Caribbean and Alaskan Camping with Home Comforts
by Candyce H. Stapen
Okay, I admit it--camping without discomfort is my kind of outdoor overnight. I want the wilderness without the work. How about you? Here are three great places to enjoy nature’s beauty without the bother. Two are in the Caribbean, where officially most islands discourage camping, and one site offers Alaska’s rugged coastal scenery and abundant wildlife as well as home cooking.
In St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, swim turquoise seas, stroll sandy beaches, hike nature trails and snorkel with schools of rainbow colored fish. Island oasis Maho Bay Camps offers four types of eco-sensitive accommodations in or near the Virgin Islands National Park. Two are tent facilities. Maho Bay Camps’ 114 tent-cottages rate as the best value in the Caribbean. Beachfront and tiered along a hillside, the tents come with gorgeous sea views. Each has a deck, a barbecue, a cooking area and a sleeping area. Although not beachfront, Concordia Eco-Tents, situated on a hilltop, offer sweeping views as well as private toilets, running water and solar power.
Culebra, 17 miles east of Puerto Rico’s mainland, has a year-round population of about 2000. Two reasons to visit off-the-beaten path Culebra: uncrowded snorkeling off Carlos Rosario beach, whose reef is rich with coral and tropical fish, as well as swimming at Flamenco Beach, a nearly mile-long swath of wide sands with modest waves, frequently rated one of the Caribbean’s best beaches.
The third reason: Flamenco Beach’s overnight camp sites. Named for the pink flamingos that once nested in the nearby lagoon, Flamenco Beach, part of a public park and popular with locals, offers overnight camping spots so close to the sea that you can fall asleep to the sound of breaking surf.
To enjoy rugged Alaskan scenery and wildlife, but still get home cooked meals and guided tours, try Across the Bay Tent & Breakfast, Kachemak Bay. This unusual variation of a traditional B&B comes with a spectacular location. You stay in tent cabins with carpets and mattresses and enjoy indoor showers and a sauna. Breakfast and dinner are served in lodge, and you make your own sandwiches for picnic lunches —no cooking required.
At the property, go tidepooling for anemones, mussels, crabs, sea stars and maybe even an octopus. On a kayak outing you’re likely to spot seals, sea otters, harbor porpoises and even bald eagles. Catch some halibut and the lodge will cook it for your dinner. www.tentandbreakfastalaska.com