New England’s Top Food and Wine Festivals This Spring

New England’s Top Food and Wine Festivals This Spring

As winter thaws and warmer weather approaches, the countdown has begun for two of New England’s most celebrated food and wine festivals of the 2019 season: the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival (May 15-19) and the Newport Oyster Festival (May 17-19).

For its 23rd anniversary, the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival will host more than 60 exciting events, from socialite-studded tastings and lavish dinners to informative wine seminars. Meanwhile, in its fourth year, the Newport Oyster Festival on Bowen’s Wharf kicks off with an intimate Friday night opening party before moving into two full days dedicated to all things oysters, set to spirited live music.

Here, the scoop on two epicurean spring flings you’ll find in the Northeast this year, each located in charming coastal destinations accessible by Tradewind Aviation.

Nantucket Wine & Food Festival

May 15-19, 2019

Photo: Nantucket Food & Wine Festival

Photo: Nantucket Food & Wine Festival

This wildly popular five-day Nantucket festival marks the official start of season, celebrating the Grey Lady’s return to New England’s social and culinary scenes.

Since its humble beginnings as a small-scale, single-day celebration in 1997, the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival has blossomed into one of New England’s most anticipated annual events. Today, it’s where the best-of-the-best regional chefs unite with more than 150 esteemed wineries — from as far as New Zealand to as close as Long Island — and host grand dinners, wine and food seminars, grand tasting events, luncheon symposia, and more.

Book early for seats in the “Great Wines in Grand Houses” series, featuring venerable chefs working with coveted wineries to deliver one-of-a-kind paired menus in private island homes. For example, on May 18, award-winning chef and restaurateur Michael Scelfo (of Alden & Harlow fame) teams up with third-generation Italian winemaker Federico Ceretto at a local mansion for a four-hour journey through Ceretto’s namesake varietals, with sublime cuisine to match ($700).

Photo: Nantucket Food & Wine Festival

Photo: Nantucket Food & Wine Festival

The festival hits its peak during the two-hour “Grand Tasting” sessions at the White Elephant Hotel (two on May 18, starting at $185 and one on May 19, $135). These three sessions are the main events: Festival-goers have the opportunity to sample 600+ wines from 150+ global wineries, all while enjoying bites from local restaurants and mingling with fellow oenophiles.  

Those looking to pepper established festival favorites with out-of-the-box experiences have plenty of options, too. For example, consider “Sake + Sashimi,” a tasting hosted by sake expert Rachelle Bose and complemented by sashimi pairings from PABU Boston ($125).  Or, rise and shine for “Namaste then Rosé,” a morning of vinyasa yoga paired with a cooking demonstration and some heavy pours of the good stuff with winemaker Susana Balbo and celebrity chef Elizabeth Falkner. An intoxicating combo of wellness and wine? We’ll toast to that.

www.nantucketwinefestival.com

Newport Oyster Festival

May 17-19, 2019

Photo: Trixie Wadson, Bowen’s Wharf Co.

Photo: Trixie Wadson, Bowen’s Wharf Co.

This foodie-fueled festival is an immersion into Rhode Island’s ocean-to-table and locavore movements. For one weekend, the state’s oyster farmers gather at Newport’s Bowen Wharf to showcase their fresh catches to the public and offer insight into the state’s thriving aquaculture industry.

The weekend begins with an intimate opening party (limited to 200 participants, $125) benefiting the Ocean State Aquaculture Association, The Nature Conservancy, and SSV Oliver Hazard Perry (Rhode Island’s official Sailing School Vessel). Under the festival tents, guests feast on unlimited freshly shucked oysters from eight leading farms while sipping Champagne from an open bar. The event also offers the chance to spend time with regional farmers and local business owners, with Chelley Knight & the Daybreaks quartet performing a selection of jazz standards in the background.

From 11am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, the wharf buzzes with festival-goers eating and imbibing to the beats of more live music. Sets from six bands represent different genres, ranging from rock and funk to reggae and jazz. Visitors can sample fruits of the sea from 10 different oyster farms — advance purchase tickets include six fresh RI oysters and a beverage for $27. Attendees can also expect a sugar rush from on-site vendors like Anchor Toffee, La Petite Creperie, and Sprinkles (the island’s resident ice cream and cappuccino supplier) before learning about aquaculture and reef restoration from The Nature Conservancy educators. 

www.bowenswharf.com

---

Tradewind Aviation operates daily shuttle flights to Nantucket from late April through early December, as well as private charter flights to Nantucket and Newport year-round.

Nantucket in Bloom: The Daffodil Festival

Nantucket in Bloom: The Daffodil Festival

30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, a New England enclave is gearing up for spring.

Every year during the last week in April, Nantucket hosts a colorful fête to celebrate the approaching season and symbolize the island's reawakening after a long Northeast winter. True to its name, the Daffodil Festival — or “Daffy Day,” as it’s affectionately dubbed by locals — is synchronized to millions of yellow flowers unfurling from their slumbers in the thawing ground.

“Daffodils are hardy, they’re dependable, and they’re resilient, so I think all those things are very representative of the natives of Nantucket,” says Maddie Hjulstrom, an island resident and member of the Nantucket Chamber who helps organize the event. “It’s quite cold and quiet in winter, but to see those yellow blossoms poke through the soil every year on schedule is very much like the residents who stick it out and manage to live there year-round.” 

Photo: William DeSousa-Mauk

Photo: William DeSousa-Mauk

The annual tradition started in 1974 when Jean MacAusland, a Nantucket resident and former publisher of Gourmet magazine, had the idea to amplify the island’s springtime beauty. Apart from organizing an annual flower show sponsored by the American Daffodil Society, MacAusland enlisted the help of landscapers and friends to plant one million daffodil bulbs throughout the island.   

As Hjulstrom explains, daffodils are the perfect flower to thrive on Nantucket because they are one of the few unappetizing plants to the island’s flourishing deer population. And because the flowers are self-propagating (meaning they reproduce on their own), springtime now bears witness to millions of vibrant blossoms emerging like clockwork across the landscape each April and May.  

Now preparing for its 45th consecutive run, the Daffodil Festival incorporates an annual flower show at Bartlett’s Ocean View Farm (including daffodil displays from all over the country), as well as an array of other spirited festivities held throughout the long weekend. And for non-residents wishing to experience the springtime essence of Nantucket, the island waits just a Tradewind flight away from the New England coast.

“The whole thing kind of blossomed into what can we do in the spring to get people excited about being on Nantucket and to celebrate the season,” Hjulstrom says. “All in all, it’s a wonderful way to welcome the milder weather back to the island.”

Photo: Tim Ehrenberg (left: with husband, James; right: with best-selling author Elin Hilderbrand)

Photo: Tim Ehrenberg (left: with husband, James; right: with best-selling author Elin Hilderbrand)

The lively tradition has certainly made an impact on residents like Tim Ehrenberg, who moved to the island with his husband in 2013 and now owns Brand New - Nantucket, a marketing consultancy for local businesses and non-profits. As a newcomer to Nantucket, Ehrenberg hadn’t heard of the Daffodil Festival until someone asked him if he had his outfit ready the week before.

“And since then I seem to buy a new outfit every year,” explains Ehrenberg, who now starts planning for the special day as far back as March to sport everything from bright green pants to full floral suits. “I have more floral pants than anyone should own.”

Adding to the spectacle of costumed locals is the antique car parade that crawls down the cobblestoned Main Street. Held on the Saturday of each festival, the tradition showcases up to 120 classic vehicles decked out in the lemon-hued blossoms, all in eager competition for the “Best in Show” trophy. When cars finish the downtown parade, most of them converge on the eastern end of the island to a town called ‘Sconset before parking for individually themed tailgate picnics, which are judged on their elaborateness and creativity.     

“People sometimes go to extraordinary extents for a truly memorable picnic experience,” says Hjulstrom, who remembers one theme with picnickers dressed as super heroes, and another featuring a jeep packed with green-painted soldiers posing as plastic toy army men. “People have a lot of fun with it.”

Photo: William DeSousa-Mauk

Photo: William DeSousa-Mauk

Back in downtown Nantucket, the weekend celebration continues with a rolling roster of events including a Daffy Hat competition and dog parade, where residents bring their florally costumed canines for a festive procession and contest benefitting the Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals. Here, as local shops reopen their doors for the impending high-season, almost every window is adorned with flashy flower motifs.

The weekend lineup also features several daytime tours and nightly ghost walks for visitors to stroll around Nantucket and savor tales from its storied past dating back to 1641. And just a short walk from downtown, on Children’s Beach, festival organizers have begun to host a variety of family-style events such as the Children’s Bicycle Parade, where youngsters decorate their bikes with daffodils before pedaling through a designated course near the surf. 

“[The weekend] evokes so much more than just daffodils," Ehrenberg says. "It's the beginning of the season for us locals and all of the anticipation [of the summer] to come, from festivals to beach days, and from drives to Great Point to sunsets at Jetties to Sunday brunches at CRU.”

Photo: Jamie Holmes

Photo: Jamie Holmes

As Nantucket’s spirit comes alive with the festival each spring, it reanimates to a backdrop of umpteen daffodils, either sprouting from its verdant landscape or plucked and placed in artful fashion.

While the original one million bulbs (and their offspring) can be seen year after year in full force, additional bulbs are also put in the ground each season by Palliative & Supportive Care of Nantucket. The specialized healthcare non-profit appoints students from the New School on Nantucket to symbolically plant flowers every year in honor of people who have passed on.

The annual festival is meaningful in many ways to the island, its visitors, and its residents. “Nantucket locals in winter tend to hibernate, not really leaving work or home, but on Daffy Day, everything and everyone seems to wake up,” Ehrenberg says. “There are flowers in the window boxes, businesses are open and most everyone is smiling, laughing, and saying 'Happy Daffy' as you walk by them. It's a community event that I absolutely adore.”

---

Tradewind Aviation operates daily shuttle flights to Nantucket from late April through early December, as well as private charter flights year-round.

 

Six Can’t-Miss Beach Bars in the Caribbean

Six Can’t-Miss Beach Bars in the Caribbean

While there’s no shortage of adventure to be found on a Caribbean vacation, sometimes, the best activity is none at all. Kick back with a tropical cocktail at one of these six incredible Caribbean beach bars, where you can admire the ocean blues, enjoy refreshing island fare, and maybe even plant your feet in the sand. If wanderlust strikes, a Caribbean escape is only a Tradewind flight away.

Cip by Cipriani’s, Anguilla

Photo: Cipriani Anguilla

Photo: Cipriani Anguilla

Anguilla resort Cap Juluca reopened in December 2018 as a new flagship Belmond property, and its reincarnation brought in a slew of incredible beachfront bars and restaurants. Our favorite: Cip by Cipriani’s, an offshoot of the Belmond Hotel Cipriani’s culinary hotspot in Venice. Grab a front row seat by the impossibly beautiful Maundays Bay, order a bottle of rosé and some classic Italian bites, and let the hours slip by. 

Eden Rock Beach Bar, St. Barths

Photo: Laurent Benoit

Photo: Laurent Benoit

Eden Rock St Barths may not reopen until late 2019, but its fabulous new beach bar is already up and running — and buzzing. St. Barths’ legendary people watching, celebrity spying, and fashion spotting comes to life across St. Jean Bay, with a cold glass of fine French wine in hand. Enjoy the views on a high-top stool at the bar, or get cozy on a beach lounger.

Plage, St. Barths

Photo: Plage via Le Sereno

Photo: Plage via Le Sereno

In rebuilding Le Sereno St. Barth after Hurricane Irma, the property added a new toes-in-the-sand beachfront restaurant, Plage. With prime views of Grand Cul de Sac bay, it has the kind of vibe that makes you want to stay a while. As the palm trees sway above, sip on a Sereno Spritz (June liqueur, freshly muddled raspberry, grapefruit juice, peach bitters, and prosecco), nibble on the red Sicilian prawn carpaccio, and take in every moment of the good life.

Sandy Island, Anguilla

Photo: Paul Rubio

Photo: Paul Rubio

When Hurricane Irma struck in 2017, she swallowed much of Sandy Island, which was home to an eponymous beach shack. But Sandy Island has resurfaced with a dreamy 360-degree beach, a rebuilt restaurant pavilion, and plenty of umbrella-capped beach beds for those languid beach days. Order the “Crazy for Crayfish” — it’s the Anguillan delicacy in its best BBQ form — and wash it down with the secret-recipe JoJo Rum Punch. You can access this slice of paradise by private boat or the island’s daily water shuttle, which leaves from Sandy Ground Beach on the Anguilla mainland. Oh, and prepare for a wet landing (it’s part of the experience). 

Soggy Dollar, Jost Van Dyke, BVIs

Photo: Soggy Dollar Bar

Photo: Soggy Dollar Bar

No beach-bar hopping experience across the British Virgin Islands is complete without a stop at Soggy Dollar, a Jost Van Dyke icon. After all, this is where the “Painkiller” cocktail was born and perfected in the 1970s. Following a 2018 rebuild, it’s once again possible to enjoy this heady mix of premium dark rum, cream of coconut, pineapple, and orange juice (topped with fresh-grated Grenadian nutmeg) with local yachters.

Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill, Nevis

Photo: Four Seasons Resort Nevis

Photo: Four Seasons Resort Nevis

Though it’s situated right next to the gorgeous Four Seasons Resort Nevis, there’s nothing glamorous about Sunshine’s Beach Bar — and that’s exactly its charm. The brightly colored bar is low on frills and packed with local barflies, and it pumps out reggae music day and night while serving super-strong drinks that’ll knock you off your feet. For the true Sunshine’s experience, order the “Killer Bee” rum punch, which goes down way too easy and, as the name suggests, stings in the end. Sunshine’s is the kind of under-the-radar bar you’ll reminisce about long after your Caribbean vacation (at least, what you can recall).

---

Tradewind Aviation offers regularly scheduled service to St. Barths, Anguilla, and Nevis and charter service to the British Virgin Islands.

Pilatus PC-12: Using Turboprop Travel as a Business Tool

Pilatus PC-12: Using Turboprop Travel as a Business Tool

For today’s sophisticated businessperson, accessible air travel is a must. What many don’t realize, however, is that an enticing alternative to private jet transfer exists in the form of smaller turboprop planes, like Tradewind Aviation’s Pilatus PC-12.

Since debuting in the airline market in 1991, the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12 has gained a reputation for its reliability, performance, and versatility, combining the speed and air-pressurization of a King Air with the cabin space and short-field performance of a Grand Caravan. As travelers discover that the smaller aircraft is just as safe as larger planes (and often comes with a lower price tag), more and more are turning to turboprop charters as a part of their productive business strategy.

“The Pilatus PC-12 offers the comfort and convenience of a private jet for significantly less cost, making it a smart business tool for short- and medium-range trips,” says Tradewind Vice President and Co-Owner David Zipkin. He also adds that the turboprop is ideal for stage lengths of up to 350 miles, such as Teterboro to Boston, Westchester to Toronto, Teterboro to Syracuse, or Westchester to Pittsburgh.

Pilatus_Sunset.jpg

For instance, travelers flying Tradewind’s charter option from Westchester Airport to Boston Logan International and back can expect to pay around $4,700 per day trip. Compare that to using commercial business class, where a similar journey from LaGuardia to Boston and back for eight people costs around $5,200—or to private jet travel—which can run upwards of $10,000 roundtrip.

While Zipkin says that customers are often surprised by the lower costs they experience when choosing charter, they tend to be equally amazed by the amount of time they can save compared to commercial airlines, especially on shorter trips.

Whereas jets are often subject to re-routing due to their higher airspeeds, he explains, turboprops are often able to fly more direct paths, resulting in the same or shorter travel times. Considering the ability to bypass TSA and arrive at the valet-ready tarmac just 10 minutes before a scheduled departure, customers can expect to shave off up to five hours per round trip.

Pilatus_PC_12_interior.jpg

Zipkin adds, “The PC-12 can land at smaller airfields often closer to the intended origin and destination, which can offer additional time savings.”

Keeping in mind that business doesn’t cease during travel, Pilatus PC-12s come equipped with plenty of privacy to conduct meetings in the air. Similar to its leisure flights, Tradewind’s business accommodations include comfortable air-conditioned cabins, leather seating, writing tables, and complimentary drinks and snacks, along with additional catering on request.

“Our clients who have flown the Pilatus on leisure trips have seen the efficiency first-hand, and many have started to apply the same benefits for their business trips,” says Zipkin, who expects Pilatus PC-12 business travel to continue its upward swing.

To learn more about using private charter as a business tool, please visit: https://www.flytradewind.com/private-charter/business/

A Local’s Guide to Skiing Sugarbush

A Local’s Guide to Skiing Sugarbush

Spanning 53 miles of pristine trails in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, Sugarbush is known as one of the top ski resorts in New England with good reason. The alpine retreat in Warren is home to more than 100 trails, a professional-level terrain park, and the spectacular, 2,000-acre backland woods area of Slide Brook Basin.

Among the skiers and snowboarders taking in Vermont’s breathtaking scenery on any given day is Mark Woolley, Seasonal Programs Supervisor and Alpine Training Coordinator. Woolley has been at Sugarbush since 1979 when he moved to the mountain at the age of 21, and today, he still skis as much as possible during his free time. 

“It rivals anything in the East,” he says of the terrain, noting the marked trails as well as the much-acclaimed side-country and backcountry.

At the heart of Sugarbush is the Lincoln Peak area, which includes Lincoln Peak, Castlerock, Gadd Peak, and North Lynx and features a variety of classic New England trails and the Ski & Ride School. Nearby in the Mt. Ellen area, composed of the 4,083-foot Mt. Ellen and Inverness, you can find Vermont’s highest chairlift.

Photo: Audrey Huffman

Photo: Audrey Huffman

The marked trails in Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen are among the best in the region, offering incredible beginner and expert terrain — including Woolley’s personal favorite trail, the double-black Lift Line on Castlerock Peak. But it’s between the two areas that you will find Slide Brook Basin, which is where Woolley and many of the resort’s top skiers and riders spend their time.

Beyond resort boundaries, the basin abounds with challenging expert ski terrain. It’s here that you can find tranquil backcountry solitude as you explore with your group — and perhaps even spot wildlife including moose, black bears, and white-tailed deer.

“Everybody loves this place for skiing in the woods,” says Woolley, who spends a lot of time in Sugarbush’s wooded areas with the children in the seasonal programs. (Many parents from nearby Boston are avid skiers themselves and want their children to feel comfortable skiing in the woods as quickly as possible.)

Photo: Hans Jonathon Von Briesen

Photo: Hans Jonathon Von Briesen

Back in Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen, the terrain parks also attract skiers and riders of all skill levels. Families and beginners enjoy small jumps, rails, and boxes in the progression park in Lincoln Peak, while experienced skiers and riders head over to Mt. Ellen’s Riemergasse and Sugar Run via the Sunny Quad chairlift.

“We have one large, professional-level, photography-style terrain park,” says Snowboard Manager Aaron Guilfoyle of the six-acre Riemergasse. “The skate-plaza-style setup at the base of Mt. Ellen is absolutely amazing. It’s set up to really feed into a lot of people’s creativity.”

Sugarbush’s premier park for more than a decade, Riemergasse is packed with more than 50 of the most advanced medium and large features in the industry, with an opportunity to link a single top-to-bottom run 15 features deep. Nearby, Sugar Run is a traditional top-to-bottom run with small and medium features that are great for those in the early stages of freestyle skiing and those who want to warm up before Riemergasse.

Photo: John Atkinson

Photo: John Atkinson

Between hitting the slopes, there is plenty to do in the Mad River Valley, from shopping artisan galleries to grabbing a bite at top après ski bars to relaxing in Sugarbush’s cozy accommodations. For Woolley, some of the many great restaurants in the area include the Hyde Away, where you can find modern farm-to-table cuisine and Vermont microbrews, and The Reks for delicious appetizers and innovative comfort food. He is also known to visit the Mediterranean-inspired Sage on a Thursday night. 

At the resort itself, the retro-themed Wünderbar and Castlerock Pub with its extensive beer selection are both favorites for quick breaks and après ski stops. Woolley recommends eating midmorning and midafternoon when there’s a crowd at Sugarbush so you can have some runs all to yourself midday.

From year to year, Sugarbush tends to see the most snow in March, but this season there has been plenty of snow all season long — including about five feet in January — so the mountain is in perfect condition for a winter or spring getaway. As in years past, the slopes will remain open until the first weekend of May.

------

A quick flight from Boston and New York City, Sugarbush is completely accessible for quick getaways or weeklong retreats with Tradewind Aviation’s on-demand private charter flights.

To reserve a charter, call us at 1-800-376-7922 or click here.

Featured Photo: John Atkinson

The Best Caribbean Islands for Shipwrecks and Pirate Tales

The Best Caribbean Islands for Shipwrecks and Pirate Tales

Pirate lore is replete with shipwrecks, buried treasure, and infamous villains who, despite formidable mischief, have been romanticized with the passing of stories and time. Such colorful characters and their accompanying exploits are responsible for writing a significant chapter in Caribbean history, including the golden age of piracy between 1690 and 1730.

Today’s adventurer or history buff will be pleased to discover that some of Tradewind Aviation’s most-visited Caribbean islands once teemed with every iteration of buccaneer, privateer, and swashbuckler. Steeped in legend and beautiful as they are fascinating, here are our favorite Leeward Islands destinations to feed the imagination and invoke your inner pirate.

Puerto Rico

Pirate ship in the Caribbean

Ensconced along Puerto Rico’s northeast coastline is the original heart of San Juan. Practically an island of its own, Old San Juan is connected to the rest of the city and the larger Puerto Rican landmass through bridges on its eastern side. Considering its status as the second oldest city in the Western Hemisphere, as well as one of the key ports to the New World, the storied citadel has experienced its share of seafaring scoundrels throughout history.

In the decades after Columbus’s landing, Puerto Rico began to boom as a vital Spanish colony, and competing European powers soon took notice. After a series of attacks from government-commissioned pirates — otherwise known as privateers — began on the port, the Spanish built a wall around the city complete with a series of cannon-studded forts to protect its harbor from seaborn enemies.

Today, the towering rock walls of Fort San Felipe del Morro still overlook the entrance to San Juan Bay, and visitors can tour the UNESCO World Heritage site’s six levels and tunneling mazes while imagining an onslaught of French, Dutch, and English invaders. Further east down the coast of Old San Juan, the sprawling Fort San Cristóbal also remains open for modern day exploration. Completed in 1783 to protect the city from the other direction, it’s known as the largest Spanish fortification built in the New World.

Fort San Felipe del Morro in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Take a drive from San Juan to Rincón Beach on the northwest shore of the island to pay a visit to Villa Cofresí Hotel and Restaurant — named after Roberto Cofresí, a legendary local pirate who allegedly split his loot with the island’s poor. Here, guests can sip a Pirate’s Special cocktail from a coconut-shell goblet before inspecting the beach’s cliffside caverns where Cofresí was rumored to have hidden some of his booty.

For a dose of corsair history away from Puerto Rico’s Spanish strongholds, head east to the nearby islands of Vieques and Culebras, which remained lawless outposts for pirates and other pariah for more than three centuries. Naturally abundant in crabs, fish, birds, and timber, these outlying islands provided ideal havens for ships to resupply. In a culmination of rolling hills and verdant forest rising almost 1,000 feet from the sea, the highest point of Vieques is named Monte Pirata, or “Pirate’s Mount,” from which freebooting inhabitants once glassed the surrounding blue vistas.

British Virgin Islands

Tortola

A chain of more than 60 islands thoroughly riddled with cays and hideaways — and once the crossroads of a major sea-trading route — the British Virgin Islands were an attractive locale for pirates and privateers.

Just about every anchorage in this archipelago has a story from the heyday of pirate lore, including the small and desolate island of Dead Chest, where, according to legend, 15 men and at least one bottle of rum were marooned by Captain Blackbeard after his crew attempted a mutiny. As the story goes, most of the men’s bodies washed up in Deadman’s Bay, an eastern cove off nearby Peter Island, after they tried to make the treacherous swim to the larger island.

Tales of buried treasure abound from the adjacent Norman Island, which is perhaps most famous for being the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. According to legend, caves lining the island’s western bight served as hiding places for gold and other riches plundered from state coffers, including holdings from the Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, a Spanish galleon whose crew mutinied off the coast of North Carolina in 1750. First a retreat for sea rovers looking to stow their loot, Norman Island soon became a hotspot for other assailants looking to steal the spoils of their competitors.

Photo: Soggy Dollar Bar

Photo: Soggy Dollar Bar

Though today’s Norman Island is privately owned and mostly uninhabited, travelers from near and far can drop an anchor in The Bight Bay and pay a visit to Pirates Bight Bar, Restaurant, and Gift Shop, known for its crispy calamari, fresh lobster, and tuna carpaccio.

Further north sits the BVI capital of Tortola, which preserves the remnants of its pirate-laden past through aptly-themed landmarks and establishments. One such attraction is Soper’s Hole Marina, the deep harbor where Blackbeard once moored and now the home to Pusser’s, a prized watering hole and purveyor of the storied British rum bearing the same title. On the beach adjoining nearby Nanny Cay, Peg Leg Landing specializes in eclectic seafood and sweeping views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, named after the renowned English privateer who famously plied the region’s waters looking for Spanish ships in the name of the Queen.

While on Tortola, visit Smuggler’s Cove, a secluded bay harboring one of the island’s most pristine beaches. Visible from the tip of the cove, and rising from the sea on the northern horizon, is Jost van Dyke, named after the Dutch privateer and pirate who settled there and allegedly used the island’s natural tide-fed pools for his annual bath. Travelers who take the ferry northward will find plenty of ways to reminisce on the legends of yore while imbibing on Voodoo Juice from Corsairs Beach Bar & Restaurant or the celebrated Painkiller cocktail from the Soggy Dollar Bar.

Photo : Nwmangum Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

Photo: Nwmangum Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

On the topside of Beef Island just east of Tortola is Trellis Bay — the reputed lair of the famed and feared Black Sam Bellamy, also known as the Prince of Pirates. From this stronghold, Bellamy resupplied his legendary 300-ton sailing warship, the Whydah, with fresh meat from wild cattle on Beef Island before scouring the region to relieve scores of unfortunate ships from their gold, silver, jewels, and valuable navigational instruments. Bellamy’s short, albeit prolific, career ended abruptly during a northbound expedition, when the Whydah sunk, along with its treasure, in the stormy seas off of Cape Cod. (The ship and its bounty were recovered by treasure hunters in 1985.)

Of all of the BVIs, the north-lying island of Anegada perhaps provided the most opportune site for beachcombers, wreckers, and beached buccaneers of yesteryear. A coral atoll protected by one of the biggest barrier reefs on the planet, it is a graveyard of countless shipwrecks from the past several centuries. Take the ferry from Tortola to visit Pomato Point, a restaurant and museum containing collections of artifacts, including gin bottles, apothecary jars, coins, sword handles, naval buttons, and an old treasure map recovered from the wreckage.

US Virgin Islands

Photo : Mali via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

Photo: Mali via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY

With little to no threat of being boarded, today’s seafaring travelers enjoy smooth sailing along the Sir Frances Drake Channel, which runs along Tortola’s south belly and separates the BVIs from the US Virgin Islands.

Some of the most infamous figures to establish their pirate bases in the USVIs include Bartholomew Sharp, Captain William Kidd, Anne Bonney, and Captain Edward Teach — better known as Blackbeard — who was said to instill fear in his enemies by intertwining lit candles into his beard.

In the Dutch colonial city of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, standing sentinel on the highest point of Government Hill, rises the stone lookout known as Blackbeard’s Tower. Believed to be Blackbeard’s center of operations during his legacy in the early 1700s, the watchtower may have been used to plan assaults and search for passing ships. While the columned fortress is currently undergoing repairs in the wake of Hurricane Irma, visitors can still savor the panoramic views surrounding it while admiring the world’s largest collection of life-sized pirate sculptures.

Photo: Pirates Treasure Museum

Photo: Pirates Treasure Museum

During the peak of Caribbean piracy, Charlotte Amalie remained a haven for an array of questionable characters who bribed the local government in exchange for safe harbor. But to the unexpected chagrin of two legendary pirates, Jean Hamlin and Bartholomew Sharp, an English officer snuck aboard and sank both their ships, complete with a cache of silver, to the bottom of the harbor where the wreckage remains today. This legend, along with other colorful tales of shipwrecks, treasure, and debauchery, can be explored in full detail through the interactive exhibits at the Pirates Treasure Museum.

Elsewhere in the USVIs, there are a number of beaches where travelers can picture pirate life and search for gold doubloons unearthed on sandy shores. Make time for beautiful Trunk Bay on St. John, as well as Rainbow and Buccaneer beaches on St. Croix. You could be walking in the footsteps of history’s most notorious marauders, your skin made swarthy by the Caribbean sun.