Consistently ranked high by TripAdvisor users worldwide, Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos is 12 miles of powder-soft sand and calming surf. It’s never crowded and the beach chairs are ample and comfy, plus the clarity of the water and cool Caribbean breezes are sure to take your breath away!
The fact that you can walk along the shoreline and stop to dine at many great beachfront restaurants is an added bonus.
This is what it looks like, even after a rainy night.
I’m thankful I’ve been lucky enough to have ridden a camel in the Egyptian desert; toured castles and palaces in Europe and China; gone on safari in South Africa, had drinks in the 7-star Burj Al Arab in Dubai; watched a football (soccer) match in Brazil and more. BUT none of those experiences trump the feeling I get when I go home. Every single time I go back, I find something new to appreciate about my little land of wood and water.
That’s because, to me, there’s no other place on earth where…
The food, like home-cooked salt fish fritters and a cup of bush tea or hot milo is as delicious and as filling.
The road side stops with random vendor interactions are as entertaining. Or where the fruit stall purchases are as fresh and as satisfying.
The natural landscapes are so lush and breathtaking.
The wildlife is as colorful.
The history of the country is as relatable and as poignant
The early morning ocean sprays and the warm water are as refreshing and enticing.
And for all those reasons and more, I am proud to call that place HOME.
In case you’ve wondered about it, the yellow in theJamaican flagrepresents oursunshine and natural resources; the black, the burdens borne by the people; and the green stands for agriculture and hope for the future.
I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Jamaica and while I grew up with an appreciation for my country’s lush tropical vegetation, white-sand beaches, rolling hills and scenic roadways, I sometimes took those assets for granted. Interestingly, as I grew older and travelled to, or lived in other countries I realized how naturally stunning my country and other islands in the Caribbean really are. As islanders we live where people dream of going on vacation and we should pause more often to take it all in.
Below, I’ve compiled a few images from just five Caribbean islands to illustrate my point.
A week ago today, I got stung by a killer bee in Nevis. Don’t panic! My condition was not caused by contact with a honeybee or a bumblebee. Nor did it invoke any pain or allergies. In fact, it was quite a heady experience.
Oh, how I remember that day clearly! It was near high noon and my travel companions and I sought refuge in the air-conditioned vehicle of our Nevisian host while the sun buttered the narrow road leading to the source of my “liquid affliction”.
That memorable place was Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill, a very festive yet unimposing-looking structure on Pinney’s Beach. It is arguably one of the most celebrated parcels of real estate on the island.
In case you’ve never heard about it, please pay close attention now. You cannot visit Nevis and not go to eat at Sunshine’s or sample their Killer Bee, its world-renown rum punch. The drink gradually creeps up on you but you feel fine as long as you are seated. Stand up quickly and that’s a different story. Believe me, things can get noticeably mellow from there.
I am willing to guess that former US President Bill Clinton can tell you all about the fare at Sunshine’s. From all the pictures proudly displayed on its rustic drift wood walls, it is also safe to assume that Oprah, John Travolta, Britney Spears, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Z, Beyonce and countless other celebrities can do so too.
A closely guarded recipe that was effortlessly thrown together in response to a 1995 drink competition, the Killer Bee is now unofficially a Nevis national treasure. According to Sunshine, the basic entry requirement was it had to be “easy and reasonable” to make. A combination of white and dark rum (he won’t divulge which ones), passion fruit, nutmeg and bitters, it is one of the most potent rum punches you’ll sample anywhere.
The food is fantastic too! We had sampler plates of the fresh tuna, grouper, lobster, ribs and one of the most tantalizing garden salads that I’ve ever tasted – mango cutlets included.
And nothing can compare to the size and magnetism of Sunshine’s personality. He is the owner after who the bar is named. As soon as we exited the SUV and walked up to the entrance, the legend himself met us on the top step with an effusive smile and firm handshake .
“Hello, I am Sunshine“, were the first words he said. After that, his aura took over and it silently screamed ‘warmth’ and ‘a genuine love of people’.
With that megawatt presence, it’s clear how he got that name. The rest – his business acumen and sustained success in spite of numerous odds – is now well-documented history.
The 120-mile long chain of islands and cays scattered in the northern part of the Bahamas could be the reason the Abacos is a boater’s paradise. But just as easily,the blatant lack of hustle and bustle and the sheer luxury of non-existent deadlines could hold the larger appeal.
Whatever the reason, it cannot be denied that where men go beer, rum and other adult beverages often follow. Simply translated that means the area is brimming with great bars; there is one almost at every ferry or dinghy stop.
If you ever have reason to visit the Out Islands of the Bahamas, I recommend that you visit at least one of these four beach bars:
You pull up to the dock and walk directly into an indoor/outdoor space that vibrates with positive energy. Perhaps the only thing more expansive than the panoramic views and the bar itself is the owner’s engaging personality. Patrick and his wife, Linda, and their staff make you feel at home from the get-go. The bar has an extensive rum list, a specially crafted hot sauce, and a casual menu chock-full of seafood options. You simply must try the cheesy fish dip! Even my hips will tell you it’s sinfully good. And ask about their legendary Full Moon Parties. I heard they are not to be missed.
This spot is a great place to unwind, meet up with friends and enjoy some libations and food while you bask in the view or wait for the ferry to Great Guana Cay. It is a casually chic hangout that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and they have a wide selection of fine wines, premium liquors and beers. Try their conch fritters or grouper burger, and look around for the fast-moving curly tail lizards for which the bar got its name.
Nipper’s is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon.
It is a colorful and vibrant bar in Guana Cay that sits atop a sand cliff, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Locals and visitors converge there for the weekly pig roast and to sip some of the best frozen drinks you’ll find anywhere. If you go on Sunday, expect a crowd and be prepared to have fun. It gets loud, and sometimes a little crazy so no party poopers are allowed.
It has a relaxing atmosphere and friendly staff, and it’s right on the water. I watched the sunset from there on the second night of my trip and it was simply breathtaking. They offer daily Happy Hour specials from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and live entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
Note: A version of this post originally appeared on TravelDudes.org as I am one of the many contributors to the site. Check it out.
One of my most lasting memories of time spent in Cayman is witnessing their revered Easter camping tradition. From Holy Thursday to Easter Monday, the beaches are transformed into active campsites where families spend their days and nights fishing and chilling, and eating and grilling. Friends often drop by to share a meal, play cards or join a spirited game of dominoes. After a few hours, the passersby move to another spot for more of the same. Everybody – native and tourist alike – is welcome. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. It is such a refreshingly authentic destination experience!
If I had to sum up the event in one sentence, I’d say the four-day holiday is defined by good food, good friends and good fellowship. Kids frolic in the water while adults catch up on news from the marl road (i.e. gossip mill). Even grandpas and grandmas get in on this fun in the sun.
What’s also interesting is that these camps become more sophisticated each year. In some instances, we are talking generators, solar water heaters and gas operated barbeque grills. Plus blow-up air mattresses, hammocks and fancy flat-screens.
A quick look at the check-out lines at local hardware stores like A.L. Thompson and Cox Lumber demonstrate the purchasing power of the avid Easter camper.
Below are a few more scenes from this cultural phenomenon. Check it out in person one year if you can!
The most popular camping spots in Grand Cayman are at Cayman Kai, East End, Smith Cove and Public Beach. If you want to partake in the fun click here.for more information on the process and guidelines.
Other cultural and heritage-based activities must-sees outside of Easter include:
a visit to Pedro St James, a Great House that showcases the splendor of its 18th century heritage;
a walk through of Miss Lassie House, one of the most unique and traditional Caymanian homes;
or, a visit during the second week of November to participate in the country’s annual Pirates Week festival that features heritage days in each of its main districts in addition to street parties and the reenactment of a pirate ship landing.