From the walled heights of Fort King George, to the threshold of Pigeon Point, southwest Tobago around the capital Scarborough reveals unrivaled controversial tropics.
If Christiansted established itself as the capital and main commercial center of the island of Saint Croix, the “sister” of the leeward side, Frederiksted had its civilizational apogee when there was the revolt and subsequent liberation of the slaves that ensured the colony's prosperity.
It has the reputation of being the wildest island in the Caribbean and, having reached its bottom, we continue to confirm it. From Soufriére to the inhabited southern edge of Scotts Head, Dominica remains extreme and difficult to tame.
Nestled between the foot of Olivees Mountain and the ocean, tiny Basseterre is the largest city in Saint Kitts and Nevis. With French colonial origins, long Anglophone, it remains picturesque. It is only distorted by the gigantic cruises that flood it with hit-and-run visitors.
During his second voyage to the Americas, Columbus landed on an enchanting exotic island. He named it Savona, in honor of Michele da Cuneo, a Savoyard sailor who saw it as an outstanding feature of the greater Hispaniola. Today called Saona, this island is one of the beloved tropical edens of the Dominican Republic.
It is believed that the Caquetío natives called him oruba, or “well situated island”. Frustrated by the lack of gold, the Spanish discoverers called it a “useless island”. As we travel through its Caribbean summit, we realize how much more sense Aruba's first baptism always made.
In 1733, Denmark bought the island of Saint Croix from France, annexed it to its West Indies where, based at Christiansted, it profited from the labor of slaves brought from the Gold Coast. The abolition of slavery made colonies unviable. And a historic-tropical bargain that the United States preserves.
During a backpacking tour of Costa Rica in 2003, the Caribbean warmth of Cahuita delights us. In 2021, after 18 years, we return. In addition to an expected, but contained modernization and hispanization of the town, little else had changed.
Shortly after Columbus' arrival in the Americas, the Castilians discovered a Caribbean island they called Brazil. Afraid of the pirate threat, they hid their first village in a valley. One century after, the Dutch took over this island and renamed it Bonaire. They didn't erase the unpretentious name of the trailblazer colony: Rincon.
San Juan is the second oldest colonial city in the Americas, after the Dominican neighbor of Santo Domingo. A pioneering emporium and stop over on the route that took gold and silver from the New World to Spain, it was attacked again and again. Its incredible fortifications still protect one of the most lively and prodigious capitals in the Caribbean.
A Dutch colony in the Caribbean became a major slave hub. It welcomed Sephardic Jews who had taken refuge from the Iberia Inquisition in Amsterdam and Recife. And it assimilated influences from the Portuguese and Spanish villages with which it traded. At the heart of this secular cultural fusion has always been its old capital: Willemstad.
Against all odds, one of the most unspoiled Dominican coastlines is also one of the most remote. Discovering the province of Pedernales, we are dazzled by the semi-desert Jaragua National Park and the Caribbean purity of Bahia de las Águilas.