The Bahamas - Fort Fincastle
Crowning Bennet Hill, Fort Fincastle is the highest point on island and was built in 1793 to guard Nassau and Paradise Island. Mounted with two 12 pounder cannons, two 24 pounders, two 32 pounders, and one howitzer, the battery was named after Lord Dunmore's second title, Viscount Fincastle. Shaped like a paddle-steamer, it overlooks the Queen's staircase and later served as a lighthouse until 1817 when it then became a signal station. Affording exceptional panoramic views of the ocean, town and harbour below, the 126-foot high fort is a well worth the climb. Open Sunday to Saturday 8 am-4 pm and holidays.
To learn more, call: (242)356.9085.
Cayman Islands - Pedro St. James
Step back in time at Pedro St. James, an 18th century Great House built by wealthy Englishman, William Eden. Set upon seven acres high above the sea on a limestone bluff, it is home to Cayman's oldest surviving stone structure and is affectionately called 'Pedro Castle' by the locals. Also known as the "birth place of democracy in the Cayman Islands," nowadays visitors can wander through the lovingly restored home, complete with period furniture, marvelling at authentic 19th century building techniques as well as poke around a 100-year-old wattle and daub home, a 20th century Caymanian cottage, a traditional outdoor kitchen with caboose as well as learn much more from their state-of-the-art multimedia sensory theatre. Open daily from 9 am-5 pm. Phone: (345) 947.3329.
To learn more, visit: www.pedrostjames.ky
Jamaica - Accompong Village
Perched high in the hills of St. Elizabeth Parish, is Accompong Village, home of the Maroons. Founded around 1655 by runaway slaves originally brought to the island by Spanish colonialists, they fled to the mountains rather than be enslaved by the invading British. Joining other escaped slaves and indigenous Taíno Indians, the Maroons were instrumental in the fight for freedom from enslavement, signing the Peace Treaty in 1739. Today they continue to live independently on tax-free lands granted by the treaty, governed by their own laws and share practices and culture similar to that of their ancient forefathers. Every January 6th they celebrate the birthday of Cudjoe, the Maroon leader who led them to victory over the British in 1738. Visitors to this "land within a land" are welcome to tour the village.
To learn more, call: (876)952.4544; (876)891.3352
Turks & Caicos - Lighthouse
Guarding the northern tip of Grand Turk, is a lighthouse designed by Alexander Gordon and brought over piece by piece from the UK in 1852. Carefully restored in 1998, the still functional lighthouse and keeper's house are now protected by the National Trust. A rare example of early cast iron design, the original oil lamps were first replaced with kerosene and later electrified for brighter illumination during storms. This was a critical modification as the shallow reef that extends from the island caused many shipwrecks over the years when the faint oil lamps' light was swallowed up in stormy weather. Now a beloved picnic spot, the lighthouse is also an excellent place for whale watching in February and March. Open whenever a cruise ship is in harbour.
US Virgin Islands - Hassel Island
When next in St. Thomas make sure to visit Hassel Island. Separated from the mainland in the 1860's to improve the harbour's water circulation, the island boasts a history rich in military and mercantile happenings. Now almost exclusively owned by the National Park Service, except for three private holdings, it is a prime spot for a walking tour, taking in various historic sites such as the Creque Marine Railway, an abandonded leprosarium, old garrison house as well as multiple batteries. Ideal for an open-air picnic, the isle offers the opportunity to experience local history while making new memories.
To learn more, visit: www.hasselisland.org
Barbados - St. Nicholas Abbey
One of only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the western hemisphere, St. Nicholas Abbey is nestled on lush Cherry Tree Hill mere steps from the historic avenue of Mahogany trees and offers exquisite views of the ocean beyond. Built in 1660 by Colonel Benjamin Berringer, the home is an architectual gem that includes typical Jacobean features such as elegant curvilinear gables, as well as a wealth of interesting antiques and artifacts dating back to the 1800's. Home to a sugar museum and rum distillery, where St. Nicholas Abbey Rum is produced, the expansive 400 acre grounds is also a working plantation that include an orchard, sugar cane fields and garden, where they grow produce for the grounds' Terrace Café. Open 6 days per week; closed on Saturdays: 10 am-3.30 pm.
To learn more, visit: www.stnicholasabbey.com