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Category Archives:The Bahamas

5 Caribbean islands that will take your breath away

When searching for a slice of island life in which to spend a few days on vacation, by scrolling through the wonders of the Caribbean you would be hard pressed not to feel spoilt for choice. From relaxing on pristine beaches to hiking up rigorous mountains, there is sure to be something for everyone in this pocket of paradise.

When visiting the Caribbean, quite often it can be hard to go wrong, but when searching for deals, sometimes you just need a bit of a kick start. Here are just 5 islands to get your travel juices flowing.

Incredible sunsets are the highlight of Negril

Negril Jamaica

Negril is a paradise on the island of Jamaica with one beautiful white, 7 mile long beach dotted with resorts along its entirety. It is temperate year round and even through the afternoon tropical rain, which occurs daily around 2pm, it is still lovely weather for swimming.

The beautiful white sand runs seamlessly into the calm Caribbean waters, and being on the western side of the island makes it a perfect spot to watch the incredible sunset that lights up the sky every night. Negril is home to some of the best sunsets I’ve ever experienced so it is easy to see why many in the north visit here so frequently.

castaway cay bahamas

Castaway Cay, Bahamas

Beautiful crisp white sand and crystal clear azure water. All this with the added magic that Disney brings to every project they undertake. Welcome to Castaway Cay.

Castaway Cay is Disney’s own private island and it can only be reached on one of Disney Cruise Line’s Caribbean cruises. The island is divided into two main sections: a large primary horseshoe beach complete with an over-water jungle gym, and an adults only beach over the back of the island, where the atmosphere is much quieter.

Although the island is incredibly beautiful, Disney, of course, bring their own charm to the island, with features named for popular Disney characters and places, as well as visits from characters throughout the day.

Planes flying over Maho Beach St Maarten

Sint Maarten/Saint Martin

Not many islands this small offer visitors the opportunity to visit two very distinct cultures on the one island. Settled by the Dutch and the French, each side is visibly different, highlighting the incredible beauty of the respective archictecture, cuisine, and way of life.

Maho Beach on the island’s southwest is also adjacent to the airport so beachgoers are treated to a real show as the low planes almost skim the beach on their way in and out. It’s truly a sight to behold.

Vintage car in Havan Cuba by Jan Arendtsz via Flickr CC


I have actually not been to Cuba, but it makes it into this article because it very high on of my list of places to visit soon. I tried to include it in my current USA/Caribbean trip but it was difficult to make it work how I wanted within the budget I could afford; flights are still quite expensive.

The reason I tried so hard to fit it in is because to me it comes across as a time capsule, a country frozen in time without access to much of the Americanism the rest of the world has been used to for the last 60 years.

The authentic culture is what attracts me most because of that restriction they’ve had from US exports. And now that the borders have just been opened up I expect the influence will begin to trickle through so time is of the essence.

The buildings and the cars are one thing, but once you get out of Havana, there is also many beautiful beaches to relax on with that perfect azure water flowing into that soft white sand. Varadero, Cayo Santa Maria and Playa los Flamencos are just some of the beaches you can explore, and are surrounded by resorts.

Sting Rays at Gibbs Cay, Grand Turk. Photo by visittci.com

Grand Turk

Grand Turk is a tiny island of only 18km squared. It is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands right near the edge of the Caribbean. Grand Turk hasn’t always been, but it is another big stop on the cruise circuit because it is geographically situated about half way between the eastern Caribbean Islands and Florida.

Apart from a convenience though it also boasts one of the best beaches in the world for snorkelling with sting rays. This is on Gibbs Beach, an even smaller island a short boat ride away from the main island.

The sting rays are friendly and as long as you follow the instructions from the tour operators and tread carefully you’ll be able to wade among the majestic creatures without incident. (I don’t believe you can visit easily without doing a tour).

I know there are many, many more breathtaking islands in the Caribbean, so which one is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.

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A Visit to Disney’s Island “Castaway Cay”

castaway cay bahamas

If there’s one thing we can be sure of it’s that Disney do nothing in small measures. This goes for their movies, their theme parks and especially their cruise line. While visiting the States earlier this year my wife and boarded a brief 4 night cruise that stopped at Nassau, Key West and Disney’s own Castaway Cay: A spectacular tropical oasis hidden from the world, accessible only by a Disney Cruise liner.

Synonymous with cruises in general in an excess of food, cocktails and sitting by the pool. Disney takes this to the next level with 3 pools for various ages, more food than you can imagine at each meal plus takeaway food basically anytime normal people are awake. For me though, the feature that screamed “Disney” more than anything was a wall-sized mosaic of the little mermaid that took 5 women 5 months to create:Little Mermaid mosaic on Disney Wonder


The level of detail is just phenomenal
The level of detail is just phenomenal

The night entertainment was second to none, especially if you are a Disney fan. Which you are if you are on a Disney Cruise. The first night was a broadway style musical called “The Golden Mickey’s”. A show vaguely plotted around a fictitious awards show with the real interest being the show-stopping numbers including Under the Sea (Little Mermaid), I’ll Make a Man out of You (Mulan), Beauty and the Beast (really?) and Can you Feel the Love Tonight (The Lion King). These came complete with over the top authentic costumes and incredible dance moves. 

This, however, was topped on the second night of the cruise with the stage adaptation of Toy Story. I was in heaven. I say heaven, but I actually felt like I was in Andy’s room when Andy leaves. They even added in some extra songs for extra authenticity. I have just found a video of the entire show on YouTube. If you have a spare hour, watch it here.

Toy Story the Musical

The highlight and cornerstone of the week is most certainly Disney’s own Castaway Cay. The ship spews out the thousands of visitors to an idyllic, remote location with white sand and a protected, turquoise bay. Adults can have cocktails delivered to your umbrella on Serenity Bay as you wonder the rest of the world are living. Being the only inhabitants on the island it was not even necessary to bring cash. A huge BBQ lunch is provided and for everything else, just swipe your room key.

Serenity Bay
Serenity Bay

After a morning of relative solitude we headed back to Castaway Cay to face the masses. Despite the onset of children and splashing, the scene was just a beautiful. And the view across the bay towards the ship was magnificent. I’ve seen some blue waters in my time but this just about tops the list. You can’t help but be relaxed when this is your view. It’s a strange thought, but you even feel bad for reading your book because every word your eyes skim is another second not taking in the surroundings.

Castaway Cay
Castaway Cay
Looking across Castaway Cay from the 'Heads up Bar at Pelican Point'.
Looking across Castaway Cay from the ‘Heads up Bar at Pelican Point’.

After a long day with this as my postcard it was time to able over to the ship to begin the nightly routine of eat, rest, eat, repeat. We had booked the adults only restaurant ‘Palo’ for a taste of high class. Generally when classy establishments like this don’t have prices on the menu you immediately begin to worry that your mortgage won’t be able to cover this meal. Not a problem on a cruise because you know you’ve already paid for it.

Disney Cruise lines pride themselves on everything have a Disney theme. With the exception of Palo, the regular restuarants are no exception. Mentioned earlier was Triton’s with the Little Mermaid mural, Parrot Cay was another, but my favourite of these was actually ‘Animators Palate’. A largely white room with sketches of Disney characters drawn in frames over the walls. Throughout the night the sketches evolved into a finished character.

Animators Palate aboard the Disney Wonder
Animators Palate aboard the Disney Wonder

These were some of the non-chronological highlights on my 4 night Bahamian Disney Cruise in April 2014. Cruises are great at the best of times, but Disney just take it to the next level, seamlessly combining child-like Disney fun with all out adult class. I would recommend this to families and couples alike. Even better, take the grandparents to babysit your kids while you enjoy the best of both worlds!

All 507 photos of the cruise can be viewed in my Flickr album.

Have you ever been on a Disney Cruise? I’d love to hear how your experience differed from mine. Post a comment below or link me to your own blog.

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