A Pinch of Paradise, A Punch of Rum

As a rum enthusiast, the Caribbean is my favorite destination to indulge in that amber elixir. Brugal in the Dominican Republic, Appleton Estate in Jamaica, Bacardí in Puerto Rico, and, the most illustrious, Mount Gay in Barbados.

Not only is Barbados the birthplace of rum, having documentation proving that they originated the drink around 1650, but also Mount Gay is the oldest continuously operating commercial rum producer in the world. You can certainly go for a tour and a tasting right at the source, but I found that I enjoyed the experience of joining Bajans for a drink in the rum shops that dot the island. A rum shop is a hybrid of a corner store and a bar, and there are upwards of 1500 of them to choose from.

For a rum experience that is a little less well-known, journey to the rural north of the island toward St. Nicholas Abbey. This 17th-century, gabled plantation house and distillery is surrounded by lush landscape, which makes for a peaceful setting. The action, however, is in the steam mill. If your visit coincides with the crop season, where the cane is crushed for the next brew of rum.

It’s important to note that Barbados is more than just its rum. The island is rimmed with mile after mile of pristine beaches. Adventures abound at sea by catamaran or Atlantis submersible and on land by an off-road island safari. Its delicacies include the sweet and tender flying fish, and Bajans are warm and friendly people. The rum happens to make a good thing better.

Rum Punch Recipe

No matter if you venture to the fish fry at Oistins, attend the Crop Over carnival, or simply bask on a gorgeous beach, you can enhance your experience with an authentic Rum Punch. It’s perfection in a glass. Best yet, the Bajans have made a rhyme of the recipe so you can recreate it at home:

One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak.

A dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, served well-chilled with plenty of ice.

Let’s break that down. One of sour is one part lime juice. Two of sweet means two parts sugar (or simple syrup, if you prefer). Three of strong is rum, of course. Aside from Mount Gay, Doorly’s and Plantation are other dark rums from Barbados that make for an excellent punch. Four of weak, is for fruit juice (or water). Cheers! 

Sea of Flowers

“It is a land of love and wondrous beauty
Where fragrant flowers ever will grow”

from The Prettiest Flowers by Tim Surrett

No matter how much of a city person you are, there is something magical that happens when you surround yourself in a lush landscape and bathe in the extraordinary colors of flowers in bloom. Luckily, in the Caribbean, you are never too far from being surrounded by natural beauty. Beyond the sun, sea and sand, the region also offers exquisite flora in must-visit botanic gardens and parks. These are a few of my favorite places that feature some of the most unique and picturesque vegetation in the world.

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The Secret to Happiness is a Caribbean Beach

The beach has always been my happy place. The majority of my childhood was spent on the shore of Miami Beach and I learned to surf on the waves of Maui’s Ka’anapali. I got married on Smathers Beach in Key West and discovered my passion for travel on the black volcanic sands of Los Gigantes of Tenerife. Yet it’s the beaches of the Caribbean that bring me the most joy.

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My Fine Feathered Friends from Flamingo Beach, Aruba

It was early November and the fall season air was already brisk. Sweaters and scarves, instead of sandals and spaghetti straps, were staples of my wardrobe. A few months prior I had moved to a new city and, for the first time in my life, I was four hours away from the nearest beach, instead of my usual hard-limit of no more than 45 minutes from door to sand. I needed an escape that required sun, swimming and frosty umbrella drinks, so I looked at a weather map kept heading south until I read 85 degrees and discovered my next destination: Oranjestad.

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