Image

Quirky Caribbean: Pilgrimage-worthy experiences

1 Jun

If you're boating near Big Major Cay in the Exuma Cays,

Catamaran cruises, zipline rides and island tours on air conditioned buses may be reliable outings away from the beach but it’s the wild, wonderful and wacky that morphs a great vacation into a grand one. For tons of funky fun and awesome bragging rights, check our list of quirky stuff to do and get ready to swim with the pigs, learn how to sing and toast the sunset on a bar floating in the middle of nowhere.

The Bahamas

The pigs are as comfortable in the water as they are on land, and are particularly partial to hot dogs. (Photo: Island Routes)

If you’re out on Big Major Cay, you may blink twice and then blame the potent daiquiris you enjoyed the night before. But if you’re boating in the Exuma Cays, a flotilla of paddling pigs is exactly what you’re seeing aboard the Exuma Cay Ocean Safari Tour. Big wild pigs with stumpy legs and hairy ears frolic in the waves, gulping food handouts from awestruck onlookers. Grunting and snorting, the pigs are as comfortable in the water as they are on land. While not native to the island nicknamed Pig Island, they arrived quite a long ago with a group of sailors. When the sailors left, the pigs stayed behind, adapting to life in and out of the water. The swimming swine are delighted to frolic with anyone who dares to jump off the boat with snacks in hand (note to swimmers: the pigs have a penchant for hot dogs). If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the large critters trotting across the sand when they see the 35-foot Power Cat getting close to shore. Keep your camera in hand as they hurl themselves into the surf just in time to quaff the edible donations and pose for photos worth a million memories.

St Maarten

With an exhilarating dose of wind-in-your-hair speed, the race takes up to three hours depending on wind and sea conditions and with a maximum of eighteen racers and three crew members on each yacht, it’ll be the most fun you’ll have on the water. (Photo: St Maarten Tourism Bureau)

You can grind a winch, trim a sail or punch a stopwatch on one of the fastest yachts in the world aboard the ‘12 Metre Challenge‘. Departing from Bobby’s Marina in the Dutch-side capital city of Philipsburg, yachters and wannabes learn how to race on the Canada II, True North and the winning America’s Cup Stars & Stripes; the marquis yachts that raced in the 1987 America’s Cup Regatta. Best suited to those who like fast boats on the open sea, racers are given an informative briefing dockside, divided into teams and then head out to the thoroughbred yachts onboard smaller tender boats. Crew members teach the basics, team members are assigned duties from sail trimmer to cold beer dispenser, flags are raised and the race begins around the marks in Great Bay. With an exhilarating dose of wind-in-your-hair speed, the race takes up to three hours depending on wind and sea conditions and with a maximum of eighteen racers and three crew members on each yacht, it’ll be the most fun you’ll have on the water.

Puerto Rico

Master bartenders at Mezzanine at St. Germain in the heart of Old San Juan teach a liquid lesson to hooch fans, from distillation and bottling techniques. (Photo: Ian Stevenson)

There’s no mistaking what goes on during the ‘Boozy Bites Rum Tasting Tour‘ in San Juan. Only for those who can legally imbibe (18 years or older in Puerto Rico), the potent tour marries local rums with tasty tapas. Master bartenders at Mezzanine at St. Germain in the heart of Old San Juan teach a liquid lesson to hooch fans, from distillation and bottling techniques to how to savor top aged rums like the smooth Don Q Gran Añejo and the cocktail-ready Ron Del Barrilito. Tours are offered daily except Monday and are ideal for bachelor parties, birthday celebrations and corporate ice breakers.

Curacao

Tours organized to the picturesque nature reserve are offered early morning or late afternoon on Tuesdays and Fridays or any other day if a pack of three or more cycling pals sign up in advance. (Photo: Curacao Tourism Board)

On the southeast side of Curacao, Jan Thiel Lagoon is not only unique for the beautiful, intact salt flats but also as home to the largest flamingo colony on the island. Perfect for active and ‘salt of the earth’ types, ‘Biking through The Salt Flats‘ takes mountain bikers to see the graceful birds on parade and the expansive views of the Bay seen nowhere else on the island. Tours organized to the picturesque nature reserve are offered early morning or late afternoon on Tuesdays and Fridays or any other day if a pack of three or more cycling pals sign up in advance.

St. Kitts

After lunch it’s back to the kitchen for lessons in ‘Mango 101’, including recipes for everything from chutney to ice cream to a body scrub. (Photo: Kittitian Hill)

With more than 100 varieties of mangoes growing on Kittitian Hill, it’s no surprise the upscale Belle Mont Farm offers ‘Do the Mango Walk’ through the 400 acre organic farm. Offered every Saturday morning to guests of the eco-lavish resort, mango foraging in the forest is led by a team of farmers who point out the “Pick Me” signs in front of the trees bearing ripe fruit. Mango lovers fill their wooden baskets with all sorts of varieties, from the ‘East Indian Mango’ to the citrusy ‘Lemon zest’, and head for a shady spot under a mango tree for a delectable lunch. After that it’s back to the kitchen for a lesson in ‘Mango 101’. Executive Chef Christophe Letard showcases for visitors his recipes for making mango butter, chutney, jam, ice cream and a mango body scrub that refreshes and rejuvenates sun-tired skin.

Barbados

As the songs are taught by ear, reading music isn’t necessary. (Photo: Barbados Singing Holidays)

If singing in the shower is as close to starring on Broadway as it gets for you, ‘Barbados Singing Holiday‘ may be right up your alley. In a beachfront villa called Ebb Tide in the Parish of St. James, Mike King is the brains and the voice behind the most unique week you’ll spend on the island. A former vocal coach on the British version of ‘The Voice’, he also smashed a Guinness World Record by directing 5,000 singers at Wembley Arena and has worked with superstars like Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo. Life-changing for some and just plain fun for others, a singing holiday is about learning new skills or beefing up old ones. As the songs are taught by ear, reading music isn’t necessary. From soul and jazz to gospel and pop, the week-long vocal vacay is capped by a concert in the garden, complete with a steel pan players and a sumptuous barbecue. For those who want to shake up the mix, plenty of quieter activities are also offered from scuba and yoga to golf and a tour of the Mount Gay Rum factory.

Dominican Republic

Tour guides and snorkelers board a boat to ‘3 Rocks Reef ‘; three sections of coral reef that span more than one hundred feet. (Photo: Chukka)

Upping the ante for those who like to explore underwater, ‘Power Snorkel Safari‘ is a super cool adventure that starts at Sosua Bay on the north coast. Tour guides and snorkelers board a boat to ‘3 Rocks Reef ‘; three sections of coral reef that span more than one hundred feet. Hosting a colorful cornucopia of fish, flowers and the endangered staghorn coral that can be spotted closest to the third rock, snorkelers get to be their own captain as they glide their own propulsion machine through clouds of color.

Trinidad

For those who don’t mind the black critters, or who might even say they’re cute; ‘Tamana Caves Hiking Tour’ is made to order. (Photo: Courtenay Rooks)

Thousands of bats (literally thousands) call the caves below Mount Tamana home. On the eastern edge of the Central Range that rises 1000 feet above sea level, the intricate cave systems below are a breathtaking geological wonder. They are also where small bats flit about especially at sunset when they follow the river rapids. For those who don’t mind the black critters, or who might even say they’re cute; ‘Tamana Caves Hiking Tour‘ is made to order. After a 30-minute hike, the caves are within view with the first chamber the best perch for up close-up encounters. Trekkers with moxie can get down on all fours and wriggle through the small hole that leads to the rest of the caves where the bats take pleasure in landing on your shoulder and whizzing by your head.

The Middle of Nowhere (Jamaica)

Named for the flocks of pelicans that rest on the sand banks, owner Floyd Forbes always dreamed of opening a bar in the middle of the sea. (Photo: thingstodoinjamaica.com)

In Parottee Bay in the Parish of St. Elizabeth on the south coast, ‘Pelican Bar Catamaran Cruise‘ is the hands-down quirkiest tour on the island. A 20-minute sail takes partiers to Floyd’s Pelican Bar; a funky structure on stilts, teetering on a huge sandbar three-quarters of a mile out in the sea. Blanketed in relics donated by visitors from around the world, mementos like t-shirts or license plates are welcome additions to the rustic decor. The water here is just waist-deep, which means swimmers and non-swimmers are welcome to take a dip in the shallow waves, sip a cold Red Stripe and dig into a platter of perfectly grilled lobster (though that must be ordered in advance). Named for the flocks of pelicans that rest on the sand banks, owner Floyd Forbes always dreamed of opening a bar in the middle of the sea. Featuring driftwood, palm fronds and coconut tree trunks, the bar that opened in 2001 is one of the most unusual drinking stations in the Caribbean: As the bar is really floating in the middle of nowhere, Floyd has an open-door policy because there is no door. That means if he is not there, guests simply walk inside, play a game of dominos, pour a beer or two and leave cash on the bar to pay for it before getting back on the boat to shore.

Source: Experience Caribbean

 

Follow our Blog for updates, and Visit us at:

Metro Caribbean Official Website

Metro Caribbean Twitter Page

Metro Caribbean Instagram Page

Metro Caribbean Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: