Destination babymoon

The babymoon is the last chance saloon of couple’s holidays, a chance to revel à deux before you become à trois (holidays will never be the same again). The ideal time for a babymoon is the second trimester, once you are over the sickness and worry that accompany the first trimester and before you require a forklift truck to get you anywhere in the third.

The destination really depends on what you are after – city, countryside, beach, mountains etc.; what travel options you will consider and if flying how long a flight; temperature; and any special requirements you want it to meet.

I was after a predominantly beach holiday with a few mountains to keep Fred happy, within a 10 hour flight (the shorter the better), warm weather and most of all I wanted to swim in the sea. I wanted to leave after I knew everything was ok with the 20 week scan and be back before the second trimester was up. The trouble was that meant going in early April, an early April where Europe had decided that Spring was overrated, and that Winter should remain. I looked hopefully at some of the European options that are further South like Crete, Cyprus, Sardinia etc but the likelihood of being able to swim in the sea seemed remote. So we looked further afield and settled on the Caribbean.

Then I made the fatal mistake of telling my consultants about it prior to booking. They were aghast at the idea – dismissing the entire Caribbean on the basis of poor medical care and the need to airlift you to Florida if anything went wrong. “Speaking of Florida, you should go there – the Florida Keys are nice”. Their concern about medical care was straightforward “In all likelihood nothing will go wrong, the trouble is if it does it tends to be serious”.

So I spent a good couple of days researching alternatives, looking into options in America including the Florida Keys (a location whose mention became a joke as more and more people independently suggested it on hearing our predicament). But Fred was having none of it – for him the Florida Keys meant retirement homes and strip malls, and that wasn’t his idea of a good destination for a last hurrah before parenthood struck and holidays to Bognor Regis would suddenly become appealing.

So he thought outside the box, now constrained by the added requirement of good healthcare and hospitals with good facilities, he determined who was likely to be the most paranoid about healthcare in other countries, one obvious candidate: the American Government, or the US Department of State to be precise.

The Department of State’s website is a treasure trove of factual information about countries, including a appraisal of their healthcare system, and if they say it’s good – you can be pretty confident it is. Undeterred by the consultants’ protestations of Caribbean healthcare doom, Fred took it upon himself to research every single country page for anything in the Caribbean. The surprising results were that there were five locations whose healthcare rated their seal of approval and which seemed to have good enough hospitals to avoid a long (and expensive) transfer to Florida. These were:

The “C” in the ABC Islands and located near Venezuela, this place of crazy pastel coloured houses, is a Dutch colony but it has a distinct culture, currency and even language (Papiamento – a mix of Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, English and a raft of African languages). You may know it by it’s old name, the Netherlands (or Dutch) Antilles.

The “A” in the ABC Islands (Bonaire seemingly missing out in the ABC healthcare sweepstakes), and also previously known as part of the Dutch Antilles. Unlike many of its Caribbean neighbours, Aruba is a flat and dry island with little rainfall or rainforest, and instead plenty of white sand beaches, cacti and divi-divi trees (as above) to make up for it.

The Cayman Islands
Everyone’s favourite tax haven and a great registrar of luxury yachts, the Cayman Islands are a UK Overseas Territory set just below Cuba. A haven for divers as a result of its coral reefs and clear waters, less adventurous tourists are drawn by the excellent beaches. Alcohol is expensive on the Cayman Islands so make good use of your duty free allowance – or if pregnant, just feel smug.

Officially part of the EU as one of only eight “outermost regions”, Guadeloupe is proud to be more French than France, with the requisite croissants, fromage and French-speaking this entails. Split into two islands, the mountainous Basse-Terre and rolling sugar cane fields and white sandy beaches of Grande-Terre, Guadeloupe is a mix of the very modern (large scale Carre-Fours, excellent roads) and traditional Caribbean (plantation style housing, a seafood diet).

Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, meaning its population has US citizenship but cannot vote in presidential elections (due to not being a state). Spanish is the main language, with English a distant second. Mainly mountainous with sandy beaches on the coast, Puerto Rico has exciting destinations like the Arecibo Observatory (as seen in the James Bond, “Goldeneye”). And for the historians amongst you, Old San Juan is a treat of traditional architecture and historical sites, surrounded by a very modern and bustling city.

With these as our options and swiftly cutting out the Cayman Islands, Aruba & Puerto Rico due to crazy flight times or expense, Guadeloupe was selected on the basis of looking like it had better beaches and more mountains than Curaçao. So Guadeloupe it was, and there we were for the fortnight after Easter, in the land that appears to have one pharmacy per ten heads of population, sunning ourselves while it snowed here – and if you are very lucky, I’ll tell you all about it…

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