Saturday, April 24, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Turks and Caicos Islands "the longest coral reefs in the world, making it a premier diving destination."
The beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands are situated 575 miles southeast of Miami and 39 miles south east of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. Covering 193 square miles of the Atlantic ocean, Turks and Caicos Islands has one of the longest coral reefs in the world, making it a premier diving destination.
One of the most valuable possessions of the islands are the white sandy beaches, which in total cover 230 miles and are complimented with crystal clear waters. The islands are relatively flat but depending on the island, the terrain can vary from sand dunes to lush green vegetation. There are eight major islands: Salt Cay, Grand Turk, South Caicos, East Caicos, Middle Caicos, North Caicos, Providenciales and West Caicos. The people on the islands are known for their friendliness. East Caicos and West Caicos are uninhabited.
The Tourism industry gives Turks and Caicos its main revenue. In addition to this the islands are also a major offshore financial center. There is a small traditional fishing industry that continues throughout Turks and Caicos. On the islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk you will find International style hotel accommodations, each one has its own unique set up and surroundings. Native dishes are served along with international cuisine, you will find this at most of the restaurants. More casual and serene accommodations can be found on the other islands and smaller cays.
Cockburn Town is the administrative capital and the historic and cultural center of the islands. It is strongly reputed to be the landfall island of Columbus during his discovery of the New World in 1442. The town itself is well suited for a walking tour. Duke and Font Streets are lined with historic 18th and 19th century landmarks that reflect the Bermudan style architecture of the salt era. Two of these buildings are now popular inns, another in the governor's residence, other government offices, the public library, churches and private residence and fraternities. At the Turks an Caicos National Museum you will find a central exhibit that tells the story of the Molasses Reef Wreck, the oldest European shipwreck discovered in the Western Hemisphere (dated around 1505). It also discloses the rich cultural and natural diversity of the islands. Other historic sites include the Lighthouse, Fire hill and the Hawks Nest Anchorage.
Grand Turk is the capital of Turks and Caicos and the financial center of the islands. It has the second largest population of around 3,720 people. Grand Turk is one of the main historical points of Turks and Caicos. You will find many old buildings and ruins along with The Turks and Caicos National Museum. Grand Turk's main attraction is diving, with many dive operators and schools it can cater for novice snorkels to experienced divers. The major income for the island is dive orientated tourism. There is an outstanding protected coral reef which has clear and calm waters. There are 6 major accommodations.
It has the air of a frozen moment, a place where time stands still. Salt Cay was the center of the Bermudan salt industry, the mainstay of the Turks and Caicos economy from the late 1600's until the early 1960's. When the salt industry stopped, the tools fell where they were being used. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Salt cay is a time capsule from the days "when Salt was king." She is a community of 200 hundred souls, surviving on an arid islands with one unarmed policeman and a strong sense of family and order. The island is largely divided into squares controlled by windmills that no longer turn and salinas holding slowly evaporating seawater.
Twelve cars wander her roads, soft beaches border much of her shore line, herons feed in the salinas and others in the marsh land to the south. The distinctively Bermudan style homes, all with dusty but neatly swept dirt yards, set a tone, and possess an undeniable style. The White House, owned by descendants of Bermudan salt rakers, is a landmark and contains the original antique furniture.
Salt Cay also hosts relics of the whaling industry that once existed. The whaling station at Taylor's Hill has long been lying in ruins, visitors to this land in the winter stare in amazement at the gigantic Humpback Whales. The residents are very friendly and are always ready with a bit of conversation. This is old Turks and Caicos, a direct line to a simpler and slower time.
South Caicos is the fishing capital of the islands, and boasts the best natural harbour and several fishing plants, processing most of the nation's seafood harvest of lobster, conch and fish for export and local consumption. Other features of the island include the 18th century Commissioner's House, old salt works, and the Boiling Hole which fed the salt pans that once made South Caicos the islands' largest producer of salt.
East Caicos is an uninhabited island but is large in size being 18 square miles. A majority of the island is inundated by swamps and mangroves, you can find the highest point of the islands here. There is a splendid 17 mile beach on the north coast of the island, this is usually only used by Sea Turtles to lay their eggs because of the large mosquito population. Near Jacksonville in the north west of the island there are a series of caves that used to be used for mining bat guano, and petroglyphs shows early evidence of settlers on the island.
Being the largest of the islands Middle Caicos is 48 square miles of natural beauty. There are 3 settlements on the island, Conch Bar, Bambarra and Lorimers and there is a population of 275. The coastline around Middle Caicos is more dramatic than that of the other islands, to the north there are Limestone cliffs with long sandy beaches. The south is dominated by swampland and tidal flats which almost covers half the island. Rain is plentiful on Middle Caicos, which is why the island is so green and ideal for agriculture. Middle Caicos is home to the largest caves in all Turks and Caicos at Conch Bar. There are 2 small but comfortable accommodations.
Mudjin Harbour, a half-moon cave and a picturesque beach that juts out from the land to link up with an offshore Cay is a most dramatic feature. The huge limestone caves feature stalactites, stalagmites, bats, owls and salt lakes that link up with the sea, and are considered to be one of the most extensive cave systems in the region. There also the remains of huge Lucayan Indian settlements. One site excavated near Armstrong Pond in 1978 contains a Lucayan ball court, unknown elsewhere in the Lucayan islands. Artifacts recovered from the caves suggest that they were used either as shelter or sacred places. Middle Caicos also contains ruins of Loyalist plantations. A Frigate Bird colony resides on a cay Just offshore. A large blue hole just offshore in shallow water features an abundant variety of marine life. The island's Northwest Point is a combination of beautiful inlets, marshes, mangroves and in land ponds which serve as a haven for birdlife.
North Caicos is the lushest of all the islands because of the abundant rainfall. The population of around 1305, mostly farmers live in the settlements of Bottle Creek Village, Whitby, Kew and Sandy Point. Bottle Creek Village boarders a lagoon on the northeast of the island, and is protected from the ocean by a long ribbon of sand. Like Middle and East Caicos, the southern part of the island is dominated by swampland and tidal flats. North Caicos boasts the largest flock of Pink Flamingo in the islands. There is a Crab Farm on Greenich Creek which grow Caribbean King Crab from eggs to adults. You can visit the farm by taking a raft.
A tour of the Crab Farm offers a lesson in a Crab mariculture, marine ecology and an excellent eco-tour. There are Loyalist plantation ruins, the grandest of which is Wades green. Lucayan artifacts were found in the caves near Sandy Point. Cottage Pond at Sandy Point is a large pool of tropical vegetation. There are flocks of Flamingo at Flamingo Pond and mud Hole Pond. You will find ospreys and their nesting sites on the adjacent Three Mary Cays, and a wide variety of other birds on the islands extensive nature reserves and sanctuaries. Iguanas on the nearby East Bays Cays are an outstanding example of the natural diversity of this green island.West Caicos
Said to have the most beautiful diving spots in Turks and Caicos, West Caicos is a 9 square mile island that is uninhabited. West Caicos is a favourite for Picnics and Dive Operators with sandy coves and beautiful waters. There are no accommodations on West Caicos but the island is visited frequently.
The ruins of Yankee Town, crested by an osprey's nest, its sisal press, railroad and steam engine are evidence of the small civilization that once existed on West Caicos. Lake Catherine is a nature reserve that is home to a variety of bird life. A number of other islands and cays remain in their natural state, without human influence, and serve as protected natural habitats for sea birds, Iguanas, Turtles and other wildlife.
Providenciales, or more commonly known as "Provo", covers an area of 38 miles and is the most developed island in Turks and Caicos. Found on the west side of the islands Provo can offer all modern conveniences, including superb hotels, a casino and a Golf Club. Although Provo is the most mature of the islands, it is still a destination for those who want to escape their busy schedules and relax. There is a population of over 6,000, and Provo has the largest non-native population made up of Haitians, Dominicans, French, Canadians, Germans and Americans. The growing population is mainly due to the completion of the airport in 1984, which is capable of dealing with large planes.
To the north of the island, near Sapodilla Bay, you will find the most beautiful beaches, and also a long coral reef which is rich in aquatic life. Towards the south of the island you will find Chalk Sound, a large lake with striking turquoise water and an array of small cays. The island's commercial port, South Dock, is found east of Sapodilla Bay and has the capability to deal with containerized goods.
The two main and oldest settlements on the island are Bight and Blue Hills, and are built around fresh water supplies. Both locations give a real feeling of Caribbean villages. If you wish to do some shopping, Provo can offer a good range of boutiques at Turtle Cove. Down Town you will find the likes of retail shops, business offices and travel agents.
There are three airports handling international traffic to Grand Turk and Provo, but most international flights arrive at Provo. The Provo airport has a tourist info booth in arrivals, a restaurant and not much else. Other islands have local airstrips.
Grand Turk International Airport (GDT; 946-2233)
Providenciales International Airport (PLS; 941-5670)
South Caicos International Airport (XSC; 946-4255)
There are limited flights to elsewhere within the Caribbean from Turks and Caicos; those planning on island-hopping may find themselves backtracking to Florida before delving deeper into the region. The following airlines fly into Turks and Caicos:
British Airways (1-800-247-9297; www.ba.com) London
TCI Ferry Service (946-5406) is a new ferry operation taking passengers from the Leeward Marina on Providenciales to North Caicos (US$25, $40 round-trip same day), eliminating the need for the expensive and inconvenient flight. There are four departures each way daily.
A ferry runs biweekly trips from Grand Turk to Salt Cay (US$12, round-trip). Contact Salt Cay Charters (231-6663; email@example.com). Whale-watching boat trips with this company cost US$75.
Taxis get expensive in the long run so renting a car makes sense if you plan to explore Provo or Grand Turk. The local companies are very good, and may be cheaper than the internationals. Rentals are around $80 per day and the cars are generally in good nick; most rental companies offer free drop-off and pickup. A government tax of $15 is levied on car rentals ($8 on scooter rentals). Mandatory insurance costs $15. A minimum age of 25 years may be required.
Driving is on the left-hand side. At roundabouts (traffic circles), remember to circle in a clockwise direction, entering to the left, and give way to traffic already on the roundabout.
Speed limits in the Turks and Caicos are 20mph (around 32km/h) in settlements and 40mph (around 65km/h) on main highways.
Please refer to island destinations for rental companies.
Gas stations are plentiful and usually open from 8am to 7pm. Some close on Sunday. Gasoline costs about US$5.50 per US gallon – luckily most destinations are pretty close. Credit cards are accepted in major settlements. Elsewhere, it’s cash only, please!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest and greenest province. Cradled on the waves of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, PEI is known for the vivid colours of its gently rolling landscape. Prince Edward Island is surrounded by miles of sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs and is sized just right for touring.
Blue Heron Drive
Blue Heron Drive (about 200 km / 124 mi), in the central part of the island, has as its main attraction the long silvery beaches of the North Shore - the best are in Prince Edward Island National Park (entrance fee only if by car). The drive passes through many little holiday resorts and many of the island's tourist attractions and leisure parks, the most interesting being places connected with that famous book "Anne of Green Gables".
From Charlottetown Blue Heron Drive follows the North Shore, with its fine beaches and red sandstone cliffs, then at New London Bay, further west, it comes to the home of the blue heron after which it is named (the sign is a blue heron on a blue-framed square white background). From here it turns south to the South Shore, with several Provincial Parks and their beaches, campsites and picnic areas, ending up back at Charlottetown.
Cavendish has one of Canada's most popular beaches. Its Rainbow Valley amusement park of about 9 ha (22 acres) has pleasant gardens, a boating lake and a barn.
The biggest attraction around Cavendish is the Avonlea Village of Anne of Green Gables.
Sandspit Cavendish Beach
Sandspit Cavendish Beach has 18 rides and attractions for all ages including a rollercoaster, go-karts, classic family rides, a miniature golf course and rides geared to children.
Green Gables Farmhouse
The countryside around Cavendish was the setting for Avonlea, Lucy Maud Montgomery's fictional farming community of her famous novel "Anne of Green Gables". The Green Gables Farmhouse, about 2 km (1 mi.) west of the town on Highway 6 near the Cavendish entrance to the national park, is an enduring reminder of this popular children's classic.
Ann of Green Gables Museum
The "Anne of Green Gables Museum" in Kensington is in the house built in 1872 where Lucy Maud Montgomery lived from time to time, and is packed with Montgomery memorabilia including signed copies of the first edition of the famous novel.
Malpeque is one of Prince Edward Island's historic sites. A home to the Micmac, it was settled by the French in the early 18th c. Captain Samuel Holland, sent here by the British in 1765, named the place "Princeton", but it later reverted to its old Indian name. Much of the later immigration was from Scotland, and many of their descendants still live here today.
One of the finest gardens in eastern Canada, Malpeque has several hundreds of different kinds of flowers, including dahlias and roses, and contains such interesting features as an old windmill and a showcase beehive.
Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site
Port de la Joie, was the first place on the island to be settled by the French in 1720. The British built Fort Amherst here in 1758 after they captured the settlement, but today only the earthworks remain. The whole site has been declared the Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site of Canada.
Green Provincial Park
The road to Green Provincial Park winds its way through woodland groves and open fields. At the center of the park is the elegant villa of shipbuilding magnate James Yeo Jr. Built in 1865, the villa has been restored and filled with period furniture. The history of shipbuilding on Prince Edward Island is told in a modern exhibition building and a 19th c. shipyard at the water's edge shows how a wooden ship was built. The park has what are probably the finest campsites on the island.
Lady Slipper Drive
Named after the Lady Slipper orchid, Prince Edward Island's floral emblem which grows in its shady woodland, the drive is signed by a red orchid in a red frame on a square white background. Lady Slipper Drive (about 300 km (186 mi.)) follows the coastline in the western part of the island, with its red sandstone cliffs, silvery sands and lush green meadows, passing through peaceful farmland growing mostly potatoes.
This part of Prince County has lots of little villages, many of them quite old and still following a traditional way of life. Here live the descendants of the French-speaking Acadians who since 1884 have had their own flag as a symbol of their cultural unity.
Acadian Pioneer Village
The Acadian Pioneer Village at Cape Egmont, 5 km (3 mi.) west of Mont Carmel on the Acadian Shore, is a recreation of an authentic early 19th c. village, with a church, village hall, store, school, a well and smithy. The houses have objets d'art and restored furniture of the period.
Cedar Dunes Provincial Park
North along the coast, at the island's westernmost point, the 2 km (1 mi.) white-sand beach of Cedar Dunes Provincial Park is overlooked by the West Point Lighthouse, an old wooden lighthouse from 1874 that had its own keeper until thirty years ago. It was restored and now contains a little museum a shop for craftwork and rooms for visitors.
Malpeque Bay is where Prince Edward Island's world-famous oysters have their main beds. It is the center of Canada's oyster-farming, yielding about 5 million oysters a year. In the west of Malpeque Bay numerous branches of the fishing industry have their bases.
Prince Edward Island National Park
Take Highway 25 out of York, then turn right onto Highway 220 to Grand Tracadie, then left to Prince Edward Island National Park. This extends from Tracadie Bay in the east to Cavendish Bay in the west, a long line of lovely white-sand beaches. Over 200 species of birds can be seen here, including the superb blue heron. Despite the enormous influx of tourists in summer, the park has surprisingly managed to maintain its ecological balance.
The landscape of Prince Edward Island National Park includes sand dunes, beaches, cliffs, forests, and wetlands. Although it is most visited during the summer months, the park is also open in winter and offers cross country ski trails.
Wood Islands, on the south coast, has a ferry terminal with ferries to Caribou, Nova Scotia.
Being an island, PEI has limited access by car.
* The monumental Confederation Bridge almost a visitor attraction in and of itself (viewing stations on the New Brunswick side offer good photo opportunities), crosses the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and PEI. It's reached from the mainland on TCH Route 16 near Aulac, and stretches 13 kilometers across open water to the island. The CND $41.50 toll (2 axle vehicle) is collected on the PEI side when returning to the mainland.
* PEI Express Shuttle, +1-877- 877-1771, offers van service between PEI and Halifax. 3 days advance reservation is recommended.
* There are a number of car ferries into PEI.
o The Northumberland Ferries, +1 888- 249-7245,cross from Caribou, Nova Scotia to Woods Islands about once every hour and a half, from 6:30AM to 7:00PM ($15 per passenger or $68 per car). The ferries do not operate during the winter months.
o CTMA, +1 418 986-3278, runs ferries from Cap-aux-Meules on Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec to Souris about once a day ($40 per passenger or $75 per car).
Prince Edward Island is served by a single airport located in Charlottetown. The following airlines operate passenger flights into the airport:
* Air Canada/Air Canada Jazz (Halifax (Nova Scotia), Montreal, Toronto)
* Westjet (Toronto)
* Sunwing Vacations (Toronto)
* Delta Air Lines (Boston, Detroit)
Throughout the summer months, cruise liners stop in Charlottetown for one day visits.
Non-metered taxi service is available within the city limits of Charlottetown and Summerside, as well as in most large communities. Most taxi companies are willing to provide transportation to rural areas of the island as well but be prepared to pay a higher rate for this service.
In 2005, the city of Charlottetown introduced a new public transit system that provides bus transporation at a cost of $2 to various locations around the city. Although the service does not extend very far beyond city limits it does provide fast, reliable transportation to most locations within them.
In the summer cycling is popular. Although most roads do not have wide shoulders or designated bike lanes, drivers tend to be quite courtous to cyclists. The landscape consists mostly of rolling hills; there are few steep hills to climb. Additionally, the Confederation Trail stretches from one end of the island to the other. Built on a disused rail bed, the trail has low grades and is reserved for cyclists and pedestrians. MacQueen's Island Tours (based in Charlottetown), and Atlantic Canada Cycling
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The price of becoming a temporary castaway needn't break the bank. In fact, some of the world's finest beach-lounging locales are pretty darn affordable. (And you better use up those miles before the airlines expire 'em all.) So join us with a cold drink and paperback — oh, what the heck: With all the money you're saving, spring for a hardcover!
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
Splurge on a pedicure — you'll be mostly barefoot on St. John. Cove after perfect cove look as if they were carved by an ice-cream scoop, and the underwater snorkeling trails are as plentiful as the footpaths among crumbling sugar plantations. If the beaches seem familiar, it's because they're among the most photographed in the world, thanks to the condo-free shores and the sailboats bobbing in baby-blue waters. In the town of Coral Bay, buy bikinis from the "store" inside a VW bus, order cheeseburgers off an old windsurfing board, and fall asleep to crashing waves in a breezy beach cottage for as little as $70. (Another plus: These days St. John is one of the only Caribbean islands you can get to sans passport.) And while St. John may be best known for ritzy resorts such as Caneel Bay, it's also home to Cinnamon Bay Campground, part of Virgin Islands National Park, which protects two thirds of the island. No tents required: You can rent one of the campground's 15-by-15-foot cottages, each with four twin beds, a fan, picnic table, and grill.
When you hit Mile Marker 37 on the Overseas Highway, the sugar-soft sand and swaying silver palms might trick you into believing you've cruise-controlled all the way to the Caribbean. No, this is still Florida, specifically Bahia Honda Key, a 524-acre state park with a pristine stretch of coastline. In fact, it's pretty much the best beach in the Keys—and its state-owned status means the cost to stay here is a fraction of what you'll spend elsewhere along the island chain. Book one of the park's six quiet Bayside Cabins: Each bungalow on stilts sleeps you and five friends, and has air-conditioning, heat (as if!), a kitchen and living room, plus a grill on a deck overlooking the lagoon. For those who need more action than just watching the waves, kayaks rentals are $10, and snorkeling trips inside the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary run less than $30 for three hours. Of the park's three beaches, two-mile-long Sandspur is the longest and it's ideal for swimming, with a gentle drop-off into the turquoise Caribbean, er, Atlantic Ocean.
Cat Island, Bahamas
On most tropical islands, "rake and scrape" is what you do in the bottom of your purse after you get hit by hotel surcharges and overpriced rum drinks. On Cat Island, it's a type of Bahamian music you'll hear among the beach bars, as accessible as the coral-colored sands that fringe the island. Among the few accommodations on 46-mile long, fishhook-shaped Cat is Sammy T's resort, where seven redwood villas each have one or two bedrooms, air-conditioning, and a kitchenette.
Samaná Peninsula, Dominican Republic
Air carriers such as JetBlue are making the Dominican Republic a hot zone with so many cheap flights. But we suggest flying into Santiago and then making the three-hour drive to the Samaná Peninsula. From January to March, it is prime whale-watching territory. Smart guests unpack in one of the 23 garden villas at Las Palmas and begin toasting themselves at the eight-mile-long Las Terrenas beach across the street. After relaxing, they have the chance to explore the rest of the 500-square-mile waterfall- and sand-strewn Samaná Peninsula. Skip the $85 guided trip to Cayo Levantado—too touristy—and instead cough up $10 for the boat ride from the nearby town of Las Galeras to Playa Rincón. The eight-mile talcum-powder-soft beach belongs only to the coconut trees and the fish shacks, where two bucks buys you a fried seafood lunch.
Anegada, British Virgin Islands
More than 300 shipwrecks surround pancake-flat Anegada, but there's no need to dive for their booty when staying on this nine-mile-long British Virgin Island. That's because rooms at Neptune's Treasure have rock-bottom rates of $95 in the low season (April to December) and a whopping $15 more in the winter months. The nine color-splashed rooms are just 150 feet from the beach—one of many that attract sailors and BVI aficionados to this island, along with beaches named Loblolly Bay, Cow Wreck Bay, and Flash of Beauty. While you're busy visiting those, or snapping photos of the flamingos on a nearby pond, or just soaking in the sun, Neptune's staff is out catching fresh fish for dinner served—where else?—on the beach.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Island of Capri is one of the most picturesque and visited locations in Campania. Its unique beauties were celebrated in ancient times and later published for the world in Homer's works: Odysseus (known in Latin as Ulysses) sailing past the island, narrowly escaped the fate of those who hear the voices of the Sirens.
Thus the island has a mythical charm, as well as its natural treasures, through the writings and legends of Ancient Greece. Its breathtaking landscapes and beauty stretch from the rocky caves around the island to the edge of the horizon, and has been an inspiration to poets, lovers and travelers throughout the centuries. Geologically speaking, the island is Karst, underlaid with limestone which has been eroded by dissolution over the years forming fantastical ridges towers and sinkholes in the rock. This process over time separated Capri from the mainland.
The island of Capri is composed of two municipalities: Capri and Anacapri, each with their own administration and touch of regional rivalry. The latter is built on a high plateau, affording staggering views of sheer cliffs from dizzying vantage points.
The sea emerging below is very deep, and harsh jagged caves have formed there. The most famous of these is the Grotta Azzurra or the "Blue Grotto", now known to have been a Roman bathing place. This lagoon is haunted by a dazzling shifting turquoise blue. Small openings in the back of the cave admit daylight which, reflecting on the limestone floor and walls, creates a fantastical and magical atmosphere. It has attracted visitors and inspired awe from all who have seen its ancient limestone walls and learned of the history of this oceanic cave.
In contrast to the intimate space and vivid color of the cavern, are the three peaks further out to sea, emerging from the azure blue water, pointing toward the sky. These peaks are known collectively as the Faraglioni. Their names are: Stella, di Mezzo and Scopolo or FuoriCapri are known technically as stacks and are formed when erosion causes a solid land mass to divide and it becomes separated by water, or when a cave or natural rocky arch collapses. A fragment of the land is then isolated from its original body in the shape of a vertical column or steep rock rising out of the sea. The Faraglioni are famed for their breathtaking beauty and home of a variety of rare wildlife. (meaning outside, probably because it is the furthest away). These three splendid fragments of
The phenomenon of Bradyseism is another fascinating geological aspect of Capri and of all the Phlaegraean Fields. Bradyseism is a process in which the surface of the earth rises and falls due to the movement of volcanic lava deep beneath the surface of the earth. Its effects can be seen in Capri in various spots, including the afore mentioned Grotta Azzurra.
When the tide is low, Roman remains are visible through the water on the floor of the cave, suggesting that in bygone times the ground in and around the blue grotto which had itself been the site of a Roman villa, was higher. The artifacts on the floor of the cave are thought to be connected with the Emperor Tiberius who may have used the cave as a bathing place, and probably decorated the floor with statues. It also seems that other entrances to the grotto were created in an attempt to improve irrigation and later abandoned, supplying spaces in the rock by which sunlight could enter with dramatic effect. So unless visitors simply wish to swim in the grotto, it is wise to coincide visiting times with the falling tide.
Tiberius loved the island, and having obtained it from the possession of Naples in exchange for Ischia, he had a series of villas built there, and spent the last ten years of his tyrannical reign secluded from the manic realities of Roman life amid the tranquillity and beauty of this unique island. He also founded the world's first Archeological Museum to display the fossils and artifacts discovered during excavation carried out by his workers for the building of the villas.
For the Greeks and later the Romans till Tiberius, Capri was an island of boar goats, and other animals. Hence the Island was named Kapros, which in Greek means "wild boar".
Capri was colonized by the Greeks, and was later adopted as a possession of Naples, till the Emperor Augustus upon visiting the Island saw a dry twig of the island in flower. The element of the miraculous in this made a profound impression on him, as from that time on he did everything in his power to obtain the Island. Having achieved his aim, bartering Ischia for Capri with the Neapolitans, he commenced with a multi villa building project probably as many as twelve, rendering the island habitable.
This pretty square's original name was "Piazza Umberto I", but from the 1930's it has been known as "La Piazzetta" (the use of the suffix "etta" in Italian is a diminutive, and is used in affectionate reference to the square's small size).
In the past it was just the site of the fish market, but has since risen in prestige. Now popular for its bars, it is the choice meeting point for islanders, visitors and villa owners, some of whom are almost as famous as the island itself.
Visitors arriving in Capri, generally take the Funicular (a cableway) from the port to the terrace near the "Piazzetta". The journey up through the island, and the marvelous view from the top, are great moments to catch holiday snapshots of this breathtakingly beautiful island.
In any Italian town, the "Piazza" is a significant spot, being the hub of social life, where one engages in the "national sports" of relaxing, socializing, looking, and being looked at. No setting is more ideally suited to this than Capri's "Piazzetta".
Furnished with fashionable bars, set amidst staggering views, surrounded with elements of historic, classic and modern architecture, it is not surprising it has become known as "The World's Living Room". The four famous bars are surrounded by palaces restored in the Seventeenth Century, including the Cerio Palace, dating back to the Thirteen Hundreds and the Angevin era.
Alongside stands the Clock Tower (Torre dell'Orologio), originally the Bell Tower of Saint Stephen's Cathedral. Its interior was made from materials re used from the floor of the ancient Emperor Tiberius' Villa Jovis.
To the South-East side of the square stands the Town Hall which used to be the Episcopal Palace, restored in the Seventeen Hundreds. A passage, linking the Palace to Saint Stephen's Cathedral, remains as evidence of its older religious function.
From fish market, to fashionable meeting place, the "Piazzetta" has always been the nucleus of the island's social life. Locals, fishermen, the rich, the famous the well to do, and countless travelers have enjoyed it as the perfect place for relaxation and pleasure.
Carving their own niche in the skyline of Capri, sculpted by the wind and sea, and home to rare plants and wildlife, stand Stella (Star), Faraglione di Mezzo (in between) and Scopolo. These three rocky stacks, rising from the azure Tyrrhenian Sea, are collectively known as the Faraglioni.
Backdrop to holiday snapshots and postcards over the world, in modern times, the FaraglioniStella, the stack still connected to the mainland, is known for its spectacular fans of spray from waves on choppy days. The windblown sea swirls into the Faraglione's underwater hollow, before erupting, showering down onto the rocks. have stimulated visitors and writers imagination throughout the ages as far back as antiquity, and were the setting for many myths.
Quieter days at the Faraglioni are also charged with magical charm. Sunlight glancing on the surface of the water, mingles with light cast up from spaces in the rock below, creating fascinating shifting shades of iridescent blue around the rocks. Scopolo, the Faraglioneblue lizards, found nowhere else on Earth. furthest from land, is famous for its unique
The ultimate touch of mystique surrounding the Faraglioni is the relationship between the depth of the sea immediately surrounding the rocks, the strong currents flowing there, and the way the spray, splashing round the Faraglioni is shot through with light, creating an array of sparkling colors.
Weather veiled in morning mist, surrounded in mystic colors and fine spray, or the splendors of sunset, the Faraglioni remain mysterious and fascinating
Gardens of Augustus
After the gleaming shop windows and glamour of Capri, the Gardens of Augustus, towards the top of the island, are a retreat into a natural paradise, complete with unforgettable panoramas. The garden's tranquility and natural beauty is nothing if not therapy.
From the vantage point of the Gardens, apart from the splendid views of the sea, are fantastic photographic vistas.
To one side the undulating roofs and picturesque bell tower of the St. James' Certosa (Charterhouse), a Carthusian Monastery, lie in the foreground below the Gardens.
Ahead, the Faraglioni rocks rise from the blue of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
To the other side, a narrow road zigzags dramatically in hairpin bends down Capri's cliff reaching the harbor of Marina Piccola below.
This fantastic feat of engineering is known as Via Krupp, named after a German steel magnate, Friedrich Alfred Krupp, who, in the early nineteen hundreds, came to Capri to convalesce after an illness, and later commissioned both the Gardens of Augustus and the road that takes his name. Via Krupp, however, is not always open because of the possibility of falling rocks.
The gardens themselves are laid out on a series of colorful terraces filled with an abundance of flora found on the island. Each affords a unique and fantastic view from their lofty vantage point. On one of the terraces is a Stele (a commemoration stone) by Giacomo Manzù to Lenin, who visited the Island and stayed there in 1908.
Capri, in a myriad of ways is a dream destination, becoming more beautiful the higher up the mountain one goes.
Port of Marina Grande
The charming seaside Port of Marina Grande, encompassed by two narrow arms or quays, borders the picturesque town of Capri.
Lying to the North of the island, and facing the Gulf of Naples, the port welcomes every kind of wanderer, on every kind of journey. Commercial travelers and tourists arriving from the continent on hydrofoils, arrive west of the port, whilst, sailing boats, luxury yachts and other vessels lie at anchor to the East.
Until 1928, all docking took place directly in the bay, which in those days was smaller, formed of a natural reef. Larger vessels weighed anchor further out to sea, with goods for trade and passengers being rowed ashore in dinghies.
Since its expansion, the scene has become spacious, with a seaside resort and wide beach.
Houses along the port are still structurally typical of the ancient dwellings of Capri's fishermen. The upper level of the house is used as living space, and the lower as a boat house.
In the past, these homes were built literally at sea level, with the water lapping at their front doors. For years this was a source of amazement and delight to tourists.
However, since the restructuring of the port, the water level has changed, and their previous position is now only visible in old photographs.
These houses are one of the few remaining traces of pre-glamour Capri.
They stand as evidence to residents and visitors of the islanders' dependence on the sea, of their ancient lifestyle and their cultural roots.
Built in 1907, the Funicular is a cableway connecting the port of Marina Grande, to the Piazzetta, at the city centre. The trip, which lasts only a few minutes, affords staggering views of the island.
Departing from the port, the view is crowned by surrounding hills. As the car winds its way up the mountain, pasts houses, vineyards and citrus groves. The view expands into unforgettable panoramas: wide valleys, sheer cliffs, lush flora, blue bays with beaches nestled into the rock, set into a sparkling sea, and the gulf of Naples, etched on the horizon.
Via Vittorio Emanuele III
Lined with designer labels, exclusive boutiques, and luxury hotels, Via Vittorio Emanuele III is a haven of high class shopping for big spenders. Shopping in style, enjoying the atmosphere or simply hanging around brimming with "class" is what this street was designed for. However, it is not only for shoppers.
Via Vittorio Emanuele however, surpasses shopping and continues towards the top of Capri.
Leaving the historic and acclaimed Quisisana Hotel and numerous boutiques behind, the road climbs to the serene Carthusian Monastery and the Gardens of Augustus above, tranquil respite from the strains of vanity fair.
Torre Saracena, is one of Capri's historic bathing establishments and restaurants which, for more than a century, has been offering visitors to the island an enchanting place where to soak in the sun and enjoy the finest Mediterranean cuisine.
The Torre Saracena is located in the picturesque bay of Marina Piccola, with wonderful views across the water to Capri's majestic Faraglioni rocks.
Torre Saracena is a family-run establishment headed by Giovanni di 'Pennaulo and his wife Raffaela who, together with Gemma and Giovanni, offer guests their own authentic brand of island hospitality. For over 3 decades, talented chef Domenico Guaraccino has been creating the most exquisite Mediterranean fare, presenting menus featuring mouth watering fish and seafood specialities and a number of wonderful dishes from Capri's historic gastronomic tradition.
Torre Saracena offers a dreamlike setting for quite unforgettable receptions, gala events, and private parties.
The restaurant is open for lunch every day of the week, from April to October. Torre Saracena is also open on Saturday evenings, by reservation only.
Lido del Faro
A mere ten minutes away from Anacapri's historic center, at the end of a strikingly beautiful panoramic road through, lies the bathing establishment and restaurant Lido del Faro. Situated right on the water's edge beneath the majestic lighthouse, the Lido was built into the jagged rocks of the island coastline in 1971 by the D'Esposito family, who took great care so as not to impair the beauty of the site, and to create a facility in perfect harmony with the natural environment.
Seated on the restaurant's fabulous terrace, just a few meters above the level of the sea, guests are treated to breathtaking views and excellent food. The Lido has gained a reputation for its lunch menu featuring outstanding fresh fish and seafood. The restaurant is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday during the months of June and July and every evening in August.
Not to be missed, the legendary hors-d'oevres with mini pizzas, prawn and rocket salad, marinated salmon and anchovies. First courses to tempt the palate include linguine with mussels and courgette flowers, seafood risotto, squid and potatoes, and delicious Capri-style ravioli. Not surprisingly, the produce of the sea is a major protagonists in main courses with grilled fresh fish, baby squid, local pezzogna fish cooked with tomatoes and herbs and pan-fried local prawns.
A selection of irresistible desserts including the classic Capri chocolate-almond cake, lemon profiteroles and homemade ice creams awaits the sweet of tooth.
Pizza enthusiasts will be delighted by the specialities made in the traditional wood burning oven.
The Fontelina of Capri bathing establishment and restaurant boasts one of the most spectacular locations in the world; right on the sea's edge at the feet of the gigantic Faraglioni rocks, the island's legendary symbols of the power and beauty of nature. This is also a site of great historical importance, a place once close to the hearts of the emperors of ancient Rome.
For more than 50 years now, the passion and naturally hospitable nature of the Arcucci and Gargiulo families have ensured that clients of La Fontelina are treated to flawless service and superb regional and international cuisine.
Reservations are strongly recommended.
The rocky beach, with its shallow reefs, is not suitable for children.
The restaurant is open for lunch from mid-April to October.
A shuttle service is available to Marina Piccola each afternoon, sea conditions permitting.
La Canzone del Mare
Boasting a glamorous past as one of the principal locations of Capri's Dolce Vita, La Canzone del Mare, is still one of the most fashionable places on the island. Nestled in the sunny bay of Marina Piccola, the bathing establishment enjoys an unbeatable position, gazing out across the sea to the Faraglioni and the Siren's rock.
The sundecks and restaurant of La Canzone del Mare's are situated on the terraces surrounding the main swimming pool. In a quiet and particularly secluded part of the facility, a second pool has been built in to the rock, complete with whirlpool. Directly below the terraces, lies La Canzone del Mare's lovely, white pebble beach, equipped with sun loungers, deck chairs, and beach umbrellas.
Clients spending the day at la Canzone del Mare are offered the use of the establishments traditional beach huts or one of the attractive new cabins: built in stone and designed so as to offer the maximum in comfort and modern technology. Air conditioning, telephone lines, and internet access, feature in these "mini apartments", each equipped with comfortable bunks and private bathroom.
La Canzone del Mare's restaurant has received international acclaim for the excellent Mediterranean cuisine served to guests dining on its wonderfully romantic sea edge terraces. Menus feature all the local specialities, including a vast array of fish and seafood dishes.
A delightful little bathing establishment in the Bay of Marina Piccola, da Gioia boasts a fabulous solarium right on the sea's edge and an excellent restaurant where to enjoy lunch. The restaurant, specializing in fish and seafood, is also open on Saturday evenings throughout the month June and every night of the week during the high season months of July and August.
Da Gelsomina Migliera
In one of the most strikingly beautiful areas of the island of Capri, amidst the green countryside and vineyards of Anacapri, one finds Da Gelsomina with its fabulous panoramic swimming pool. Snacks are available from the poolside bar whilst those wishing to have something a little more substantial can dine at the establishment's highly acclaimed restaurant, enjoying excellent food and the magnificent sea views from the light filled dining room and sunny terraces. At Da Gelsomina, guests can enjoy the finest local cuisine accompanied by the restaurant's own wine, produced from the vines which can be seen from the property. Da Gelsomina also has a number of guest bedrooms. A shuttle service is available, all day, to and from Piazza Caprile in the center of Anacapri and Da Gelsomina's restaurant and swimming pool.
Club Nettuno Capri
Club Nettuno Capri is one of Capri's historic bathing establishments, situated on the northern coast of the island and just meters away from the famous Grotta Azzurra.
In recent years, the Club Nettuno has developed in to full scale Beach Club, complete with world class restaurant, all day snack bar, adult and children's swimming pools, fully equipped sundecks, private access to the sea, mooring buoys, and professional shuttle service, by bus or boat.
With its exclusive privè, Club Nettuno is particularly popular with those searching for a little privacy. The establishment's wellness center and fitness area allow customers to indulge in wellness treatments and keep in shape, all just a stone's throw from the sea.
Serving an enticing selection of beautifully presented fish and seafood specialties, Club Nettuno's Il Tridente restaurant pays worthy tribute to the flavors and aromas of the Mediterranean sea. Customers enjoy their meal al fresco on the terrace, from where to admire an unforgettable view of the sea surrounding Capri and the Bay of Naples. Throughout the day a range of tasty snacks and refreshing drinks are available at the bar.
Bathing resort, restaurant and beach club, Nettuno is also an exclusive events venue, providing a much sought after sea edge location for glamorous wedding receptions, gala dinners, banquets, and even live music concerts. Transportation to the Club is available from Capri, Anacapri, Marina Grande and Marina Piccola by shuttle bus and from the port of Marina Grande by boat.
The bay of Marina Piccola
The bay of Marina Piccola if the most famous of Capri's beaches, blessed by a incredibly beautiful setting with breathtaking views of the Faraglioni rocks. Bagni Internazionali has its own private beach and large sun decks where clients can pass the day away in total relaxation within inches of the sea's edge. Excellent fish and seafood is served at the establishment's highly acclaimed restaurant "Terrazza Ciro a Mare".
For those guests seeking absolute privacy, Bagni da Maria, part of the Bagni Internazionali complex, has an enchanting and magnificently secluded little beach.
Chairlift Monte Solaro
A chairlift links Anacapri (286 meters above sea level), with Monte Solaro, the highest part of the island (589 meters above sea level). The journey lasts 12 minutes.
From March to October the chairlift is open from 09.30 to sunset; from November to February from 10.15 to 15.00. The chairlift is closed on Tuesdays.
If you are heading for the center of Capri, the Funicular railway, a train which
slides through the lemon groves, links Marina Grande to the heart of Capri in 5 minutes.
The train departs roughly every 15 minutes, more frequently at peak times.
Small sized, muzzled dogs on leads are permitted aboard.
The UnicoCapri ticket can be purchased at the ticket offices in Marina Grande or Piazza Diaz in the center of Capri. In Marina Grande the ticket office is not located at the entrance of the Funicular railway but, rather, on the left hand side of the port, where the ticket offices of the various navigation companies can also be found.
The Sippic buses serve the routes Capri - Anacapri, Capri – Marina Piccola, Capri- Marina Grande (also known as the St.Costanzo line), Capri-Damecuta, Marina Grande – Anacapri and Marina Piccola – Anacapri (the latter only during the summer season).
The Staiano Autotrasporti link Anacapri to the Grotta Azzurra and the Punta Carena Lighthouse (Faro). The journeys for both destinations take roughly 20 minutes.
Buses run frequently, although times are subject to variation.
Tickets can be purchased directly on board the bus, in the ticket offices of the Funicular railway in Marina Grande or in Piazza Martiri d’Ungheria, close to the Piazzetta, where the bus station is located.
An electronic card is available (a deposit of 1 Euro is required at the time of purchase) on which the desired number of journeys can be charged.
The UnicoCapri is designed for use on all means of public transport.
There are three types of ticket: single journey tickets, hourly tickets and daily tickets.
From April to October the number of tourists coming to the island is extremely high and visitors are likely to find long queues at the main bus stations: it is worth knowing then that the bus routes can also be followed by foot.
Taxis wait at the port and in the areas of greatest tourist movement. They can be hailed along the road or called by phone.
Capri taxi drivers are generally courteous and helpful. They can also be charming entertainers, especially for those who have little time at their disposal and are interested in a whirl wind tour of the island.
The cars are often open top vehicles allowing passengers to enjoy to the full the atmosphere of the island: passengers are advised to wear a hat or head scarf and sunglasses.
The tariff is established by the taximeter.
On the other hand, for a tour of the island of Capri, the price is generally established prior to departure, according factors such as the season, the duration of the tour, the chosen route etc.
Motorbikes can be rented at the port, in Capri, and in Anacapri.
Bikes can be hired for a few hours, a whole day or longer. Special deals are often made for longer rentals.
Those looking to visit Capri by sea can rent canoes, pedalos, dinghies, traditional Sorrentine row boats or ‘gozzi’ equipped with sunshade and ice box, or motorboats with, or without, captain.
During their excursion, passengers can stop to have lunch at one of the restaurants along the coast, purchase the ingredients for a pic-nic, or ask one of the boatmen to buy the necessary provisions.
The latter solution is highly recommended: not only will the goods bought be charged without any additional supplement but, more importantly, passengers will put themselves in the hands of someone who shops in Capri on a daily basis and knows exactly where to buy the sweetest peaches, the tastiest mozzarella cheese and those authentic tomatoes of Capri.
Those who prefer to do it themselves should head for Marina Grande and order a well dressed “panino caprese” with mozzarella and tomato. the perfect snack to savor on board, whilst soaking in the sunshine.
Another option is to join one of the organized tours around the Island of Capri.
The tour of the island usually lasts 45 minutes and includes a visit to the Grotta Azzurra in one of the small rowing boats, although the duration of the trip be longer in high season if passengers have to wait to enter the cave.
Those who come to Capri with their own boat can moor at the tourist port. Here they will find all the services they require. In the summer, mooring docks are increased by the use of floating jetties.
Those who choose to drop anchor at sea must do so at least 300 meters away from the coastline.