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BARBADOS. We have been to many islands, and not only in the Caribbean. So far Barbados, St Barth and Virgin Gorda seem to be the main celebrity playgrounds here. Barbados is just as beautiful as any other island in the Caribbean, so what makes it so special?
There are probably a myriad of reasons why it’s such a favorite with A-listers, but it could boil down to just sun, sand, sea specifically combined with direct flights from major cities like London and New York and high-end hotels aplenty on the island. That is, mostly on the west side of the island where it is quite “over-developed”, some would say.
Sandy Lane is a famous hotel, often hosting clients that are much more well-known than its name. Though quite pricey, if you want to see the likes of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones or Hugh Grant and Simon Cowell (of American Idol) while having your sundowners, you’ll get your money’s worth. Bajan born music celebs often seen here include Rihanna and Shontelle.
Once, we saw Rihanna walk down the street in Holetown, Barbados, in a bikini – like only Rihanna can! In fact, you can take a stroll on a street named after her in Barbados – called Rihanna Drive. It is actually the street where she stayed on and her childhood house can be visited. You can’t miss it – brightly painted to commemorate a big star’s humble beginnings.
Unfortunately, if you want to view the house of Tom Selleck, Bill Gates, Cliff Richard or Elton John, you can only see the outside walls of their estates from the road.
The southern part hosts most tourist resorts, shops and restaurants, making it a very welcoming social scene. Its beautifully scenic and entertaining parts make it a must to explore these environs. Oistins, in particular, is an active fishing town, a hub of activity on weekend nights. On Friday nights it’s Fish Fry at Oistins Bay Gardens where the food is the main draw with excellent fish, (tuna, swordfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, flying fish), lobster, chicken etc. served in an informal setting. Your dish is cooked on the spot in front of you, and you can choose between grilled or fried depending on the vendor. Nice!
Should you be more attracted to the laid-back, tranquil section of an island, the eastern part is for you. People who love surfing and kite boarding frequent especially the Silver Sands beach area or Long Beach, minutes’ walk from each other. This is the Atlantic Ocean side, so the sea is a tad more wild, which makes for an interesting wave riding and wave jumping experience if you’re into kite surfing. Silver Sands in particular is 100% set for kiting with accommodations right on the beach. A kiter’s haven! Any given day you’ll see about 25 kiters doing their thing. Actually, it’s a spectacular sight having those colorful kites parked on the beach or speeding off towards the waves. You’ll see professional athletes among students who are being taught. Apparently it’s a highly disciplined sport and those who partake are very respectful – so we’ve heard.
For day trippers from the cruise ship dock in Bridgetown, a taxi could cost you $75 for about 5 people there and back – not bad. But if you’re alone, get yourself to the taxi ranks, downtown, and ask for the number 11 Route Taxi. It’s a 10 minute walk from downtown to the route taxi ranks, but it’s ony US$1 (yes, one US dollar) for a forty minute ride to Silver Sands. If you want to meet the real locals and share the taxi with about 10 other Bajans heading in the direction of Silver Sands – do it – it’s a thrill ride.
You’re stuck in your office, surfing the web for just about any getaway to sunny shores and you come across this story about pigs living it up on their own island in the Bahamas. WTF!? – as in Modern Family’s Phil’s acronym – Why The Face? Well, stop making a face and start reading this. For if pigs can swim in the Bahamas, so can you!
Picture from Instagram.com/theswimmingpigs
You can even visit and swim with them, these porkers. There are about 20 pigs and piglets on Pig Island, also known as Major Cay, Big Major Cay or just Pig Beach. The island is uninhabited and located in an area that comprises more than 300 islands in the Bahamas, called Exuma. They are not the only animals there, there are some goats and stray cats to be seen too.
How did they get there and how do they survive, you ask? For one thing, in order for any living being to survive, they need water. Lucky for these porkies, there are three fresh water springs on the island. What about food then? Currently they are fed by locals and tourists – a big attraction in the Bahamas.
But how these hogs got to the island is somewhat of an urban legend. There are various theories and speculations, one being that the boars were brought to the island as part of a business venture to create a tourist attraction. Another, and the most “famous” one, is that sailors brought some sows to the island with the intention to eat them at a later stage. But they never returned. Then there is the story that the swine survived a shipwreck and swam to the island to save themselves and survived on food dumped from passing ships. A last theory is that the pigs escaped from a nearby islet – and decided to rule their own island, named after themselves.
If you want to stay near Big Major Cay where the hogs are cohabitants, according to Angie Away, “your best option is itty-bitty Staniel Cay, which offers a sizable marina, several small hotels (EMBRACE Resort is my favorite) and an airstrip. From there, you can rent a small boat or hire a local guide to whisk you over to Pig Beach. From Staniel Cay Yacht Club, it’s only about 10 minutes to the pigs.”
If you do decide to visit Pig Beach, be respectful, remember these are wild-ish animals you’ll encounter and that its their island, for goodness sake! Reminds me of Animal Farm – “where all animals are equal, some are just more equal than others…”
Pigs are very clever and cute but their bite can be very serious – when you try to take selfies they might think your camera is food, or even your face! (to quote an observation by Angie Away).
So, take care and be safe on Pig Beach – it will certainly be a very different getaway story to tell when you get back home.
ARUBA. This week Arubans are celebrating the return of the wind! One of the most beautiful islands you’ll ever see, here the wind never stops blowing in a, mostly, northerly direction. It is advised to wear a hat to prevent your hair from being blown into a wild, vagrant-like style. And make sure you hold on to that hat or tie it with a string to your head, naturally.
But if it weren’t for the wind, this island would be very, very hot. Unless, of course, there are hurricanes in the rest of the Caribbean occupying, so to speak, all wind space. That is why Arubans have grown to celebrate the wind, make the most of it, they even miss it when it’s gone: “Aruba has been very hot and windstill lately, so now that the breeze has come back, the sails are out!” (Posted by @dushiyoga)
It’s been said that many a serious water sport enthusiast in Aruba have been very close to Venezuela at some point in their lives. That is, because the northerly wind might have taken them off-shore easily, especially if they are kitesurfers. It’s not that far away (about 17 miles), in fact you can see the country from Aruba.
Another good thing about Aruba is that its located at the southern edge of the Caribbean hurricane belt. So it avoids most of the hurricanes and storms that blow through the Caribbean from the Atlantic Ocean each year. So the best time to visit the island is always.
Lizpiano is a journalist, health lover and piano entertainer/singer who travels the world. She holds a B.A. degree with Music and Psychology as well as an MPhil (Masters) of Journalism. Follow her on Instagram: @lizpiano, Twitter: @thelizpiano, Facebook: lizpiano.www.lizpiano.com