Fortnight Caribbean Cruise Part 4: Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada and Barbados

Note: This is the fourth and final installment about the two weeks I spent aboard the Star Breeze, exploring most of the Leeward Islands Chain and the Lesser Antilles Archipelago by cruise. In this final chapter, I tell you all about remaining stops on our journey, Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, and our last day in Barbados.

In the last chapter, we left off after having spent an incredible day indulging in disaster tourism in Montserrat. After leaving port that evening, we continued our journey south to our next stop: Dominica.

I was actually very curious about this place, after all, I had heard multiple times that it was a stunning island, and in fact, I found it to be one of the most beautiful islands in the entire Caribbean.

Dominica 101 🇩🇲

First things first: Don’t confuse Dominica with the Dominican Republic. – there is no relation between the two. 😉

Geographically, Dominica is situated between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, around the half-way point between Puerto Rico to Trinidad and Tobago. It is often known as “The Nature Island of the Caribbean” due to its spectacularly lush and varied flora and fauna.

It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, and in fact, it is still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity. The island has rich mountainous rainforests, which are the home of many rare plants, animals, and bird species. It is a decent size island, with an area of 290 sq mi.

There are arid areas in some of the western coastal regions, and most of the heavy rainfall happens inland. It is actually the most mountainous island of the Lesser Antilles. Its volcanic peaks are cones of lava craters, including the famous Boiling Lake. If you don’t already know, The Boiling Lake is a flooded fumarole located in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a World Heritage site in Dominica.

Some of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed here.

It is located 6.5 miles east of Dominica’s capital Roseau, and it is filled with bubbling greyish-blue water that is usually enveloped in a cloud of vapor – giving the impression that the water is boiling. The lake is approximately 200 feet to 250 feet across, and it is the second-largest thermal lake in the world after Frying Pan Lake, located in Waimangu Valley near Rotorua, New Zealand.

So, Aside from being one of the most beautiful islands in the region, it also has a fascinating history.

For starters, Dominica was the last of the Caribbean islands to be colonized by Europeans, mainly because of the fierce resistance of the native Caribs. At first, the island was settled by the Arawak arriving from South America in the 5th century. The Island Caribs displaced the Arawak violently by the 15th century.

It was later colonized by Europeans, predominantly by the French from the 1690s to 1763. The French imported enslaved people from West Africa to Dominica to work on coffee plantations. Great Britain took possession in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War, and it gradually established English as its official language. The island finally gained independence as a republic in 1978.

Finally, in 1980, two years after independence, Dominica’s fortunes improved when a corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean. She remained in office for 15 years. Today, some 3,000 Carib Indians are still living on Dominica; they are the only pre-Columbian population residing in the eastern Caribbean.

Definitely the most beautiful island out of the bunch

Land day 11: Close call in Dominica

For our day in Dominica, we only had about six hours before having to be back on the boat, so, unfortunately, we didn’t have too much time to explore as deeply as we wanted to. We didn’t even have time to visit the boiling lake.

Fret not; we did manage to do some exploring after all. We rented a car and almost missed the ship, again.

Curious? – let’s dive right in.

Today we’re spending it in run-down, but still beautiful Dominica.

After docking, we walked from the port to the rental car company. Immediately after, we proceeded to drive south, straight to the famous Champagne Beach. This spot is known for being a top site for snorkeling, so obviously, we had to check it out for ourselves.

So that you know, this beach was named “Champagne Beach” because of small gas bubbles continuously rise from the volcanic seafloor creating fantastic underwater scenery. It has the perfect combination of crystal clear water and great marine life, making it ideal for snorkeling and diving. This spot on the southern coast, and its made up of underwater volcanic vents that emit continuous streams of bubbles making the place feel like a giant glass of champagne.

I have to admit, it was a pretty cool thing to see all the bubbles underneath, but the snorkeling experience overall was nothing special. If I’m honest, I found that the fish and coral life was slightly below average. So, we snorkeled around and enjoyed the beach for a bit and then went back to our car to continue our road trip. Most of the time, we were driving on this gravel road, which wasn’t very nice. We had no choice but to continue on this road in order to keep exploring the island a little deeper.

The road eventually took us to the capital and largest city, Dominica: Roseau. The present capital was built on the site of the ancient Island Carib village of Sairi. Today, it is the oldest and most important urban settlement on the island. The city itself has a combination of modern and colonial French architecture.

Beautiful coastline and beautiful nature.

You can find the capital on the west (leeward) coast of Dominica. We were driving on the main road that goes all the way down and then up again, all along the coast of the island… but before we could go all the way around and make it back to our starting point, we go a little bit lost.

So when we started on this road, it was paved at first. As we continued to make our way to the other side of the island, we had to go up a very steep slope and then down the other side, equally steep. The drive itself was fun, and to top it all off, we had beautiful views as we drove all along the ridge.

At one point, as we continued to drive down, the road started to become smaller, and smaller and smaller, until it turned to gravel, ending up as a small, oneway dirt road. In the end, we were basically driving through the jungle. We really thought we could make it through to the other side on this road.

Our last rental car adventure in the Caribbean…

As we continued on, we noticed that there were starting to be fewer settlements, with nothing in between. It was at this point that we started to doubt our resolve that we could take this road all around the island. Either way, we decided to see it through and continue driving forward. Until, at some point, quite secluded in the southwestern side of the island, the road ended.

We couldn’t don’t find a way to continue, and on the map, there was actually a street about half a mile away, which was supposed to keep the path, but we couldn’t find it. Eventually, we ran into a man that lives in the area, and he told us that since the last hurricane, all the streets were destroyed, and you couldn’t pass through this area anymore—a total dead end.

At the point, we had been driving 2 hours towards our dead-end. Now, we had to backtrack for two hours before we could course correct. We calculated how long it would take us, and we decided that we still had some time to spare. Spoiler alert: we figured wrong. At the point we turned around, we still had 3 hours before we had to be back on the boat. So we decided to take a 1.5 hour trip to the famous Trafalgar falls.

These famous twin waterfalls are a 20-minute drive from Roseau, and we were much further south. Luckily, we made it there with enough time to see the waterfalls, and they were pretty cool. We had a small hike, about a 10 to 15-minute walk along a well-maintained path where you can photograph both falls from a viewing platform.

Trafalgar Falls – Of course, Dominica also sells its citizenship. With a 200k real estate option, it’s the cheapest investment program plus 30k fees. Alternatively, you can donate 100k.

Some warm springs flow across the trail, but we didn’t really have time to stop and explore. Next time we would love the opportunity to swim in the refreshing waters of the smaller waterfall or find the hot springs of the tallest fall. However, we simply hiked up, took some photos, and hiked back down.

By the time we got back to the car, we had realized we were running really short on time, and we still had to return the vehicle before going back to the boat. We drove as best as we could and managed to make it back just in the nick of time. Apparently, during this trip, we were meant to test our luck, thankfully everything always worked out.

After being slightly worried that we would not make it back on time, we were happy to get on the boat and catch a gorgeous sunset. It felt great to be sailing towards St. Lucia once again.

Bye-bye Dominica

St. Lucia 201: Pigeon Island 🇱🇨

If you’ve read the previous installments of this series, you know this would be the second time we docked in St. Lucia during this trip. The first, being a few days into the first cruise, Barbados to St. Maarten. Back then, we docked in Castries, the capital of the island located on the northwest side of the island.

This time around, we would be anchoring away from the port, on the northernmost part of the island. The first time around, we really enjoyed our time in St. Lucia, we rented a car and explored everything except northern parts. We knew the second time around we would be anchoring at Pigeon Island, so we had new things to explore on the way back. We actually had been looking forward to returning and exploring the last remaining nook of this beautiful island.

Pigeon Island National Park – Saint Lucia

In case you don’t already know, St. Lucia is a small island in North America located in the Caribbean Sea, and it is the largest of the Caribbean’s Windward Islands. The Windward Islands include Martinique, Saint Vincent, and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad, and Tobago, and Grenada.

It is located in a chain of islands in the Lesser Antilles with Martinique to the north and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the south. Castries is its capital, and it’s located on the west coast of the island, below the Gros Islet quarter (where we are docking this time). Gros Islet is one of the ten quarters of the isle.

Gros Islet (English: Large Island) is a community near the northern tip of the country. Formerly a quiet fishing village, it has now become one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country.

This part of the island was settled by the Carib (and possibly Arawak). First records of the area being identified as Gros Islet date back to 1717. It seems that back then, the community was a Roman Catholic parish, as the first priests who arrived on the island settled in the village in 1749.

In 1778, as a retaliation for the declaration of war on the British by the French, the British navy captured the island of Saint Lucia from the French and built a naval base at Gros Islet Bay in 1782, temporarily changing the name to Fort Rodney. The island has switched hands between the British and French throughout its existence.

A nearby mangrove swamp was dredged to form Rodney Bay Marina, and many hotels, resorts, and villas have since been built around this infrastructure. However, the old village of Gros Islet is still a flourishing district with much growth to come.

If you want to know more about the island’s history, be sure to check out part 1 of this series.

Views of Gros Islet

Land day 12: St. Lucia – The second time around

So, this time we anchored in Pigeon Island, it is a 44-acre islet located in Gros Islet in the northernmost region of St. Lucia. This part is also the most touristy part of St. Lucia. Here you can find many resorts and beautiful beaches.

Fun Fact: the island was once separate from the mainland. In 1972, it was artificially joined to the western coast of the region by a human-made causeway built from dirt.

The island is a historic site with numerous forts such as an 18th-century British fort and Fort Rodney both used by the British to spy on French Ships from neighboring Martinique. In 1979 it was named a national park, and again in 1992, it became a national landmark. Today, Pigeon Island is the home and significant venue of the famous Saint Lucia Jazz Festival.

For this land day, Windstar had prepared a beach party, much like the one we had in Virgin Gorda (mainly for the new guests). The crew made a lovely BBQ at the beach, sadly, which unfortunately ended abruptly by the quick onset of pouring rain. We all got soaked, and most people went back to the boat.

My brother and I weren’t going to let it rain on our parade, and we also knew about Caribbean flash rains. So as soon as the rain eased, we made our way to Rodney Bay to check out the fort at the top of the hill, it was actually pretty close by, so no risk of missing the boat. 😉

The hike up is about an hour each way, and you can also get a cab to take you there. From the top, we got to enjoy some really stunning views. This photo forever immortalizes that moment: my brother and I took at the top.

My brother, our ship and I

Views from Fort Rodney – Only two more days. Then I will get lost in the Bermuda triangle 🙂

All in all, it was an exciting day, but also pretty chill. We didn’t do too much other than walk around and explore Pigeon Island on foot. We got to see a lot of the resorts that line the coast and enjoy some delicious lunch in a restaurant in the area.

After lunch and walking around for a bit more, we went back to the bay to catch our tender boat back to the ship. That was pretty much it for our second day in St. Lucia. Not too short and not too shabby.

This was our beautiful home for two weeks. I could get used to the cruising lifestyle. Sleeping long, doing some exploring, having great food and still manage to get done lots of work. A cruise is perfect for the 4h work day 🙂

Grenada 101 🇬🇩

Grenada is the second last stop on our second cruise, and it’s a pretty unique territory. The territory is made up of a group of three larger islands (Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique) and several tiny islands in the Caribbean or West Indies.

It lies just northeast of Trinidad and Tobago, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (our first stop on cruise one). It is famous for spices and is known as the “Spice Isle,” being a significant source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa.

St. George’s is the capital city of the island, and in the town center, the 18th-century Fort George offers panoramic views of the island and St. George’s Bay. Nearby, Fort Matthew stands, which was formerly a battleground and, later, an asylum, and has underground tunnels you can visit.

Grenada Coastline – The last Caribbean Island I have to cover for citizenship. Grenada is unique insofar as citizen can travel visa free to both China and Russia (only Serbia has the same) as well as 141 further countries. It’s a 150k donation or a 350k real estate investment +50k donation plus fees (around 10k)

Land day 13: Not enough time in St. George’s

Sadly, this was the shortest land day of both cruises – I think we had less than five hours, simply not enough time.

For this reason, we didn’t really do much on this day. It was a similar day to the one we had in Antigua. We docked at the harbor and left the boat shortly after. From there, we walked to some local sites and visited some churches and old buildings.

Saint George, Grenada

Just like in Antigua, we had very little time at this port, so we didn’t do much. We docked at the harbor in St. George, and from there, we created a small walking tour of the capital for our selves and went to see as much as we could.

We got to see some churches and olf buildings, but we really didn’t have enough time to properly explore most sights or see more of the island, which I’ve heard is supposed to be quite beautiful… I will definitely have to go back at another time.

This day in Grenada signaled the cruise was about to end. That night we began to sail back to Barbados to spend our last land day on the island where it all started.

The cruise with small Star Breeze is over, the next cruise with huge Carnival Sensation to the Bahamas begins in 5 days. First I’ll check out Bermuda though 🙂

Barbados 101 🇧🇧

Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the Caribbean. Located northeast of Venezuela, this island is that is often portrayed as the Little Britain of the Caribbean because of its long association with the UK as a British colony.

It is 21 miles in length and up to 14 mi. in width, covering an area of 167 sq mi. An interesting note is that Barbados is outside the principal Atlantic hurricane belt, making it an alluring destination and safe harbor. Its capital and largest city is Bridgetown, our city of embarkation.

Bridgetown is the only city on Barbados and well, over half the island’s residents live there. This town is the port of call for many cruise ships (like ours). It is also known for its duty-free shopping as much as its more cultural and historical attractions.

The island has a pretty rich history as well, having been colonized by the Spanish, Portuguese, and English empires at one point or another. Like most of the Caribbean, it was inhabited by Kalinago people since the 13th century, and prior to that by other Amerindians. Barbados was then visited by Spanish navigators in the late 15th century and claimed for the Spanish Crown.

Next, the Portuguese Empire claimed the island between 1532 and 1536 but later abandoned it in 1620. After these times, the English arrived in Barbados in 1625, claiming it in the name of their king. In 1627, the first permanent settlers arrived from England; this is when it became English and later a British colony.

As a wealthy sugar colony, it became an English center of the African slave trade until that trade was outlawed in 1807, with the final emancipation of slaves in Barbados occurring over a period of years from 1833. On 30 November 1966, Barbados became an independent state and Commonwealth realm with Elizabeth II as its queen. It has a population of less than half a million people, predominantly of African descent.

Leaving the Caribbean proper. 3 more weeks until a brief stopover in Africa. Looking forward Bermuda, Florida, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and New York 🙂

Land day 14: Final day touring the island and exploring caves in 4

I was excited to see some of Barbados since I had no time before the cruise. I basically landed in Bridgetown hours before embarking on the Star Breeze. After the cruise was over, we still had one full day to discover the island.

We decided to take a day tour with Windstar; this way, it would be much easier to manage our disembarkation and luggage. The morning we arrived in Barbados, we went on a bus tour of the island. It was interesting to see a different kind of landscape since Barbados is one of the few islands on this trip that is not of volcanic origin.

This island is actually formed by coral reef, and it is known for having some underwater sweet water reserves. It’s also has a different vibe, since its a bit further out, closer to open sea, away from the chain of all the previous islands.

For this reason, we encountered really high waves and rough oceans on the way to the island. It was the only time we had such turbulence, and even people were getting seasick on the boat. Thankfully not us, but it still wasn’t the best time.

In Bridgetown, we visited some colonial estates, which are always cool to see, they show part of the history of these places. While we drove between attractions, we enjoyed some really stunning coastal views of the island.

As we were driving around, we got a look at some green monkeys. We stopped to have a look and then continued on to see a few different beaches. Eventually, we made our way to St. James Church, a popular tourist attraction due to its rich history.

St. James Church

The church stands on one of the oldest parcels of consecrated land on the island, often known in Barbados as “God’s acre.” There are many beautiful monuments and items of historical value inside, some dating back to the 1600s. Many of the original settlers and various noted Bajans were laid to rest in the Church and its yard. The dates on the gravestones, vaults, and memorial plaques reflect its long history.

There is a popular legend attached to St. James’ Church, that a gate in the north wall surrounding the churchyard, referred to as ‘The Devil’s Gate’ is opened about one hour before service. When the bell is rung, the devil leaves the church by this gate. When the service is about to begin, the door is closed, so the Devil is excluded from the area. This belief presumably comes from the old belief that church bells were rung to drive the devil out of the building.

The church was beautiful and all, but I was excited for the main highlight of the tour, Harrison’s Cave. These caverns are subterranean environments that tourists can visit. They were developed by the government as part of a tram tour and opened to the public in 1981.

Harrison’s Cave is located in the central uplands of Barbados, situated at 700 feet above sea level. The three main characteristics of the central uplands of the island are gullies, sinkholes, and caverns. These caves were naturally formed by water erosion through limestone rock. The calcium-rich water that runs through these caves has formed huge, beautiful, and unusual stalactites and stalagmites formations.

Harrison’s Cave Barbados – Exploring the exciting caves of Barbados 🇧🇧

During this tour, we got to ride little trams around (kind of like the ones in Disney World). The tram made stops at a few different points, and we got to see the formations up close. It was really cool because the caverns were all really nicely illuminated, and we were even able to get off the tram and take some pictures from closer up.

Harrisons cave – Phallus caves

One of the main areas of the caves is a vast cavern, termed “The Great Hall”, measuring over 50 feet in height. After the Great Hall the tram stops at “The Village.” At The Village some of the formations have joined together after thousands of years to form columns. 🤓There were quite a few stops as we traveled through a tunnel to all depths of the cave.

Stalagmites or Stalactites? 🤔

After the cave, we met up with another tour group and had lunch together. The other bus was full of older gentlemen; my brother enjoyed chatting with them about our lifestyles over some Bajan rum. If you don’t already, you should know Barbados makes deliciously fine rum. If you like the spirit, don’t hesitate to get yourself some Bajan rum next time you come across it.

Following lunch, we visited a sugarcane plantation and had a tour of the area. It was nice, but as I said, the main highlight of this excursion was the caves. So we were ok with the fact that this was the last stop on the tour. Before we knew it, we were being driven to straight to the airport. The drive was really nice, and we got to see some more beautiful beaches from a distance.

Barbados coastlines

Goodbye Barbados

We arrived at the airport in good time to catch our flight to Canada. We were actually on the same flight out of Barbados. From Toronto, my brother was flying home, and I was flying back to the Caribbean, but this time to Bermuda.

You may be asking yourself why I would fly all the way to Canada, only to come back to the Caribbean? Especially since Barbados is actually relatively close to Bermuda. Well, as I mentioned in previous posts, flying between islands in the Caribbean is not always possible, and if it is, it’s not easy to book or cheap.

Believe it or not, the fastest, easiest, and most affordable way for me to go to Bermuda was flying Barbados – Canada – Bermuda. There are some really affordable and daily flights from Barbados to Canada (since it was part of the commonwealth). Moreover, you can only fly to Bermuda from the UK, Canada, and the U.S. Flying through Canada was even better than flying through Miami. 🤯

When we arrived in Toronto, Daniel continued to catch his connecting flight, and I had one night in the city. I booked a hotel for the night in Toronto and flew out the next day, on a direct flight to Bermuda. Simply click here to continue reading about that adventure. 🇧🇲