Sun soaked islands packed with pleasures
By Patti Pietschmann Travel Diva
One of the many pleasures of cruising, especially for sybarites, is visiting tropical islands. It’s like being a kid in a candy store. You get to go from one sun-drenched port to another without ever having to hop on a plane. Here are a few of my favorites.
Aruba—Known as the ‘happy island’, this picture postcard Dutch West Indies island has everything from duty free shopping to interesting restaurants and pristine beaches. You can spend the day walking around the charming town or take a bus to the beach. Body boarders should head out to Amdociro Beach on Aruba’s windward side south of the collapsed Natural Bridge. Be on alert for strong currents.
Aruba, which is laced with white-sand beaches, 82-degree days, and some of the warmest people in the world, is also considered one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean.
A friendly place in the sun with beautiful beaches and great bargains to be had. Best excursion is one that takes you to beach or on a catamaran. Head over to Long Pond one of the planet’s most amazing and peaceful estuaries where the locals go to soak in the Hot Pot—a nature-made whirlpool.
Chic, but French casual, this tiny island if filled with a joie d’vivre. Any restaurant served great cuisine and the lagoons and beaches are awesome. Great for snorkeling and diving. Fun thing to do is rent a bike and circle the 32-mile island (if you have time).
St. Barths—also fabulously French this little island is packed with fine restaurants, high end shops and ambiance. Shell Beach is the best and accessible from the pier where passengers are taken by launch from ships that dock in the harbor. Fun thing to do is rent a scooter and drive around the island.
St. Lucia—so unspoiled and breathtaking. Take a tour of the area or go off on your own to explore. Work on your that famous St. Tropez tans (but use sunscreen) at one of the rocky beaches. Shop ‘til you drop at the designer stores or just walk, walk, Walk.
Monte Carlo—not really best for beaching it but there are casinos to try your luck and very expensive retail therapy spots.
Maui—wowie. Ships dock in one of two ports here, either Wailuku or LaHaina. The former is a tiny port where you can shop for souvenirs or eat a couple of spots like Margaritas. I like it when the ship anchors off Lahaina which offers lots of boutiques, souvenir shops and bars and restaurants.
Stop for a drink at the famous Pioneer Inn or any other bar/restaurant. Take an island excursion or head to any of a number of beautiful beaches.
Tour options include hikes, parasailing, jet skiing, kite skiing, snorkeling and diving.
The fabulous French Riviera
Martinique—filled with eye candy (especially bronze, topless women) this island bursts with French ambiance. Lots of shops, beaches and tours.
Nice—old world meets modern times in this French Riviera resort town. It’s an easy area to go on foot. And beaches are just few short steps away. If you have time do go out for lunch or dinner depending on when you ship sails. Also consider taking a ship’s excursion.
Spanish style sun spot
San Juan, Puerto Rico—I love San Juan. So much history, great shopping and restaurants. If you have time take an excursion around the island. After your leave San Juan it gets more pristine.
Portofino—that’s Italian. This hideaway of the rich and famous reeks of wealth and Italian ambiance. Any trattoria in the sun is worth going to. Portofino is a fishing village on the Italian Riviera coastline, southeast of Genoa city. Pastel-colored houses, high-end boutiques and seafood restaurants fringe its Piazzetta, a small cobble stone square overlooks the harbor, which is lined with super-yachts. A path leads from the Piazzetta to Castello Brown, a 16th-century fortress and museum with art exhibitions and panoramic views of the town and the Ligurian Sea.