Double your pleasure: Caribbean islands off islands

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bimjim
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Double your pleasure: Caribbean islands off islands

Unread post by bimjim » Sat Apr 23, 2016

http://www.kens5.com/news/nation-now/do ... /149953682

Double your pleasure: Caribbean islands off islands
April 22, 2016

Caribbean islands by their very nature epitomize a perfect vacation getaway. A traveler is a step away from the larger world, and free to enjoy the sense of being surrounded by blue seas while immersed in a tropical vibe. But what if you want to accentuate this island well-being even further? One way is to add a daytrip or overnight stay at one of the smaller sister islands off the coast of many popular destinations. These smaller islands typically offer even fewer modern distractions, and are a great opportunity to tune into nature and reconnect with loved ones.

Barbuda, Antigua’s little sister

The tiny island of Barbuda lies 26 miles north of Antigua. The Barbuda Express catamaran zips back and forth in a 90-minute trip between Barbuda and Antigua. Travelers can also use local carrier ABM Air, which will set down travelers in Codrington, Barbuda’s capital and the only real town on the island. Overnighters will have a choice between budget-priced guesthouses and a handful of luxury resorts.

Standout beaches include 13-mile Palm Beach, and Pink Sands Beach, which lives up to its name. The pink sand is created by the ocean waves crushing countless pink sea shells. The Frigate Bird Sanctuary at the lagoon in Wa'Omoni Beach Park is home to the red-throated frigate birds, as well as 150 additional bird species. It’s easy to arrange boat excursions to the lagoon led by knowledgeable guides.

Little Cayman, Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands, hums like a top. Services may remind some travelers of Florida, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. If you want a dash more Caribbean in your getaway, spend at least part of your vacation on Little Cayman.

The island is only 10 miles long and one mile wide, and offers prime diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and birdwatching. Little Cayman lies 60 miles northeast of Grand Cayman and five miles west of Cayman Brac, and can be visited via inter-island air service from Cayman Airways and Cayman Express.

Standout attractions include swimming in the brilliant blue waters of South Hole Sound Lagoon, and getting an up-close look at the red-footed boobies and frigate birds at the Booby Pond Nature Reserve. Little Cayman has resorts with first rate dive operations, as well as small hotels and villas.

Little Tobago

Tobago and Trinidad are a dual-island destination, with Tobago being more laid back and nature-based compared to hard-charging Trinidad. If things aren’t sleepy enough on Tobago, travelers can take a day trip to Little Tobago, a hilly, compact island only a 15-minute boat ride away. There’s even the option to approach the island via glass bottom boat, with most operators leaving the dock at the town of Speyside on Tobago’s northeast shore. Right next to Little Tobago is the even tinier Goat Island.

Little Tobago is often referred to as Bird of Paradise Island, since at one time it was a haven for the colorful creatures. Unfortunately, in 1963 Hurricane Flora blew through and wiped out the island’s Bird of Paradise population. The nickname for the island still stuck, because Little Tobago is one of the prime birdwatching spots in the Caribbean, home to 50 species of birds. The island is also popular with hikers and scuba divers. Landings on Little Tobago are controlled and visitors need a permit and guide to visit the island. No overnighting is allowed.

Culebra, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has two smaller islands offshore its main island: Vieques, famous as the site of military tests by the U.S. Navy; and tiny and lesser known Culebra, only five miles long and seven miles wide.

Culebra also has a link to the U.S. Navy, having been used as a bombing range for much of the last century. With the bombing solidly in the past, Culebra’s landscape has rebounded and it’s now a strikingly beautiful and relatively undeveloped island.

Visitors can hop a daily ferry departing from Fajardo, on the main island, or take a Vieques ferry on weekdays. There are also daily local flights out of San Juan and Fajardo. The hub of activity on Culebra is the small town of Dewey, the only real town on the island. While there aren’t any full-fledged resorts on Culebra, there are a number of modest guesthouses, villas, and small hotels.

Flamenco Beach is the major reason to make the trip to Culebra. The beach, which is set on a cove and is a mile long, regularly lands on lists of the world’s most beautiful beaches. There aren’t a lot of facilities, but there are usually a few food vendors at Flamenco’s entrance. One of the most striking elements are the handful of abandoned WW II Sherman tanks, now being reclaimed by Mother Nature, and emblazoned with graffiti.

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