Fields of spiky Aloe vera in Hato, Aruba. Photo by Jimmyvillalta/iStock.com

Aloe vera: the thorny balm

The spiky Aloe vera plant is a favourite of Caribbean gardens, its bitter gel used as a moisturiser, stomach remedy, and ingredient in healthy tonics. You might imagine you could build a whole industry around this handy plant — and Aruba has done just that. Shelly-Ann Inniss visits the island’s biggest aloe farm, and learns how this wonder of the kitchen and medicine cabinet is an economic wonder, too.

Photo by ABDESIGN/iStock.com

Born blue: Suriname’s blue poison dart frog

Suriname’s blue poison dart frog is a living treasure of the rainforest.

Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

John James Audubon: The Birdman | On this Day

It’s considered a landmark of ornithology, and it was published one hundred and ninety years ago: John James Audubon’s massive Birds of America. Born in Haiti, Audubon had a restless life spread across continents, but along the way he transformed himself into a leading expert on the birdlife of North America. As James Ferguson explains, his legacy in science and conservation still endures.

Photograph by André Phillip

Mangrove view

A mosaic of greens and blues seen from high above, Barbuda’s Codrington Lagoon is a natural gem, home to mangrove forests and seabird colonies.

Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

Harry Belafonte: calypso with a conscience

A beloved musical icon since the 1950s, Harry Belafonte has an equally long reputation as a political activist. And the parallel themes of his public life, entertainment and activism, both have their roots in Belafonte’s childhood in Jamaica. James Ferguson finds out more.

Mangrove-lined seashore in Bonaire. Photo by Gail Johnson/Shutterstock.com

Caribbean eco progress report

In the pages of Caribbean Beat, over the past twenty-five years, we’ve often reported on environmental stories. So what’s the real state of progress across the region, when it comes to protecting our natural resources? Nazma Muller investigates.

A girl from the neighbourhood, posing here with her friend, discovers an uncanny resemblance in artist Matthew Henry’s mural. Photo by Matthew Henry

Inner-city art in Kingston

For middle-class Jamaicans and tourists alike, downtown Kingston, with its deprived communities, can seem off-limits. So when a group of young artists began a public mural project in the Fleet Street area, it wasn’t just about beautifying the neighbourhood, writes Tanya Batson-Savage. It was really about opening opportunities for local residents.

Photo by jedamus / Shutterstock.com

This old house

The historic architecture of the Old Havana neighbourhood in Cuba’s capital is an artistic treasure trove.

Illustration by Rohan Mitchell

The remains of the Danes

Exactly a century ago, the Kingdom of Denmark sold its Caribbean possessions for $25 million to the United States. Commemorated in the US Virgin Islands, the anniversary is little remembered elsewhere — but, as James Ferguson writes, the story behind the event reminds us about the ambitions that drove European colonisation of our region.

Photo by Nerhuz / Shutterstock.com

Electric Avenues

As the world grows more environment- and energy-conscious, electric cars seem like the transport of the future. And most Caribbean countries offer ideal conditions for their adoption, writes Shelly-Ann Inniss.