Tuesday, November 24, 2015

St Lucia Festival of Lights, Lantern Parade and National Day

St Lucia Festival of Lights, Lantern Parade, and National Day 
Friday, December 12 - December 13, 2015

On December 12th St Lucia will celebrate the annual Festival of Lights and Lantern Parade, and the celebrations continue on December 13th with the observance of St Lucia Day or National Day.  

Lantern Parade Ritual

Participants light their homemade lanterns, and join the masqueraders on their walk from the Derek Walcott Square to the waterfront. 

The lanterns are then set out to the sea with well wishes and prayers for the season. A fireworks display completes the evenings celebration of light. 

National Day - A Celebration of "All Things St Lucia"

The flags blue color represents fidelity, and reflects the sky and emerald surrounding waters of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. 

The gold represents the Caribbean's prevailing sunshine and prosperity. The triangles represent the famous twin Pitons at Soufriere rising out of the sea. 

On National Day most of the islands wear the national costume or dress in the colors of the islands flag.

National Day activities include sporting competitions, cultural activities and religious ceremonies. 

Happy Travels,

Monday, November 23, 2015

Carnival Cruise Live Concert Series 2016

A cruise always sounds good - 
But it’s never sounded this good as a rockin onboard concert 
in one port of call  . . . 

2016 Concert Series Artist Lineup
Gladys Knight, Journey, Trace Adkins, and KC and the Sunshine Band
When your cruise stops in The Bahamas, St. Thomas or Cozumel, you’ll have the unique opportunity to see a band you love board the ship and absolutely rock the place in a theater venue. Seating is limited, but there isn’t a bad seat in the house. 

While booking your cruise, you'll get the opportunity to buy concert tickets. Prices vary by artist, and start at just $40, and VIP at $150.

More info here 

Happy Cruising,

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Getting to the Caribbean - New Air Flights

New Jamaica Flights from Texas

Southwest Airlines now operates daily non-stop service between Houston’s Hobby International Airport and Jamaica’s Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay. 

The new daily flight departs from Houston's new $146 million international concourse at 10:35 am, and arrives at Jamaica’s Sangster International Airport at 2:50 pm. The return flight is scheduled to depart Montego Bay at 3:45 pm and arrives back in Houston at 6:15 pm. www.southwest.com

New Barbados Flights for Spring 2016

Starting April 2016 JetBlue will operate once daily round-trip service between Barbados via Fort Lauderdale - and introductory fares will start at $99 one way - now that's a deal! 

Here's the flight schedule:

  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport - Flight #385 Departs 8:00 a.m. - arrives Barbados 11:49 a.m
  • Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport - Flight #386 Departs 12:45 p.m. – Arrives Fort Lauderdale 4:50 p.m.

The new route, will allow for even more convenient connection options to Barbados from across the existing JetBlue network, including western U.S. destinations like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

JetBlue will serve the route with its 150-seat Airbus A320 aircraft offering the airline's award-winning service featuring complimentary and unlimited name-brand snacks and soft drinks; and free first-run Hollywood movies on flights to the Caribbean. www.JetBlue.com

Happy Travels,

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Death in Paradise on the Island of Guadeloupe

Have you seen Death in Paradise? 

The popular BBC lighthearted crime drama is filmed on the island of Guadeloupe, and can be seen via Netflix. 

The Plot

Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Richard Poole has been assigned to the fictional Caribbean island of St Marie to investigate the murder of a British policeman. 

Poole is the least likely person for the job as he dislikes the sea, sun, beaches, the lack of quality British tea, and the laid back style of island policing. 

Rather than use a studio backdrop, the producers wanted an authentic Caribbean vibe for the show. Guadeloupe was perfect with its vivid tropical colors, beautiful beaches and French Caribbean vibe. 


Get the latest on the crime series - Follow @deathinparadise  on Twitter

Happy Travels,

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Luxury BVI Private Caribbean Estate

Available for private rental only, this estate offers the 
utmost in privacy, tranquility, and luxury on Virgin Gorda in the 
British Virgin Islands

The luxurious 19-acre compound is located on Valley Trunk Bay along the Sir Francis Drake Channel, and named for the island's indigenous Trunkback (Leatherback) Turtles. 

A picture perfect Caribbean beach, excellent sea views, and the property is dotted with swaying hammocks and secret hideaway coves

The property includes eight suites throughout five standalone villas, a fully-equipped hospitality staff, a 68’ Xanadu yacht, lush grounds and pristine white sand beaches dotted with stunning geographic rock formations.

Valley Trunk is now accepting reservations for its fall/winter 2015 seasons, as well as 2016. 

Full Estate Buy-Out Rates* (Valid November 1, 2015 – November 1, 2016) 

  • 4 Guest minimum: $6000 ($1500 per person per night)
  • 5-16 guests: $1200 per night per additional person

*Excluding December 20 – January 4, 2015

Rates are inclusive of all food & drink, all in house water sports, the use of 68 ft motor yacht “Xanadu” with crew (fuel charged at cost), and full hospitality staff and chef. Taxes excluded.

The Estate:

The Balinese beach house is the perfect location to unwind with 
barefoot sunset dining.

(5) separate villas, including the main house overlooking an infinity pool. Interiors exude a laid back Caribbean vibe with individually-styled accommodations accented with original family heirlooms. 

Guests can stay active on the property’s a floodlit tennis court and gym, take yoga sessions, or hit the waves in Valley Trunk’s glass bottom kayaks and paddle boards. Other land and sea activities including diving, sailing and fishing, can also be arranged.

Enjoy the comfort of a five-star metropolitan resort with the seclusion of a Robinson Crusoe-worthy island escape

Valley Trunk Bay

A world-class private French Chef, Bernard Guilhaudin; manager, head of service, and masseuse are on hand to provide attentive service. 

The resort will accommodate any request, from flying in a sushi chef from Japan to arranging beachfront sun salutations with an Indian yoga master, or moonlit SCUBA diving with a trained guide.

Guests can enjoy a tranquil day out on the water exploring undiscovered bays and coves aboard Xanadu, Valley Trunk’s 68’ luxury yacht. Included with the private estate rental, Xanadu is always fully staffed and standing by, ready to explore the island and Caribbean paradise at a moment’s notice. A visit to the Baths, a network of otherworldly grottos and caves on the island’s coastline, is a must-do.

Exclusive use of Valley Trunk is offered year-round. Flights to Virgin Gorda are available by private charter from Tortola, St. Maarten, Antigua, Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. 

View more of this beautiful private property at http://valleytrunk.com/ or contact info@valleytrunk.com

Happy Travels,

Monday, November 16, 2015

Trinidad - Rare, Exotic and Wild

Caribbean travelers recognize Trinidad's Carnival as one of the "Greatest Shows on Earth" - and the island where steel pan music originated . . .  

However this unique destination is the perfect choice for nature lovers, bird watchers, hikers, and adventurers.

My first visit to Trinidad was outside of carnival season, and I was amazed at the mountainous rain forests, swamps, expansive savannah's, the largest tar lake in the world, and the capital city Port of Spain. 

The capital's appearance is just like any major U.S. city, and strolling though city you run across a diverse ethnic population. 

While the island vibes to a Caribbean beat, you will discover remarkable animal life and cultural experiences found no where else in the region. 

Millions of years ago Trinidad was joined to the continent of South America.

After the separation what was once part of a continent became an island crowded with rain forests, swamps, rivers, and tropical grasslands. So while the island is located in the Caribbean geographically, the geology of the land is tied to the Amazon. Today the Gulf of Paria separates Trinidad from Venezuela.

El Tucuche - Photo Credit Island Hikers

Trinidad is home to 13 official wildlife sanctuaries - from the Caroni Swamp and El Tucuche to the offshore islands of Soldado Rock and Saut d-Eau.   

Mountainous rain forests covers much of the island, and are home to an amazing number of wild animals including the agouti, paca, armadillo, opossum, deer, wild dogs and pigs, ant-eater, and the tiger cat known as the ocelot. 

Trinidad and Tobago both rank in the world's top 10 list in the number of exotic bird species per square mile with over 400 total species recorded.  

One of the most breathtaking sights happens right before day turns to night in the Caroni Swamp. 

Photo Credit: Jyoti Communications

Thousands of Scarlet Ibis fill the sky as they return to their roost in the mangroves. The setting sun adds even more brilliance to their scarlet plumage. 

In the trees you hear the screams of Capuchin and Red Howler monkeys - and in the air colorful Amazon parrots and macaws are common sights. 

In the islands rivers, swamps, and surrounding sea you will find alligators, anacondas, manatees, four eyed fish, and  the rare Suriname toad and paradox frog. The endangered leatherback, green loggerhead and hawks bill turtles nest along Trinidad's east and northern coasts. 

Pitch Lake - One of the Caribbean's Wonders

The largest commercial natural deposit of asphalt in the world! 

This is one of Trinidad's biggest exports worldwide - used for paving roads and airports, natural gas pipelines, and as a lining for reservoirs. 

It's a pretty smelly place, but definitely worth a trip. You must go along with a guide for safety as you can sink into the asphalt lake.

During the rainy season when the sulphur levels are at their highest, villagers head to the lake they call the fountains of life. They claim it helps with joint pain, skin conditions, and many other ailments. 

You would not think anything could grow in this tar/asphalt environment, however colorful water lilies are in abundance around the perimeter

Hannuman, a Hindu Monkey God

Trinidad is home to the largest Hindu community outside of India. 
This 85 foot statue Hannuman, a Hindu Monkey God, was built by the followers of guru Sri Swamiji who believe Trinidad was once located on the Ganges River. 

World famous Asa Wright Nature Center

Located high up in the northern range of the island. This is the prime spot for naturalists and bird watchers. 

Stop for lunch, and enjoy the guided walks along the nature trails. 

Temple By The Sea (Sewdass Sadhu Shiv Mandir)

This entire temple was built by a poor laborer from India in the 1930's, and restored in 1995. Remarkable workmanship!

Island Hopping! An added plus to visiting Trinidad is making the 2 1/2 hour ferry ride to the smaller sister island Tobago.

Tobago offers a much slower vibe than Trinidad, offers fabulous beaches, and pristine waters for diving and snorkeling. 

Hopefully this article has peaked your interest in visiting the twin nation of Trinidad/Tobago. While very different, both islands offer travelers a very unique Caribbean vacation.

Happy Travels,
Linda Thompkins

Related Post:
Magnificent Seven Mansions in Trinidad
One of Port of Spain's most historical attractions 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

4 Cool Curacao Experiences

Last last month Brian Major, TravelPulse executive editor for the Caribbean and Latin America, visited the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao. 

While strolling around the Llandhuis Chobolobo estate in Willemstad, he asked Andre Rojer, marketing manager, North America for the Curacao Tourist Board, how many languages a Curacao native could expect to learn in childhood.

Four, said Andre: Dutch, Papiamento, English and Spanish. Using his perfect English, Andre explained that Dutch was his family’s household language, and to this day, is the one he is most comfortable speaking.

What could be cooler than growing up in a country where learning four languages is a fairly routine occurrence? It turns out there are plenty of cool aspects to the southern Caribbean nation of Curacao.

The pastel-colored colonial merchant houses that line Willemstad’s Handelskade offer one of the few instantly recognizable urban districts in the entire Caribbean. 

In addition, Curacao is full of historic architecture and sites tied the island’s past as well as the broader landscape of region-wide Caribbean heritage and legacy.

Head over to Travel Pulse and find out the four experiences travelers should be sure to undertake in Curacao while on the never-ending search for cool travel encounters.

Happy Travels,

Friday, November 13, 2015

Blogging the Caribbean

Hello Fellow Caribbean Travelers!

Will post most recent visit to Aruba soon
Here's a few Caribbean articles I wanted to share this week . . .  

SPACE PHONE: Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory

Photo Credit: Huffington Post Blog

When Earthlings finally make contact with an intelligent alien civilization, odds are, the conversation will originate from Puerto Rico's historic Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest single-aperture telescope. Huffington Post Travel Blog  

5 Most Romantic St. Lucia Resorts For Couples

Photo Credit:

Thanks to the three-wall concept, you can stay in your room and still enjoy the outdoors at this intimate, adults-only property nestled 1,100 feet above the Caribbean Sea. 

Each of the 37 suites and villas has open-air views of the majestic Piton Mountains, with nary a window or wall getting in the way of those stunning sunsets - Read full article at Travel Pulse  

Island Life on Caribbean Island of Nevis

Photo Credit:

Maybe it was the hammock on the veranda of the police station in Gingerland or the parked car in the middle of the main street in Charlestown but within 24 hours of being on Nevis I knew the place was, er, a little different to any country I’d ever visited.

Sustainable Tourism and Natural Wonders of Jamaica 

Photo Credit: Two Monkeys Travel Group Blog

Protecting the beauty of Jamaica is not just the responsibility of locals and government officials, tourists must also make that conscience effort to look for sustainable tourism. Finish reading at Two Monkeys Travel Group Blog  

Happy Travels,

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Carriacou - Beautiful, Secluded and Affordable

Definitely off the grid from the tourist crowds

Photo Credit: Grenada Grenadines 

Carriacou, known as the Land of Reefs, is not easy to reach as some other Caribbean destinations - however it's never "easy" getting to really special places  (ˆ◡ˆ) 

This tiny slice of heaven is part of the nation of the tri-island nation of Grenada and Petit Martinique - and Carriacou is the most southern island in the Grenadines. 

The extensive coral reefs surrounding the 13 square mile island will definitely appeal to beach bums, snorkelers and divers. The Caribbean's largest wreck dive (the Bianca C - a 600 foot cruise liner) is location off the coasts of Grenada and Carriacou.  
Island hopping is easy with Osprey's fast ferry service between the islands of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. 

Also take the water taxi to Sandy Island, a pristine deserted island off the shores of Carriacou. You can walk around the entire island in a few minutes. Take note there is very little shade on this tiny strip of sand. 

Another recommended day trip is White Island which can be accessed by water taxi at Tyrrel Bay.

Nation dance of Carriacou, also known as the Big Drum dance, celebrates the lives and traditions of the islands African ancestors. Photo Credit: Mark Beaumont - BBC 

Affordable Places to Stay in Carriacou:

Carriacou Grand View

Located on hillside overlooking Hillsborough Bay. 

Only hotel on the island with pool, also features on-site restaurant and free Wi-Fi Room rates start at $65.00 per night, and apartment rates start at $100.00 per night 

Green Roof Inn 

Small Swedish family run hotel (13 rooms), continental breakfast is included. 

Restaurant serves swedish international cuisine using local ingredients. Rates start at less than $90 per night 

Ade's Dream

Small family owned offering affordable studio and economy rooms. 

Close to banking and shopping, and features on-site restaurant. http://www.adesdream.com/

Happy Travels,

Learn more about Carriacou