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Fern Court, Woodlands, Montserrat

Fern Court • Montserrat: A Case Study

In the summer of 2019, a private seller came to RealtyHive with an interesting property. Named Fern Court and located in the Woodlands area of Montserrat, the seller had inherited the property and had been trying to sell it for years.

Not many people know about the idyllic island of Montserrat. Located in the Caribbean island chain called the Lesser Antilles, this small island is just 10 miles long, 7 miles wide and home to nearly 5,000 people. Montserrat has been nicknamed “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean” for it’s resemblance to coastal Ireland, but unlike Ireland there are no direct flights from the United States, Canada, or United Kingdom to the smaller island nation.

In 1995, the Soufrière Hills volcano, located in southern central region of the island became active and began to erupt. This eruption eventually led to the capital city of Plymouth being covered in more than 39 feet of mud and debris. The seismic and volcanic activity continued for years destroying the island’s airport and ravaging the tourism industry. The most recent period sent pyroclastic flows down several sides of the mountain from November 2009 to February 2010.

This volcanic volatility led to the creation of the exclusion zone encompassing the entire southern half of the island. A variety of settlements were abandoned either by the eruption of 1995 or the flows of 1997 and still more were evacuated and later resettled. Among these is Woodlands.

So here we have a small, hard to reach island with recent volcanic activity and a seller who needs to sell a property worth several hundred thousands of dollars. Challenge accepted. With a few pictures and videos from the on-island agent partner, RealtyHive was able to begin marketing the property.

By the time Fall 2019 rolled around, Fern Court had a verbally accepted offer, but as anyone who has lived in the Caribbean can tell you, things down there tend to happen on island time. By Winter 2019, the sellers had a written contract and in early 2020, the property had closed!

Sip on something awesome: Coffee in the Caribbean

 

“Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.” -Edward Abbey

While Americans have enjoyed coffee from airtight tins since the early 1900s, many have not experienced the joy of truly fresh coffee. In 1907, 97% of the world’s coffee came from Brazil, but today many countries, from Ethiopia to Hawaii export these delicious and highly coveted beans. If you’re looking for the best cuppa Joe, here’s what you need to know

 
coffee being poured into mug
 
Costa Rica

Costa Rican coffee is known for having a full and rich body with bright acidity and a clean, crisp taste. Costa Rica uses an Arabica bean which is grown at higher altitudes and harvested in winter between December and February. The aroma profile is an intense and fragrant coffee smell with hints of brown sugar, while the flavor leans more toward citrus, tropical fruit, and apricots. The high quality brews these beans create means Costa Rican coffee has gotten a reputation as some of the best in Central/South American and has led to its introduction into Starbucks’ “reserve” program.


 
beans in coffee cup
 
Jamaica

Jamaica produces multiple types of coffee, but the most well-known is its Blue Mountain variety. Grown in the region of the same name north of Kingston and south of Port Maria at an elevation of between 3,000-5,500 feet, this coffee has virtually no bitterness, despite the fact that it has an excellently full body and a vibrant, yet smooth, acidity. This brew is also very complex with an unusually sweet flavor that teeters on chocolaty and an aroma filled with sweet herbal and floral notes with nutty undertones. One of the more notable facts about Jamaican coffee cultivation is that nearly all of Jamaica’s coffee plants are direct descendants of the plants the French brought to Martinique in 1723.
 


hands holding coffee in mug
 
Honduras

Historically coffee in Honduras was fairly standard and unremarkable, but in recent years has been receiving more acclaim. Grown at an elevation of between 3,600-5,400 feet, this bean exhibits a round, medium body with a soft acidity and a vanilla/hazelnut aroma. Like the coffee of the nearby Costa Rica, the harvest time in Honduras is from November to April. While the country was slow to take to coffee production, it has been a primary cash crop (along with bananas) since the early 2000s.
 
coffee with flower drizzle

Guatemala

Known as a “true Central American coffee”, Guatemalan coffee has a full body, rich cocoa-like flavor, and a toffee-esque flavor. The beans here are washed and sun dried and give off citrusy, floral notes when brewed. One of the truly unique properties of Guatemalan coffee is its ability to retain its flavor, even through dark and even espresso roasts. Guatemala’s location between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, consistent climate (it averages 72F year-round!), and volcanic soil makes this an ideal spot for cultivation.
 
coffee in white cup
 
While you can buy these varieties of coffee (and many, many) more at your local grocery store or online, experts will tell you to consult a local coffee roaster to obtain green coffee beans which can then be roasted to your specification right before you pick them up. You will then want to leave the beans whole until you are ready to brew a cup and ground coffee goes stale much faster than whole beans. Enjoy!

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Central American & Caribbean Vacation Spots for 2018

While all-inclusive mega resorts have their time and place, sometimes you want your trips to be a little farther off the tourist path. Whether you’re looking for a less-than-conventional vacation spot, a location for a vacation or retirement home, or are considering an expatriate lifestyle these are some of the best places to check out in 2018.

Belize

While the beachy Ambergris Caye gets all the attention — and a lot of tourism — the Cayo District, home to the capital city of Belmopan, is where an adventure vacation awaits you. This jungle-covered landscape is home to many eco-activities and adventures and dotted with Mayan ruins. San Ignacio, a town with a population of nearly 18,000 serves as the perfect point to launch your trip as all roads and activities branch out from this hub. Here you can find waterfalls, cave exploring expeditions, Mayan ruins and so much more!
Must Try Activity: Explore the hidden depths and crystal clear waters at Actun Tunichil Muknal, a natural wonder featured in National Geographic. From here you can swim into a mysterious cave known as Xibalba, which the ancient Mayans considered to be a portal to the underworld. You’ll have to hike, climb, and possibly even swim, but the history and beauty can’t be beaten.

Costa Rica

If your ideal vacation involves fewer beaches and more jungles, you need to check out El Castillo in the Alajuela province. Getting there can be quite the trip as it’s about a 2.5 hour trek by car or bus through Costa Rican jungle roads, but once you make it, you’ll know the trip was worth it.
Must Try Activity: There are a ton of great things to do using El Castillo as a jumping off point, but visiting the hot springs of the Arenal Volcano tops the list. While there are numerous hot springs in the area, those looking for a more intimate and natural experience will enjoy Eco Termales Fortuna, where the number guests is limited per day.
Coming in close behind are the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park and the Sky Adventures Arenal Park (both offer a great view, neither are for those who are afraid of heights!) and the Arenal Ecozoo.

Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago

Scarborough, the capital of the island of Tobago lays outside the hurricane belt in the Caribbean. The population of around 17,000 gives off the smalltown vibes while having a deep-sea port allows for an influx of cruise tourists and a nearby rainforest preserve will make you believe you are in a much more remote locale. English is the official language of the island which makes it easy for Americans to travel around, although tourists should be aware that prices can be quoted in either USD or Trinidad & Tobago (TT) dollars, so make sure to ask which one your purchase is in!
Must Try Activity: Take a glass bottom boat out to Nylon Pool. It’s a shallow area in the middle of the ocean that you can bathe in! The “sand” is actually pulverized coral (so exfoliating!) and people who bathe here are said to return looking 10 years younger! Along the way there are beautiful, tropical fish to see and is very inexpensive with many tours under $10 USD. Other notable attractions include Argyle Falls, a three-tiered waterfall that has natural rock tubs (great for relaxing!) and swimmable areas and Fort King George, a military outpost from the 1700s with gorgeous sunset views.

Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago

Gasparillo, a small town near Upper Santa Cruz in the San Juan/Laventille region (not to be confused with the town of about 16,000 on the southeastern side of Trinidad), located 5 miles (8 km) from the capital city of Port of Spain.
Must Try Activity: Spend your day lounging on the nearby Maracas Beach, the best place for sun, sand, and surf on the island of Trinidad. When you get hungry, head over to Richard’s Shark and Bake where they sell deep fried shark sandwiches with all the fixings. There are other shark and bake shops, but this is the local favorite!

Jamaica

Jamaica is known for beautiful, turquoise beaches, but almost as well known as the beauty are the hustlers and vendors that crowd the tourist areas trying to vend their goods. Looking for a more unadulterated paradise experience? Set up camp in the town of Green Island, located in the Hanover Parish on the northwestern side of the island.
Must Try Activity: Half Moon Beach is a private beach with a small entrance fee and provides the peace and serenity vacationers are looking for while having an onsite bar and restaurant for those whose version of paradise still includes a well-cooked meal. The beach also offers a nearby healthy reef for snorkeling and a bamboo rafting tour–the only of its kind on the open sea! Other fun vacation activities nearby include the Crocodile Reserve and Bird Sanctuary as well as the Kool Runnings Adventure Park, a theme park based off the 1993 movie Cool Runnings.

outdoor pools pool paradise jamaica cayman islands tropical st barths barts martin maarten

Poolside Paradise: Dreaming of a White (Sand) Christmas

While winter technically begins on December 21, with the winter solstice, most of us in the northern hemisphere have been feeling pretty frigid for the last few weeks. We’ve seen the days get shorter, the temperatures get colder, and we’re already ready to trade eggnog for Piña Coladas. While escaping to the beautiful beaches of Montego Bay, Jamaica or Tulum, Mexico sounds like the ideal getaway this time of year, an impromptu trip to a poolside paradise just isn’t in the cards for most of us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t dream…

So kick back, relax, and imagine yourself poolside as you check out these gorgeous residential oases. Bonus: If you’re in the market for your own slice of paradise, all these properties are currently for sale!


French atmosphere with outstanding turquoise waters.

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Located in the French West Indies, St. Barthélemy, captures guests’ hearts with its chic French atmosphere and outstanding turquoise waters. Furthermore, this lush heated pool designed with a small cascade was landscaped to feel like a hidden getaway, while the infinity-edge pool overlooks the Caribbean Sea. Also, the counter-current system allows for water aerobics and exercises making this the ultimate in fitness with a view!

Rentals in St. Barts:

Luxury villa with Harbour view in heart Gustavia

Central Palm St Jean

Bungalow Hansen 1 – Colombier

Appart neuf & moderne Résidence Camaruche, StBarth


Silent waters in Montego Bay, Jamaica

night pool montego bay jamaicaaerial pool view montego bay jamaica paradiseperfect tropical swim out pool montego bay for rent or saleinfinity pool paradise montego bay jamaicast james montego bay pool turquoise perfect oasis

Located in the private, gated community of Great River, this villa named Silent Waters in Montego Bay, Jamaica has two infinity-edge swimming pools. The main pool is Olympic sized with fantastic views of the Caribbean below. Additionally, the pool of the Owner’s Villa features a wrap-around pool with direct swim-out access from the bedroom or bathroom. Also, this villa can accommodate up to 20 guests, and includes a private tennis court, 12 buildings, and a private helicopter pad! Most importantly, this home is a favorite for celebrity getaways and destination weddings!

Rentals in Montego Bay, Jamaica:

Grand palladium lady Hamilton Jamaica

Lorenton Hideaway Luxury Suite #1

Beautiful Korall Revet

Lovely Rustic Villa with Secluded Beach (Rm 1)


Fewer beaches and more mountains in this getaway!

desert home pool spa sunsetsunken patio pool area paradise valley az swimspa outdoor pool arizona az

If your idea of the perfect getaway involves fewer beaches and more mountains, this Paradise Valley home has what you’re looking for! With multiple cascades, a sunken lounging area, and fantastic views of the nearby mountains, this pool is a desert-lovers dream. Therefore, if you enjoy a more mountainous vacation, this home is perfect for you! The negative-edge spa is perfect for those December nights when temperatures average a chilly 44°F at night!

Rentals in Paradise Valley, Arizona:

Paradise Valley detached guest house.

Scottsdale– Near TPC & Talking Stick! 153

Modern 2BR near Old Town (#8) by WanderJaunt

Luxury 2-bed estate – Camelback Mtn VIEW + HOT TUB


Gorgeous poolside views in the Caribbean

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This gorgeous poolside view is found on a Caribbean island, amicably divided into French (Saint Martin) and Dutch (Sint Maarten) sides for the best of both worlds. Located on the French half of the island, this phenomenal pool features a cliffside jacuzzi, a poolside bar, and overlooks the cerulean water below. Additionally, with its unobtrusive landscaping, all focus is on the incredible view and built-in loungers. Making this the perfect place for sipping local favorite Guavaberry Coladas!

Rentals in the Caribbean:

Luxurious paradise for unforgettable vacations.

Casa Maya @ Hilltop

Tropical Oasis Pool Cottage

Villa Pierre: Lifetime Memories


Honorable Mentions:

While these pools aren’t as over-the-top they still have us dreaming of trading snowsuits for swimwear!

Pool indoor swimming poolpool swimming slide backyardpool mountain desert backyard swim beauty

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outdoor kitchen with overhang and ceiling fans in tropical setting

Breakfast with a View

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take ya to Bermuda, Bahamas, come on pretty mama–it’s time for breakfast! They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but breakfast with a view is the ultimate way to start your day off right. If you can’t enjoy an authentic Caribbean spread in Jamaica, Montserrat, or The Bahamas, the next best thing might be a tropical breakfast spread!

Agua Frescas
tropical agua fresca beach breakfast drink
Agua Fresca, literally Refreshing Water in Spanish, are simply unfiltered fresh juices. These tasty beverages can be easily made with any type of fruit, although seedless varieties work well. Popular in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean, Agua Fresca makes a great way to start your breakfast time.

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 1 cup peeled fruit (seedless work best– pineapple, mango, papaya, and watermelon are favorites!)
  • 1 cup water (more or less, adjust to desired consistency)
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 1 tsp – 1 tbsp sugar, honey, or agave — to taste

Place all ingredient and blend until smooth. If using fruit with seeds (or you really don’t like pulp), strain before serving. Serve cold, without ice.

Tropical Smoothie Bowl

breakfast smoothie bowl with berries and dragonfruit

When you live in a tropical climate, smoothies are year-round fare. While the traditional American breakfast calls for eggs, meat, and potatoes, a tropical breakfast needs to be light and refreshing. After all, you don’t want to be too full when the temps start rising! A smoothie bowl makes a great, light breakfast to start your day off right!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp- 1tbsp sugar, agave, or honey (to taste)
  • Fresh berries/fruit/granola/nuts (to top)

Blend the strawberries, coconut milk, and sweetener until smooth. Top with desired ingredients and enjoy!

Bonus: Feeling especially tropical? Try adding Pitaya (Dragonfruit) to your smoothie bowl. This fruit is indigenous to the Americas and has a soft texture and sweet strawberry-kiwi taste!