We know that we have told you so many wonderful things about Santa Lucia that you may have started to think we never get away from the island. While we love spending our days here, occasionally we embark on small adventures to the neighboring islands, from which we come back with bags filled with souvenirs and cameras filled with glorious memories. In today’s post, we want to tell you about the most awesome islands close to Santa Lucia, and what places to visit while you are there.
Martinique, for a taste of all that’s French
Everything you want in a tropical island, you will find here, all wrapped up in exquisite French scent. Mount Pelée erupted in 1902, so do not be surprised by the striking contrast in the relief of the island. Don’t worry, you still get to see wonderful beaches, but the best part is that there is more to Martinique than just going to the beach. If you want to see the remains of the volcanic mountain, the best thing to do is to go on a trip to Saint Pierre, a town built over the old capital of the island which was destroyed by the 1902 eruption. This is the perfect spot for scuba diving, since you can dive among the wrecks and run your own archeological experiments. In case you prefer something to do inland, we recommend going to visit the Balata Botanical Gardens, where you can admire over 3,000 species of plants and flowers characteristics to the Caribbean.
Barbados, refined elegance
If Martinique is French, Barbados will instantly remind of the British roots of some of the people living here. While Barbados won its independence from the Brits in 1966, everywhere you look, you will get that colonial feel that makes this island stand out among the Caribbean Islands. In case you want to go sunbathing on one of the most exotic beaches on the planet, the Crane beach, famous for its pink coral sand, is the place to see. The large rock formations right out on the beach off Bathsheba are next on our list. Modeled by the waves, time after time, the still standing pieces of coral reef, emerge from the ocean like giant mushrooms. This is a place ideal for taking some stunning pictures.
St Vincent and the Grenadines, the most amazing scenery in the Caribbean
If you go south of Santa Lucia, you will stumble upon an array of small islands called the Grenadines, with the focal point on St Vincent, which is the largest of them all. For some serious yachting, we recommend visiting Bequia, where the bays are constantly filled with beautiful boats floating on the water. For a taste of colonial days, take your time to stroll the cobblestone streets of St Vincent. Here you can visit a few historical landmarks, mostly old churches, and the local museum for more history. Travelers highly appreciate the Tobago Cays Marine Park, because of its particular setting. The water here is calmer and ideal for snorkeling and diving, as the area is naturally protected by coral reefs. Sunbathing and swimming are the norm here.
These are just a few of the things you can see if you want to use Santa Lucia as a home base for your travels. We hope you will find these islands as fascinating as we do, and you will come visit soon!
There are ups and downs to having hot weather almost all year round. While I’d say that the Caribbean Islands have what is called sweet weather, there are days throughout the year when, indeed, the weather is getting stifling hot. For those times, one has to be prepared and what better way to do that than by cooling on the inside? I want to talk to you about a few great dishes to have in hot weather, so you can feel cool and prepared to face the sun.
When you’re cold, a hot chicken soup is just what your body and soul need, but when the weather is hot and you feel like your AC cannot deal with it either, a watermelon soup may be exactly what you need. For us, here on the island, there is a hardly a dish that can beat this when it is too hot outside even to go to the beach. So, let me tell you about this soup and how you can do it, too.
Cut the watermelon in small pieces, carefully removing the seeds. Get the juice from a lime and puree everything in a blender. When you are done, make sure to strain all the watermelon juice without getting any of the pulp through it. The clear substance obtained this way goes back into the blender, where you mix it with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and chervil leaves. If you want to make the soup more consistent, you can add xanthan gum. When you are done with the blender, pour the mix into a bowl, season with Tabasco and salt and left it cool in the fridge. This is a soup better served cold, and it will surely have you all cooled and ready to party by night fall!
Don’t go easy on the spices
Spices make you hot, so you may think that it is the sole, most counter-intuitive choice when it comes to recommending spices for hot weather. But there is one reason why people in Central and South America love spices so much; spice help you sweat and cool yourself, so you will feel much better after you are done eating. There are so many spicy recipes I like that it is hard for me to choose just one. Nonetheless, I will try.
I like getting a pack of precooked shrimps and I sauté them with different spices. This is how I proceed. I pour a bit of olive oil in a pan and I sauté an onion, thinly diced. After the onion turns brown, I add a bit of ginger and I cook the mix until the ginger is soft. I add chili sauce, a bit of sugar and some ketchup for a thicker sauce. I prefer to blend everything in a blender for a smooth texture, once is done. In a different bowl, I sauté the shrimp together with garlic and ginger. Squeeze a lime over the shrimps and serve them with the sauce described above and you will feel like you would never eat anything else.
The Caribbean Islands must be the definition of heaven on earth, the way I see it. I seriously doubt that there is another place that can compete in terms of beautiful landscape, locals’ friendliness, amazing food, great views, nightlife entertainment, and the list could continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, I have to stop if I want to actually talk about the most important reasons why the Caribbean Islands are the place that everyone should visit, at least once in their lifetime.
Do I really have to say more? Of course, since I really want to convince you that this is paradise and you should not deny yourself the happiness of spending at least a few days here, in the Caribbean, I have to say something more than “beaches here are awesome!”. The sand is delicate for your feet, the waters are a perfect turquoise shade, and the weather is perfect. The Caribbean Islands are the place to visit all year round, since weather is almost always top notch. You can even catch a tan when your friends go skiing!
It costs less to lead a luxurious life
Accommodations here are simply perfect. You can hardly find another place on the planet where luxurious resorts, hotels and restaurants simply abound! And the best part is that you can pay for all this awesomeness with just the fraction of the money you would spend anywhere else. When it’s not peak season, the local management is really slashing prices, even by 60%, so you will have plenty to choose from.
It is always the right time for a festival
I sometimes enviously think that people here, in the Caribbean, find it really easy to be so easygoing, since life is perfect here. I also think they are, without a doubt, the best people who know how to party. It always seems to be the perfect time for holding a festival, and there are so many cultural manifestations all year round, that you would feel hard pressed not to partake in at least one of these great events.
The food of paradise
Paradise would not be complete without perfect food, which is something these islands have aplenty. As you may suspect, seafood here is out of this world, and the local dishes taste heavenly. What I noticed, along with my friends, since we moved here, is that the Caribbean cuisine is really outstanding because of its fusion status. A place where many people come and go, the Caribbean Islands have developed a particular cuisine that combines African, Chinese, Indian, European and Amerindian cuisine. In case you are not the type who courageously ventures to try local food when you travel, you will find plenty of restaurants that cater to all kinds of customers. Basically, you can have some really great pizza or a juicy hamburger, without having anyone staring at you like they are not ok with it. Specialties for kids can be found everywhere, and even your pickiest child will find something they will love.
As I may have mentioned in other posts, here we deal with parties, not events. This is our motto and our lifestyle. In the end, why not? We moved here to escape quotidian burdens, annoying bosses and having to work all day on things that most of the time have no relevance whatsoever on a personal development level. Anyway, we’re throwing a surprise party for our friends here on the island to thank them for their hospitality, but also because we want to have fun. For this event, we decided that an outdoor party would be the most appropriate.
We have chosen to hold the party on the beach and we believe there’s no better place for that. We want it to be an event strictly for fun and our aim is to ensure that everyone feels great. We’ll start in the early evening with a volleyball game (that’s something of a must around here) or a football game, depending on the choice of our guests. There’s a nice outdoor terrace that we rented for the party. However, we’re having a bit of a trouble deciding on what activities we should include. For now we have darts, backgammon and scrabble. It is very likely that people will prefer to dance and chat instead, but even so, it’s good to have them around just in case. As we mentioned, there’ll be good music and a place to dance (on the beach) so entertainment is lavishly provided
Our main concern is food related. How can we cook food for all our friends? In addition, how do we get everyone involved and avoid that some people socialize and others just hang around waiting for the food to be ready? In the end, we’ve found a miraculous solution – a raclette grill. For those who don’t know it, this is a type of grill that functions on electricity, and allows cooking a considerable amount of food at the same time. In addition to the classic grill, it also has a lower cooking compartment where you can make sauces and other simple foods. It was a great discovery for our purposes, because the raclette has a big size, so all people can gather round it and cook food together. It’s really an amazing item that we were lucky to discover for our party.
Therefore, we’ve send everybody a nice, informal invitation asking them to bring along ingredients that can be cooked on a grill, and to prepare various sauces. When we get hungry, we’ll just start cooking what we brought with ourselves and each and every one of us can get creative and prepare what they love most.
For my part, I am going to bring all sorts of vegetables and condiments. I presume they’ll taste delicious no matter what we put in them after a long volleyball game!
Most people would consider a chocolate fountain an extravagance. Actually, when I first heard about this utensil, I had a mental picture of the Trevi Fountain in Rome pouring chocolate rivers. Generally, I wouldn’t have thought about buying one, but I’m quite a social person and I host many parties at my house. One thing that can’t miss from a party, especially when you live in a hot tropical area, are fruits. The more colorful and exotic, the more your guests will be thrilled and excited. Plus, fruits have a way of being not only tasty, but also wonderful as a natural ornament, if you know how to arrange them. By themselves, they make a party look more luxurious and pompous.
However, in time, even fruit arrangements, no matter how exotic and rare, get boring, especially when you have the same old friends and neighbors coming at all your parties. That is the moment when you know you must animate your gatherings with new devices and find new ways to make people gather in groups and communicate, since you’re throwing a party and you want all your guests to enjoy themselves and socialize with one another. Well, that is how I got to thinking about trying a chocolate fountain.
I was skimming through a catalog and saw a small model – no sculpted nudes on it, but a multileveled device that promised to pump chocolate that your guests could taste or combine with various fruits. It seemed like the perfect choice for a party that took place indoors or outdoors in the garden. I took plenty of time to decide on a model, after all a poor quality chocolate fountain is no better than none at all.
I wanted to choose a high-end product that would run smoothly and not one that would malfunction and start throwing chocolate jets at my guests. In addition, I needed a product that functioned silently, producing little or no noise at all, as I was told that the mechanism that makes the chocolate pour over the fountain’s surface can get pretty noisy and, thus, be a nuisance, instead of a nice addition. In the end, the material was something I was concerned about. Not only did I want a quality and resistant material, but I wanted one that would look exquisite too, even after repeated washing and long-time use. On that matter, I believe stainless steel was the best option I could find on the market. However, I also needed a multileveled product that will create a party atmosphere, so I bought a larger model, with four levels. The device I own includes temperature controls and a feature that adjusts how thick the chocolate that pours out of it is.
It was a success, of course. People gathered round it for minutes to taste the chocolate or admire it, and everybody adored it. Now, I’m checking to see what new models I can find, with various and diverting features to surprise my guests once more.