Tag Archives: BVI

Antigua Jolly Beach

The Caribbean Makes a Comeback


In the fall of 2017, portions of the Caribbean received back-to-back blows from hurricanes Irma and Maria. These Category 5 storms did significant damage to some islands, while virtually sparing others. In the months following the storms, rebuilding efforts were underway on all islands affected.

News of these efforts was shared during the recent Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s annual show. According to reports and updates, the region is not only repairing damage and restoring existing properties, but also undertaking a number of expansion projects and new builds.

In all, there are an expected 74 new builds planned. Airports are being expanded as they rebuild, and many of the islands are now receiving more incoming flights. Ferry services have returned, with some increases from both private and public ferry companies. The beaches are returning as sand comes in with the tides and on many islands life is returning to normal. Some areas and islands are still without full electrical power but expectations are to get back to 100 percent by early to mid 2018. Essentially the Caribbean is back and is still the paradise we all know and love.

Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was very much in the news. The storm left widespread devastation, but though the Enchanted Island was down, it was far from out. Cruise ships made their first return to the Port of San Juan less than three weeks after the storm’s passing, and even without electricity, resilient shop owners were selling their wares to cruise passengers on a cash basis. The San Juan and Old San Juan tourism district spent two months recovering, with electricity and services returning week by week. By the December holiday season, a majority of the city was in business, with some 1,500 restaurants and most hotels. On the entire island 80 percent of the resorts are now open.

Puerto Rico is emerging renewed and revamped as many hotels are taking the time to renovate and add new rooms. There are still the isolated communities in the country without power, but expectations are that 95 percent of the island’s power will be restored by the end of February. Hardest hit are the eastern coast areas of Palmas del Mar and Humacao, which may take longer to recover. El Yunque rainforest was hit hard, but replanting is underway and some hiking trails have reopened. Visitors are also returning to the islands of Vieques and Culebra, which received minimal damage.

Puerto Rico San Juan Port

Cruise ships are once again docking in the Port of San Juan, and the shops and restaurants in the adjacent historic district of Old San Juan are open for business. Photo: Puerto Rico Tourism


The campaign slogan of the US Virgin Islands is “still nice”, and almost 100 percent electrical power has been restored to all three islands, the days of candles and bucket baths are over. St. Croix was spared major damage and most everything is up and running, with exception of a couple of the larger resorts. Most beaches recovered beautifully on all three islands and after a massive cleanup and rebuilding project, Magens Bay on St. Thomas is once again welcoming swimmers. Some of the larger hotels and resorts on St. Thomas and St. John were hit hard and will take time to recover. Most will be back in full operation by the end of 2018 or early 2019, renewed, renovated and in some cases with additional space. Island visitors now have the opportunity to get to know the locals by staying in small guesthouses, B & B and villas, and there is no shortage of these accommodations. On St. John the National Park trails and beaches are open. The shores are not yet as green as before the storm, but foliage is slowly coming back.

St. Croix Buccaneer

St. Croix’s landmark Buccaneer resort was spared from major storm damage from Irma and Maria, and was soon fully operational and welcoming guests. Photo: Steve Simonsen/The Buccaneer

Antigua & Barbuda

The big island of Antigua dodged the full force of Hurricane Irma, and returned to normal within 48 hours of the storm. Hotels, restaurants and bars are all open, and visitors who were already booked were able to come and enjoy vacations as planned. Unfortunately, the sister island of Barbuda was literally flattened by wind and waves, and for an already flat island of scrub and mangrove forests, the effects were devastating. The island’s 2,000 residents had to be evacuated and now live with friends and family on Antigua while their homes are being rebuilt. The potential silver lining is that new structures will be totally green and supplied by solar polar, which is a first in the islands. The storms didn’t scare away Robert DeNiro and plans are still on the books for his resort to be built on Barbuda. The islands continue to attract sailors from around the world with several sailing events throughout the year.

Antigua English Harbour

Sailboats ride at anchor in Antigua’s English Harbour. The island was not in the direct path of the storms, and suffered minimal damage from wind or waves. Photo: Stephen Robertson/iStock


An island that made a fast post-storm recovery is Anguilla. The airport was back open one week after Irma, and thanks to British and Canadian support, rebuilding and clean up moved quickly. Electricity was fully restored by mid December, so the island celebrated with Christmas lights and festivities. Many of the island’s five-star properties are now undergoing renovations and will open throughout the coming year. In the interim, the island has a number of small hotels and villas that are welcoming guests. The well-known Dune Preserve will need some time to rebuild, but all festivals are on, most favorite dining venues and beach bars are back in operation.

Anguilla Beach

The powder-fine sand shores of Anguilla were not severely affected by the hurricanes of 2017, and all of the island’s 33 public beaches are once again welcoming visitors. Photo: Anguilla Tourist Board


The British Virgin Islands was hit hard with back-to-back hurricanes and two floods. Maria held back some of its full force, but Irma made a direct hit on the islands. After the first hurricane, Puerto Rica sent ships with supplies to help the British Virgin Islands, but soon those ships and supplies were back on their way to Puerto Rico after Maria devastated that island. While some of the BVI’s lux resorts will take time to make their recoveries, there are several that are already up and running, including Scrub Island, Oil Nut Bay and Cooper Island. A number of smaller guesthouses and hotels are welcoming guests and crews from sailing yachts. Sailing, diving, fishing and other water sports operations are all back in business, and several charter yacht companies have expanded their fleets. The islands are rebuilding and also replanting palms, as some 6,000 coconut trees were gifted from the island of St. Vincent.

BVI The Baths

While a number of resorts in the British Virgin Islands suffered significant storm damage, iconic natural features such as the Baths of Virgin Gorda were spared. Photo: Robert Ingelhart/iStock

St. Martin/St. Maarten

The half Dutch, half French island is still rebuilding but open to visitors. The Princess Juliana airport is open and operative, using tents to receive passengers. A rebuilt terminal is scheduled to open by the end of 2018. All 37 beaches on the island are open. On the French side, Grand Case restaurants and shops are opening up on a daily basis; while the bars on the Dutch side are also back in business. Cell phone service is still spotty, but transportation services are fully operative. Both nations have a range of small hotels and guesthouses available as the larger properties rebuild. Large resorts like Oyster Bay and Sonesta on the Dutch side will be back in business by the end of 2018 or early 2019. On the French side, Grand Case and Belmond La Samanna plan on reopening by the forth quarter of 2018.

St. Maarten Great Bay

Cruise ships are once again docking at the port facilities in St. Martin’s Great Bay. Hotels around the bay are now in the process of rebuilding and reopening. Photo: Gerry Slabaugh/Flickr


Maria did significant damage to most of the island’s buildings, including resorts. The island’s forests suffered significant wind damage, but by late fall, the Forestry & Wildlife Parks Division had reopened a number of natural attractions for tourism, including the Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls, Titou Gorge and Indian River. The 115-mile Waitukubuli National Trail is still being cleared and volunteers are working on restoring the path in the segments badly hit. Meanwhile, divers are working on restoring the coral reefs. The first cruise ship, the Sea Cloud II arrived December 28 and more are returning every month. Several small hotels and guesthouses are now receiving visitors and more are partially open. The Fort Young Hotel in Roseau renovated and opened a portion of its rooms. And as other hotels renovate and rebuild, there was news of a new resort near Portsmouth breaking ground. Power is still being restored on much of the island and many of the larger properties are being rebuilt and will open in mid 2018 or 2019.

Dominica Scotts Head

Dominica’s Scotts Head Marine Reserve is one of the best and calmest snorkeling spots on the west coast of the island. Efforts are still underway to restore and clean all of the island’s dive sites. Photo: Discover Dominica

St. Barts

This was one of the first islands to announce that it was back in business after hurricane Irma slammed the Caribbean. The entire island now has electricity and water service. Clean up efforts went smoothly and the beaches are more pristine and beautiful than ever. Guests will find plenty of villas and a handful of hotels available as the larger properties rebuild. Many of the lux properties will reopen in late 2018. Resorts like Eden Rock, which sits on a promontory over the ocean, and Le Toiny, which sits at the top of a hillside, were badly damaged but will also reopen near the end of 2018.

St. Barts

The beaches of St. Barts have recovered from passing storms, and a number of the island’s favorite resorts are now in the process of rebuilding and reopening. Photo: Saint Barth Tourisme

BVI Snorkel

Unique Caribbean Snorkel Adventures


Sure, you’ve explored the shore in front of the hotel, and maybe even signed up for a boat trip to a nearby coral reef. But are you ready for a snorkeling adventure with a wow factor and maybe some bragging rights? These adventures exist in places across the Caribbean. But though they can be thrilling, they aren’t dangerous. Here are five of my favorite Caribbean snorkel adventures that go beyond the usual reef tour.

Blackbeard’s Treasure Caverns, Norman Island, BVI

Legend has it that the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard once stashed chests of gold and plunder in the sea caves of Norman Island. But even those who doubt that tale would agree that the real treasure is the chance to snorkel into this trio of semi-submerged caverns, which are cut into a cliff face just south of the popular harbor known as The Bight. It’s suitable for all ages, because there’s always a hint of sunlight in the caves, and no branching passages. I’ve brought dozens of snorkelers to this site during charter trips, and usually give them a waterproof light so they can hunt for marine live in the nooks and crannies, and admire the purple and red patterns on the rock faces inside.

BVI Snorkel

The caves at Norman Island are said to have once held treasures hidden by the pirate Blackbeard. Snorkelers can safely explore these mysterious caverns. Dale Harrison/Flickr

Bimini Road, Bahamas

Legends of the Bermuda Triangle meet tales of the lost city of Atlantis just off the shores of the tiny Bahamian island of Bimini. On the island’s western shore, a half-mile-long line of rectangular limestone blocks runs parallel to the shore. This unusual formation was first discovered by free diving legend Jacque Mayol, and in the years since, all manner of experts have speculated about the origins and purpose of the structure. Some say it’s the remains of a wall or a pier, while others have pegged it as a highway that was once part of the fabled lost city of Atlantis. I’ve explored this site on scuba dives several times, but actually enjoy it more when seen from above. When floating on the surface with mask and snorkel, you can make out the full extent of the formation in the clear waters below, and then form your own opinion on its origins.

Bimini Snorkel

A snorkeler descends in clear Bahamian water to examine the unique formation known as the Bimini Road. Some believe it to be part of the ruins of the ancient city of Atlantis. Photo: Atmoji Photography/Flickr

Great Blue Hole, Belize

The aerial view of Captain Jacque Cousteau’s Calypso floating in the center of a gigantic submerged crater in the center of a Caribbean coral reef became a world-famous image. This perfectly round geological anomaly measures more than 1,000 feet across, and plunges down to more than 400 feet. I’ve done deep dives into the Belize Blue Hole, but honestly, the most interesting sights are right at the top, where the shallow rim of the hole is ringed in growths of coral. It takes a two-hour boat ride from Belize City or one of the resorts on Ambergris Caye to get to Lighthouse Reef and the Blue Hole, but the reward is a chance to glide over the cliff-like edge of the hole into deep water, then spend time watching tropical fish among the corals. Keep an eye open, because there’s always a chance to catch a glimpse of large tarpon or reef sharks emerging from the shadows below.

Belize Great Blue Hole

The Belize Blue hole is a massive 400-foot-deep pit set in the center of Lighthouse Reef. The rim of the hole is covered in coral gardens that are ideal for snorkelers to explore. Photo: Kasia Kaczy?ska/Flickr

Dos Ojos Cenote, Riviera Maya

Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is riddled with cenotes, which are natural sinkholes in the limestone bedrock that fill with clear fresh water. Many of these cenotes are connected to underground rivers that form the longest underwater caves in the world. But you don’t have to be a bold explorer to enjoy these amazing places. With just a mask and snorkel, I’ve swum in dozens of these natural pools. Often, the walls overhang the water, creating a chance to swim into the twilight zone and discover marble-white stalactites hanging from the ceiling. A personal favorite is Dos Ojos Cenote, where swimmers can follow a set of guidelines through a maze of caverns that connect a pair of sunlit pools. You can explore for yourself, or hire a guide to lead the way.

Riviera Maya Cenotes

The cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula are filled with clear fresh water. At Dos Ojos, snorkelers can swim through overhanging ledges that lead to stalactite-decorated chambers. Photo: Guillén Pérez/Flickr

Lac Bay Mangrove, Bonaire

This snorkel adventure is more about relaxation than excitement, but that doesn’t make it any less memorable. It begins with a trip to the undeveloped east coast of Bonaire, and a stop at the Mangrove Information Center within Lac Bay National Park. Here, you’ll sign up for a guided kayak tour that leads through the twisting channels that lace the mangrove forest. Once you reach a hidden bay deep in the reserve, you’ll have a chance to get out of the boat and wade in waist deep water. There’s not much to see out in the middle of the sand bottom bay, because the real show begins when you swim closer to the tangled underwater roots of the mangroves themselves. These roots provide shelter for numerous species of small and juvenile marine life, making Lac Bay the island’s primary fish nursery. If you are lucky, you might also be treated to a swim by from one of the bay’s resident snook or tarpon.

Bonaire Snorkel

A snorkeler glides through a sand channel in the mangrove forest of Bonaire’s Lac Bay. The tangled roots of these trees create habitat for small fish and other marine life. Photo: Mangrove Information Center

Zemi Beach Anguilla

The Caribbean’s Best Rum Bars


Move over fruity rum drinks. The Caribbean’s favorite spirit has caught the attention of connoisseurs. These enlightened imbibers shun blenders and fruit garnishes in favor of snifters, and sample small-batch rums and artisanal blends that need no enhancements beyond a comfortable atmosphere. Hoteliers have taken note, and a new breed of rum bars is cropping up across the Caribbean. Here are five of the best places to savor the spirits with island style.

The Cane Bar at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort, St. Lucia

Much more than a beach bar, The Cane Bar offers a relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere where there are no distractions to take away from the pleasures of sampling premium rums. Located inside the resort’s Great House, the room features a subdued white and pale charcoal design palette. Oversized chairs sit around tables and living room style arrangements provide group settings and the sleek white bar offers alternative seating. Prized artworks hangs on the walls, and the shelves behind the bar are lined with an extensive selection of expertly chosen local and international rums. With many choices on hand there is a professional rummelier to help with your selection. When hunger strikes, a Japanese-inspired menu includes a selection of fresh- catch sashimi and a variety of rolls. Signature dishes include the Caribe Roll, which is wrapped in mango, and the Cane Bar Roll with spicy stone crab and avocado. The bar is open from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., and you’ll want to leave your beach togs back in the room and dress “smart casual” for the evening.

St Lucia Rum Bar

Subdued colors lend a sophisticated ambiance to The Cane Bar at St. Lucia’s Sugar Beach resort, where vintage and small-batch rums are featured. Photo: Sugar Beach

Rhum Room at Zemi Beach House, Anguilla

One of the newest and now most popular boutique resorts in the Caribbean boasts Anguilla’s first rum bar. The design of the Rhum Room at Zemi blends modern accents with classic Caribbean architectural details to create a sophisticated yet beach-ready vibe. This setting is enhanced by the natural backdrop of Shoal Bay East, which has been called one of the world’s best beaches. The bar features over 100 small-batch, single-estate rums selected to showcase the breadth and diversity of the Caribbean’s distilling traditions. Guests can delve into the world of rum by sampling the curated Rhum Flight, which includes a selection of rums assembled by the house rummelier. The inventory includes bottles of Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, of which only 800 bottles are available to the public worldwide. Also in the collection is Clément Cuvée Homère, the highest rated vintage rum in the past 15 years, and the recently released premium Brugal Papá Andrés, which is a handcrafted blend created by master blender Maestros Roneros.

Anguilla Rum

The Rhum Room at Anguilla’s Zemi Beach House puts a sophisticated spin on the classic Caribbean club motif. The bar is stocked with a collection of super-premium rums. Photo: Dylan Cross/Zemi Beach

Rum Bar at Cooper Island Beach Club, BVI

You wouldn’t expect to find a well stocked rum bar to be on a tiny island in the British Virgin Islands. With just nine rooms set around a remote bay, the Cooper Island Beach Club caters to those wanting to get away from it all. Day sailors will sometimes stop in for lunch or dinner at the club’s restaurant as part of an island- hopping itinerary. In 2015, mariners found another reason to stop when Cooper Island added the Rum Bar and then a microbrewery. Patrons can sit beachside on wooden benches made from recycled teak and the reclaimed wood of boats, or hang at the bar for some serious tastings. The bar boasts the largest collection of rums in the Virgin Islands, with more than 150 labels from distilleries around the world. A sampler board introduces patrons to the world of premium rums, and the bar staff is on hand to offer suggestions and share tidbits on the origins and history of the labels, and on the general craft of rum making. Signature rum cocktails are accented with fruits and herbs grown at the onsite organic garden, and the bar creates proprietary rum infusions with flavors such as such as honey and lemon, hazelnut praline and jalapeño.

Rum Bar BVI

Cooper Island Beach Club is a family-run boutique resort that features the Rum Bar offering over 100 different rums from all around the Caribbean. Photo: Cooper Island Beach Club

101 Rums Bar, Four Seasons Nevis

Take a seat at the pastel painted bar, where large open windows frame views of the colorful fishing boats lined up on Pinney’s Beach, with the green slopes of St. Kitts as the backdrop. The 101 Rums Bar is housed inside Mango, the Four Seasons open-air beach restaurant. Set on water’s edge, the restaurant and bar offer the best sunsets on the island. Guests can sample signature cocktails like Nevisian Spirit or the 100 Mile Cocktail, which is made exclusively from ingredients harvested within 100 miles of the resort. Serious rum drinkers can bypass the mixed fare and focus on tastings and sippings of some of the world’s premier rums such as Appleton Estate 50 Year Old, El Dorado 25 Year Old and Pyrat Cask. With over 101 aged rums and a selection of artisanal rhum agricoles to choose from, there’s a flavor to please every palate. Weekly rum tastings are on the itinerary, and guests should plan on arriving for sunset, as the bar is open only from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Four Seasons Nevis

Sand and sea breezes set the scene at the 101 Rums Bar. The bar is located on Pinney’s Beach at the Four Seasons Nevis resort. Photo: Four Seasons Nevis

The Reef’s Rum Bar at Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort, St. Thomas

One of the first rum bars to grace the Caribbean combined premium labels with a memorable setting. Located just off the main lobby, the Reef’s Rum Bar offers a sophisticated indoor seating area that opens to an expansive outdoor terrace that delivers harbor views and a panoramic sweep of the mountains of St. Thomas. The indoor bar features small, intimate tables that become gathering points for smaller groups, as well as high-tops and flat screen TVs where guests can mingle and catch their favorite sports game as they sip and relax. There are a number of premium rums available for tasting, as well as a creative roster of handcrafted cocktails. Many of the drinks are made with Cruzan rum, locally distilled and bottled on sister island St. Croix. Try the signature cocktails like the Reef Rum Punch or Mango Tango.

St Thomas Frenchmans Reef

One of the Caribbean’s first rum bars opened at the Frenchman’s Reef resort in St. Thomas. The Reef’s Rum Bar provides an informal setting to enjoy premium spirits. Photo: Frenchman’s Reef

BVI Bitter End Yacht Club

Five Best Snorkel Resorts in the British Virgin Islands


The British Virgin Islands are ringed in colorful coral reefs. But getting to many of these snorkel-worthy sites will require a boat ride, which means showing up on time, and getting in and out of the water on a time table. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just wade in from shore, make a short swim to the reef, then stay as long as you like? At these select beachfront resorts, that’s exactly what can happen.

Bitter End Yacht Club

This landmark property is a favorite with both visiting yachtsmen and shore side guests, who enjoy sweeping views of Virgin Gorda’s North Sound from hillside cottages. The resort bustles with activities that include sailing regattas, dive excursions and fishing charters. The resort offers 15 weekly snorkel trips to area reefs and more distant sites such as the Baths and Anegada. Guests can use one of the resort’s Boston Whalers to create their own snorkel cruise, or simply walk down the beach to Wedding Point to discover a reef line where colorful tropical fish hide among the corals and rocks close to the shore. A swim into slightly deeper water provides a chance to see stingrays, turtles, and silver-sided tarpon. Keen-eyed snorkelers may even catch a glimpse of relics from the days of sail such as anchors and cannon balls, now encrusted within the corals of the reef.

Bitter End Yacht Club

Bitter End Yacht Club operates a snorkel boat that makes regular trips to the reefs around Virgin Gorda. This stable and spacious vessel has ample room for families and groups. Photo: Bitter End Yacht Club

Mango Bay Resort

On a quiet beach on the west coast of Virgin Gorda, the private villas of Mango Bay Resort overlook a large coral reef that begins less than 50 feet from shore, and stretches the entire length of Mahoe Bay. The waters are rich in fish life, but not accessible by boat, so resort guests have the reefs all to themselves. The property includes six villas, two located directly on the beach, and four more tucked into a tropical garden just inland. Interiors feature upscale Italian contemporary furnishings, with studio to five- bedroom floor plans that allow for flexible groups. Each unit includes kitchens, living and dining areas and expansive outdoor terraces with BBQ grills and outdoor showers.

Mango Bay

The Mango Bay Resort is located right on the beach at Virgin Gorda’s Mahoe Bay, giving guests exclusive access to one of the island’s best coral reefs. Photo: Kent Smith/Flickr

Peter Island Resort & Spa

Each of the five beaches on this private 1800-acre island resort has its own personality, from the lively water sports scene at Deadman’s Beach to the intimate seclusion of Honeymoon Beach. To find the best snorkeling reefs, guests can check out complimentary equipment from the water sports center, follow a footpath over a low hill to White Bay and settle in to a beachfront tiki hut. The reef is just a short swim away, and the fish life is abundant. With more than 70 percent of the island left in its natural state, guests have miles of trails to bike and stroll, plus a variety of active pursuits that include beach volleyball, tennis and morning yoga. Accommodation choices include ocean view rooms, beachfront suites and private hillside villas. The spa offers 10 indoor treatment rooms, two outdoor pavilions and a couple’s suite, all with spectacular views of Big Reef Bay.

Peter Island

A split level view of the shoreline at Peter Island’s White Bay reveals corals growing on the rock formations that begin right at water’s edge, and provide habitat for tropical fish. Photo: Armando Jenik/Peter Island Resort

Marina Cay Hotel

Just off the eastern shore of Tortola, the green speck of land known as Marina Cay sits within a coral-rimmed lagoon. Snorkelers can wade in from most any point on the white sand beach that rings this eight-acre private island, and a few fin strokes will bring them to reefs swarming with a wealth of colorful fish life. The boutique resort offers just eight hillside rooms, decorated in a casual island style with wicker furniture, louvered windows and verandas that provide expansive views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The resort is owned by the Pusser’s Rum company, and is a favorite stopover for sailors, who come to shop in the Pusser’s Company Store and dine at the on-the-beach restaurant, which specializes in traditional West Indian-style and Caribbean dishes like conch chowder, spicy jerk chicken, and cod-and-potato fish cakes.

Marina Cay Snorkeling

An aerial view of Marina Cay shows the large area of coral reef that begins just offshore of the island. Snorkelers can spend hours exploring this formation. Photo: Martin Ronchetti/Flickr

Cooper Island Beach Club

Sitting on the northwest shore of its namesake island, the Cooper Island Beach Club is a family owned eco resort that delivers a lifestyle of tropical barefoot luxury. Ten beachfront guest rooms sit nestled among palm trees and tropical flowers, with expansive views of Sir Francis Drake Channel and the islands beyond. Interiors blend whitewash timbers with the warm tones of recycled teak furniture and the elegance of gauze-shrouded canopy beds. With mask and snorkel in hand, guests can enter the water at the resort’s dingy dock and swim along the shoreline to a u-shaped reef that holds schools of blue tang, butterfly fish and snapper, along with passing eagle rays. Sea turtles are also a common sight, and the resort sponsors a turtle tagging and conservation program. After returning to shore, guests can freshen up and take in the sunset at the resort’s rum tasting room and on- site microbrewery. Order the signature Turtle IPA and a portion of the sale will go towards turtle conservation.

Cooper Island Snorkeling

A large tarpon cuts through a massive school of silverside minnows swarming on a reef that is located just offshore of the Cooper Island Beach Club. Photo: Alex Fox/Cooper Island Beach Club

BVI Scrub Island Fishing Tournament

Scrub Island Blue Marlin Invitational


Big game fishermen from around the world will gather in the British Virgin Islands in August to compete for top honors as they angle for the world’s largest game fish.

WHAT: Scrub Island Blue Marlin Invitational

WHERE: Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, British Virgin Islands

WHEN: August 3 – 6, 2017.

DETAILS: Scrub Island was chosen for its close proximity to the famed North Drop blue marlin grounds, and tournament dates were set to coincide with the summer full moon, which is known as the best time for fishing action. This event is the second annual collaboration between Captain Skip Smith and Scrub Island Resort.

INFO: www.skipstournaments.com/scrub-island.cfm

Antigua Carnival

The Best Caribbean Summer Parties


Summer is a great time to be in the Caribbean. The winter season crowds are long gone, and the locals come out to play. Parties and festivals pop up on islands across the region, offering everything from intriguing cultural experiences to unabashed beach parties. Here are a dozen must-do island parties for the summer.

Riviera Maya Film Festival

In the first week of June, the international film community converges on the beach town of Playa del Carmen. Now in its seventh year, the Riviera Maya Film Festival has garnered the attention of film buffs, who come together for showings of award-winning Mexican and international films. The 2017 festival is expected to draw more than 80,000 spectators for both indoor and outdoor free showings, which take place in restored historic cinemas, and in open-air beachfront settings.

Riviera Maya Film Festival

In addition to showcasing new releases, the Riviera Maya Film Festival supports RivieraLAB, which nurtures projects by Mexican filmmakers in the development stage. Photo: Jerry Aguirre/RMFF

St. Kitts Music Fest

This small island is home to one of the Caribbean’s biggest musical happenings. Now in its 21st year, the three-day event draws some of the biggest names in soca, jazz, R&B, gospel and reggae. Performances are in the evening, but many festival goers gather at Warner Park Stadium early to spread a blanket on the lawn and make a picnic from the offerings of the numerous local food vendors. This year’s festival runs from June 26 to 28.

St Kitts Music Fest

Reggae artist Zemenfest Kidus performs for a home-town crowd at St. Kitts Music Fest. He returned to the island following a successful recording career in Jamaica. Photo: Modern Elegance/ St. Kitts Tourism Authority

Fiesta de Santiago Apostol, Puerto Rico

Each year, Puerto Rico celebrates its Spanish heritage in the town of Loiza, with a two-day festival that is equal parts religious observance and street party. Processions honoring St. James bring thousands into the streets to follow large, colorful statues carried on the shoulders of costumed and masked marchers. These observances are followed up with dance shows, music and gatherings of street vendors offering crafts and traditional food. Processions take place on July 22 and 23.

Puerto Rico Loiza Mask

Puerto Rico’s Fiesta de Santiago Apostol has its roots in Spanish traditions dating back 400 years. This annual procession through the streets features masked knights and demons. Photo: Carlos A. Aviles/Flickr

LIV Bermuda

On the first weekend in July, islanders and overseas guests from around the world come together for Bermuda’s most anticipated party. Billed as a chance to “experience Bermuda like a local,” the gatherings include beach parties, boat cruises and floating “raft ups.” Staged as a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters Bermuda, admission to these parties provides an all- inclusive experience with dancing, libations and live music.

LIV Bermuda

The 2017 edition of LIV Bermuda will take place from July 7 to 10. All- inclusive ticket packages for the four-day event give total access to a range of beach activities, concerts and parties. Photo: LIV Bermuda

Junkanoo Summer Festival

No need to wait for Christmas to experience the sights and sounds of the Bahamian Junkanoo. Each Saturday in the month of July, the waterfront at Nassau’s Arawak Cay comes alive with drumming, dancing and music as costumed troops strut their stuff and compete for top honors. The revelry starts at noon and lasts till midnight, and when it’s time for refreshments or a nosh, onlookers can duck into one of the many pubs or seafood restaurants that line the cay.

Junkanoo Nassau

During Nassau’s colorful mid-summer Junkanoo parades, rival dance and drum troops compete for top honors and prizes. The costumed processions have roots dating to African traditions. Photo: Brian & Leigh/Flickr

Christmas in July

Each summer, flotillas of pleasure boats depart Puerto Rico for the Virgin Islands for a week of gatherings and beach parties that have been given the name “Christmas in July.” But you don’t have to own a boat to enjoy the fun, as beach bars through the U.S. and British Virgins welcome one and all with day-long celebrations that start with volleyball tournaments and barbecues and end with evening fireworks and live bands that keep revelers dancing on the sand till the wee hours.

BVI Jost Van Dyke

Christmas in July is the whimsical name for the mid-summer invasion of the Virgin Islands by fleets of vacationing Puerto Rican boaters. Destinations such as White Sound are favorite stops. Photo: Michael Rubenstein/Flickr

Anguilla Summer Festival

One of the longest-running festivals in the Caribbean takes place on the otherwise quiet island of Anguilla. The 40th anniversary of this island-wide celebration will include beach parties, sailing races, pageants, parades, calypso concerts and more, each staged at different villages and resorts around the island. A highlight of the festival is J’ouvert morning, when a street jam begins at 4:30 a.m. when floats, drummers and festival-goers parade from the island’s capital to the beach at Sandy Ground for a day of music, food and water sports. The festival runs from July 2 to August 10.

Anguilla Summer Fest

Anguilla’s twelve-day-long Summer Festival delivers a non-stop schedule of events ranging from pageants and parades to soca raves, calypso competitions, and a massive all-day beach party. Photo: Anguilla Summer Festival

Reggae Sumfest

Jamaica’s largest music festival is also the island’s biggest party. The weeklong celebration is staged at Montego Bay, and features local reggae and dancehall artists. Before the music starts, the fun kicks off with a beach party, a musical day cruise and the famous “All White Party.” When the concerts get underway, audiences arrive with their own “reggae beds” — flattened cardboard boxes for sitting and chilling between dance sessions. The 2017 Sumfest runs from July 16 to 22.

Jamaica Montego Bay

Crowds gather at the main stage of Reggae Sumfest, which is Jamaica’s largest and most acclaimed music festival, with an international lineup that includes the biggest names in reggae and dancehall music. Photo: Jamaica Tourist Board

Crop Over

On Barbados, one party isn’t enough. The annual Crop Over is a three- month string of celebrations that dates back to the island’s colonial-era agricultural roots, when the end of the harvest season became a time for relaxation and revelry. The tradition continues with a three-month series of festivals, concerts, cultural events, and street parties. A highlight of the season is the “road march”, when troops of costumed revelers take over the streets of Bridgetown on Kadooment Day. This annual parade turned street party takes place on August 7.

Barbados Cropover

The culmination of Bardados‘ three-month Crop Over celebration is the Grand Kadooment, a carnival-like parade that features large bands with members dressed in elaborate costumes. Photo: Barbados Tourism

Antigua Carnival

On the last week in July, the island of Antigua explodes in a riot of feather– clad costumes, bright body paint and floats booming heavy calypso beats. The party kicks off in the capital St. John’s with J’ouvert, where steel drum musicians, calypso and soca singers entertain crowds of revelers. Over the next ten days, towns across the island will stage music competitions, local food fairs, cultural shows and cultural workshops that create chances for visitors to immerse in the local culture and join the fun. Carnival time starts July 26 and runs till August 5.

Antigua Carnival

In addition to street parades and open-air concerts, Antigua’s annual Carnival includes a series of island-wide talent shows, singing competitions and stage performances. Photo: Wayne Mariette/ Antigua Carnival Celebration

Tobago Heritage Festival

The sister island of Trinidad may be home to the Caribbean’s best-known carnival, but Tobago also knows how to throw a party, and it spreads the fun out over two weeks from July 17 to August 1. Heritage Festival is an island- wide happening, with each village and community staging events such as concerts, street parades, storytelling sessions, folk dances and African drumming sessions. The island’s heritage is celebrated with unique events such as goat races and historical re-enactments.

Tobago Heritage Festival

Modern dance melds with traditional cultural roots during a live performance staged for Tobago’s annual Heritage Festival. Staged by local communities, the performances are open to all. Photo: Terrell George/Flickr

North Sea Jazz Fest

In keeping with its reputation as a regional center of art, culture and sophistication, the island of Curacao welcomes some of the biggest names in soul, jazz, hip-hop and R&B to its iconic jazz festival. Headliners for 2017 induce Bruno Mars, Chaka Khan, Dianne Reeves, Nile Rodgers and Chic, and Juan Luis Guerra, with performances taking place on three stages. In addition to the all-star acts, the festival is known for it’s lively after parties, which often keep going all night. The two-day happening takes place on August 29 and 30.

Curucao North Sea Jazz

Curacao’s North Sea Jazz Festival is the Caribbean’s version of the original performance event of the same name that is held each summer in the Netherlands. Photo: Wassef Sokkari/ Curacao Tourist Board

Maldives Four Seasons

Great Escapes and Serene Spaces


There are private spaces far removed from the crowds and the everyday world. Set against the grand tapestry of nature, these spaces engender admiration and enhance relaxation. Here at the Maldives Four Seasons Resort at Landaa Giraavaru, hammocks for two swing under the shade of a cabana perched over the waters of the Baa Atoll. 

Earth Day Costa Rica Frog

Earth Day Images From the Tropics


On April 22, the natural world takes center stage as humans around the globe pause to reflect on the importance of protecting and enhancing the ecosystems we share with all other living creatures. Here, a colorful little red-eyed tree frog from the rainforests of Costa Rica serves as a visual reminder of the diverse, beautiful and sometimes-fragile nature of the planet Earth and its inhabitants. 

St. Lucia Sugar Beach

Supermodels and Sand: 10 Top Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Locations


Sports Illustrated invented the swimsuit issue more than 50 years ago, tempting readers with images of bathing beauties vamping in some of the most scenic locations on earth. The supermodels may take center stage, but the resorts and beaches that provide the backdrop also draw oohs and aahs from readers and viewers. Here are some of the featured locations where you can indulge in an amazing beach vacation and maybe convince your mate to help recreate a few iconic poses from spots like the Pitons on St. Lucia. Photo: Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort

BVI Sandy Spit

The Caribbean’s Best Deserted Beaches


When it’s peak season and the cruise ships are in port, it can be a challenge to find a place to park your towel at some of the Caribbean’s most popular beaches. But if you are willing to travel a bit off the beaten path, the crowd scene thins and there are even some stretches of unvisited sand to discover. We can’t guarantee these five choice sites will be completely deserted, but there’s a good chance you and any fellow beachcombers you encounter will be outnumbered by seabirds, iguanas and crabs.


Antigua’s little sister is all about the beach. This low-lying Caribbean outpost is essentially a huge sand spit surrounded by coral reefs. The island’s 17-mile ring of sandy shores remains pristine, due to a lack of development, and the residents’ desires to keep it that way. There are actually pair of modest hotels on the island that cater to off-grid travelers wishing to disappear for a few days and enjoy a low-key vacation. More common are the day-trippers who made the 40-mile hop from Antigua to snorkel, explore the caves and lagoons or head into the mangroves to watch the frigate birds. The island’s longest strand is a 10-mile stretch of pink sand on the southwest shore that is protected by a barrier reef. It’s a great place for a long walk.

Barbuda Beach

The remote and sparsely settled island of Barbuda is ringed in white sand beaches where one can walk for miles and rarely see another human. It can be reached from the sister island of Antiqua. Photo: Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority

Uvero Alto, Dominican Republic

An escape from the crowds that frequent the white sands of Punta Cana is closer than one might think. Just 45 minutes from the Dominican Republic’s busiest resort area is the town of Uvero Alto, where the beach offers an entirely different vibe. Here, the crowds are non-existent, the sands are coffee colored and the seas are azure. Much of the wide stretch of beach is backed by coconut palms, and is favored for walking and horseback rides. Swimming and wading are best done close to shore or in reef- protected areas, as the seas farther offshore tend to get wild, because Uvero Alto faces the Atlantic. With far more sand that people; this is a great place to enjoy nature at its best.

Dominican Republic Uvero Alto Beach

A short drive away from the bustling beaches of the Dominican Republic’s Punta Cana resort area, the coast of Uvero Alto provides a far less crowded scene. Photo: Debbie Snow

Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

Virgin Gorda is home to one of the most sought after beaches in the Caribbean. To find solitude, skip the world-famous boulders of The Baths and head north from Spanish Town to the sheltered waters of Savannah Bay. Here, a soft sand beach is flanked by green shrubs, with just a few inconspicuous villas peaking through the foliage at the north end. The bay is a local favorite for swimming and snorkeling, but most days you will share the sand with only a handful of people. Sea kayakers are often seen exploring the coastline, and it’s an ideal spot for a snorkel trip or a beach picnic. Just remember to bring your own provisions, because there isn’t a gift shop or restaurant in sight.

Savannah Bay BVI

On the island of Virgin Gorda, the quiet beach at Savannah Bay sees few visitors, even on days when the far more famous boulder fields of The Baths is packed. Photo: Christian Wheatley/iStock

Rendezvous Bay, Montserrat

Beaches are few and far between on this island, where much of the coastline meets the sea in low rock bluffs. But those willing to make the effort can enjoy some truly remote bits of sand. The island itself is a study in greens and grays. Rolling hills and forested mountains dominate interior, but to the south, fields of ash and lava serve as reminders of the last eruption by the Soufrière Hills Volcano. Grass and trees are now reclaiming this landscape, and hiking trails unveil the green isle it was once known as. Meanwhile, the island’s handful of remote beaches is left for the birds and the adventurous. All but Rendezvous Bay Beach are made of grey or black volcanic sand. Rendezvous, on the northwest coast, offers white sand and solitude, as it can be reached only by boat or a hike from Little Bay.

Montserrat Rendezvous Bay

It will require a hike or a boat ride to reach Montserrat’s only white sand beach, but the reward is often having the shores of Rendezvous Bay all to yourself. Photo: David Mac Gillivary/ Montserrat Tourism Board

Gelliceaux Bay, Mustique

With only 800 residents and even fewer visitors, there’s a good chance you can find a stretch of sand on Mustique that you won’t have to share. The island’s irregular coastline is indented with numerous bays and coves that harbor stretches of white sand. A favorite is Macaroni Beach, which receives the majority of the island’s modest influx of visitors, but even this site never becomes anything close to packed. For a true taste of solitude, head to the southeastern coast and Gelliceaux Bay, where the calm waters of the cove are ideal for swimming, snorkeling or paddle boarding. Save for the occasional beach walker staying in a nearby villa, you are likely to have it all to yourself.

Mustique Beach

Gelliceaux Bay is the most secluded beach on the island of Mustique. Its calm waters are sheltered by tall headlands that create ideal conditions for swimming and snorkeling. Photo: Paul Joynson/The Mustique Company