When St. Thomian Adrien Austin founded Drive Green VI six years ago, he dreamed of igniting a revolution in how Virgin Islanders drove – or what they drove – and in a bid to accelerate the process, he put electric cars at the forefront of his venture.
“Nowhere in the world does a car depreciate or break down as fast as in the Virgin Islands,” said Austin. “The goal was to bring in a few new kinds of technology, do my own R&D out of my own pocket, figure out what works, try and push this technology, see what the market is receptive to.”
Since then, electric cars, vehicles that run purely on batteries as opposed to internal combustion engines, have multiplied on the roads of St. Thomas as demand continues to rise, driven by expensive per-gallon cost of gas in the territory and an increasing awareness of climate change pushing residents to pursue a neutral carbon footprint. Austin’s company has so far sold roughly 50 electric cars, and he estimates St. Thomas has about 150 in total.
But it was a bumpy road to normalizing the use of electric cars on island. About five years ago, Austin brought down five Wheegos, another type of electric car, and one Nissan Leaf. He wanted to explore how these vehicles would fare on the island’s terrains, find out if they had enough power-to-weight ratio to maneuver the hilly, tortuous roads, and identify which cars performed better than others. Austin said.
In the Caribbean paradise of St. Barth, there are no less than 14 beaches spread across the enclave, each radiating with its own singular character and charm.
From isolated stretches of sand to entertainment-laden hotspots, there’s something for every type of beach enthusiast on the island. Explore beyond Le Guanahani’s stunningly beautiful Grand-Cul-de-Sac and Marechal beaches to discover St. Barth’s seaside treasures and all they have to offer. Below, local staff members at the hotel share their personal favorites.
According to Le Guanahani Managing Director Martein van Wagenberg, the beach at Gouverneur Bay provides one of the island’s most exclusively idyllic shoreline experiences.
“It has clear waters, soft sand, natural sun protection by sea grape trees, and scooping pelicans,” he says. “It’s your own quiet and private beach in the mornings.”
Because of its remote location, Gouverneur remains relatively untouched compared to other St. Barth beaches. A ten-minute drive southeast from Gustavia, it’s a sanctuary for swimming, sunbathing, or diving into a gratifying beach read. While parking here is easy to find and close to the beach, there are no facilities available, so it may be a good idea to bring along water and chairs.
From its abundant wildlife to the mountains that plunge into the sea on either side of the white strip of sand, the bay shimmers with natural beauty. Find the rocks on its east side for spectacular snorkeling conditions. And looking seaward from the beach, visitors can savor resplendent views of neighboring Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Kitts rising in the background.
Oistins. Friday night. Enjoying some delicious local fish? Bridgetown Fish Complex. Saturday morning. Choosing some fresh local fish to cook for Sunday lunch? Chances are that close to ¾ of the ‘local’ fish that you are buying and consuming is not even local. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately 70% of seafood consumed in Barbados is imported.
The fisheries sector, one of the established sectors within the Blue Economy is important for employment, livelihoods and food security. Barbados has a history and culture strongly linked to fish with fishing and associated activities having been integral components of the social and economic fabric of Barbados for years. Approximately 8,000 people are employed in this sector which accounts for ~6% of the labour force with over 1,000 active fishing vessels. Bajans also eat a lot of fish with consumption per capita being very high in the Caribbean region.
However in recent years, annual catches have declined with marine capture production being between 2000 – 2500 tonnes of fish, with flying fish, dolphin fish and yellowfin tuna contributing to the majority of landings. Lower catches and high imports are not the only threats that the fishing industry faces. In addition, overfishing and unsustainable fishing, land based and marine sources of pollution, coastal development and loss of coral reefs, changes in climate and the introduction of invasive species such as lionfish and the influx of sargassum further threaten the fisheries sector.
If you want to enjoy beautiful white sand beaches, friendly locals, windsurfing, kitesurfing or terrific diving – Aruba is a good place to call home (1). You may have been searching for the perfect spot in paradise to retire – or you may just be looking for adventure in a faraway and tropical country. Either way, Aruba could be the right choice for your next destination.
Though you may have spent months or years looking before deciding to choose Aruba, the process of moving can also take time. You’ll need to prepare yourself beforehand, by packing up your household and selecting a qualified international moving service provider. A key part of preparation is also getting all the required paperwork pulled together, and learning about the various import regulations and duties. Here’s most of what you need to know, in one easy guide.
What Are the Duties?
Duties can add a significant amount to the total cost of your move, but fortunately Aruba allows you to be exempted from this expense. To receive import duty exemption, there’s a handful of requirements that you must meet.
First, your primary place of residence must have been outside of Aruba, for a minimum of the last year. This means you must have lived at that address, for a minimum of 185 days in the previous 12 months. You must demonstrate that you lived there for a job, and if not – then show documentation proving you were indeed residing there (not just had an address at that location). Second, you cannot already be a resident of Aruba.
The third requirement is that the belongings you’ll be importing, be used in the same way as in the origin country. For example, if an item was for personal (not commercial) use in your previous residence, it should remain so in Aruba. Fourth, these goods are required to have been used by you, in your residence within your country of origin for at least six months. Fifth, only used goods are eligible for duty exemption (2). Finally, you’re not allowed to sell, let others borrow or even give away these items while in the country (3).
Customs has some regulations that you must follow, when importing your belongings into the country. There’s a time limit to receive duty exemption, and you can’t import a shipment more than 12 months after you enter Aruba (some sources say 6 months). However, if you need more time, it’s possible that an extension may be granted by the Customs Commissioner (if you request it). You can also only receive duty exemption on two shipments total of household goods (4).
If your shipment is denied duty exemption by customs, you have one month to appeal this decision (the Commissioner of Customs will make the final determination). If your appeal to the Commissioner of Customs is again denied – you have another month to appeal to the Board of Appeals in Tax Affairs. It appears that the board’s decision will be final (5).
Aruba requires that you be at the point or port of entry, during the processing of your shipment. Be aware that customs has the full legal authority to examine your shipment, and this could take up to one month to complete. If your shipment violates the import regulations, the Customs Authority can impose fines or disciplinary action. Finally, you’re required to speak with the agent working on your behalf in Aruba, as soon as you enter the country (6).
What Paperwork Will You Need?
When it comes to importing your household belongings, customs requires that you provide the necessary paperwork for your shipment. This includes your passport and Original Bill of Lading (for sea shipments) or Air Waybill (for air shipments). An import declaration and Tax ID from the Tax Service Office are also required (7). An ID card may also be needed, and whether this is a separate document isn’t clear.
For census purposes, you’ll also need a Certificate of Registration from the Population Register in Aruba (customs will want this in triplicate). You’ll also need a Residence Permit from the Directorate of Alien Integration, Policy & Admission (DIMAS for short). A packing list is also mandatory documentation, along with a Household Goods Form and Exemption Declaration Form. A Duty Exemption Request Form (Form C420) should also be provided (8).
Finally, customs will need to see a comprehensive inventory, which includes monetary values for all of your items. This also must be submitted in triplicate, and it should bear your signature and the date (9).
What Are the Duties For Your Vehicle?
Turning from the importation of your household goods to your vehicle, you may be wondering what duties you’ll pay. You’ll be relieved to discover, that Aruba does allow you to be exempt from import duties – if you meet a single requirement. You must have owned and used the vehicle at your previous primary residence, for a minimum of the last six months.
If your vehicle successfully receives duty exemption, you’re not allowed to sell or transfer ownership of it while in the country. The vehicle also can’t be lent to others, used as security or placed in escrow. Exceptions to these rules are possible, but you must request one from the Commissioner of Customs. You also must give the Technical Department of Customs the Excise Documents for the vehicle – and you’re not guaranteed approval of your request (10).
Import Regulations For Your Vehicle
Aruba is quite open to the importation of all different types of vehicles. If you meet the requirement for exemption covered above, it’s possible to import not only your personal motor vehicle – but also your motorcycle, boat, sports craft or airplane without paying duty. Whether you can bring in more than one of these vehicles at a time isn’t specified, so speak to customs to learn more.
Another regulation imposed by customs, is that your Original Bill of Lading display the engine and chassis numbers, make, model, year and the size of the engine (11). Your shipment can also be examined by customs. Just like with your household goods, this process may take as long as one month. Also, once again if you’re found to be in violation of any regulations – you could face fines or disciplinary action (12).
What Paperwork Is Required For Your Vehicle?
Failure to provide the necessary paperwork, can delay the processing of your shipment – or cause it to be denied entry altogether. Therefore, it’s important that you have the correct documentation. According to knowledgeable international vehicle shipper A1 Auto Transport, Inc. – you’ll need to have your passport, driver’s license and proof of insurance. You’ll also need to show both the title (from the origin country) and a purchase invoice or receipt (13).
Registration from the origin country and insurance documents proving you’ve used the vehicle are also required. Finally, any paperwork that demonstrates you’ve owned the vehicle for the necessary six months to receive duty exemption, should also be provided (14). Typically, the purchase invoice is sufficient for this purpose, but you may choose to give customs additional paperwork – like your maintenance records or receipts.
Everybody benefits from supporting their local farmers market. It’s easy to do, especially when the market has multiple vendors offering a good variety and is close to your home. When you support your local farmers’ market, you are supporting something much greater than you imagine.
The Fiber of the Community
Local farmers markets have the unique ability to bring locals together by providing a lively, family friendly environment that everyone can enjoy.
Local produce; crafts; vegan, vegetarian, and mainstream food options; desserts; clothing and more can be found at your local farmers market. In a way it should be called a Community market as it represents a segment of your town coming together offering their best products for everyone to consume and enjoy.
Building the local economy begins at the farmers market. New small businesses often begin their journey here in order to test the market with their products. The level of success many of them find at the market will decide if they go on to open a local store front. The merchants that move to a brick and mortar space will look to hire local help. This is something that often gets overlooked but is very important to keep in mind as you support your local farmers market. The success of the small business merchants will spill over to the economical success of your town.
Tourist will come from far and wide to visit your town because of your beautiful beaches, your beautiful rivers or your grand mountains. One way of exposing tourists to the local people and culture is through the farmers markets.
Tourists often look to find the local farmers markets and see for themselves the produce and arts that are not necessarily available at your traditional malls. These folks want to take as much as they can from their experience in your town and what better way to do so than at the local, friendly farmers’ market.
One more attraction for tourists are local farms which gives your guests a refreshing perspective on how food is grown locally. We wrote a blog post on the tours we offer of our urban farm and we were amazed on how many great friends we made thanks to them.
Way too often the price point is overlooked. Local products, especially produce are immune to the price shifts in the general market as they are transported a very short distance to arrive at their destination.
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, SAINT THOMAS, USVI. It’s been just about a year since two witches smashed their way through the Virgin Islands. You know their names – hurricanes Maria and Irma. As you know, the thrashing was particularly bad this time with various houses, businesses and lives completely destroyed.
When you think of St. Thomas, you might have a nice resort, beach and lounge chair reserved for yourself in your head. Yes, resorts (and jewelry) have been the main business here of late. In terms of resorts, whichever type you may like, they had it pre-hurricanes. Post-hurricanes – as you can imagine – the well-known ones are not the same anymore. But the blessing is, there are some new and old ones with new facelifts:
The Ritz Carlton took a helluva knock. After one year there are still renovations in place, although, some rooms are available. The beach and wonderful pool are still there, if that’s all you’re after – by all means book in.
Bolongo Beach Resort (you might know Iggy’s as a party spot at this resort) is almost in full operation, and all the rooms that are operational are fully booked! That’s a good sign if you take that as an indication of popularity.
Frenchman’s Cove, a timeshare location, seems to be back in full swing. Seems, because the various buildings on the property don’t show any sign of injury. The pool is fabulous, the shop, bar and restaurant in working order and they have many guest activities and live music to liven up your visit to the island. What’s more, one can take a sunset cruise from here with The VI Cat (thevicat.com) and enjoy a dinner and cocktails on the luxury catamaran. Day cruises are also available.
Things are on the up and up too at the brand new Margaritaville Resort on the other side of the island. It looks nearly as good as new, post-hurricanes.
The Marriott Hotel at the Frenchman’s Reef is completely closed as it suffered severe damage.
Lindbergh Bay Hotel and Villas are operational again too with restaurant Oceanside Bistro in full swing. They host theme parties there, this month it’s the Halloween Costume Party on 27 October 2018, sure to be fun! Their pool is being fixed as I type this blog. This is a very convenient location for tourists, as it is walking distance from the St. Thomas airport.
Emerald Beach Resort is great as it’s right on the beach. This is one of our favorite swimming spots and the ocean truly has an emerald color here (especially through some good Polaroid sunglasses!) Great views from every room and many resort activities (like karaoke) at the beach bar and water sports: including jet ski’s, kayaking and SUP-ing with Jetskivi.com. This beach is also very suitable for sunset wedding ceremonies with beach goers respecting the space. Chances are high that these blissful unions have been organized by Heart And Soul Unions.
Sometimes a big natural disaster also brings new life to a town. Although, many people have suffered severe loss emotionally, financially, morally and physically, other people’s lives are now better than it was before that fateful September of 2017:
Downtown St. Thomas has seen a few businesses closed down, but there is a new high-end supermarket called Moe’s (also one in Red Hook) next to FirstBank in Charlotte Amalie.
Café Amalia is still where it has been for many years in Palm Passage. Food is still lovely, the people friendly and a nice cool breeze sweeps through the plants and other businesses located in the well-designed, old Danish building that has stood the test of hurricanes for hundreds of years. This is a good restaurant to stop by if you’re shopping downtown, sometimes the heat can be a drain on your energy, especially in summer time in the Caribbean. www.amaliacafe.com
Barefoot Buddha, at Havensight Mall, is a cool oasis to visit for great healthy food (real fruit smoothies, love their veggie wraps and organic cuppa Joe) and to try on the latest fashion at their boutique. Lots of yoga mama’s hang here because right next door, at Breathe, there are now yoga classes offered for free – donations welcome. barefootbuddhavi.com
Tap & Still – discovered this bar and grille at two locations on the island. One is located at Havensight Mall and the other in Red Hook. It’s a burger and beer joint with a modern flair and you can watch the latest sports events on big screens all around the bar. Love the open plan design and fresh breezes cooling the place through no windows, in true old Caribbean style.
As you can see, a lot of good times are still to be had on this island, so don’t wait too long to book your next vacation here. There are so many resorts and restaurants to choose from, not to mention beaches, scuba, snorkeling and sailing trips to explore.
The Nature Conservancy is launching a revolution to save our coral reefs throughout the Caribbean and beyond. Joining forces with the world’s best scientists, we are developing and deploying groundbreaking techniques to grow new corals and bring dying reefs back to life.
Learn more about how we’re fighting to save these unique and essential ecosystems before our oceans are irreversibly damaged. The Year of the Reef! Keep up with The Nature Conservancy’s latest efforts to protect nature and preserve life on Twitter (twitter) and Facebook (facebook) Text NATURE to 97779 to join The Nature Conservancy on text.
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.