Out Of Paradise
Pride In The Caribbean
With its fun-in-the-sun destinations, carefree attitude, and myriad couples-oriented resorts, the Caribbean seems an ideal vacation spot for gay and lesbian couples. But not all Caribbean islands are created equal, The laws against homosexuality in the Caribbean are imposed: some (notably the French, Dutch, and U.S. islands) roll out the welcome mat for gay couples, while others, like Jamaica, Barbados, and the Cayman Islands, have a reputation for homophobia. The fact is most Caribbean islands are not gay friendly. So, pride is not celebrated openly as other countries, there are no parades but there are private celebrations of varying degrees in the each island.
It is widely known that the LBTQ destinations where you can celebrate are; St. Bart’s, St. Martin /St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, Curacao and the US Virgin Islands. With the help of the travel experts at Gay.com, I will be talking about my picks to the top Caribbean destinations for LGBTQ travelers, starting this week with St.Martin/St. Maarten, Saba and St. Barts.
St. Martin / St. Maarten
Villa Rainbow, St Martin. (On top of Pic Paradise)
The smallest island in the world ever to have been partitioned between two different nations, St. Martin/St. Maarten has been shared by the French and the Dutch in a spirit of neighborly cooperation and mutual friendship for almost 350 years. The border is almost imperceptible. And people cross back and forth without ever realizing they are entering a new country. There are four boundaries, Belle Vue / Cole Bay, French Quarter / Dutch Quarter, Low Lands / Copecoy and Oyster Pond, testifying to centuries of peaceful cohabitation and the treaty that made the arrangement possible.
Located midway through the chain of islands in the Caribbean, just as the Antilles begin to curve to the south, St. Martin is sunny and warm year-round, averaging 82 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and just 2 degrees cooler in winter. The island is buffeted by cooling trade winds that keep things temperate all year long. Average annual rainfall comes to about 45 inches, most of which occurs around late summer and early fall.
You can definitely try St Martin, from where you can go for one day to Saba and also to St Barth, all gay friendly and has excellent restaurants, duty free shopping and great beaches! The best way to meet fellow queers is at Cupecoy Beach, close to the Dutch-French border on the western side of the island. It's a string of three, white-sand beaches set against a backdrop of caves, beautiful rock formations and cliffs. Gays can also be found on the beaches of Baie Rouge and Orient Beach, both also nude. Beyond the beach and shopping scene, the island has great deep-sea fishing, and scuba diving is excellent, with various reef, wreck, night, cave and drift diving options. Also, you have gay bars (Eros) or very gay friendly bars (David's Bar), gay guesthouse on French side (Villa Rainbow - Pic Paradis), gay hotel on Dutch side (Delfina) and
‘The villa Rainbow’ (http:www.villarainbow.fr).
Windwardside from Booby Hill
The most beautiful of all the gay friendly islands in the entire Caribbean is the very tiny little island of Saba, off the coast of St Martin. Saba is not only gay friendly to its tourists but has a considerable local gay and lesbian community. Unlike some Caribbean destinations, the gay friendly attitude is not a recent marketing ploy; it's just the way it is. Whether gay or straight, people don't come to Saba to get picked up at a limbo bar or dance the night away. Saba is chosen for its incredible beauty, peacefulness, fantastic scuba diving and nature walks. Without the marketing might and advertising dollars of larger destinations, only the few discerning travelers discover this gem. However, as I've discovered, there are no REAL beaches there. It is a diver's paradise, and a hiker's paradise, but there is NO crime. (Apparently the hotel rooms don't have locks or some such thing) It's also ridiculously clean. BUT! Don't expect the Hilton or the Sheraton or the Westin or the Radisson. They're only 1400 people living happily in a paradise that NO ONE knows about.
Saba's title "The Unspoiled Queen" reflects its pristine nature (above and below) and the proud people that keep it this way. The nickname also makes for a great souvenir license plate...Saba, a step back, but not by any means backward--life the way it used to be yet with the comfort and conveniences you need. This IS the place to "get away from it all". Basically it's a 5 mile mountain top poking through the ocean. But it's green and lush, and I had to let you see for yourselves.
Check out www.sabatourism.com and www.sabagatehouse.com
St Bart's (St. Barthelemy or St. Barths)
The Ultimate St. Bart's Home Collection
St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies is also known as St. Barths or St. Barts. It is one of the most chic islands in the Caribbean and boasts a refined European atmosphere. The capital of Gustavia looks much like a Mediterranean seaside city on the French Riviera. However, St. Barths does not encourage cruise ships to visit, so you won't see it as a port of call on a large ship. At one time, the shopkeepers all closed their stores when they heard that a hoard of cruise passengers was going to come ashore!
It is located in the French Caribbean, near St Martin and Anguilla. A relatively unspoiled tropical island with an abundance of beautiful beaches, breathtaking vistas and quaint capital city (Gustavia) wrapped around a picturesque harbor.
With its laissez-faire French culture and a myriad of private villas to choose from, St. Bart’s is has been called the most gay friendly islands in the Caribbean. This is the place to get lost in the Caribbean for a few days, far from the cruise-ship crowds.
Our next destination will be the US Virgin Islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John’s. So join me and we will visit there next week.
Hope all you LBTQ had a great pride. BE STRONG.
Olivia Travel Cruises is coming to the Caribbean twice before the end of the year. Here’s the link: http://www.olivia.com/?cmpid=587108&gclid=CIyOt_6GkaMCFaQ65QodDFLKsA
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