Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 106
July 15, 2000

Last Update July 14, 2000

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1/ PRESS RELEASES

A/ 3rd ANNUAL JAMAICA SPICE FESTIVAL

Showcasing the Best of Jamaica’s Cuisine, July 29th


OCHO  RIOS,  JAMAICA, May 22, 2000 - The Jamaica Tourist Board will once 
again  celebrate  Jamaican  cuisine with the third annual premier food 
festival,  Jamaica  Spice.  The  event  will  be a one-day celebration 
showcasing  all  that  Jamaica  has  to  offer local and international 
Epicureans. 

This  year’s  event  will  be  held  at Mahogany Beach where beautiful 
tropical  gardens  lead  down to one of the best beaches in Ocho Rios. 
Festivities  will  begin  at 10:00 AM and will continue until 10:00 PM 
offering an entire day of culinary delights fit for any palate. 

The  main  highlights  of  Jamaica  Spice  will  be  the exhibition of 
traditional  gourmet,  processed foods, and delights that originate in 
Jamaica  and  are  produced  locally.  Close  to  fifty exhibitors are 
expected  to  showcase  their  products  including  coffee,  chutneys, 
meats,  juices,  rums  &  liqueurs,  arts  & crafts, fruits and candy. 
Lively  cooking demonstrations will be conducted throughout the day by 
exhibitors,  restaurateurs  and  local media personalities. There will 
be  displays  of  contemporary  Jamaican  food  products  prepared  by 
culinary   experts  which  will  be  available  for  sale  and  public 
sampling. 

Two  new  activities  have been added to the Festival itinerary. There 
will  be  a Chef Cook-Off where chefs from local restaurants and small 
hotels  will  face-off  in  the  kitchen.  Armed only with a basket of 
groceries  which  they  have just been handed, the chefs will be asked 
to  create  a  new dish or an old dish with an exciting new twist. "My 
Granny’s  Potato  Pudding"  contest  will  showcase the best of potato 
pudding  from  grandmother’s  kitchens  all over Jamaica. The puddings 
will  be  judged  and  the  winning  grandma  will be announced at the 
Festival. 

A  Kid’s  Fun Zone and "Baking Corner" will be an added attraction for 
children  to  create  their  own cookies, muffins and other treats and 
enjoy games, face painting and much more. 

The  Performing  Arts  will  come alive with entertainment provided by 
Bare  Essentials,  Kingston  Comprehensive Drummers, L’ACADCO Dancers, 
the  Humming  Bird Steel Band, and many other exciting activities that 
will be sure to provide fun for all ages.

Complimentary  shuttle  service will be provided from select hotels in 
Ocho  Rios  and Runaway Bay. Admission to the Festival will be JA$150-
Adults  and  JA$50-Children (approximately US$4.00-Adults and US$1.50-
Children).

The  popular  Little  Pub Restaurant in Ocho Rios will host a Festival 
kick-off  "Spicy  Fete" party on Friday, July 28 complete with a spicy 
menu,  entertainment  and  drinks for a minimal cover charge of JA$750 
(approximately US$18.50).

For  more  information  on  Jamaica, contact the Jamaica Tourist Board 
nearest  you:  New  York (212) 856-9727, Chicago (312) 527-1296, Miami 
(305)  665-0557 or Los Angeles (213) 384-1123. You can also e-mail the 
JTB at jamaicatrv@aol.com.

The  JTB’s  Website  now  features  the  new  "J-Mail Dispatch," which 
automatically  updates  you via e-mail about new events and happenings 
in  Jamaica. Sign up now; visit the Jamaica Tourist Board’s website at 
www.jamaicatravel.com.

B/ 10th ANNUAL OCHO RIOS JAZZ FESTIVAL OFFERS VISITORS INTERNATIONAL DELIGHTS

NEW  YORK,  NY, JUNE 2000 -- The tenth annual Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, 
one  of  the Caribbean's most prestigious jazz festivals, will be held 
from  June  10  –  18  in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The nine-day celebration 
offers  music and entertainment with more than 30 concerts, jazz jams, 
and competitions. 

Since  its  inception  in  1990,  the  internationally acclaimed music 
festival  has spread from Ocho Rios to other resort areas island-wide. 
Due  to  the  Festival's  popularity,  Jazz Week now has five festival 
villages  participating,  with  each  venue  featuring  at least three 
local  and  international  bands.  The  designated  villages  are  the 
Renaissance  Jamaica Grande and the Almond Tree Hibiscus Lodge in Ocho 
Rios;  the Sunset Beach Resort and Spa in Montego Bay; the Negril Tree 
House and the Hilton Kingston Hotel.

This  is  the  first  year  the  festival  will  open in Kingston, and 
kickoff  with the wildly popular, 15 member female group "Diva." Their 
portion  of the concert benefits the Bustamante Hospital for Children. 
Two  other  major  headliners for the festival are The Antelope Valley 
Big   Band  and  The  Jamaica  Big  Band.  The  Jamaica  Big  Band  is 
celebrating  50  years  of  music  by  including many free concerts in 
Kingston and Ocho Rios during the festival.

Festival  organizers and world-renowned performers, Sonny Bradshaw and 
Myrna  Hague-Bradshaw, co-producers of the Jazz Festival, will promote 
another  unique  aspect of Jamaica at the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival: the 
island's  cultural  heritage.  As  the  Jazz Culture Tours were such a 
tremendous  success  last  year,  they  have been added to this year's 
festival.  Tours  will  include the Seville Great House, Harmony Hall, 
home  to  some  of  Jamaica's  most incredible artwork, as well as the 
legendary Dunn's River Falls.

"We  hope our festival gives visitors a taste of the music culture for 
which  Jamaica  is known. Those who join us, even for a few days, will 
experience  Jamaica  at  its  best,"  said  festival co-promoter Sonny 
Bradshaw.

While  other  Caribbean  jazz music festivals have had cross-over acts 
join  their  artist  line  up,  the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival has stayed 
true  to  its  roots, earning a well-deserved reputation as one of the 
most  definitive  Caribbean  showcases  for  some  of the top names in 
jazz.

This  year's  festival  will  be no different, featuring talented jazz 
musicians  from  more  than  11  countries, including three headliners 
from  the  U.S;  the Nicholas Payton Quintet, the James Moody Quartet, 
and  the  Christian McBride Band, and other international acts such as 
the  Lee  Strawford  Sextet  (Holland),  D.M.A-  Direct  Memory Access 
(Italy), and many more.

Jazz  lovers  will  have  a  unique  opportunity  to  enjoy  a diverse 
sampling  of Jamaica's music culture. A variety of daytime and evening 
events  will  highlight  the  2000 Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, including: 
Opening  and  Closing  Jazz Days, Concert Nights (including a Kingston 
Jazz  Concert,  Daily  Free  Public  Concerts,  and  Daily  Youth Jazz 
Concerts),  Nightly  Jazz  Jams  in  the  Renaissance  Jamaica  Grande 
Festival  Village,  Jazz Dance Parties, Jazz Awards, A Night of Blues, 
and Jazz Happy Hours in Negril, Runaway Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston.

Tickets   for   the  festival  events  can  be  purchased  on-line  at 
www.ochoriosjazz.com  and  range in price from complimentary up to $30 
US. 

For  more  information,  contact  the  Jazz  Center at 876-927-3544 or 
visit  the  Ocho  Rios  Jazz Festival website at www.ochoriosjazz.com. 
You  can  also  call the Jamaica Tourist Board office nearest you: New 
York,  212-856-9727; Chicago, 312-527-1296; Los Angeles, 213-384-1123; 
Miami, 305-665-0557, or e-mail the JTB at jamaicatrv@aol.com.

The  Jamaica  Tourist  Board's  website  now  features the new "J-Mail 
Dispatch,"  which  automatically  updates  you  via  e-mail  about new 
events  and  happenings  in Jamaica. Sign up now, it's quick and easy. 
Visit the Jamaica Tourist Board's website at www.jamaicatravel.com.

2/ JOURNEYS FOR JULY 2000

ANTIGUA: SUNSAIL COLONNA BY DERMOT LOUGHNANE

OK  First  thing  to  keep  in  mind  is  that we came from the Hilton 
Jalousie  Resort  on  St. Lucia which is pretty luxurious to Sunsail - 
which  is  pretty  basic.  OK  the  good  points,  Sunsail has LOTS of 
dinghies  and  quite a few 20-30 foot yachts that you can use, Antigua 
is  a  nice island, dryer than some of the more volcanic islands (like 
St.  Lucia),  if you have kids they have several programs for all ages 
and  seem  quite  family  oriented,  the  sailing  staff are young and 
considering they get paid peanuts, quite enthusiastic...

On  the  other  hand,  the  accommodations are BASIC, clean but if you 
want  extras  (like  a  face cloth) you have to ask for it, the TV was 
down  the  whole  time  we were there (except for nightly videos), our 
phone  broke  and  no  one  would  fix  it so we had to steal one from 
another  room,  both  times  we sent out laundry it took several phone 
calls  to  locate  it (the last one on the morning before we left, but 
lets  not  go  there),  and  the food was CRAP. To be fair the English 
people  who  were  staying at the resort seemed to think it was OK but 
we  found  it  tasteless  and  with  little  variety.  The whole place 
strikes  me as being on a strict budget, once the breakfast is put out 
for  instance  its  basically left, nothing is replaced and if it runs 
out,  well  tough luck. For an included lunch there is nothing put out 
to  drink but water. We ate most of our dinners at restaurants outside 
of  the  resort (and there are some EXCELLENT restaurants on Antigua). 
Drinks  at  the  bar  are  quite  cheap  (especially  compared  to the 
Jalousie)  but I think my Pina Coladas got no closer to the rum bottle 
than being shown the label..

The staff of the hotel are to put it politely, unenthusiastic.

I  found  the  condition  of the dinghies to be quite good considering 
how  often  they  are  used,  the  larger  yachts  that  they  use for 
instruction  are  the  older charter yachts sent to Colonna to die. We 
took  a  3  day sailing course and on the first day I noticed that the 
fire  extinguisher  was  flat (no pressure) and uninspected for years. 
As  well  the  smoke flare was out of date. I think our instructor was 
quite  surprised  and  vowed  to  take  it  up  with  the  management. 
(Curiously  the  instructor  told  me the next day that the inspection 
tags  for  the  extinguishers  were  kept in the front office. So this 
extinguisher  was inspected but useless??) As well the engine had some 
problems,  one of the sheet winches was flaky and some of the halyards 
were a bit frayed.

The  weather  was  lively when we were there, I don't think we had one 
day  with  less  than  15-25  knots  of  wind, not exactly the kind of 
weather  for beginners. Colonna is on the north end of Antigua (rather 
than  the  western side of island like other resorts) and once you are 
clear  of  the  shore  you  are  basically  out  in  the Atlantic. For 
experienced  sailors  it  can be a blast (rail in the water stuff) but 
the  combination  of  the wind and the swell from the ocean would make 
me  think  twice  about  recommending it to beginners. (To be fair the 
weather in the summer should be less but there are no guarantees).

Antigua  we  found  pretty  but not the lush jungle of St. Lucia. Cars 
are  relatively  cheap  to rent and the roads uncrowded. The condition 
of  some  of  the  roads,  particularly in the south east is somewhere 
between  treacherous  and  laughable. If we went again I would rent on 
of the 4WD's that are available (for about $10 more a day).

Would  I  go back to a Sunsail resort? I would for the sailing but I'd 
make sure I knew there were other restaurants around

BAHAMAS: COMPASS POINT, NASSAU AND NEW PROVIDENCE BY NADINE HUBERT

Trip 3/00

Being  a  recent  convert  to  Caribbean  travel,  I  decided  to take 
advantage  of  the  relatively  cheap  charter flights from Toronto to 
Nassau.  I  wasn't  convinced that I would like Nassau but for a four-
day getaway in late March, I decided to give it a try.

We  left Toronto on one of three charter flights that left on Thursday 
March  30.  The  flight  was a little over 2.5 hours. Not bad when you 
are  trying  to  escape  the  cold dreariness of March. The flight was 
booked  solid  and we arrived in Nassau shortly before 10 am. Although 
all  3  of  the charter flights from Toronto arrived within minutes of 
each  other,  the  task  of  going  through  customs  and claiming our 
luggage was relatively smooth.

My  first  impression  of  New  Providence  was  of a lot of trees and 
undeveloped  interior  bush.  In  this regard, it looked more like the 
States  or  Canada for that matter, but after a seven-minute taxi ride 
toward  the  Western  part of the island, we quickly saw the beautiful 
waters of the Bahamas - very impressive.

The  Resort. There are a number of hotels offered by tour operators in 
Canada   to   Nassau,   the  majority  of  them  being  in  the  Cable 
Beach/Paradise  Island areas. I decided to try someplace different and 
had read favorable reviews about Compass Point. 

Compass  Point is a small (20 units), funky, colorful oasis within the 
commercialism  and  development  of  Nassau.  The resort does not look 
like  much  from  the  road  but  once  you enter the grounds, you are 
treated  to  a  visual  delight  of  vibrant  colors  everywhere:  the 
restaurant,  the  pool  loungers,  the  cabanas, and the sea huts. The 
other  impression  that  immediately hits is the absolute friendliness 
and  graciousness of the staff. Although it was close to 11 am when we 
checked  in, the front desk staff ensured that our room could be ready 
as  soon  as  possible.  To  make  our  wait  more bearable, the staff 
offered us a complimentary house cocktail at the bar. Thirty minutes

later,  we were given the green light to go to our room, our bags were 
already there!

Compass  Point  has  three  unit types: Studio Cabanas which are small 
units  setback  against  the  road,  sea  view  and sea front huts and 
larger,  one  and two bedroom sea view and sea front cottages. We were 
in  a  sea  front  hut which was built right against the sea wall. The 
units  are  painted  in  bright  junkanoo  colours on the outside with 
muted  shades  on  the  inside.  The  accommodations  are  rustic  but 
comfortable  and well equipped. Our hut was an octagonal shape, with a 
king  size  bed,  tv, cd player, coffee maker, fridge, and kettle, and 
in-room safe. We also had a small deck which looked over the water.

The  units  are  close together so you can see and hear your neighbors 
coming  and going. This was not a problem however as our fellow guests 
were laid-back.

Compass  Point  is  a  small, compact property. There is an attractive 
open-air   restaurant   and   bar   area,   a   small   pool   with  a 
lounging/sunning   area.   There   is   a  tiny  beach  for  swimming, 
snorkeling,  floating and kayaking. A long pier leads out to a covered 
deck for relaxing and reading.

Most  of  the  guests at Compass Point are couples, or families. There 
were  very  few children (a few babies). The resort's ambiance is very 
relaxed  with most people content to sit by the pool and relax. It's a 
place where you can do nothing very easily.

The  food  at Compass Point is very good (albeit expensive). It offers 
a  variety  of  dishes that will please virtually every kind of diner. 
We  ate  all  our breakfasts and a couple of dinners at the restaurant 
and  were very happy we did. The service is friendly and professional. 
This was the standard at the resort.

There  is  quite  a  bit of air traffic over Compass Point, so you can 
hear  the  roar of the descending planes regularly throughout the day. 
Just a small drawback to an otherwise very peaceful location.

Getting  Around  Not  much is around Compass Point. It is located in a 
small  settlement called Gambier. To shop or sightsee, you either have 
to take the bus, rent a car or use taxis.

I  had  read  many  caveats about renting a car and using taxis on New 
Providence.  We  did  both  and  had no problem. In fact, having a car 
gave  us  to  see  a  lot  of New Providence . We checked out downtown 
Nassau  which I found a bit seedy and congested, Cable Beach which had 
a  lot  of  activity,  large  resorts  and  busy restaurants, Paradise 
Island,  which  is  dwarfed  by  Atlantis and the Southern part of the 
island.  When  you  leave  the coastal roads, there is not much to New 
Providence.  One  thing  that  really  stood  out  was  the  amount of 
residential  development  going  on.  All kinds of condo and apartment 
complexes  are  going  up.  There is definitely a property boom in New 
Providence! 

Some of places we visited were:

Atlantis  (you  do  have to see to believe it). We did not pay for the 
$25dollar  tour  of the resort but we checked out all the common areas 
and  casino.  I  found  the  rest  of  Paradise Island to be more like 
Florida with its manicured roads and malls.

Arawak  Cay.  We  went  to  the fish fry and Arawak Cay and had a good 
seafood  lunch.  This  is  a  good  place  to  come if you want to try 
Bahamian   cuisine   as   there  are  a  number  of  small  diner-type 
restaurants  to  choose from. Most of the Bahamian residents come here 
for lunch.

Cable  Beach:  A long, strip of hotels with many guests vying for pool 
and  beach space. I think this area would be fine if you are single or 
like  a  lot of action. It probably gives the guests a slanted view of 
what New Providence is like.

Downtown  Nassau:  Lots  of shopping if you are into duty free jewelry 
and  watches. The Straw Market was no big deal. On the whole, downtown 
Nassau  is  not  a  pretty  town. It is very congested and commercial. 
This  is  where  the cruise passengers disembark so some days downtown 
are very crowded.

Restaurants:  There are certainly enough restaurants to choose from in 
Nassau.  We  really  enjoyed  our  meals at Compass Point. Some of the 
other restaurants we tried worth mentioned were:

Café  Johnny  Canoe: This was a busy family restaurant. We had to wait 
about  an  hour  for  a  table. We waited longer for the table than it 
took  for  us  to  eat  our  meal! I don't understand what the fuss is 
about. It's an okay restaurant but I didn't "love" it.

The  Poop  Deck  at  Sandyport:  This  a  new Poop Deck which has just 
opened  at Sandyport - a new gated community just west of Cable Beach. 
This  was  an expensive, casually elegant restaurant with a middle-of-
the-road  quality  of  cuisine, the usual choices of chicken, beef and 
fish  entrees.  One interesting part of our dinner was our neighboring 
diners: Danny Devito, Rhea Perlman and their family.

Green  Shutters:  This is a English-style pub in downtown Nassau which 
is  a  civilized  retreat  from  the action. It offers traditional pub 
fare  (i.e.Bangers  and  Mash,  Ploughman's  Lunch  etc.  as  well  as 
Bahamian dishes such as conch salad (my favorite Bahamian dish).

Crocodile's  Waterfront  Bar  and  Grill:  This  is  a  casual outdoor 
restaurant,  just west of the Paradise Island Bridge. The nice feature 
of  this  place is looking over the Nassau harbour and you can see the 
busy boat traffic between Nassau and Paradise Island.

Other  impressions.  During our four-day stay, we did not have time to 
take  any  of  the  cruise  or  snorkeling  tours.  But there are many 
activities  to  choose from if you are interested. If we ever go back, 
I would definitely try to visit one of the Out Islands.

I  was  struck  by  the  clarity  and  prettiness  of the water in the 
Bahamas.  Although  I  do not think I would go back to Nassau, I would 
definitely  like  to  visit  the  Out  Islands.  Overall, the Bahamian 
people  were  friendly  and  I  can  understand  why  Nassau is such a 
popular destination for us Canadians.

BAHAMAS: ATLANTIS AT PARADISE ISLAND BY JEREMY FOGLE

Trip 7/00

My  wife  and  I  just  returned  from  6 days at Paradise Island.  We 
stayed  at  the  Comfort Suites on Paradise Island and had full access 
to  the  Atlantis  Resort -- A smart Choice!!!  The Comfort Suites had 
nice  rooms (less expensive than any room at Atlantis), free breakfast 
and  was  right  across  the  street  from  the  Atlantis Resort.  The 
Atlantis  was  amazing!  We loved the many pools and water slides.  We 
were  there  during  4th of July weekend and it was quite crowded.  My 
wife  and  I  weren't bothered by the crowds; however, the pool chairs 
filled  up  by  11:00  am on two of the mornings and it was a chore to 
find  a  lounge  chair  to  claim.   ADVICE:  go to the pool early and 
reserve  some  chairs  by  placing  a  towel  or some personal item on 
them.   A  lot of people did this and it was irritating to see tons of 
reserved  chairs  and  no  one  occupying them, but that is the way it 
works.   The  pools  at  the  Atlantis  are  awesome--lots  of slides, 
waterfalls,  caves,  live  music  and  much more.  Be sure to walk the 
grounds  and  go  to  every  pool--each one has something different to 
offer.

The  underground  aquariums  and "The Dig" at Atlantis are a must see.  
We  walked  through  the Dig everyday to see the fish, sharks, turtles 
and  other  sea life.  We were very impressed with the whole layout of 
the  resort.   The  beach  access  at  the Atlantis is very close.  We 
walked  to  the  beach  every  day  and loved the ocean--warm and very 
clear.   My  wife  got a few braids in her hair--the vendors weren't a 
bother  to  us  (just say no and they leave you alone.)  We went Para-
sailing  one  day  and  loved  it.   It was our first time. The normal 
charge  is  $45  each, but we took $80 to the beach and had no problem 
in  both  of  us  going for $80.  They also had waverunner rentals for 
$60  half hour and $120 for an hour -- you can go around the island or 
out  to  Blue  Lagoon.   ADVICE: a couple of times we had them down to 
$90  for a full hour but decided not to go.  Take in cash to the beach 
whatever  amount  you  want  to  spend  on  the  rentals  and you will 
probably get what you want!

We  took  our  own snorkeling gear with us, but we only used it for 10 
minutes.   The snorkeling at the Atlantis Lagoon was not very good for 
us.  We  have been snorkeling in Hawaii a couple of times and liked it 
much  better.   However,  with  all  the  glass  windows and full size 
aquariums at the Atlantis, there isn't much need to snorkel.

Food  was  very expensive everywhere on Paradise Island and especially 
at  the  Atlantis!   My wife and I don't like to spend a lot of $$$ on 
food  on  vacations  since  we  eat out a lot at home for free (family 
ties  to  restaurants.)  We tried to eat nice and economical but still 
couldn't  eat  a  dinner  for  under  $40  (we don't drink alcohol) on 
Paradise  Island.   We  recommend  Anthony's  Grill,  The Blue Marlin, 
Outback  Steakhouse  (a short walk across the Paradise Island bridge), 
Atlas  Grill  in  the  casino and Shark Bites by the pool at Atlantis.  
We  ate  dinner  at all of these places for between $35 - $45.  Buying 
snacks  and  ice  cream also got expensive.  Ice cream at the Atlantis 
is  $3.50  for  a  cone and $7.50 for a Bananna Split. The Atlas Grill 
and  Jimmies  at Atlantis are two good spots for late night ice cream.  
We  actually  took  from  home  peanuts,  granola bars and a few other 
snacks  which we took to the pool each day.  Having the free breakfast 
at  the Comfort Suites and a few snacks during the day got us by until 
dinner  a few days.  We bought bottled water each day for the pool and 
we  bought  a  gallon jug when we arrived for use in our room.  By day 
two,  we  started drinking the water in restaurants and it was fine (a 
lemon  or lime helps the flavor.) Speaking of restaurants, the service 
is  usually  slowwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  People say it is the laid back style 
of  the  islands,  but  I say it is because they already charge you an 
automatic  15%  gratuity  on  every  bill.   For the most part, people 
working at the restaurants and the resort were friendly.  

We  went into Nassau one day to see the straw market and the town.  We 
were  a  little  disappointed  with  the market and downtown.  All the 
vendors  in  the  market  have the same stuff (mostly junk)and it gets 
old  fast.   The shops in downtown are also boring (liquor and jewelry 
shops  mostly.)   We  had fun taking the "water taxi" over to downtown 
from  Paradise  Island  ($6  round-trip each); however, if you want to 
save  time,  take a taxi from the hotel instead ($8 each way.)  We had 
no  problems  with  the taxi drivers during our trip.  A taxi from the 
airport to Paradise Island costs $25 and $1 bride toll. 

Overall,  we  had  a  great  trip and we were glad we went to Paradise 
Island.   We  traveled a long way from Portland, Oregon.  We loved the 
Atlantis  and  thought  it was one of the nicest resorts we would ever 
visit. However, we both still prefer Hawaii over the Bahamas.     

BEQUIA BY BEN BLAIR

Trip  5/00

My  wife  and  I  have  visited  more  than  40 islands in the Eastern 
Caribbean  alone,  diving  on  almost  30  of them.  One place we keep 
going  back to is Bequia, not because it's the best place to dive, but 
because  it's  got  the  best  combination  of  good diving, beautiful 
scenery,  wonderful  people,  terrific  places  to stay, and top notch 
bars  and  restaurants.   I’m  not  going  to  spend  a  lot  of  time 
describing  the  island – you can read about it in the guide books and 
on  the  internet  (I will tell you that it rates a 3 on the “Touristo 
Scale”  in  Rum  and  Reggae,  so  there  are no big resorts, casinos, 
etc.).

The  first  time  we  visited  Bequia, we rented a Villa, and it was a 
great  place.   But while we were there, Pat Mitchell was building her 
new  units  at The Gingerbread on the waterfront on Admiralty Bay, and 
they  looked  as if they were going to be a great addition to the room 
options  on  Bequia  (I  even had a chance to go over the construction 
drawings  while  we  were  there, so we had a pretty good idea of what 
the new units were going to be like).

On  our  last  two  trips to Bequia, we stayed at the Gingerbread, and 
weren’t  disappointed.   You  can  sit  on  your balcony and watch the 
constant  traffic  in  and  out of the harbor (ferries to and from St. 
Vincent,  small  cruise  ships  – mostly schooners, the mail boat that 
plies  the  Grenadines,  and  an  endless  array  of  yachts),  or the 
fantastic  sunsets  almost  every  night.  We like to sit out at night 
and  listen  to  the  entertainment  next  door  at  The Gingerbread’s 
excellent  restaurant  (open  air,  on  the  second  floor of the main 
building,  overlooking  the  harbor),  although  the  quality  of  the 
entertainment  has improved recently, and we often wound up going over 
and  joining  the  fun  at  the bar.  You get a full kitchen, a dining 
area  (although  we  always ate breakfast out on the balcony, watching 
the  morning  foot  traffic  along Belmont walk), and some of the most 
attractive  and  comfortable  furnishings  you’ll find anywhere in the 
Caribbean.

You  can  walk  to  almost any place on the island, although the taxis 
are  so inexpensive that you may prefer to ride.  We love to walk over 
to  Spring, and then on to the Crescent Beach Inn near Industry, where 
we  spend  Sundays  on  the beach and enjoy one of Dean Nichol’s great 
lunches  (off-season,  the  dive  operation we dive with takes Sundays 
off,  although  if  you  had  a big enough group, you might be able to 
convince  them  to  break  that routine).  One of the best restaurants 
(and  bars,  and views) is Coco’s, on a hillside overlooking Lower Bay 
(and  Admiralty  Bay and Port Elizabeth, the main town on the island), 
and  we  walk there for dinner once or twice every visit, too. Another 
nice  walk  is  over to Friendship Bay, where the largest hotel on the 
island  is  located,  and  one  of  the  best beach bars, Herbie’s and 
Spicey’s).

We  used  to  dive with Sunsport when we were on Bequia, and were very 
disappointed  when  Bob  Monnen  sold out late last year, returning to 
his  native  Minnesota.   But  just before our trip in May, we learned 
that  Ron and Laury, Sunsport’s excellent instructors/dive guides, had 
started  up  their  own  operation  (located  between the Green Boley, 
where  you  can  get  what may be the best rotis in the Caribbean, and 
Mac’s  Pizza,  with  arguably  the best pizza in the Caribbean).  They 
even  bought  Sunsport’s  boat, and diving with Bequia Dive Adventures 
is  just as pleasant as diving with Sunsport used to be.  You can dive 
two  dives in the morning, and a third dive in the afternoon (although 
my  wife  and  I  never  make the third dive – too many great spots to 
enjoy a long and leisurely lunch somewhere on the waterfront).

For  those  of  you who don’t haul your own equipment with you, Bequia 
Dive  Adventures  is the only dive operation I know of where computers 
are  a  standard  part of the rental gear.  I suspect this will be the 
start  of a trend, since no one in his right mind would dive without a 
computer in this day and age.

I  can’t  tell  you where to eat on Bequia, because there are too many 
excellent  places, and you’ll have to decide which ones appeal to your 
own  tastes.   But we always eat some of our meals at the Gingerbread, 
the  Frangipani, the Green Boley, Mac’s, the Crescent Beach Hotel, and 
Coco’s.   The  Frangipani  has a great waterfront bar, usually crowded 
in  the  early  evening  because of the sunsets.  In May, Pat Mitchell 
was  in  the process of adding an outdoor bar area at The Gingerbread, 
just  a  few  steps  away along the Belmont waterfront, which may turn 
out  to  be an even better vantage point for lovers of great Caribbean 
sunsets.

Sure,  you  can  find more spectacular diving in the eastern Caribbean 
(Little  Cayman,  Grand  Turk,  West Caicos and Saba come to mind, and 
I’m  sure  many of you have your own favorites, too).  But if you want 
to  experience  an  unspoiled island where you can relax, enjoy peace, 
quiet,  beauty,  good food and drink, beautiful dive sites as close as 
ten  minutes  away, and one of the best accommodations anywhere in the 
Caribbean,  book  one  of  the upstairs units on the waterfront at The 
Gingerbread,  and let Bequia Dive Adventures take you to Bequia’s best 
dive sites.

CUBA: VARADERO - CUBA' S PAMPERED TOURIST SIREN BY HABEEB SALLOUM

The  friendly  Cubano  customer  in  one  of the outdoor cafes grinned 
cynically  saying, "You like Varadero? Well! It's only a showplace for 
tourists."  His words, more than volumes of reporters' stories, sum up 
what  the  local  Cubans think of Varadero - the country's top tourist 
attraction. 

Everything  in this resort of some 17,000 inhabitants is geared toward 
foreign  visitors.  Italians,  Canadians,  Germans and others, in that 
order,  are  offered some of the finest tourist facilities to be found 
anywhere  -  a  world  that Cubans can only dream about. This crowning 
jewel  of  the  290  beaches  in  Cuba  is  a special pampered tourist 
resort.  Varadero  is  the  major  source  of  the  country's  foreign 
exchange  and  the  government is anxious that tourists be catered to, 
not gouged or harmed in any way by unscrupulous individuals. 

A  spread-out  town  edged  by  20 km (12.5 mi) of sugary- white sand, 
Varadero  is  Cuba's  major  tourist  spot which brings in much of the 
foreign  currency sorely needed by the country. A few years ago, Fidel 
Castro  declared  that,  "Tourism  and the export of medicine will, in 
the  future,  satisfy  Cuba's need of foreign exchange." Today tourism 
is  bringing  in  some 45% of the country's foreign exchange, followed 
by  sugar,  nickel,  tobacco  and  in  fifth  place  the bio technical 
industries  producing  new  medicines.  Recently,  a  vaccine has been 
found for meningitis - the only one in the world. . 

Located  144 km (90 mi) east of Havana, this resort is being developed 
into  a  first-class  holiday spot by joint ventures between the Cuban 
government  and  European and Latin American companies - also partners 
throughout  the country in agricultural, commercial, manufacturing and 
mining  projects.  Its  beaches  are  bordered  by  some  of  the most 
sophisticated   hotels   in   the  Caribbean,  almost  all  under  the 
hospitality-minded eye of European or Canadian management. 

Of  all  these  60 hotels with 15,000 rooms, the ideal one in which to 
stay  is  the  elegant  Cuarto  Palmas - built in Andalusian style and 
sharing  with  the  International  Hotel and Arenas Blancas the choice 
section  of  Varadero  Beach.  Located  in  the heart of town near the 
entertainment  and  shopping area, it is, for many visitors, the ideal 
abode  in which to spend a vacation. When staying in this hotel, it is 
best  not  to  buy  the  meal  plan.  The  most  concentrated  set  of 
restaurants in Varadero are within walking distance. 

On  the  other  hand,  if  visitors  are  looking  for  an  economical 
vacation,  the  2  or  3  star  abodes  are the places to stay. A good 
number  are  all-inclusive  and  priced  fantastically low. They offer 
tourists   much   more  for  their  money  than  any  other  Caribbean 
destination. 

Yet,  hotels are only the periphery to Varadero's appeal. The resort's 
mile  after  mile  of  talcum  sand,  so fine that it glides like silk 
across  the  feet, and the edging clear-blue waters are unsurpassed in 
the whole of the Western Hemisphere. 

Once  a  hideaway  for  millionaires  like  the  Duponts,  who  banned 
ordinary   Cubans   from   the  beach,  the  resort  today  is  almost 
exclusively  the  domain  of  thousands of tourists. Gone are the days 
when  one  of the top US Mafia leaders was the advisor to Batista, the 
country's  long-time  dictator,  and  his  cronies and the Mob who ran 
Cuba  and  who  were, able to built their luxury villas. Among others, 
the  Dupont estate with its impressive villa has been transformed into 
a tourist spot with an 18 hole golf course. 

The  majority  of the tourists who travel to Varadero are a mixture of 
peoples  from  many nations. With their Babel of tongues and cultures, 
they  have  made  the  resort truly cosmopolitan. It is one of the few 
retreats  in  the  Western  Hemisphere  where  tourists are not mainly 
Americans  -  the  US  has  an  embargo  against  the  country and its 
citizens  are  banned from travelling to that island. However, from 20 
to  30  thousand  Americans,  in defiance of US policy, annually visit 
the  country.  Cuban  officials  welcome  US  citizens,  mostly coming 
through Canada and Mexico, with open arms. 

Tourism,  which  drew  around 1.8 million visitors to Cuba in 1999 has 
changed  the peoples' lives dramatically. Foreign visitors are largely 
responsible,  after  the  demise of the Soviet Union which reduced the 
country's  GNP  51  %, for the recent upturn of the Cuban economy - in 
1999  it  grew  by  some 6 %. Of course, these tourists have also been 
responsible  for  a  black  market industry and young women soliciting 
visitors.   Nevertheless,   all   over  Cuba,  the  black  market  and 
prostitution  have  been  drastically  reduced  due  to  a  government 
crackdown. 

All  of Varadero is a tourist playground. The heart of town is crowded 
with  restaurants,  night  spots  and  shops. In their midst is Retiro 
Josone  Park, consisting of a large artificial lake with row boats for 
rent, three restaurants and handicraft stalls. 

Rounding  off  Varadero's  many attributes are the safety of tourists, 
the  cleanliness  of  the  resort,  and the educated, warm-hearted and 
friendly  inhabitants  who  love to enjoy themselves. Varadero's youth 
escape  from their somewhat harsh life through love, and love seems to 
be everywhere, even infecting the tourists. 

These  qualities  have  made  the  resort  the  fourth largest tourist 
market  in  Latin  America.  A  Canadian  visitor  summed  all this up 
saying,  "For  me  Varadero  offers,  in a gratifying fashion, all I'm 
looking for in a vacation." 

The  only drawback is that the ordinary Cubans can only look on hoping 
that  one  day,  like the thousands of tourists around them, they will 
be  able  to  enjoy  the  goodies  saturating the hotels in Varadero - 
Cuba's   full-service  answer  to  the  remainder  of  the  capitalist 
Caribbean.

IF YOU GO

Facts to Know About Cuba:
1)  Cuba  has  become  for tourists much more expensive. It is best to 
take an all-inclusive package deals offered by travel agencies. 
2)  For  transportation  in  Varadero,  take taxis. Metered, they cost 
from one end of the resort to the 
other  $12.  They are the best way to get around. Also, there is a bus 
shuttle  service  that  runs  between  the  hotels  -  cost  Autos are 
expensive  to  rent  - about $85. per day and up and gas is around $1. 
per litre. 
3)  In spite of all types of shortages, Cuba is still safe, thefts are 
rare and tap water is drinkable, even in the villages.
4)  The  best  buys in Cuba are rum and cigars. Beware of black market 
cigars
-  often  they are not authentic Seven year old Havana Club is the top 
rum in Cuba. It is smoother than 
brandy and sells at around $ 10. a bottle. 
5)  Cubans are appreciative of gifts, especially soap, English-Spanish 
dictionaries and all types of clothing - new and used.
6)  For  Americans  wishing  to  travel to Cuba through Canada, only a 
passport  is  needed.  Also,  USA citizens should not use their credit 
cards in Cuba.
7)  Take  bug  repellent  with  you  to  protect  against 'no see-ums' 
insects -their bites are very itchy.
8) Remember to keep $20. for a departure tax.

Currency:
The  American  dollar  is  the  tourist  currency  of the country. For 
visitors,  there  is  no  need  to buy Cuban currency unless traveling 
outside  tourist  areas.  It  is  best  to take U.S. dollars in cash - 
saves  the  high  commission  charge  on travelers cheques. Never take 
American  Express  Travellers  cheques  or  credit  cards - only Visa, 
MasterCard  and  Eurocard  are  accepted.  At  present, the Cuban peso 
trades  at around 20 pesos to a dollar, but remember, it is useless to 
visitors.

Food:
Food  in  most  ordinary Cuban restaurants is quite dull. The meals in 
peoples'  eating  places  run from $2 to $10.; good restaurants charge 
from $10. to $30. for a meal. 

Entertainment:
At  night  Varadero  vibrates  with  life.  The  top  nightspot is the 
Continental  Cabaret in the International Hotel. At a cost of $40., it 
offers  a  fine  dinner  followed  by  a spectator world-class show of 
fantastic  dancers and singers in extravagant costumes - for show only 
$25.  Charging  from  $5.  to  $10.  admission  fee, among others, the 
discos:  the  Havana  Club  at  the  Centro  Commercial;  and the most 
popular  disco  in Varadero La Bamba in the Tuxpan Hotel, are favoured 
by the young.

Excursions:
The  best way to see the country is to take the offered excursions. My 
favourites  are: Guamá and Bay of Pigs - see the countryside and a re-
created  Indian  village  - cost $51.; Havana Special - see Havana and 
attend La Tropicana, one of the greatest shows on earth - cost $129.

For  Further  Information,  Contact:  Cuba Tourist Board, 55 Queen St. 
East,
Suite  705,  Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5C lR6. Tel.: 416/362-0700/1/2. 
Fax 416/362-6799.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: PUNTA CANA BY KAREN SENECAL

Trip: April 23-30,2000 

I  have  just  come  back  to  earth after spending the most relaxing, 
enjoyable  vacation I have ever had in my life! Let me start by saying 
that  last  October I spent a week at another hotel (all-inclusive) in 
Punta  Cana  and  I came home not sure of whether I liked the vacation 
or  not.  In  March when a traveling companion approached me about the 
need  for  a  vacation I had to make a decision between a return visit 
to  Punta  Cana or a cruise. Because the DR offered more bang for your 
buck  I  researched  and  found  a hotel which had both a Casino AND a 
Disco...something  for everyone! The Riu Hotels seemed to fit the bill 
and  reservations  were  made.  We  flew out of Mirabel Airport on Air 
Transat who now has "metal" silverware! 

I  am  not  going  to go into airport detail.....transportation to the 
hotel  was  aboard  a  new, fullsized air-conditioned bus. Once at the 
Riu  Melao  check-in  was  a breeze. Roman, at the front desk was very 
pleasant  and  helpful.  A bellboy appeared and helped us to our room. 
The  rooms  are very rich looking with Mahogany doors and trim through 
out.  There  were  2  twin  beds  pushed together which we immediately 
separated with a night table in between! 

There  was  more  than  enough  drawer  and  closet  space for all our 
belongings.  An  in  room safe is provided for guests and this service 
is  free  of charge. However, don't lose your key as there is a $25.00 
fee  if  you do. There was also a nice mini bar which was stocked with 
plenty  of beverages from beer, tonic, soda, coke, rum, scotch, brandy 
and  gin.  Plus  a  gallon of fresh water. The mini bar is replenished 
every other day and is also included in the package price. 

The  shower  was  kind  of  tricky  as  it was only a hand held shower 
head.....the  water  pressure  was  strong  enough to take paint off a 
car!  The  property  is  set up long and narrow so it was quite a long 
walk  from  where  our  room  was to the "main" activity place. If you 
don't  walk daily you may want to start a program about a month before 
you  leave  home to ensure a comfortable trip. The landscaping is just 
beautiful.  There  is constant pruning and trimming and painting, etc. 
going  on.  Aside  from one day when I took a tour to Saona Island via 
bus/Catamaran/speedboat  here  is what life was typically like for me: 
Wake  up  early  and  pack  for  a  day  at the beach..... book, water 
jug,lotion,  towel  from home (yes...you are provided with one per day 
but  I  like  to  have  my own as well). Walk down to the beach saying 
"Hola"  to every person you see along the way! All the Dominicans will 
smile  and  say  Hola  as well...What a way to start your day! Smiley, 
happy people!!! 

After  dumping  backpack and towel on our "space" I took about an hour 
walk   on   the   most   beautiful   beach  on  earth.  Go  in  either 
direction...it  doesn't  matter.  All is so beautiful. It is very warm 
even  in  the early morning hours however there was always a very nice 
breeze  blowing  to cool you off. Back to the lounge chairs. It seemed 
once  you  picked  your  spot  for the week everyone seemed to respect 
that  and  it was a spot that was always available! There are hundreds 
of  chairs  and spaces for everyone. There is sun and shade...whatever 
you want...it is there. 

About  9:30  or so my roommate would appear and we went for breakfast. 
I  think  I  grew  to  love  breakfast the most! Aside from the normal 
breakfast  fare  of  eggs,  bacon,  ham, hot and cold cereal there was 
always  cheese  trays,  vegetables,  fresh  juice  being  made  as you 
watched  (tomatoe,pineapple,  guava,  mango,  banana)  homemade breads 
(YUM!)  homemade  jellies(super  YUM!)...just about anything you could 
ever  want!  After  indulging  it was time to return to the beach spot 
and  relax  for  a while before going for a nice swim. I also liked to 
bring  an  extra bit of bread or roll with me to hand feed the fish in 
waist  high  water!!!  Then  I  would  go  to the water sports hut and 
borrow  some  snorkel  gear (free of charge) for an hour. You can swim 
out  maybe  100  yards and be in the best reef and spot to snorkel. No 
reason  to  go  on  the  glass  bottom boat for snorkeling! Ahh...then 
maybe  a  massage  for  $10.00!! By this time you are getting close to 
lunch and cocktails!

Lunch  is  served  both in the dining room and in the bar area. In the 
bar  area  you  could get all kinds of salad fixings,pizza,hamburgers, 
hotdogs,  grilled  cheese, pasta, french fries, desserts, homemade ice 
cream,  rollsthe  ever  present  juice  bar, sodas, iced tea or if you 
were  ready  for  an  alcohol  cocktail...whatever  makes you happy! I 
never  took lunch in the dining room but did a walk through and it was 
very  much the same as the bar area but included a wide variety of hot 
vegetables, beef, casseroles, things of that nature. 

Then  re-fill  the  water bottle with ice water and back to the beach. 
Time  for another walk and afterwards a swim. Also a good time to read 
a  little. Sometime about 3 in the afternoon shade made it's way to my 
side  of  the  palm  tree  I spent the week under and I don't know how 
this  happened...but I fell asleep!! I never fall asleep on the beach! 
Apparently  everyone  around  me took a siesta as well because at 4 pm 
the  music from around the pool could be heard and everyone would wake 
up  and we looked at each other with this kind of startled look on our 
faces! As if to say "how in the world did I fall asleep?"!! 

This  was  as  good  a time as any to take a last swim for the day and 
head  back  to the room to shower , have a cocktail on the balcony and 
get ready for diner. 

So  far has this been too hard to take?! Life is good!!! Especially in 
Punta Cana! 

Diner  is  served in 2 shifts and you establish which shift you prefer 
the  very first night you are there. You simply show up at either 6:30 
or  8:30...are  assigned a table and if you are satisfied that becomes 
another  one  of  your  spots  for the remained of your vacation. Yes, 
there  are tables for 2 or 10 depending on how many are in your group. 
We  chose  to  dine  at  8:30.  We  would begin our stroll towards the 
dining  room  at about 7:45. You have to pass right through the bar to 
get  to  the  restaurant  which makes it very convenient to stop for a 
"before  dinner" cocktail or glass of wine. Then sit out at one of the 
tables  in  the  beautiful breeze until the doors are opened for us to 
enter. 

On  many  evenings there were themes going on and one night a band was 
playing   upon   entering.   Another   night  we  were  given  tequila 
sunrises....I  don't  want to tell all so you can have something for a 
surprise!  But  every  single  night  the  waiters  and matre de would 
welcome you with a buenos noches....and bon apetite! 

These  people...all the staff at Riu Melao....went out of their way to 
make  sure  you were happy! How can so many people be so happy all the 
time???  All  singing as they go about their work! OK..back to dinner. 
Start  with  some  of the fantastic soups! I loved the garlic soup! Of 
course  the endless wonderful breads and rolls...every night there was 
pasta,  shrimp  (served  with  heads  and tails on!),rice, beef, veal, 
pork..anything  and  everything  you  could possibly want. I was never 
bored  with  the  food  and  I  think  I could have (and will someday) 
stayed  2  weeks  and still never been bored with the food. There were 
always  3  casks of wine...red, white and rose..all of which were very 
tasty.  Oh  and  the  big  chunk of blue cheese every night with fresh 
tomatoes!  After...if  you  still  have  room,  there are all kinds of 
deserts  also.  Tip your waiter nightly as our waiter changed half way 
through  the  week. After dinner it was back out to the bar area for a 
night  cap. My room mate would head off to try her luck at the Casino. 
(she did quite well) 

I  had  met  a wonderful couple from Germany and we spent many a night 
trading  stories!  I did make it to the disco twice while I was there. 
It  was  HUGE. Be prepared though because the disco and the casino are 
the 2 places that your drinks are not all-inclusive.

Some things I would like to say.... 

I  never  spent  any  time by the pool as it was filled with children. 
Rarely saw any children at the beach though! 

Tip  your maid a couple dollars a day...you get really neat surprises! 
(never knew you could do THAT with a towel)! 

Be  in  halfway  decent  shape.....lots  of walking! Hey...you need to 
walk off all that great food! 

Bring  a water bottle or something so you can hydrate while you are at 
the beach. 

Be prepared to smile a lot!

Will  I  go  back?  In  a heart beat. I can't wait. For two weeks? YOU 
BET! 

I  would  even  travel  there as a single woman and feel totally safe. 
And  it  will  definitely be to the Riu!!! Such a different place than 
where I stayed in October!!! (no names!) 

GRAND CAYMAN BY RAY BLACKMAN

Left  Norfolk,  VA  on June 20, 2000 for a week long vacation to Grand 
Cayman.  The  flight  with Delta went smooth with no problems. Arrived 
in Grand Cayman a little after noon.

After  retrieving  our bags we went across the street to Andy's Rental 
Car  to  pick  up our car. We were second in line but the guy in there 
was  extremely  slow  and  took at least thirty minutes to finally get 
out  of  there  with  our  Suzuki Grand Vitara (Sidekick). The car was 
practically new with less than 10K kilometers on the tachomoter.

We  drove  to  our  condo  at the Achorage. Check in was quick and the 
lady  was  real  nice.  We  were  pleased with the accommodations. Two 
bedrooms,  two  bathrooms,  full kitchen, living room, closets galore, 
and  small  balcony.  The  entire  condo was ceramic tiled and all the 
furnishing  appeared  new.  The  housekeeper did a good job of keeping 
our  rooms  clean.  The  rate  was $160 a night with the seventh night 
free   which   averages   to   $137.00  a  night.  Compared  to  other 
accommodations it was a bargain.

Our  favorite  restaurants  on  Grand Cayman was Bella Capri (Italian) 
and  Eats  Crocodile  Rock. Bella Capri is not cheap but was worth the 
money.  I  got linguini with shrimp, garlic, olive oil, and spices and 
my  wife  got  pasta  with  chicken  and mushrooms. We both thoroughly 
loved  our  dished. We got no appetizer and drank tea and our bill was 
$60.00  (USA).  Eats  has  the  best grilled chicken sandwiches I have 
ever  eaten.  We  ate  there  three  times  trying  different  chicken 
sandwiches.  The  best  were  Cajun  and  Rasta  Mon (jerked with jerk 
mayo).  We  also enjoyed Chicken! Chicken!. Eats and Chicken! Chicken! 
were by far the best restaurants for the dollar on Seven Mile Beach.

My  wife and I snorkeled everyday. We snorkeled off our beach which is 
on  the  north  end  of  Seven Mile. We saw all the different tropical 
fish,  lobsters,  barracuda,  and  two  Cayman  green turtles. We also 
snorkeled  cemetery  reef  several  times  which was just north of our 
condo.  The fish here were very happy to see us and were ready for any 
handouts.  The  reef  was nice with loads of marine life. Even a large 
nurse  shark  greeted  us  on one visit much to the dismay of my wife. 
Our  favorite  snorkel  sites were the reefs just south of Georgetown. 
We  snorkeled Eden Rock, the reef off Paradise Grill, and the reef off 
Seaview  hotel.  The  Eden  Rock  and the reef off Paradise Grill were 
spectacular  to  see.  The  water  was clearer there than at the other 
sites.  Tons  of  fish  including tarpon and jack reside here. We also 
saw several turtles.

We  booked  a  full day snorkel trip with Capt Marvin Ebanks. First we 
dived  for  conch  to be later prepared for an appetizer for lunch, we 
then  snorkeled  the  coral  gardens. We then ate lunch which included 
the  conch,  mahi,  grouper, rice, and potato salad. The conch and the 
fish  were  delicious.  I  don't  particularly care for rice or potato 
salad  so  I  can't comment on these. We snorkeled a location where we 
played  with  a  nurse  shark  and  a  large moray eel and then off to 
Stingray  Sandbar.  The  trip  was  very  enjoyable and a "must do" in 
Grand Cayman.

Late  one  afternoon we drove to see the blow holes and stopped at the 
Reef  Point  restaurant  on  the way back to see the feeding of sharks 
and  to  eat. Well, the blow holes were not worth the long trip. Also, 
I  do  not  recommend  eating  at  the  Reef Point. When we were going 
inside  a girl brushed past us carrying a live rat by the tail. It was 
found  in  the  kitchen.  That  was  all  we  needed to see. The shark 
feeding  also  was  not worth the trip. We saw one shark for about two 
seconds.

The  tarpon  feeding at the various restaurants in Georgetown was fun. 
We  went  to  Racham's  Pub but I know that the Wharf also does it and 
would imagine all the restaurants down there do.

The  Turtle  Farm  was  very educational and enjoyable. There were two 
large  tanks  that you could actually pick up the turtles. The turtles 
are  quite pretty. We also got to eat a turtle sandwich. It was really 
good!  It looked like lean roast beef. Hell is just a short drive from 
the  turtle  farm  so we stopped by. If it was further away I wouldn't 
recommend making the trip.

My  wife  and  I  both  enjoyed  Grand Cayman very much. We felt safer 
there  than any other place we have vacationed. Being on the north end 
we  felt  we  had the entire beach to ourselves. We are going to start 
to make arrangements on a return trip soon. 

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