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Ports in the Southern Caribbean, as experienced on easyCruise

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on March 28, 2006. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: activity, Barbados, cruise, Erica Silverstein, Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

If you do make it onboard one of easyCruise's Caribbean sailings or if you're visiting the islands independently, here are some suggestions for activities in the Southern Caribbean.

Barbados

EasyCruise spends Saturday and Sunday in Barbados. Bridgetown and some of the other areas shut down on Sunday, so if you can, arrange for your sightseeing day to be on Saturday. The bus terminal is a quick and pretty walk from the pier, and for 75 cents each way, you can ride in comfort up the West Coast to Holetown, Speightstown, the beaches, and various seaside restaurants.

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I spent my Sunday at Holetown, enjoying the sun and eating flying fish at Cocomos, a beachside, open-air restaurant. Harrison's Cave is another popular attraction, but you'll need a tour or a $50 round-trip cab ride to get there. Although I didn't venture out in the evening, I heard that the places to go are the bars and restaurants in St. Lawrence Gap and the Boatyard in Bridgetown.

For more information, visit the website of the Barbados Tourism Authority.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent was pretty much dismissed as the least exciting of all the easyCruise destinations. I opted to do easyCruise's kayaking-and-snorkeling excursion, which was great fun. You can kayak into a bat cave and snorkel from an isolated black sand beach.

Other travelers chose to share a cab to tour the island and see the sets of Pirates of the Caribbean in Wallilabou Bay. In town, you can also explore Fort Charlotte and the botanical gardens, though you may need a cab to get there. Villa Beach offers a small strip of sand and dining options in a prettier setting than in Kingstown. A newly met Austrian friend and I enjoyed local fish at the Beachcombers Hotel restaurant, followed by a walk along the beach.

For more information, visit the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism website or Ins and Outs Magazine.

Martinique

We visited Martinique during Carnival, so most of the island was shut down and our tree-swinging tour was canceled. Instead, we took the only option available to us and hopped a ferry to Anse Mitan, a cute beach with nearby bars and restaurants. We chose to have lunch a short walk away in Pointe du Bout, where you feel the French influence in the plentiful outside cafes and boutiques. On regular days, Martinique is an ideal place to rent a car or take an island tour.

For more information, visit the website of the Martinique Promotion Bureau.

Bequia

The tiny Grenadine island of Bequia is a tropical paradise, yet the small main street has shops, markets, bakeries, Internet cafes, and restaurants. Most visitors take a water taxi to Princess Margaret or Lower Bay beaches, where you can indulge in some sunbathing or grab a beer or ice cream at a nearby bar. Others take an open-air taxi (you sit in the back of a truck—very fun) to the other side of the island to relax on more secluded beaches or to visit the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. A trip to see the turtles is definitely worth doing, if nothing else than for the views along the road. As an alternative, easyCruise's schooner trip to Mustique gets high marks for its plentiful food and beverages, deserted beaches, and snorkeling. Travel time is one to two hours one-way and occasionally the seas can be rough.

At night, everyone gathers in the restaurants and outdoor bars lining Bequia's Belmont Walkway, a sidewalk of sorts along the back edge of the beach. We sipped cheap cocktails under a palm tree at the Frangipani, then ate curry at the Gingerbread. After dinner, we headed to Tommy Cantina, where the food and drinks are cheap and plentiful and a soca band provides nonstop energetic music. If you like to dance, this is the place to be; if you don't, be warned that the local men don't like to take no for an answer.

For more information, visit the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism website or Ins and Outs Magazine.

Grenada

We were lucky enough to have a driver supplied by the Grenada Board of Tourism, but I would recommend renting a car or taking a tour to see the island. We stopped at two waterfalls with swimming holes, a spice plantation, a tiny organic chocolate factory, a rum factory, and Morne Fendue—an old plantation house where you're served a scrumptious homemade lunch made from local ingredients. St. George's sports a fort and a lively market (don't miss the shop in the nearby cruise terminal that sells passionfruit, banana, and mango wines and other local goodies), and the interior rainforest offers fabulous hikes, often to stunning waterfalls. Or, you can take a cab to Grand Anse Beach or the less-touristed BBC (officially Morne Rouge) or La Sagesse beaches for a day in the sun. The Nutmeg is a popular stop for lunch or dinner.

For more information, visit the website of the Grenada Board of Tourism.

St. Lucia

Most people do one of two things in St. Lucia. You can head north to the beaches at Rodney Bay or Pigeon Island, or you can head south for Piton views and rainforest adventures. Pigeon Island has ruins of a fort you can climb, as well as a beach, while Rodney Bay sports Reduit Beach, one of the island's nicest strips of sand, and a slew of restaurants and bars for nightlife seekers. In the more sedate south, you can visit the drive-in volcano (not worth it), visit the Diamond Botancial Gardens complete with waterfall, or go trekking in the rainforest. Or, head to the beach at Anse Chastanet, where you can also book some snorkel time or a massage.

The sunset sail option from easyCruise offers unlimited rum punch; we heard it was quite the drunken event. For a truly local experience, eat a fresh seafood dinner at the Anse la Raye fish fry. Wherever you spend your evening, make sure to allot enough time to return to the ship because attractions can be an hour away from Castries, where the ship docks.

For more information, visit the website of the St. Lucia Tourist Board.

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