place of wonder and excitement, with colors and scenes so vibrant and alive with life, seething back and forth as if this was the only place in the world; and for many it is until they begin to feel a hunger growing deep in the pit of their tummies and then it's time to head for some of the finest cuisine and culinary delights in all the Caribbean. Just as there are different experiences for you in the activities of the island, there are a plethora of food flavors and tastes that will assail your taste buds and senses. Fortunately, since this is such an island destination, the cuisine is equally as diversive as the tours and opportunities. It is both international and local in flavor and offerings with such attention to guests that you would feel as if you were at some four star restaurant in the best hotels in the world. The foods are always fresh and freshly made with special herbs and spices used freely to invoke the most pleasant tastes your mouth has come across and made this small island one of the finest dining spots in the world. Surrounded by water is one of the reasons the fish and seafood is so exceptional, sparing no expense or purpose to satisfy their guests, with many smaller eating establishments just as colorful and delicious as the larger grand restaurants in the majestic hotels or the famous eating spots. Whatever your reasons, as if you really needed any, Aruba is a fabulous destination worthy of all the hoopla and fanfare that has been said about it; but the best way to discover this island paradise is to visit; soon.
Another favorite destination is the islands of the Bahamas, where the sea breezes brush your face and body with a warmth and sense of relaxation that isn't found too many other places on earth. Nassau is the capital here, with a multitude of shops and boutiques that will almost keep you away from the fantastic beaches, if you let them. The closest island to the United States is Bimini, which is considered the gateway to the Bahamas and their 29 islands and 661 cays, along with thousands of islets or rocks standing like the tops of mountains in the Atlantic Ocean. The lands are mostly flat, and low, with a subtropical to tropical climate, almost constantly barraged by the Gulf Stream which bring in the warm sultry winds, and the hurricanes during that season. Tourism is almost as important here as in Aruba, with almost 60% of the nation's economy relying on the visitors that come here for the marvelous tours, the exotic shops, the magnificent weather and the gorgeous diving opportunities. The arts and crafts of the island has always been an exciting destination for Americans, as well as the beautiful blue waters that lap along the shores, with white sandy beaches all around and some of the best diving in the Caribbean, either by snorkel or scuba, exploring all the fantastic coral reefs and the great amount of ship wrecks that have been coming here for five centuries. The beaches here have been called some of the most beautiful in the world, with the bright blue sky and orange sun turning you slowly into one of the tan or brown natives, depending on how much time you want to spend in the sun, basking in it warmth, relaxing and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the cities of the US. Since there are so many islands and cays here, the hiking is another source of adventure and excitement that brings many visitors here, as well as the horseback riding on the beaches, salt air and breezes blowing in your face as you race across the sands and plummet into the warm salty surf; only to continue on your ride exploring the island. All around the island the sights and smells of the magnificent flowers will permeate your senses, with orchids, hibiscus, crepe myrtles, bougainvillea and yellow elder. The islands don't have too many predators so you can hike or walk anywhere without worry, only your own stamina deciding on how long or far you may go. The sea life that abounds in the waters around the islands is extraordinary with lobster, conch, barracuda, angelfish, bonefish, dolphins, grouper, sharks, tarpon, stingrays and snapper; while the turquoise waters slide across you as you explore the wrecks of the ships that the pirates used to chase or bring here for their booty, filling up hours of historic tales and legends of the mid18th century when the likes of Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, Anne Bonney and William Catt roamed these waters looking for prey, as you search for some signs of these unbelievable treasures or the rainbow colors of the coral reefs. After you have exhausted yourself with exploring the land and sea, you'll start feeling that growling going on in your stomach and know it's time to feed the beast. These islands are also famous for international cuisine, but there are many dishes unique to the islands of the Bahamas that include the conch, crawfish or local rock lobster, land crabs, grouper, yellow tail and red snapper. Conch is a favorite here and is cooked in numerous ways, with fish a specialty, aided in its exotic tastes with spices and herbs only the Bahamians know how to use to bring the full flavor to bear. The Bahamian stew fish is exceptional, as is the johhny cake. There are too many foods to name them all, but the flavors and aromas will keep you wanting more, more of everything in fact, here in the famous Bahamas islands.