I have had a bucket that existed only in my head since I was a kid regarding my eventual retirement in the Caribbean. It has steadily increased over the years and I am pleased to announce that I will be checking off these 10 visits as soon as possible. We will be underway in 4 months and we will let the ocean be our guide. It is our pleasure to have a Caribbean Travel Blog!
1 Visit Cuba
Coming in at #1 is a long visit to Cuba. Recently, the United States relaxed sanctions and travel restrictions for normal people wishing to visit Cuba. I was going to spring for an education trip at the expense of thousands of my dollars before the president kindly eased the restrictions to include individuals who which to travel for any reason. We will reach Havana, Cuba on our boat and it will be the first stop after we depart from Ft. Lauderdale. US Airlines have no flights at this time but travelers can board foreign airplanes headed to Cuba from the United States, such as Air Canada. US visitors can also travel to Cuba from The Bahamas or Mexico without breaking any rules. Personally, i can’t wait to get that Cuba stamp on my passport.
2 Scuba Dive in Cuba
I am an avid diver and of course I would want to dive on the pristine reefs that Cuba has to offer. I have many european friends that have reported back to me over the years and they were impressed. I am happy that Cuba hasn’t ruined most of its reefs and the tourist industry is not as big as some if its island neighbors. I will be diving to catch many lobsters and I hear that they are bigger in Cuba. Diving from our boat will make planning my dive trips easy!
3 Travel to Belize
Aubrey and I are really excited to see this beautiful country. We are going to check it out for retirement possibilities and I have already done a lot of research. The nation really appeals to us in that it has such a diversity of everything. The wildlife population is amazing and Aubrey is itching to see a jaguar and some tropical birds. I want to hike in remote areas and check out some Mayan ruins in the jungle. I can’t wait to see some of its huge waterfalls.
4 Scuba Dive in Belize
Hopefully, this doesn’t become a totally redundant topic for this blog post. Belize hosts the second larges barrier reef in the world and the diving is supposed to be amazing. Scuba divers have been frequently Belize for a long time and I am jealous that many of my dive buddies have already been to various locations. I am really looking forward to diving with the whale sharks!
5 Travel safely to Honduras
Honestly, we are hoping to have an easy and uneventful trip towards Roatan. Since we are cruising our boat that uses a lot of fuel, we need to plan our stops carefully. We have range of about 350 miles in our 37 foot cruiser. Miss Lone Star likes to go about 30 MPH and we plan to make our way quickly. I was disappointed to see a travel warning for Honduras today in the news. Hopefully, it will be safe for us to proceed when the time comes.
The warning states: “. . . crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country. The Government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. The police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime or may not respond at all. Members of the Honduran National Police have been arrested, tried, and convicted for criminal activities. Many more are under investigation. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras.”
“Honduras has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for the last five years. The U.S. Embassy has recorded more than 100 murders of U.S. citizens since 2002.”
“Roatan and the Bay Islands are geographically separated from Honduras and experience lower crime rates than the Honduras mainland. The national government of Honduras, Roatan authorities, and businesses took measures in 2014 to improve tourism security. However, as on the mainland, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur, and you should exercise caution, especially at night.”
6 Scuba Dive in Roatan
The scuba diving in Roatan is amazing and I surely don’t want to miss out of this opportunity! I especially want to dive in the Marine Reef Park and descend to visit the El Aguila ship wreck.
About the El Aguila shipwreck
El Aguila, Spanish for ‘The Eagle’, is 230 feet long with a dual-deck cargo area. It’s final voyage, according to Samir Galindo, General Manager of Anthony’s Key Resort, was a run from Puerto Cortes to Haiti, carrying a cargo of concrete. It ran aground near Utila (there was speculation sabotage was involved) and was there for several years, partially submerged. Rocky Jones, from Utila, salvaged the ship and towed it into the harbour. A passing storm pushed the ship onto the reef, where Jones again salvaged it, this time intentionally sinking it partially so it wouldn’t be vulnerable to future storms. At the time, the only wrecks accessible to north shore dive operators were two wooden-hulled vessels sunk (naturally, not intentionally) years before, and the wooden hulls were quickly disappearing into the sea.
7 Explore Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a must see for any Caribbean traveler but of course it is in Latin America. The beauty in Costa Rica is supposed to be unsurpassed together with its wildlife, open and rugged territory. The diving is plentiful, like most Caribbean nations.
8 Spend a month Visiting Panama
No trip to the Caribbean or Latin America would be complete without a stop in Panama. I realize that one month may be too short and we will likely stay longer. The wide open expanse will likely cause us to leave our beloved boat and travel by car to visit the country fully. We definitely want to see the cultural abundance of Panama City and many of the rural towns that make travelers feel at home. We may decided to wait out the hurricane season in Panama so it is possible that we may rent a house for a few months to give it a proper investigation.
Panama is also on our list of countries for retirement. It offers the most generous retirement package as an incentive to expats who make it home. We have done much research on this wonderful country and I feel that it will be on the top of our list.
International Living voted Panama as the #1 retirement destination in 2014 for good reason. The government is issuing pensioner visas liberally and offering some great benefits.
Today, retirees with verifiable pension incomes of at least $1,000 a month are welcome to apply. Prove that you have an income with which to support yourself here in Panama—note the local government feels $1,000 a month is adequate—and you will be granted legal residence and access to all the pensionado discounts. These include:
50% off entertainment
30% off bus, ferry, and train fares
25% off airline tickets (domestically sourced, domestic point of origin)
30% to 50% off hotel stays
15% to 25% off at restaurants
10% to 20% off a wide range of medical expenses
50% off closing costs for home loans
In addition, foreign pensionados are entitled to two big benefits: A one-time exemption from duties on the importation of household goods (up to $10,000). A tax exemption every two years when importing or (better yet) buying a car locally.
9 Explore the out islands of The Bahamas
Many travelers vist Nassau and there are many attractions that can be reached easily from there. I’ve been to Nassau several times and I loved it but I want to explore the out islands where there are few people. I want to tie advantage of the great deep sea fishing that is offered in The Bahamas and I also want to do lots of bay fishing in my dinghy. We want to explore many of the reclusive blue holes that make The Bahamas a destination for people all over the world. We will stop over at Atlantis and dock our boat for a few days so the kids can see the water park and I want to go eat at the Fish Fry again.
10 Have a wedding ceremony in Eleuthera, The Bahamas
I’ve promised my wife a proper wedding ceremony and this little island is on the top of our list. It is close enough, by ferry, to Nassau for our friends and family to fly in. It is remote enough so that we can have the ceremony on a deserted beach. It offers a number of beautiful little places for our guests to stay. I’ve been to this beautiful chain of islands before and I can only image the wonderful wedding photography that we can enjoy!