Monday, March 30, 2009

The Legend of Big Black Dick

So clearly there has not been a post here in quite some time. This particular quarter of college has taken its toll on me in terms of free time, so I haven't had much time at all to be updating this blog. I'm hoping that this will mark my return to at least a bit more updating than I had been doing.

I've been to the Cayman Islands twice, both times to the main island of Grand Cayman. My family traveled to multiple places during each stay, but we always saved some time for the various shops and buildings of the capital city of George Town.

view of George Town, Grand cayman from our lunch table
(taken from

At one spot in particular along the streets of George Town is a place known as the Pirate's Grotto. Located in the basement of the Landmark Building on at the corner of Harbour Drive and Landmark Avenue, the Pirate's Grotto is easily spotted due to the large, smiling pirate standing outside, as evidenced by the below photo:

Big Black Dicks Rum
(once again, taken from

As evidenced by the sign placed near his leg, Big Black Dick is not just any pirate... he's a rum-selling pirate!

Rum or not, the story goes like this, according to accounts by those who still carry on his tradition:

"It is believed that Big Black Dick was born of 'Royal' African parentage before being kidnapped by French slavers who gave him the name of "Richard Le Noir". Unable to subdue his efforts to regain his freedom, his French captors, tossed Richard overboard near a Caribbean island, which may have been Grand Cayman Island.

Miraculously reaching land, he served for several years labouring in a sugar cae field where he learned the secrets of how to turn the sugar cane into the Caribbean's finest rum. His kindly Caymanian master recognizing his hard work and hoensty awarded him his freedom in the early 1700's.

A free man and a skilled seaman, Dick tossed away his French name and became known as Big Black Dick. He soon earned the rank of captain of a three-masted-square rigger named "Caymanus". She was a ship carrying 20 cannons with a crew of near 200 men that were known as the best in the Caribbean.

History tells us that "Big Black Dick" was a dashing and handsome figure of a man, wearing a bright purple velvet coat and four pistols in his red silk sash. Those who knew him most immediately, know how much of a man he, indeed, was... possessing certain physical attributes unequaled by most 'all' other men of his gender.

After a successful career, Big Black Dick retired to a more peaceful venture of making the best original pirate rum in the Caribbean."

Tell me that's not the greatest biography in the world! It (and its variations) can be found on the label of most Big Black Dick products, if you ever need a good laugh at a party.

Big Black Dick's products can be found various places on the island, but Pirate's Grotto is probably the most notable and popular of these places. Head downstairs and you will find an assortment of Caribbean souvenirs, most of which are not BBD-related (but still pretty great--Tortuga Rum Cake being a prime example).

The main draw is BBD's rum, of which I really cannot form an opinion as I was not of legal drinking age at last visit. I assume it is rather good, but let's face it: when you're in the Caribbean, just about anything you drink is going to taste better, whether it is actually different or not.

BBD also decided to try his hand at hot sauce making. As one slogan on one particular bottle states, "You'll suck the meat right off the bone!" I have sampled various different sauces of Big Black Dick's, and they are highly satisfying.

Visit for more info. Some items can be purchased over the internet, though not the rum itself. Therefore, a trip to Grand Cayman is undoubtedly in order should you find this rum appealing! I mean, how else could you possibly utter the words "Gee, honey, you're looking a bit down today... how about some Big Black Dick?" Nowhere!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Magens Bay, St. Thomas

I thought I'd start off with something that most people likely know about, but something that I really cannot avoid if I am writing a blog on Caribbean travel. I speak of Magens Bay (on the island of Saint Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands), considered by many to be one of, if not THE best beach in the world.

What can I say on the matter?

Well, it certainly is one of the best beaches I've visited in the Caribbean, if only for the scenery. St. Thomas is well-known for possessing breathtaking scenery and dazzling, brilliant blue water. Combine those two things together and what do you get?

Magens Bay
(taken from

I dare you to tell me that that beach there does not look spectacular.

Now for the Google Earth view:

View Larger Map

So really, an expansive area.

Magens Bay is truly a spectacular place. I can say this from experience, having been there before in my life and really enjoying it. If one is traveling to St. Thomas, it is certainly a popular destination and, to some, a can't-miss attraction--especially if one has multiple days to spend on the island.

However, keep that very thing in mind: it's a very popular destination. If one is coming in to St. Thomas by ship, expect the beach to be packed that day. Given that, the beach is quite large, so beachgoers shouldn't have too much of a problem finding a place to camp out.

Magens Bay DOES have a cost for entry as well. For non-island residents, it is $4 for adults, $2 for children 13 and older, and free for children 12 and younger. There is also a $2 parking charge should beachgoers be driving (although if one is coming via cruise ship, this would not apply). Taxis are always available to the beach, and some island tours will also stop at the beach.

In addition to the beach, nature trails, an arboreteum and kayak rental is also available.

The beach is open daily from 8-5. For a list of rules and regulations, as well as other information about the beach, feel free to visit !

A pretty good video of Magens Bay; I think it captures the essence of the beach quite nicely:

Those who are thinking of visiting on their next cruise should consult with their cruise line for more information about possible tours heading to the beach, or you can look up many locally-owned tours that generally travel to the island! Some tours include Ali and Sons, Godfrey Tours V.I. and Air Force 1 Island Tours, to name a few. However, many people can merely catch a taxi to the beach; there are always plenty of taxis around. The beach is not within walking distance of Charlotte Amalie, so that is out of the question.

So, here's how it's going to go down...

"The chief character in this narrative is the Caribbean Sea, one of the world's most alluring bodies of water, a rare gem among the oceans, defined by the islands that form a chain of lovely jewels to the north and east." ~ James Michener

Now, if I can be perfectly honest, I've never really enjoyed the works of James Michener, but I liked that quote. One could say that it explains what you are about to witness here, as well: the Caribbean Sea, our chief character.

(Photo credit: stgrundy,, 2008)

Nice picture, right?

I thought so too.


I have been highly interested in the Caribbean ever since I took my first trip there at the age of 10, when I embarked on the Enchantment of the Seas with my family in 2000. Since that trip, I have been on six other cruises, each time becoming more and more infatuated with the islands of the Caribbean and the travel industry in general.

I came into college a few months ago as a journalism major who didn't really know what he wanted to do with his degree once (or, dare I say it, if) he got it. To this day, I still don't know the answer to that, but I think I'm starting to get a better idea of what I'd like to do.

One day in my Journalism 101 course, my professor told all of us that we should consider creating our own blog. While at the time I was not considering making this blog, I did make another that was a general blog for all pieces of news. However, I didn't have much interest in it. Therefore, I made three posts and haven't gone back since.

Recently, I got into looking at and researching the Caribbean extensively on Google Earth, Wikipedia, and elsewhere. A few weeks ago, I decided that perhaps I could write a blog about my findings; after all, the blog would for once be about something I enjoy, and perhaps it could somehow benefit others and better inform them about different aspects of the Caribbean.

At the very least, this blog can be something that I can point to when I am trying to get a job later on in life in order to say, "See? I was blogging!"

I may start tonight with my entries, if not tomorrow. It depends on whether or not I find anything else to do tonight.

Thank you for sticking it out through my rambling. Trust me- after this, the blog shall finally begin to take a specific theme.