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Fun Facts about the Caribbean you might not know

Learn nine little-known facts about one of Sunsail’s favourite sun-kissed regions the Caribbean. For intrepid sailors seeking the most out of their holiday, we recommend exploring our exciting flotilla routes, which include a lead skipper, technician, and friendly host to show you the best hidden gems, just to name a few perks. 

Norman Island

1) Norman Island, British Virgin Islands

At the southern tip of the British Islands archipelago, you will find Norman Island. Steeped in fantastic tales of buried treasure and pirates, this storied island is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous classic “Treasure Island”.

Before you dismiss these tales as purely fanciful, legend has it in 1750 a Spanish treasure cargo carrier mutinied. The treasure from the ship was then dispersed across Norman Island for residents of Tortola to dig up for themselves, with a general from the Leeward Islands recovering some of the loot!

Take your time to enjoy panoramic views from Spy Glass Hill, a known pirate vantage point, or sail towards Dead Man’s Bay to sing the infamous tune “yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” like Blackbeard’s marooned creRumorsurs of more pirate gold on the island, fantastic snorkelling spots, and turquoise waters are just a couple of reasons that make this island a must see!   

 Caribbean


2) The Caribbean

With more than 700 different Caribbean islands, islets, caves, and reefs in the Caribbean, you’re literally spoiled with choices. If you’re wanting that castaway, secluded experience, you’re in luck, as only 2% of its islands are actually inhabited, allowing for unique areas teeming with exotic marine and land wildlife to thrive! 

Jost Van Dyke

3) Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Resting in the northern part of the BVI’s archipelago, Jost Van Dkye sits about 5 miles northwest of Tortola. The island was named after Dutch privateer and rumoured pirate Joost Van Dyk – one of the earliest European settlers in the BVI. Building forts on Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda, he worked on behalf of the Dutch West India Company before the Spanish invaded in 1680.

With only 300 residents on Jost Van Dyke, take your time to soak up the island vibes and head to the Soggy Dollar bar to try their infamous painkiller cocktail, a concoction of Pusser’s rum, coconut cream, orange juice, and pineapple. 

Saint Martin

4) Saint Martin

Situated northeast of the Caribbean Sea, St. Martin holds the title of the world’s smallest inhabited island divided between two countries, with a total surface area of just 34km2.

However, this isn’t the only interesting fact about St. Martin. Discovered by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the West Indies in 1493, he named the island “Isla de San Martin”, and it has since had its fair share of smoky gun battles. With the Spanish, French, and Dutch all wanting to assert their claim over St. Martin, the island is now split between the French and Dutch borders, after exchanging hands between the two powers 16 times!

Anegada

5) Anegada, British Virgin Islands

15 miles north of Virgin Gorda is the unique island of Anegada, formed from coral and limestone rather than volcanic rock. The famous ‘Horseshoe Reef’ around Anegada is 18 miles long, making it the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean and the fourth largest in the world.

Being the only all-coral atoll in the Caribbean, floating a mere 28 feet above sea level, the BVI government closed anchoring in the Horseshoe Reef in an effort to preserve the coral. With other mooring spots scattered around the island, head to Anegada for their famous lobsters and to catch a glimpse of flamingos in their natural habitat.

Saint Lucia

6) Saint Lucia

Just south of Martinique, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, lies the island of St. Lucia. This island is not only believed to be the only country in the world to be named after a woman, but it is also said to have the world’s “only drive-in volcano”. With sulphur springs that erupted through a weak spot in a collapsed crater over 400,000 years ago, visitors can now enjoy a volcano mud bath in the sulphur springs of La Soufriere.

We’d definitely recommend taking the afternoon to try this rumoured nutrient-rich bath that is said to rejuvenate your skin and muscles. Afterwards, unwind in the warm waterfalls nearby while soaking up the beautiful scenery! 

Moliniere Bay

7) Moliniere Bay

Located off the west coast of Grenada, Moliniere Bay is home to the world’s first underwater sculpture gallery. With over 60 stone installations created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, you’d be surprised to learn that some weigh as much as 15 tonnes!

One of the most famous Moliniere underwater pieces, “Vicissitudes”, shows children holding hands and standing in a ring, which Taylor suggests signifies “the adaptability of children in any environment; as the sea embraces them, the children become part of their new environment”. Do not miss the chance to dive or snorkel around these amazing ecological structures that are half sculpted by man and half created by the ocean!

Salt Island, British Virgin Islands

8) Salt Island, British Virgin Islands

Found 4 miles south of Tortola, the aptly named Salt Island has provided passing travellers and other islanders with salt for centuries. Being a valuable commodity for preserving meat and flavouring food, it became customary for the Governor of the Virgin Islands to send one pound of salt to the monarch on the Queen’s birthday  a tradition that has recently been renewed in 2015!

Antigua

9) Antigua

If you’re able to pull yourself away from the candy-coloured villages and bustling capital of St. John’s, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Antigua’s white sands. With 365 beaches on Antigua, you could literally visit a different location every day of the year, making it the ideal year-round destination!

And while you’re there, don’t forget to try Antigua’s official fruit the black pineapple. Grown only in Antigua, the sweet fruit is so delicate that it’s rarely transported off the island.

Contributor

Ian Pedersen

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