Caribbean 2
Home Up Basic Information

Virgin Islands 2011 Who Went? Mara's Triumph: A five-chapter saga
Pre-Cruise Party Rick's Scrapbook Guest Scrapbook About the Caribbean 1 About the Caribbean 2 Information

Caribbean 2 - How Much Do You Know about the Caribbean Sea?  

Article written by Rick Archer
August 2010

How did the Caribbean Sea get its name?

Common sentiment says the name "Caribbean" is derived from the Carib Indians who occupied the southernmost region of the Caribbean area including the Island of Grenada and much of the north coast of South America.

The Caribbean Sea could just as easily have been named the "Taino Sea".  The Tainos had inhabited the area first.  The Caribs migrated up from the Orinoco River area in Venezuela to challenge the Tainos.  After centuries of struggle, the Caribs won of the southern half of what we now call the Caribbean.

And what did they win?  Once the Spaniards showed up in the 15th Century, the Carib tribes were decimated by disease and warfare.  Add them to the list.

Nevertheless, the Carib Indians were the dominant native group at the time Spain took over. When the Spaniards came to the area, they were particularly taken with the Carib's masterful farming skills. 

They were master farmers who produced an excellent crop of beans that impressed the Spanish no end. So, technically speaking, it is the Carib Bean Sea. 

I am just kidding of course.  Let me remind you that I make stuff up from time to time.  Although I try to be accurate, always keep in mind that anything written by a guy who gets most of his wisdom from crossword puzzles needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Question Nine:
What does this rhyme refer to? 

"June too soon // July stand by // August come it must // September remember // October all over."


Haiti and the Dominican Republic

Now back to the story of Hispaniola, the Disappearing Island.

The Taino Indians (sometimes also referred to as Arawaks) may have lost the struggle for the southern part of the Caribbean region to the Caribs, but they were the predominant tribe on the island that Columbus renamed "Hispaniola" in 1492. 

The story of these people is terrible.  The Taino population of the island was rapidly decimated, owing to a combination of disease and harsh treatment by Spanish overlords.

The natives lacked immunity to smallpox.  Entire tribes were extinguished.  From an estimated initial population of 250,000 in 1492, the Arawaks had dropped to 14,000 by 1517.  Less than one in ten remained.  To add insult to injury, the Spanish began to replace them.  In 1501, the colony began to import African slaves, believing them more capable of performing physical labor.  In 1574, a census taken of the Greater Antilles reported 1,000 Spaniards and 12,000 African slaves on Hispaniola.

The sad fate of "Hispaniola" can be traced to the second voyage of Columbus.  On his return the subsequent year to La Navidad, his Christmas Fort on the western side of the island, he found that the Taino indians had murdered all his men and burned down the fort. 

Disgusted, Columbus sailed farther east to the other end of the island and founded a new settlement in what is now the present day Dominican Republic.  After a hurricane forced them to relocate once more, this settlement became Santo Domingo, now the modern day capital of the Dominican Republic. 

As Spain conquered far wealthier new regions on the mainland of the Americas such as Peru and Mexico, its interest in Hispaniola waned.  Meanwhile the western part of the island remained abandoned by the Spanish.  At this point, pirates moved in.

In 1606, the King of Spain ordered all inhabitants of Hispaniola to move close to Santo Domingo on the eastern side of the island to avoid interaction with the dangerous pirates.  This decision backfired terribly.  Rather than secure the island, this resulted in French, English and Dutch pirates establishing permanent bases on the now-abandoned north and west coasts of the island with little fear.  This amounted to letting a nest of wasps take up residence on your front porch. 

The majority of the pirates were French buccaneers.  They survived by pirating Spanish ships and hunting wild cattle. Although the Spanish destroyed the buccaneers' settlements several times, these nomads just put to sea and returned the moment the coast was clear.  The first official settlement on Tortuga, the famous den of thieves just off the coast of northwestern Hispaniola was established in 1659 under the commission of French King Louis XIV.  The French now had a toehold in western Hispaniola.

Being one of the few areas in the New World under French control, the French invested heavily in its new territory.  The area became known as the "Pearl of the Antilles" – one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire!

By the 1780s, the area produced about 40 percent of all the sugar and 60 percent of all the coffee consumed in Europe. This single colony, roughly the size of Maryland or Belgium, produced more sugar and coffee than all of Britain's West Indian colonies combined.  

Unfortunately, all this wealth was created by slave labor.  The French proved no better than the Spanish.  They treated their slaves brutally.  When the French Revolution began in 1789, the slaves saw their opportunity and revolted as well.  The French were too preoccupied with their own problems to send enough soldiers to quell the problem on their profitable island.  In 1802, Napoleon tried to recapture the island, but with limited success.  Napoleon needed money to fight his wars.  So in 1803, he sold Louisiana to Thomas Jefferson and abandoned his remaining interest in the island.  To hell with the New World.

With Napoleon gone, by 1804, the slaves were now firmly in control.  They renamed their territory "Haiti", Land of the Mountains, in honor of the ancestral Taino Indians. 

In 1821, the eastern side of the Hispaniola declared its independence from Spain. Their independence was short-lived.  Nine weeks later, the Haitian side of the island invaded the east and took control.

This occupation was deeply unpopular with the people living on the eastern side of the island.  It pitted the Spanish white elite against the iron fisted black Haitian administration.  This stimulated the emigration of many white wealthy families and created an enormous power vacuum.  The economy of the eastern side collapsed.

The entire island remained under Haitian rule until 1844.  In the east a nationalist group called La Trinitaria led a bloody revolt that helped convert the country into the Dominican Republic

Haiti didn't give up.  In the next ten years, there were four new invasions!  It was as bad as Israel and its Arab enemies for a while there.  Hatred flared between the two peoples. 

Still today, the various memories and interpretations of the occupation and the subsequent invasions fuels animosities between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.  At this point, the island was permanently divided - the predominantly black Haitians of French and African descent against many white Dominicans of Spanish descent. 

Haiti's recent history has been nothing but disaster.  Plagued by a succession of ruthless dictators, Haiti has descended into complete political chaos and total poverty. 

Meanwhile the Dominican Republic has enjoyed far more success.  Modeling its own government after the USA, today its citizens are six times wealthier than those of Haiti.  This has set up a tense border situation similar to the USA and Mexico where the Dominican Republic does everything it can to keep the Haitians out. 

Meanwhile, the island is still known today as "Hispaniola". However, the name has virtually disappeared because we don't think of the place as an "island" any more. It is so divided politically and economically that it has practically become two islands in our mind.  In some ways, the situation is even worse than North and South Korea.  Here on Hispaniola, the two nations are separated by race, economic development, and heritage. 

"Hispaniola" is unlikely to resume being a united island in our lifetime.  The Curse of Columbus can be thanked for that.  It all started when the Taino Indians destroyed his first settlement and forced him to move to the other side of the island. The island has been divided ever since.

Answer to our seventh question: Which is larger, the Caribbean Sea or the Mediterranean Sea?

If you said the "Mediterranean Sea" was larger, you were wrong, but not by much.  The two seas are very close in size. 

The Mediterranean Sea covers over 969,100 square miles. It is 2,220 miles long.

The Caribbean is about 1,063,000 square miles, so it wins the size battle.  However, since it is only about 1,600 miles long, the Mediterranean has the greater length.

Question Nine: What vast body of water is called a "Sea", but is not a "Sea"?

The Caspian Sea is considered a Lake, not a sea.  Alas, I could not find an answer to explain this oddity.

You might ask what this question has to do with our Caribbean article.  Probably not much, huh?  But it was a fun question to ask.

Why is the climate in the Caribbean
so perfect?

Earlier I asked what separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea. 

If you said Cuba, then go to the head of the line.  Cuba practically connects Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.  Probably at some point in the Earth's evolution, you have to wonder if it was possible to walk from Miami to Cancun.

There are only two water entrances from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico.  One is the Straits of Florida that separate Cuba and Florida.  The other is the Yucatan Channel separating Cuba and Mexico. 

This curious geography plays a big part in creating a phenomenon known as the Gulf Stream.

As you can on the map, in the North Atlantic, the current is redirected south towards Africa.  These waters are called the North Equatorial Current. Once these broad, slow waters reach Africa, they curve to the west.

As the current approaches the Caribbean Sea, water is funneled through the many channels between the arc of Caribbean Islands that stretch from Florida to South America.  Now these waters flow towards Mexico through the Caribbean Sea.

Eventually the waters of the Caribbean reach the Yucatan Channel.  This narrow channel compresses the water which now accelerates and gains strength.  Curving to the right, this accelerated water flow into the Gulf of Mexico. This is where we can first observe an organized water flow on satellite images.

Once this flow enters the Gulf of Mexico at the Yucatan Channel, the current is commonly referred to as the Loop Current.  The Loop Current begins to curve to the right and exits the Gulf at the Straits of Florida between Florida and Cuba.  Once the water leaves the Gulf, it becomes known as the Gulf Stream.

Once the Gulf Stream leaves the Florida Straits, it hugs the eastern coastline of the United States.  When it reaches Canada, the waters curve to the right and become part of the North Atlantic Current to begin the cycle again.

Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean Islands owe a great debt to the Gulf Stream.  It keeps sea surface temperatures warm, which then cause the areas around it to be warm and more hospitable.  The temperatures in Florida and much of the Southeastern United States for instance is mild all year round.  No snow in the Caribbean.

Answer to Question Nine:  "June too soon // July stand by // August come it must // September remember // October all over."

If you said "Hurricanes", then you are correct.  The flip side of the Gulf Stream is that it plays a major part in the formation of Hurricanes.

As well as keeping the climate mild and comfortable throughout the Caribbean, the Gulf Stream’s warm sea surface temperatures also aid in the formation and strengthening of many of the hurricanes that move through the Gulf of Mexico.

There is evidence that the speed of the Gulf Stream is slowing.  This is a major problem because the Gulf Stream interacts with the cold water of the Arctic and brings it south towards Africa.  The less cold water, the more danger of hurricanes.

As the flow of cooler water from the north continues to slow, the equatorial waters will likely heat up, providing far more fuel for storms and hurricanes than existed in the past.  The slowing of the Gulf Stream is being studied closely since it could explain the severity of the recent hurricane cycles.

Of course nothing is certain.  A contrary theory has things much different.  It is believed that the Gulf Stream could be impacted in the future by global warming and the melting of glaciers.  Some studies suggest that with the melting of ice in places like Greenland, cold, dense water will flow into the ocean and disrupt the flow of the Gulf Stream and other currents that are part of the Global Conveyor Belt.

If this were to happen, weather patterns worldwide could change. 

Fortunately, the cruise industry is remarkably immune to drastic weather.  Since only one hurricane hits the Caribbean at a time, the cruise ships simply adjust their routes to avoid any danger. 

Answer to Question Eight: The Caribbean and Mediterranean are the second and third largest seas in the world.  Can you name the largest sea in the world?

1. South China Sea, Pacific Ocean
Estimated Area: 1,148,500 square miles or 2,974,600 square kilometers

2. Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Estimated Area: 971,400 square miles or 2,515,900 square kilometers

3. Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Ocean
Estimated Area: 969,100 square miles or 2,509,960 square kilometers

If you got this one right, I'm impressed. I had no idea.

A Brief History of the Caribbean

First Came Spain

After Christopher Columbus visited the Caribbean in 1493, Spain claimed the area, and its ships searched for treasure. With the Spanish discovery of the Pacific Ocean in 1513 the Caribbean became the main route of their expeditions and, later, of convoys.

He who gets there first rules.  Spanish domination of the Caribbean as well as the entirety of South America was remained unchallenged throughout the 16th century.

Then Came Britain, France, and the Netherlands

At the beginning of the 17th Century, Spanish hegemony of the region came under challenge from other European powers. The Caribbean Sea became an open battlefield among European powers who wanted a slice of the Caribbean cake. Pirates and warships of rival powers preyed on Spanish ships in the Caribbean.  Although Spain controlled most of the sea, Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark established colonies on the islands along the eastern fringe.

England takes over, Spain Loses its Grip

During the 18th Century, two main forces emerged : France and England.  England was going after one Spanish island after another.  By the 19th century, England had become the undisputed master of the seas.  It now had near total control of the Caribbean - Bahamas, Bermuda, Jamaica, Caymans, Honduras, Virgin Islands, plus an infinity number of smaller islands across the length of the Caribbean.

Meanwhile, the start of the 1800s were the beginning of the end for the Spanish Empire.  While England was busy stealing one Spanish asset after in the Caribbean, wars of independence broke out throughout Central and South America and the Philippines.  By 1825, Spain had been evicted from South America.  It was all over. 

Monroe Doctrine

U.S. policy since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 has been to exclude foreign powers from the Caribbean.

At the end of the 19th Century, new powers such as Germany and the United States of America looked for a strategic foothold in the Caribbean Sea. Finally, the USA won out.

After the Cuban-Spanish-American War (1895-1898), which signaled the complete end of Spanish presence in the Caribbean, the USA took advantage.

In the 20th Century, the Caribbean Sea came under total American control.

Panama Canal

After unsuccessful French attempts in the late 1800s to build a canal across Panama, the United States, in 1903, assumed control of the project. The 1914 opening of the Panama Canal paved the way for increased U.S. interest and involvement in this strategic sea, sometimes called the "American Mediterranean".

The New Sheriff in Town

Several Caribbean islands have U.S. military bases, many of which were established during World War II as support bases to protect the Panama Canal. The naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (est. 1899) is the oldest U.S. Caribbean base.

In 1959, Cuba became the first country to come under strong foreign influence. The USA moved aggressively to counteract a growing soviet military presence.

U.S. intervention in the affairs of Caribbean countries, such as the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the landing of U.S. marines at Santo Domingo in 1965 and at Grenada in 1983, and the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, reflects the region's importance in U.S. eyes.

From a strategic point of view, today the Caribbean Sea is considered "An American Lake", i.e. the third frontier of the USA.

The Cruise Capital of the World

Question Eleven: What area is the most popular Cruise destination in the world?

If you said "Caribbean Sea", then you would be right. 

The cruise industry’s growth is headlined by the Caribbean, which continues to rank as the dominant cruise destination, accounting for 37.02% of all itineraries in 2009.

Oddly enough, this percentage has been dropping a bit.  Previous numbers were 37.25% in 2008, 41.02% in 2007 and 46.69% in 2006.  What is strange about the declining percentage is that passenger numbers have continued to increase for the Caribbean to record numbers.  Cruise insiders explain that as new ships are built, they are assigned to other markets that aren't quite as "over-saturated" as the Caribbean.

A good example of this trend is Carnival's Magic.  This brand new ship is being assigned to Galveston in 2011 because the Texas market is underrepresented.  Galveston is extremely convenient to the Gulf of Mexico which is considered an area ripe for expansion. 

Thanks to moves like the emphasis on Galveston, 75% of all Americans are now considered to be within "driving distance" of a cruise port.  Hmm.  Interesting stat.  Tell that to the people who live in the Midwest. 

Another area being developed in the cruise industry are "Riverboats" that take passengers down the Nile, the Rhine, and the Danube.  Apparently wherever there's water, there's cruise ships.

I know you are curious, so here is how the cruise pie is divided based on a 2008 study:

  Caribbean 43%
Alaska 25%
Bahamas 25%
Hawaii 15%
Mediterranean/Greek Islands/Turkey 14%
  Bermuda 11%
Europe 9%
Panama Canal 8%
Mexico (West Coast) 8%
Australia/Polynesia 2%

As I stare at the list, I see Marla has already taken us everywhere but Bermuda, Panama, and the West Coast of Mexico.  However, there is also Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Polynesia yet to be seen. I think there is a cruise to Russia and a cruise to England in the crystal ball as well. Someday. My secret wish is a river trip down the Rhine and Danube.  What do you think about that?  Maybe when we all get rich.

For the present, another reason Caribbean destinations are so popular is these trips are economical.  Many people inside the industry refer to the Caribbean as "the less expensive Hawaii vacation."  The Caribbean owes much of its popularity to three features - price, proximity, and beauty. 

Like Hawaii, the Caribbean Sea destinations with their balmy temperatures, countless sun-blessed beaches and warm waters perfect for scuba and snorkeling remain ever popular.  Add in rain forests on every island and you have vacation paradise.

Even better, when it comes to cost and proximity, the Caribbean has Hawaii beat hands down.  A cost-conscious passenger can sail the Caribbean for less than $1,000 while a Hawaiian trip starts at $2,000 (that air fare to distant Hawaii costs a fortune).

Best of all, the islands are easy to get to and English is spoken everywhere.

Like Hawaii, many of the islands are volcanic in origin, especially most of those located in the Leeward and Windward island chains.

These islands include both young, steep and mountainous volcanic islands as well as older, eroded and limestone-capped islands recently (in geological terms) resurfaced from the deep. While some areas are volcanically active such as Montserrat, Pelee on Martinique and Kick Em Jenny just north of Grenada, most Caribbean volcanoes are dormant.

One confusing term about the Caribbean are the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles.

The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as the West Indies, are sorted by size and location into the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles, and the Greater Antilles.

The Greater Antilles refers to Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico. The Cayman Islands are also often included in the Greater Antilles because of their geographical proximity to Cuba. The Greater Antilles are made up of continental rock, part of North America, as distinct from that of the Lesser Antilles, which are mostly young volcanic or coral islands.

The Lesser Antilles refers to long stretch of volcanic islands that comprise the 2,500 miles arc from Puerto Rico to South America.  These islands are subdivided into three separate parts: the "Leeward Islands", the "Windward Islands", and the "Netherlands Antilles".

The Caribbean Leeward Islands are so named due to the prevailing winds blowing north. The Leeward Islands are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands, east of Puerto Rico and running southward to Dominica.

These islands are referred to as "leeward" because the prevailing trade winds in the area blow from the east.  Thus these islands are downwind from, or leeward of, the Windward Islands, the group of islands that first meet the trade winds.  By the way, I think you have to be a sailor to understand this. 

The Windward Islands are the southern islands.  They are called such because they were more windward to sailing ships arriving in the New World than the Leeward Islands, given that the prevailing trade winds blow east to west. The trans-Atlantic currents and winds that provided the fastest route across the ocean brought these ships to the rough dividing line between the Windward and Leeward Islands.

A third category which is part of the Lesser Antilles is the Netherlands Antilles. These are islands which stretch across the north coast of South America.  These include the famous ABC islands of Venezuela - Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. 

When I study the map, I can't help but wonder if a land bridge once existed in the eastern Caribbean that connected North America to South America.


Let's Visit the Islands of the Caribbean!

When SSQQ travels to the Caribbean on April 30 - May 7, 2011, we are scheduled to visit Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands (St. Thomas and St. Croix), Antigua, St. Lucia, and Grenada.

As I stare at the pictures, it seems impossible to see much difference from island to island.  However, from what I gather, frequent visitors to the area can identify specific characteristics of each island. 

Below is the Fodor's Quiz with descriptions of the various islands.  I got 10.  See if you can beat me!

Quiz for Caribbean Lovers

How big of a Caribbean expert are you? Maybe you go every year, exploring a different island every time. Or maybe you've never been because you assume that the Caribbean is a playground solely for travelers that love nothing more than lying on the beach—all day. Take our quick quiz to test your knowledge of the islands—regular visitors will recognize many of their favorites and the rest of you just might find a destination or two that piques your interest. You'll certainly get a sense of just how different the offerings are; there truly is something for everyone.

Answers are at the very bottom

Island #1

If you come here for a taste of European village life, not for a conventional full-service resort experience, you will be richly rewarded. Go for excellent dining and wine, great boutiques with the latest fashions, and an active, on-the-go vacation. Don't go for big resorts, and make sure your credit card is platinum-plated.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) St. Martin
b) Dominica
c) Anguilla
d) St. Barts

Island #2

This island has staged one of the best comebacks of the new century, returning to the tourism scene after a disastrous volcanic eruption in 1995. Go for exciting volcano ecotourism and great diving or just to taste what the Caribbean used to be like. Don't go for splashy resorts or nightlife. You'll be happier here if you can appreciate simpler pleasures.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) St. Martin
b) St. Kitts
c) Montserrat
d) St. Thomas

Island #3

With few modern conveniences (no resorts, no fast food, no movie theaters), you can reacquaint yourself with Mother Nature or simply catch your breath. Go to dive in the clear water, to hike to the top of the Mt. Scenery, and to enjoy the peace. Don't go if you want to lounge on the beach. There is no beach.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Grenada
b) St. Barths
c) St. John
d) Saba

Island #4

With miles of brilliant beaches and a range of luxurious resorts (even a few that mere mortals can afford), this is where the rich, powerful, and famous go to chill out. Go for the fine cuisine in elegant surroundings, great snorkeling, and funky late-night scene. Don't go for shopping and sightseeing. This island is all about relaxing and reviving.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Anguilla
b) Montserrat
c) St. Croix
d) Guadeloupe

Island #5

Two nations (Dutch and French), many nationalities, one small island, a lot of development. But there are also more white, sandy beaches than days in a month. Go for the awesome restaurants, excellent shopping, and wide range of activities. Don't go if you're not willing to get out and search for the really good stuff.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Statia
b) Guadeloupe
c) St. Martin
d) Anguilla

Island #6

This exotic, tropical paradise is covered by a lush rain forest and bless with a rich, Creole culture that influences everything from its dances to its food. Go if you want to experience another culture--and still have creature comforts and access to fine beaches. Don't go if you want five-star luxury because it's rare here.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Guadeloupe
b) Nevis
c) Statia
d) St. Thomas

Island #7

One of the most green and beautiful islands in the Caribbean is, arguably, the most romantic. The scenic south and central regions are mountainous and lush, with dense rainforest, endless banana plantations, and fascinating historic sites. Along the west coast, some of the region's most picturesque and interesting resorts are interspersed with dozens of delightful inns, appealing to families as well as lovers and adventurers.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Grenada
b) Aruba
c) St. Lucia
d) Saba

Island #8

Broad vistas, sweeping seascapes, craggy cliffs, and acre upon acre of sugarcane make up the island's varied landscape. A long, successful history of tourism has been forged from the warm, Bajan hospitality, welcoming hotels and resorts, sophisticated dining, lively nightspots, and of course, magnificent sunny beaches.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) St. Lucia
b) Barbados
c) Bonaire
d) Aruba

Island #9

Some Caribbean travelers seek an undiscovered paradise, some seek the familiar and safe. This island is for the latter. On the smallest of the ABC islands, the waters are peacock blue, and the white beaches beautiful and powdery soft. For Americans, this paradise offers all the comforts of home: English is spoken universally, and the U.S. dollar is accepted everywhere.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) St. Kitt's
b) Grenada
c) Barbados
d) Aruba

Island #10

The spice business is going strong, but tourism is just as important. On the laid-back island, the only sounds are the occasional abrupt call of a cuckoo in the lush rain forest, the crash of surf in the secluded coves, and the slow beat of a big drum dance. Resorts are mostly small and charming. St. George's, the island's capital, is often called the most beautiful city in the Caribbean.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Curacao
b) Grenada
c) Barbados
d) Aruba

Island #11

This is the quintessential low-key island, where the most exciting thing is finding an elusive blue iguana while hiking the Quill. The real thrills are below the surface. Go to dive the wrecks, to hike the island's extinct volcano, and to be among the Caribbean's friendliest people. Don't go if you want to do much else.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) St. Barths
b) St. John's
c) St. Kitt's
d) St. Eustatius

Island #12

Rich in heritage and history, this warm-weather destination offers a blend of island life and city savvy, wonderful weather, spectacular diving, and charming beaches. Dutch and Caribbean influences are everywhere, but there's also an infusion of touches from around the world, particularly noteworthy in the great food. Willemstad, the picturesque capital, is a treat for pedestrians, with shopping clustered in areas around the waterfront.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Curacao
b) Bonaire
c) Aruba
d) St. Lucia

Island #13

San Juan is hopping day and night; beyond the city, you'll find a sunny escape and slower pace. So party in San Juan, relax on the beach, hike the rain forest, or play some of the Caribbean's best golf courses. You have the best of both worlds here, with natural and urban thrills alike. So go for both. Just don't expect to do it in utter seclusion.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Puerto Rico
b) Barbuda
c) Dominican Republic
d) Cayman Islands

Island #14

Easy to reach and with resorts in every price range, this island is an easy choice for many travelers. Go to enjoy the music, food, beaches, and sense of hospitality that's made it one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations. Don't go if you can't deal with the idea that a Caribbean paradise still has problems of its own to solve.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Anguilla
b) Jamaica
c) Saba
d) St. Croix

Island #15

Vacationers appreciate the mellow civility of this destination, and its exceptional Seven Mile Beach has its share of fans. Divers come to explore the pristine reefs or perhaps to swim with friendly stingrays. Go if you want a safe, family-friendly vacation spot. Don't go if you're trying to save money because are few real bargains here.

This most closely describes the island paradise of:
a) Puerto Rico
b) Aruba
c) Cayman Islands
d) Grand Turk
View our online guide to this island paradise

Answers: 1) D, 2) C, 3) D, 4) A, 5) C, 6) A, 7) C, 8) B, 9) D, 10) B, 11) D, 12) A, 13) A, 14) B, 15) C

Rick Archer's Note: When I return from the Bahamas Cruise, I will write more about each individual island.  Thanks for reading!

If you have any comments, as always,

Virgin Islands 2011 Who Went? Mara's Triumph: A five-chapter saga
Pre-Cruise Party Rick's Scrapbook Guest Scrapbook About the Caribbean 1 About the Caribbean 2 Information
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ