The Caribbean Continent
As regular readers will know my lovely fiancé Henry proposed to me in the Caribbean.
‘Ah the Caribbean’, people say when I tell them, and I tell a lot of people. What they don’t say, and this surprises me, is ‘where in the Caribbean?’
It’s as if the whole place has been lumped in together as one entity, which is a shame because the islands are all so different. Yes, Barbados is beautiful, St Lucia is lush and Antigua is awesome. But every island has something unique to offer, so I always tell people to explore the Caribbean as if it’s Europe. You wouldn’t go to Spain and assume to know what Italy is like.
My latest Caribbean love is Dominican Republic. It has finally shed its undeserved reputation as a place full of massive sprawling all-inclusive hotels with wristbands galore and organised fun by the pool. There are loads of great little places to stay and no less than six hotels that are small AND luxurious. Which is a combo we really like around here.
This country alone is diverse enough to please just about anyone. As long as they don’t have an issue with wonderful weather, lovely people and a brilliant blue sea… those things are fairly inescapable unless you lock yourself in your room with the air conditioning on.
Take Barahona. Here you’ve got Lago de Enriquillo, a stunning lake that looks like it’s on the moon, surrounded by unique flora and an array of animals including crocodiles (so don’t get tempted to have a dip!). Nearby is the Haitian border town of Malpasse, which is perfect if you fancy haggling in a proper marke. There’s also two beaches (Malecon and El Cayo) that offer genuine seclusion. On the topic of seclusion, Casa Bonita (a lodge surrounded by mountains, jungle and the sea) is a 12-room eco-lodge next to a biosphere reserve that has its own farm. Locally sourced natural products in the spa and a candlelit Jacuzzi result in the perfect little retreat from which to explore the treasures of the area.
I’m already excited just writing about it and that’s just one hotel in one area of one country in the Caribbean!
Then there’s Punta Cana which is great for water sports and beautiful mangroves, UNESCO World Heritage City and Santo Domingo with its 16th Century architecture and café-lined squares, whale-watching heaven Samana, and the incredible waterfalls and vibrant beaches of Puerto Plata. There’s at least a month’s worth of holiday in the Dominican Republic and that’s for tourists who like to be busy. Win the lottery, retire and take your time and you could spend seven or eight years vacationing in this section of the Caribbean.
Have you got a favourite Caribbean island? I’d love to know which one it is. Answers below please…
See you next week!