On the wild and rugged east coast of Barbados, the isolated beaches are the colour of sunrise, the red sands having blown all the way across the Atlantic from the Sahara. The eastern most island of the Windwards, and indeed, of the entire Caribbean, reaches out to Africa and the Old World, as if not quite part of the New. Bridgetown, Barbados is an interesting town full of contrasts. George Washington actually slept here! Trafalgar Square reminds you that the laid back, rum-and-fun-loving island’s British-influenced heritage includes revered traditions like cricket and high tea.
Soufriere, St. Lucia
Soufriere is a fishing town on St. Lucia's southwest coast. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, Soufriere sits below the Pitons, St. Lucia's landmark volcanic peaks. The town is small and simple, with a central square on which is located the Church of the Assumption, and narrow streets lined with bright-painted houses. You can wander with your camera, stop at a local seafood restaurant, or buy some treats to eat from a street vendor, or perhaps linger at a bar for a rum drink. The people are friendly and fun-loving. There are spas for massage, and hot, volcanic spring-fed mineral baths for soaking. Visit an old sugar plantation. Rent a trail bike to ride along the French Wall Trail, an old hand-built stone wall, or any of several other trails. Go diving among the coral formations on the reef in the Soufriere Marine Management Area. Or try snorkeling if you prefer.
Take a walk through the rainforest, visit a botanical gardens, or use binoculars to seek the elusive St. Lucia parrot. You'll not lack for things to do on this laid-back island.
Tobago Cays (St. Vincent & Grenadines)
The five small islands of the Tobago Cays are an archipelago with extensive coral reefs located in the Southern Grenadines, and make up the Tobago Cays Marine Park. These uninhabited cays offer heavenly lagoons with green turtles, colorful fishes and crystal clear waters.
St. George's, Grenada
An attractive colonial-era town spilling down a hillside above the Carenage, with its horseshoe-shaped harbor, Grenada's capital of ST GEORGE'S received the full brunt of Hurricane Ivan's high winds, and the bevy of new terracotta-coloured roofs stand in testament to the power of the wind.
St George's won't take more than a day to explore, and it's worth taking time away from the beach to do so. Though the market is at its liveliest on Saturday morning, most shops close on Saturday afternoons, Sundays and public holidays, making the town a quiet place during those times – except when a cruise ship moors at the spanking new docks, in which case the town explodes into a frenzy of activity, market stalls spring up on shore, restaurants and bars fill up, street vendors and local guides come out in force.
Picture Over the last two decades, Bonaire has consistently ranked as the finest snorkeling and scuba diving destination in the Caribbean. A major reason for this prominence is the island's diligent stewardship of its marine resources -- all of the waters off Bonaire's coast have been legally protected since 1979, and it shows.
But there is plenty more to do here. The unusually steady trade winds that wash over the island create ideal conditions for world-class windsurfing, and the shere beauty of its semi-desert landscape is home to an outlandish assortment of wildlife. Iguanas meditatively toast themselves atop the desert rock formations of Washington Slagbaai, while vast orange-pink clouds of flamingos drift across bone-white salt flats. Divi-divi trees bend into surreal sculptures of the wind itself, and towering cacti stand as reminders of the Caribbean's diverse ecology.
Willemstad, Curacao's capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its importance in the slave trade in the 18th and 19th century. Willemstad blossomed in this period, and Willemstad grew rapidly. Over 300 years later these buildings are still there, and in great condition.
Your first look at Curacao across the small channel from the ship is just like looking at a scene somewhere in Amsterdam or any city in the Netherlands. Pastel colored buildings (complete with the hoist towers so common in the Netherlands) line the waterfront and it is hard to believe that you are actually in the deep southern Caribbean almost to South America.
Willemstad is what sets Curacao apart from the rest of the Caribbean islands. Curacao might have many charms to it, but its biggest charm is its beautiful city.
Oranjestad ("Orange City") is the capital and most important city of Aruba located on the southern coast near the western end of the island. The town was built around Fort Zoutman in 1796 and Oranjestad has been the capital of Aruba ever since. The fort is still one of the town's attractions, others being the tax-free harbor and the Willem III Tower, located near the fort. The city is named after the first King Willem van Oranje-Nassau (William of Orange-Nassau), the first heir to the Dutch House of Orange.
Small portions of the city are formed from a series of man-made expansions of land into the sea. Present-day Renaissance Marketplace as well as the adjacent Queen Wilhelmina Park, are within part of this expansion. Dutch colonial architecture is less visible than on neighboring island Curacao, but several modern recreations have emerged, including the outdoor shopping mall at Royal Plaza, and a few scattered buildings along Main Street and on the Main Square. Due to increased government interest in maintaining the island's cultural heritage, a number of old buildings and houses in the center of town have been transformed into colorfully restored landmarks, such as the lime-colored Civil Registry on Wilhelminastraat.
Santa Marta, Colombia
Playa Bahia Concha, Colombia
Cartagena, formally known as Cartagena of the Indies, is a large city seaport on the northern coast of Colombia. Founded in 1533 by Don Pedro de Heredia, and named after the port of Cartagena in Spain's Murcia region, it was a major center of early Spanish settlement in the Americas, and continues to be an economic hub as well as a popular tourist destination.
Hot, sultry, filled with the sounds of music and bright with color and tradition, Cartagena has an impressive heritage. Gold and silver left the port bound for Europe, pirates looted the city, and a walled fort grew to protect both shipping and the slave trade.
The walled old town of this fortified Spanish colonial port is a gem. It's packed with churches, monasteries, plazas, palaces and noble mansions with overhanging balconies and shady patios. It pays just to wander through the old town.
Islas de San Bernando, Colombia
San Blas Islands, Panama
Situated in the Caribbean Sea a few miles off the north coast of Panama, the San Blas de Cuna Islands are the home of the Cuna, a traditional society of Native Americans. Most of these tropical islands are very small. Many are surrounded by coral reefs. The islands are part of Panama, but are primarily administered by the Cuna tribe.
Molas are one of the primary expressions of the visual arts in Cuna society. All genuine molas were created by a Cuna woman as the focal point for her own dress. The designs are always original and are an important way for a woman to express herself and demonstrate her talent and industry in this politically active and traditionally matriarchal society.
Balboa, founded by the United States during the construction of the Panama Canal, was named after Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the first European to explore the eastern shores of the Pacific Ocean. The city is located at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, and thrives on the business from Balboa Harbor, it's commercial port. In 1979 the Canal Zone, previously a U.S. territory, was ceded to Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaties. The Panama Canal's Administration Building, former seat of the Canal Zone Government and Panama Canal Company, is located in Balboa Heights. Sightseeing high points include the Canal Administration Building and the fairly well-preserved architecture of the Canal Zone era, the Goethals Memorial, El Prado Boulevard, and the handicrafts markets.