The Perfect Finale to a Caribbean Cruise

April 18th, 2013 by Smithsonian Journeys

douglas_long-140Douglas Long is the Chief Curator of Natural Sciences at the Oakland Museum of California and a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. Most of his studies focus on sharks, marine mammals, and deep sea fish. He is also involved in wildlife conservation and is on the Research Board for Island Endemics International, an organization involved in saving and restoring habitat for rare island animals. He has taught college courses in the biological and earth sciences for over 21 years and has appeared on CNN, BBC, PBS, and the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.”

Read a Q&A with Douglas Long here

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The Beautiful View from

The beautiful vista of the Caribbean. Photo credit: Douglas Long

Our Smithsonian Journey through the Lesser Antilles and the Caribbean Sea aboard the Silver Cloud was a beautiful cruise adventure from start to finish. When in port, the diversity of land excursions provided a wide range of activities to suit just about anything one might like to do. On our last day, in the port of Spanish Town on the British Virgin Island of Virgin Gorda, we decided to take an overview tour of the island. We climbed into a comfortable open-air tour van with an affable driver and guide, and embarked on an end-to-end island journey. What first struck me about Virgin Gorda was the lack of development and the abundance of native vegetation. The natural beauty of other Caribbean islands is often impacted by resorts or graze livestock, but Virgin Gorda offered a glimpse of what those other islands may have been like in the past. As we toured over the hills and along the coast, we took in the numerous white-sand beaches, sapphire-blue waters, and stunning vistas that bring people back to the Caribbean again and again.

The Ruins of

The ruins of the historic Copper Mine. Photo credit: Douglas Long

We visited a wide range of sights from the ruins of a historic copper mine, to the massive granite boulders of The Baths, to panoramic views of the other British Virgin Islands from our spot atop Gorda Peak. Each of the passengers was simultaneously enjoying different facets of the tour: feeling the warm Caribbean sun, smelling the sweet trade-winds, listening to the history of the island, settling into the gentle comfort of a rum punch, or in my case, sharing bird-watching tips as we journeyed along. It was one of those instances of being in the blissful ‘now’ of a gorgeous place on a fine day, a relaxing appreciation of the beauty and restoration travel can bring, and how any single place can be enjoyed in so many different ways. As we rolled back into Spanish Town to catch the tender ship back to the Silver Cloud, the first passenger who got off our van belted with gusto “That was GREAT!” Another chimed in, “The best tour yet!” It was the perfect grand finale to a fantastic journey.

Photo credit: Douglas Long

Photo credit: Douglas Long

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