Caribbean Travel Roundup
Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor
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New York, NY, September 1999: The jewel of the Caribbean, beautiful Jamaica will launch the 4-day Jamerican Film & Music Festival, "Cinema Inna Yard at the luxurious Wyndham Rose Hall Resort and Country Club in Montego Bay, November 17-21, 1999. The Festival is the brainchild of Jamerican actress/filmmaker Sheryl Lee Ralph, whose company, Island Girl Productions will host the highly anticipated film festival with assistance from the Jamaica Tourist Board, Air Jamaica and JAMPRO. Cinema Inna Yard will celebrate the work of filmmakers from the Caribbean and around the world. The festival will actively support strong, positive and innovative examples of cinematic work. "At a time when the global community recognizes the importance of the arts, it is critical that we provide hope, exposure and opportunity to those who want to pursue filmmaking, acting, directing or producing but don’t know how," says Ms. Ralph. What sets the Jamerican Film and Music Festival apart is the innovative program line-up. A retrospective of the outstanding cinematic achievements of filmmaker and Caribbean woman, Euzhan Palcey is planned. Her films include Academy Award nominated, "A Dry White Season", "Simeon" and the critically acclaimed "Sugar Cane Alley." The Conversation Series, "Coffee with…" will kick off with acclaimed actress Alfre Woodard (Primal Fear, Mandela’s Flight For Freedom). The intensive acting workshop will be led by world-renowned acting coach Howard Fine. Mr. Fine is coach to Brad Pitt, Gary Shandling, Heather Lockear, and Sheryl Lee Ralph to name a few. The writer’s workshops will be led by award winning W.G.A. writer Carol Munday Lawrence. Other celebrity participants include Lynn Whitfield (Step Mom, Josephine Baker Story), Vivica Fox (Independence Day, Soul Food), Kadeem Hardison (Different World, Renaissance Man), Victoria Rowell (Barbed Wire, Distinguished Gentleman), Doug E, Doug (Cool Runnings, Cosby Show), select members of the cast "Moesha" and many more. Following the film screenings, master classes, and seminars during the day, the nights will be filled with receptions, parties and the much-anticipated Festival Awards Gala. Local entertainment icon Chris Blackwell, the legendary Harry Belafonte, Richard Roundtree (Shaft, George of the Jungle, Seven) and Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars, Batman) will be honored. Travel arrangements will be packaged and serviced by Air Jamaica the official airline of The Jamerican Film and Music Festival. All packages include; air transportation on Air Jamaica, hotel accommodations at Wyndham Rose Hall for four nights (unless otherwise noted) and airport transfers. The following four packages can be purchased by calling 1-800-LOVEBIRD. #1 Registration Package – Includes panels, screenings, Gala Awards ceremony, beach party and world premier screenings. Gateways (package #1): a.. JFK/EWR - $1099 per person, double occupancy b.. LA - $1099 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-21) c.. Chicago - $1159 per person, double occupancy d.. Atlanta - $1069 per person, double occupancy e.. Mia/FLL - $989 per person, double occupancy f.. Orlando - $979 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-22) g.. Baltimore - $1079 per person, double occupancy h.. Philadelphia - $1039 per person, double occupancy #2 Actors Workshop Package – Includes panels, screenings, Gala Awards ceremony, beach party & world premier screenings PLUS 3-day intensive workshops conducted by Howard Fine. #3 Writers Workshops Package – Includes panels, screenings, Gala Awards ceremony, beach party & world premier screenings PLUS 3-day intensive workshops to learn advanced structural screenwriting techniques, plot and character development under the direction of noted W.G.A. writer Carol Munday Lawrence. #4 Golf Tournament Package – Includes, panels, screenings, Gala Awards ceremony, beach party & world premier screenings PLUS registration in the Celebrity Golf Tournament on Saturday, November 20, Tee-off at 8:00 (portion of the proceeds benefit the Jamaican Cancer Society). Gateways (packages #2, #3, #4): a.. JFK/EWR - $1249 per person, double occupancy b.. LA - $1249 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-21) c.. Chicago - $1309 per person, double occupancy d.. Atlanta - $1219 per person, double occupancy e.. Mia/FLL - $1139 per person, double occupancy f.. Orlando - $1129 per person, double occupancy (Nov. 18-22) g.. Baltimore - $1229 per person, double occupancy h.. Philadelphia - $1189 per person, double occupancy Packages purchased after October 1st will increase by an additional $75 due to increased airfare. For more information call the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) in New York: 212-856-9727; Chicago: 312-527-1296; Miami: 305-665-0557; Los Angeles: 213-384-1123; and Toronto 416-482-7850; or visit the JTB website at www.jamaicatravel.com or the Festival website at www.JAMERICANFILMFEST.com. For information and entry/registration forms contact Island Girl Productions at 323-936-8951, the Festival website or JAMPRO Corporation at 876-960-0025.
Trip: August 18 – 24, 1999 Summary: On August 18, we went to the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort at Cable Beach on the island of Nassau in the Bahamas. This was our first time going to a tropical climate and staying at a Sandals Resort. It truly knocked our sandals off! It is a glamorous resort with impeccable service, classy rooms, eight restaurants with outstanding food, many bars hosting premium liquor brands, two huge pools, a range of activities, full-service water sports, and a private offshore island. Sandals is a bit pricey, but you get exactly what you pay for here – they do not cut corners on anything. Travel/Check-in: We left for the Bahamas from Los Angeles on an American Airline’s red-eye flight. The flight was about 4 1/2 hours and not much fun, but rather typical as far as red-eyes are concerned. Once we landed in Fort Lauderdale, we caught an American Eagle turbo-prop to Nassau. It took about 50 minutes. We could not believe how hot & humid the weather was – it felt like a sauna! Upon arrival, we were immediately whisked to a van and driven the short 10 minute drive along the beach to the resort. Nassau is wonderfully lush and clean. The natural beauty of the island initially surprised us by exceeding our expectations. Upon check-in, we were escorted to the VIP Concierge lounge, given orange juice (since it was early in the morning,) a cool towel, and a cute Sandals bag of amenities. The bellman took care of our bags and the concierge took us to our suite in the Windsor building. Room: Our room was amazing! We originally booked a Honeymoon Concierge Suite but were given the Honeymoon Grande Luxe Oceanview Junior Suite in the Windsor building on the 6th floor. The room was beautiful with a canopied four poster bed, fully-stocked mini-bar stocked with a variety of liquor, wines, beer, juices, soft drinks and bottled water along with a coffee pot and a variety of bar glasses, sitting area, couch, Sandals robes, armoire with TV and VCR, desk, marble bathroom, huge bathtub, and a balcony facing the ocean, Windsor pool, and gardens. There was also an ample closet, ironing board, and a safe for valuables. Along with the suites comes the Suite Concierge Service, who made our dinner reservation at Café Goombay and catered to our every whim. Breakfast room service was prompt and the maids did a clean job as we were never short on towels, and they always replenished the complimentary mini bar. It truly was a splendid room! (NOTE: The hairdryers in the room are very weak so bring your own!!!! The current is compatible with American outlets, i.e., no adapters required.) Service: At Sandals, you get what you pay for and service is no exception. Everyone was extremely friendly and accommodating. We did not meet a staff member who was rude, impatient or annoyed! In fact, the staff truly made the experience a vacation that we will never forget. Beach: We were on the beach shortly after marveling at our room (which we did not want to leave!) and taking a quick nap. The beach was beautiful; clear turquoise water, soft white sand, abundant beach chairs, umbrellas, small tables and fresh towels. There were many areas for couples to sit by themselves away from the pool crowds as well as areas to sit on the piers and oceanside. The sand was very clean – no cigarette butts or rocks. They rake it every night. Pools: Two very large pools (Manor pool & Windsor pool) with swim-up pool bars, fountains, Roman statues, waterfalls, and plenty of lounge chairs with umbrellas. There are also several smaller pools next to the garden villas, a misting pool, and a small pool on the off-shore island, Sandals Cay. The pools are clean and warm and there are plenty of floating rafts to lay on. Land/Water Sports: There are many water sports to enjoy. We went snorkeling near Sandals Cay, and it was great. We saw lots of fish, and the water was body-temperature and clear. A couple in our group saw a nurse shark and a barracuda ,so those are in the area, but there is nothing to worry about. (NOTE: there are many fish that swim next to the piers and at the beach, so bring your own snorkel mask! Sandals will not lend snorkel gear out to use on the beaches.) We also went out on the Hobie Cats (catamarans) after taking a short, personal lesson, used the aquatryke, rode in a canoe, and even took the 2 1/2 hour scuba diving lesson. If you take the lesson, you can go on a shallow (30-35 foot) dive. We did not go on the dive since I needed a little more instruction to feel comfortable. However, I loved the experience so much, I will definitely get scuba certified the next time I go to Sandals. Other water sports were available to us too: windsurfing, sailboats, and water-skiing. Jet ski’s and para-sailing are available but are a rip- off. They are not a part of Sandals. Each evening during room turn- down service, we received an activity sheet for the next day. There are many activities that you may join: water aerobics, volleyball, water balloon toss, bowling, ping pong tournament, golf excursions, tennis lessons, drink mixology, etc. Employees (Playmakers) run around and get people to participate but participation is strictly voluntary. We found that only a handful of people joined in the games as others (like us) just wanted to rest and relax in the sun. The idea is to earn points and earn your prize-sandals (tiny leather sandals on a leather rope which are NOT sold in the Royal Tings gift shop.) The competition was fierce! Restaurants: There were 8 dining choices at the resort with great service and a selection for the most discriminate of tastes. There are no reservations needed. It is strictly first-come, first-served except for Café Goombay where reservations are made at check-in. Most people dress up for dinner and it sets the atmosphere for a lovely evening. The dining choices were: Spices – Good and very casual breakfast and lunch buffets boasting a large assortment of fruits, salads, sandwich meats, desserts, made- to-order eggs, sausages, pancakes, etc. They also serve dinner, but we did not eat there. They do serve an incredible looking "International Buffet" on Saturday nights, but since it was buffet- style, we passed for a more intimate atmosphere and personal service. The Crystal Room – We ate there on our first night and found it to be quite elegant. It is a romantic, candlelight room with a huge dessert area, baccarat crystal, and white glove service. We each ordered a seafood appetizer and Caesar salad, and for the entrée, I had the prime rib and Bill had the salmon in a pastry shell. It was very good and the service was wonderful as always. Baccarat – We both loved it and ate there twice for dinner and twice for "healthy-fare" breakfast. It is definitely the best place to eat at Sandals but also the busiest. We had to wait for a table each time at dinner but the wait was both tolerable (considering the adjoining bar) and worth the experience. It boasts French cuisine overlooking the Manor pool area. The food is five-star fine dining, and the waiters enjoy taking the silver domes off the plates while saying, "voila!" We ordered escargot, scallops, steamed mussels, French onion soup, Caesar salad, lamb chops, swordfish, salmon, and crème brulee. Breakfast was wonderful with vegetarian eggs-benedict and a wide variety of fruits and rolls. The food was exceptional and the presentation first class. Royal Cafe Grill – The café house is beachside with casual, grilled food. We ate here almost every day in our swimwear for lunch. We had hamburgers, grouper sandwich, Greek salad, nachos, and our favorite: the deep fried conch which is incredibly similar to calamari, perfect with an ice-cold beer. Cafe Goombay – We had reservations for a Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. The restaurant is located at Sandals Cay, the off shore island. We took the boat to the island and sat in an open-air restaurant. The food was fun with a Caribbean flair. We had conch salad, conch chowder, Mahi Mahi, lobster ravioli, and guava duff for dessert. The service was more casual than at other places but the atmosphere was fun with an oceanview on both sides of the restaurant. Also serves lunch but we never tried it. Cricketeers Pub – An English pub with traditional pub fare. We walked through the place many times and grabbed some barside hors d’oeuvres but that was about it. There was a lot of cigarette and cigar smoking, and Bill complained that the beer selection for a pub was pretty lame (Miller Lite and Becks only. What’s a British Pub without a pint of Guiness?) Overall a charming place and perfect if you’re up for some kidney pie and Miller Lite. Ristorante Casanova – We ate here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast and lunch buffets were pretty ho-hum and we preferred Baccarat & Royal Grill to this. At dinner, it was a different place with great service, nice Italian menu, and a romantic ambiance. We had cheese ravioli, salad, lamb, veal, and tiramisu. The food was great! Kimonos – This is exactly like the restaurant, Benihana, in America. We sat at a table with some other couples and ate sushi, salad, miso soup, and then received a bit of each item featured on the menu that included scallops, grouper, chicken, fried rice, and beef. Very fun place where you can interact with other people. One of the waiters came over and sang for us, too. Fun atmosphere and really good food. The Drinks: Sandals is truly all-inclusive when it comes to drinks. You can drink whatever you want, whenever you want, and have as much as you want. In fact, I found that they wanted people to drink a lot! The wines were Italian, Chilean, Californian, and French. They were decent but not the finest I’ve had. The liquor was all top shelf, and the frozen-fruity drinks were to die for!! Try the Hummingbird as it is truly a sensation! Sandals is definitely the place to try the drinks you always hesitated to try at home! Of course, they have sodas, water, and other such beverages too. The Spa: Sandals Royal Bahamian was voted highly for it’s great spa and I understand why. The hot & cold plunge pools were relaxing, the sauna & steam rooms were great, and the spa area is elegant and pristine. We did not try any of the spa services except for the plunge pools and saunas, but we were impressed. Others said that the messages were heavenly. Fitness Room: Never used since it was our vacation, but it had all the equipment you would ever need. Further, it had the best view in the resort – directly facing the ocean on top of the Manor building. Town: There are many things to do off property, but we were content with just hopping on the #10 bus for $1.50 one-way for both of us and riding into town for the straw market. I had heard about it and wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. Talk about Sandals service, as we got off the bus, a Sandals employee from the spa approached us when he recognized us from the resort. He gave us advice on where to go for the better deals and also cautioned us about the questionable "tourist" prices in some areas. Again, another example of top-notch, beyond-the-call-of-duty service. The market was okay, but the resort was better, so we ran to the bus and took the 10 minute ride back. We had originally wanted to visit the Atlantis Hotel, but some other couples went there and said it was a crowded "city" with over 38 restaurants and not worth the effort– forget it! Sandals Cay, Offshore Island: The five minute boat ride leaves Sandals for the offshore island every hour until 4 p.m., and we were excited to spend some time over there but were ultimately disappointed. The beach is bigger but the sand is rocky and dirty. There are bugs everywhere and the atmosphere was not as celebratory as on the mainland. I do have to say that it is a great place to take your snorkel mask and wander as some people were doing (only Sandals won’t lend you masks – bring your own) It also is a nice, peaceful place to get away from the crowds and feel as if you are alone on an oasis. There is a pool, pool-bar, and Café Goombey available for lunch. Grounds: Someone was always working on and maintaining the grounds. The flowers were beautiful, and there were wild lizards and peacocks wandering about. There were lush tropical plantings filling every empty space. There were hammocks and swings hanging around providing more romantic spots. The grounds were clean, grass freshly cut, and the statues, fountains, and building architecture was impressive. There was even a beautiful floral mural on the side of the Manor Block. Nightlife/Entertainment: Sandals always seemed to have something going on, be it the Honeymooner’s game (like the Newlywed Game,) Jeopardy, staff & guest talent show, or the Junkanoo band. We played the Jeopardy game which was fun, and the Junkanoo band & fire limbo dancer on Monday night were amazing! There is a disco, but it never seemed to be crowded. People tended to just have dinner and then stroll the beach & grounds. There is also a piano bar where drunken singing is in abundance. A perpetually-occupied billiard room was next door. There is also a complimentary shuttle to the casino at the Nassau Marriott Crystal Palace resort which we did not find the time to do as we live only 5 hours from Las Vegas. The People: There were many people celebrating their honeymoon, anniversary, or having a wedding. The age range was diverse and the majority were from America. Many couples had been to other Sandals resorts, and we are looking forward to following their footsteps. Weather: We were very lucky because we had sunny days the whole vacation! Hurricane Dennis just started to arrive in the area on our last day. It did rain a tiny bit every once in a while, but it would last for 20 minutes or less and then be sunny again. Nightly, there were electrical storms which were neat to watch. It was hot and humid with temperatures ranging in the mid-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Travel/Check-out: Checking out was very easy since we only had to leave our luggage in front of our room and call the bell desk. We had full reign of all resort activities until our departure, which was nice. We walked around, took pictures, and then caught our bus to the airport. (The concierge tells you what time you should catch a bus, and they post the flight times in the lobby.) Traveling home held no hassles but was mentally, very difficult to do. It was so hard to return to reality since we had such a wonderful time at Sandals. Conclusion: This was the best vacation that we have ever taken! We were treated like royalty and we loved it! It has opened our eyes to visiting other tropical regions and even to scuba dive. We would definitely recommend this resort to anyone who wants a relaxing, romantic vacation with no worries. Truly, some couples we ran into were not quite as enthralled with the experience as we were. However, they were looking for more of an action-packed adventure rather than a romantic experience. The resort is what they claim it to be, a romantic adventure for couples. If this is what you are looking for, you won’t be disappointed. We’ll definitely be back!
Trip: August 21,-28, 1999 (This is the 2nd time I've been on a Club Med vacation) I traveled to this club Med by myself at the end of August. I am a female, 30. The Club Med charter flight left JFK airport (New York City) at 7 a.m. and this direct flight was only 2 ½ hours. The airport in San Salvador is the size of an outhouse. Only 30 people debarked from this flight and it continued to Club Med Eleuthera. We were greeted by Club Med reps and taken in mini-vans to the resort, which is only 2 minutes away. Per usual Club Med style, we were taken into the open-air auditorium, given refreshments and then guided to our rooms. Luggage is brought separately a short time later. This club has a suite arrangement for solo travelers. You have your own bedroom but share a bathroom with another guest of the same sex. You enter into a small foyer and straight ahead is an area with a sink and vanity on each side. Beyond this is a shower room. There is a separate toilet off to the side. There is one bedroom on each side of the vanity area. The rooms are small but absolutely immaculate. The floors are white tile, there are 2 windows in each room, a phone, t.v., closet, safe and a full size bed. For a solo traveler this is a good way to meet another solo traveler. I got along very well with the person sharing my suite and we participated in meals and other activities together throughout the week. We had a problem with ants in the sink areas for which we were given a can of insecticide. This is not the Club's fault. The weather is very hot and moist and that's the way it goes. There are also many lizards on the property (not indoors). The premises: I tried to take a bunch of pictures of the resort premises itself because the setup was so exotic and unusual, in a style I can only describe as Bahamian Gothic. The rooms were clusters of brightly colored bungalows. The main building was a long annexation, accessible through terrace doors (I nearly walked into several full-length glass windows because they were so clean I thought they were breezeways). This housed in one long strip with glass on both sides: the dining hall, gift shop, piano bar, a series of living rooms and sitting rooms, meditation rooms, all with lush velvet couches and statues and art from all over the world, reception area, rest rooms, and open air auditorium. Note, the public restrooms by the dining hall and disco were sumptuous. At the other end of the property was the Sea Center, which housed 2 annex restaurants on the 2nd floor; the terraces over the water were amazing. Downstairs was the disco, open air bar, fitness center and huge boardwalks with benches and tables. Part of the bench was built into the porch railings. This was my favorite place to sit. I went pretty much every day before dinner. I watched the hurricane approach. My arty pictures just came out dark and blurry. There were a lot of Asian and Indian influenced statues in this section. With the lush landscape of palm trees, coconut trees, pine trees, hibiscus and wild plumeria (the breeze smelled incredible), the statues seemed all the more exotic and appeared to jump out at you from shrubbery as you passed them. The property is large-I'm not sure of the acreage-but there were plenty of places in the gardens and on the beach for privacy. One problem I had was that the rooms on this huge property are not arranged in chronological order. At night I got lost several times trying to get back to my room from the disco. The numbers jumped from the 300's to the 60's, and there was not a lot of night lighting. Club Med Columbus Isle is laid back to the extreme. The G.O.'s don't frolic and participate with the guests as much as at other Club Medusa, and there are much fewer organized activities around the pool. The makeup of the guests while I was there were 80% French families and couples. There are no children's clubs here so the resort isn't overrun with kids. There were some American, German and Italian families and couples. There was a smattering of solo travelers from U.S. and Germany. We gravitated to each other immediately and I met some really fun people on this trip. The most prevalently spoken language is French. I had to bust out my high school French and did very well. It was fun and an adventure. C'est bon. Drink prices at this club run from $4.50 U.S. for beers and up to $7.00 U.S. for mixed drinks. The nightlife at Columbus Isle is so-so; it's what you make of it. The disco was frequented by people traveling alone, young couples, and teenagers who've escaped from their parents for the night. The music was the same each night with an obsessive focus on Will Smith. The organized entertainment ran the gamut. There were 2 dance performances I enjoyed very much (Austin Powers and The Fifth Element). But there were 2 shows that were duplicates of what I'd seen the previous month at Club Med Turkoise. I didn't realize Club Med's entertainment was so standardized. The local Bahamian staff is extremely friendly and gracious. The beach: This is why Club Med Columbus Isle is famous. The beach is endless. White sand, warm clear blue water. The area between boardwalk and tide is very very wide and the beach absolutely sprawls lengthwise. I did not have trouble getting an umbrella at any time of day on this beach. Continuing on the beach off the Club Med property is simply more beautiful beach. This is a sparsely populated small island with only 1 other hotel on it. There is not much in the way of off-club excursions so I didn't go on any. But this is not necessary if you are a lover of water sports. The club offers kayaking, water-skiing, snorkeling, scuba, sailing, windsurfing, water polo and water aerobics. There are water-skiing, scuba, sailing and windsurfing lessons for all levels. On land there's aerobics, massages (extra $$), volley ball, tennis, a gym, indoor bar and board games, and more that I'm sure I'm missing. I personally went sailing twice, snorkeled twice and took 2 windsurfing lessons. The conditions for sailing are glorious with calm water and light breezes. The snorkel and windsurfing G.O. teams are very helpful and concerned with the welfare of the guests. I saw 2 different snorkel sites: Jackson's Reef and Coral Garden. Jackson's reef was a little disappointing because there weren't many fish. Coral Garden was a jaw-droppingly beautiful grotto. I took an entire roll of underwater film there. Unfortunately the last 2 days of my vacation saw a visit from Hurricane Dennis. Even the day before Dennis arrived, most water sports stopped because the water got very choppy with strong cross currents. I have only the highest praise for how the Club Med staff dealt with the hurricane. Boats were sent to a marina, windsurfs and sailboats were grounded or locked up. Any lighting and outdoor fixtures that could blow loose and hit somebody were unscrewed and put away. All beach and pool chairs and umbrellas were taken inside. A group of G.O.'s dismantled the docks at 3:30 a.m. so that they wouldn't be destroyed. Kudos to all! While a hurricane wasn't quite what I had in mind for my trip, I still had a wonderful time. It was a dramatically beautiful thing to witness between the trees nearly bent over from wind and the tide coming up and covering the entire beach. The Food: You will never go hungry at Club Med, no matter what your dietary habits. There is food for every palate from glutton to picky eater. There are fresh fruits and veggies at every meal. The mango here is outstanding. There's a sandwich bar, a salad bar, a variety of veggies prepared myriad ways, unusual breads and rolls. I liked that this Club offered a "late lunch" option as I tend to breakfast late and am not necessarily hungry by 12:30 p.m. There is one main restaurant and 2 annex restaurants. All have outdoor seating with views of the beach. I tried both annex restaurants. Media Luna specializes in grilled meats of all kinds and even serves lobster. Dona Maria is Italian and very good. The Main Dining hall usually features one type of cuisine each night along with its regular fare. I was very impressed with the Middle Eastern night and Mexican night. The Club Med Gala night is really fantastic, as well. The day I was scheduled to leave there were some airline-related hurricane problems. We were brought to the airport and then brought back to the Club for most of the day as our plane was grounded in Eleuthera. Note that the security at the San Salvador airport is very strict. They go over each individual carefully with a metal detector wand. We had to go through this twice due to the unusual weather circumstances. When we finally departed at 5 p.m. we had to make an unexpected stop in Miami to refuel. All things considered, travel was handled as well as could be expected. There were a lot of cranky people from Eleuthera on the plane, and the stewardesses had had a long day. Overall: This vacation was an adventure! From speaking French to dancing all night long during the hurricane, the hurricane itself, and the beauty of the island and beach, the charming guests and staff--I had a blast! I have not traveled extensively but I love the way Club Med handles arrivals and departures with singing and dancing. I can't help but get weepy as I leave.
My wife and I spent 5 days/4 nights at Captain Don's in Bonaire. We were there primarily for the diving, which certainly lives up to it's billing, but we were very surprised at how much we enjoyed touring the rest of the island. The landscape seems to be from another planet: an arid desert with saguaro-like cactus stretching to the horizon, very dry and hostile yet surrounded by this wonderfully blue ocean full of life. The salt production facility on the south end of the island, with it's eerie slave huts from the 1700's and 1800's, is fascinating. Bonaire is a small island and we saw most of the sights in two afternoons of touring. Most of the time we were completely by ourselves as we stopped and looked at different sites. Very laid-back, step-into-the-past type of feeling as you linger in the outlying villages. I have two cautions, however. One, our ATM card did not work in any of the ATMs (four) in town, even though we have used this same card the world over with no problem. It was a minor inconvenience as there are plenty of banks to get cash advances on a credit card, and credit cards are accepted everywhere, but it was an annoyance. Two, if you are going to shore dive from a rental car be aware that your car will almost certainly be "gone through" while you are diving! Time and again we talked to people who had lost something from their car while diving. Don't leave anything in the car that you can't live without. We had no problems but we got very creative in hiding anything valuable. Creative meaning "the engine compartment!" We went to one shore diving spot and realized we had our camera with us and finally figured out that if we found a cool spot in the engine compartment that it would take a pretty sharp thief to think to look there--and it worked, we lost nothing. We left our good sunglasses and wallets in the safe in our room and took only what we needed to dive, period. Save yourself some grief and do the same. The hotel tried to tell everyone that the problem was overstated but our experience was that it is not overstated at all. In general, we felt very safe on the island at all times but that car-burglary thing made us kind of paranoid about stuff in the car. I think the more remote dive sites have more problems than the busier ones. Bottom line? We'll go back because the diving is other-worldly and the laid-back "feel" of the island suits us very well. We highly, HIGHLY recommend Captain Don's for lodging/diving.
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