Caribbean

A Caribbean Education

written by | Posted on July 1st, 2010

True to the laid-back vibe of St. John, these classes don’t take place in a classroom, but under a canopy overlooking the beach—a relaxing place to be no matter what you’re doing. “People can hear the water, and it’s just very pleasant. Usually there’s a breeze, and people go and dip in the water afterwards.” And like Arthurton’s cooking classes, clients need no experience to get started painting. “I’ve had honeymoon couples and I’ve had elderly people. I’ve had a 90-year-old and I’ve had 4 year olds. All you need to do is create your own memory.”

Caneel Bay itself is an inspiring setting for learning a new art, surrounded by the protected natural setting of the Virgin Islands National Park. Clients can stroll along seven different beaches, or snorkel at a handful of spots, in search of inspiration for their masterpieces. And after the class, when their vacation has ended, clients take their painting home with them, as well as a list of materials used so they can continue to improve their skills at home.

“You can get the basics, enjoy it, and go home and say, ‘I did this,’” Hitchcock says. Art classes are $85 pp; rates at Caneel Bay start at $395.

on a roll The historic Graycliff Hotel in Nassau in The Bahamas, has been known just as much for its cigars as for its elegant colonial accommodations ever since the hotel began cigar production in 1997. Visitors can still stop by the cigar rolling studio where about a dozen torcedores spend their days at worn, antique-looking wooden tables turning simple tobacco leaves into high-priced stogies. And now clients can do more than simply watch it happen. In just a few hours, in fact, they can learn the basics of rolling cigars for themselves.

Classes begin with a brief history of tobacco and cigar production, including the origins of Graycliff’s leaves and what blends result in the best cigars. Next, they’ll claim one of those old wooden tables for themselves and learn how to cut the leaves; how to roll the tobacco, and how to wrap it all up. At the end of the lesson, clients can keep the cigar they’ve rolled, as well as a complimentary cigar and cigar cutter.

The 3-night Graycliff Hotel Cigar package includes a cigar rolling lesson, as well as a tasting dinner with wine pairings at its upscale restaurant; one dinner at the Churrascaria Humidor, a traditional Brazilian rodizio barbecue restaurant; a rum tasting; and turndown service with a different Graycliff cigar each night. Rates start at $869 pp dbl.

dive right in With thousands of impressive, teeming dive sites, coupled with shallow, calm cays, the Caribbean is an ideal place to learn to scuba dive. Most dive resorts and scuba operators offer courses in PADI certification, offering the necessary skills and safety techniques to use while exploring underwater. Beginners should choose a reputable and well-established dive operator like Red Sail Sports, operating in the Cayman Islands and Aruba, that offers a 3-day PADI Open Water Diver course. Clients can complete the first portion of the course online, expediting the certification process. The course runs $450. Certified divers who want to go the extra mile should head to Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire, widely considered the Caribbean’s best island for scuba diving. There, they can go pro—literally—with the Buddy Dive Academy’s Instructor Development Course, taking place Nov. 24-Dec. 5. At its completion, clients will be certified dive instructors. The full course costs $1,115; rates at Buddy Dive Resort start at $121 per room per night.