These 12 top travelogues whisk you away to be part of the author’s tropical adventure.
1. Embarrassment of Mangoes. A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof
I love this book. I’ve read it many times. This couple begins their sailing odyssey in Canada, winds down the East Coast via the Intracoastal Waterway and ends in the Caribbean. Her writing is so accessible, you feel like the second mate on their trip. There are also more than 30 tropical recipes. Yum!
2. The Spice Necklace. A Food Lover’s Caribbean Adventure by Ann Vanderhoof
Ann and her husband, Steve, travel again to and through the Caribbean on their trusty sailboat, Raceta. This trip is more focused on the food of the region. The Spice Necklace is packed with more than 60 tropical recipes and many cool foodie references, like a trip to a Cocoa Research Unit at UWI for chocolate tasting and the discovery of “seamoss” a type of seaweed that is reported to have aphrodisiac qualities. A culinary and sailing adventure.
3. A Family Island, A short history of Salt Cay Bahamas by H. Shaw McCutcheon
This tropical tale follows the American family that purchased the “Blue Lagoon Island”in 1919. It details the ups and downs of owning a small Caribbean island as well as hosting visits by The Duke and Duchess of Windsor and many other dignitaries. Interesting adventure.
4. Sex Lives of Cannibals. Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
An unemployed 26-year-old packs up and follows his girlfriend to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island. He’s laugh-out-loud funny in his description of day-to-day living on this idyllic-looking tropical spot.
5. Getting Stoned with Savages. A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maarten Troost
The author returns to island living, this time in Vanuatu and Fiji. Again, I laughed my way through his misadventures from moray eels, to a foot long centipede in his house. His description, “Venatu centipedes eat meat. Now, I’m no entomologist, you’d think that fact alone would be enough to bump it out of the insect classification.” He goes on to explain how he and his kitten are on chairs to avoid the venom-laden intruder. Funny guy.
6. Floreana by Margret Wittmer
Set in 1932, Margret Wittmer and her family relocate to Floreana, a remote island in the Galapagos. I enjoyed learning about her female explorer experience and how remote island dwellers manage self-sufficiency.
7. Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
This tropical book made it on the Extreme Classics: The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time by National Geographic’s Travel Magazine list (#17). The tale follows six men who set sail in Peru and sailed a primitive raft 4,300 miles to the South Sea islands. I felt like I had a spot on the voyage.
8. Bahamas Out Island Odyssey by Nan Jeffrey
Nan describes her own book as “neither a guidebook or a travelogue, but rather a taste of Out Island life as seen and experienced from the vantage point of a visitor.”
9. Yoga Bitch. One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment by Suzanne Morrison
A twenty-five-year-old woman travels to Bali in her quest to become a yoga teacher. She details the two-month adventure diary-style and did I mention that she is HILARIOUS!
10. Home by Another Way. Notes from the Caribbean by Robert Benson
Robert and his wife spend time each year on a tropical island and share the endearing qualities of their home-away-from-home. He helps us experience his journey whether it be the slower living on the tropical time zone, the smiling faces everywhere, or the water taxis that double up as deep-sea fishing boats. His account is engaging and addictive.
11. A Trip to the Beach. Living on Island Time in the Caribbean by Melinda and Robert Blanchard
A Vermont couple relocates and builds a small restaurant on Anguilla. They pursue their far-flung dream. Magic and mayhem occur.
12. Castaway. A Story of Survival by Lucy Irvine
An adventurous mismatched couple go to live on Tuin in the Coral Sea, north of Australia. This is the true account of how they survived day-by-day on this mile-long tropical island with very little help from the outside. You’ll be immersed in island living.
What is your favorite tropical book? Is it on our list or do you have a suggestion for everyone?
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© Kristi Rhodes 2012