Escape to the Caribbean
DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF JAMAICA
This island paradise sets the stage for romance, but it’s also a wonderful family getaway, with exceptional all-inclusive resorts offering plenty of activities.
Jamaica is known for its laid-back lifestyle. Music flows freely through the open-air markets where shoppers can find a variety of handmade goods and sample Jamaican cuisine.
In Ocho Rios, climb Dunn’s River Falls with a congenial guide who will snap photos as you challenge the falls. In Port Antonio, ride down the Rio Grande River. It’s a relaxing six-mile journey on a bamboo raft that takes you through the lush bush areas of the island.
For a breathtaking panorama of Jamaica’s lush forest, visit Caves of Nunsuch and Athenry Gardens in Port Antonio. Not too far away is Blue Lagoon, also known as the Blue Hole. This deep sinkhole brings cold water from underground, turns the water inky blue, and provides the perfect aquatic platform for water-skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving and glass-bottom boat rides.
ST. BARTHS – SECLUSION FOUND
Little St. Barthelemy, nicknamed St. Barths, has a big reputation for glamorous visitors — Mick Jagger, Queen Beatrix and Jackie Onassis being among them. But despite its popularity with celebrities, the island has remained relatively quiet and retained a strong sense of self, with a laidback attitude, casual ambiance, and more than a glimmer of French chic. St. Barth’s tiny population of some 3,000 residents represents an interesting blend of French and Swedish cultures. Though the island is now under France’s rule, it once belonged to Sweden (1784-1878).
In Gustavia, St. Barths largest town, street signs appear in both French and Swedish. Wrapped around a picturesque harbor where sailboats, fishing vessels and luxury yachts glisten in the sun, Gustavia is a favorite spot for soaking up the scenic beauty of the island. Its quaint streets are filled with small shops, cafes and markets.
Merely eight square miles, St. Barths does not take long to explore, but the terrain of the island is hilly and rugged – best seen by open-air Jeepstyle vehicles. Roads are narrow and steep, but well marked. The views are spectacular.
While nightlife is virtually nonexistent in St. Barths, the island is known for its sumptuous cuisine. Evenings are most often spent lazily sipping champagne and dining on local seafood or French specialties, or simply strolling along one of the many beaches and gazing at the stars.
BEACHY FUN IN PUNTA CANA
For beach lovers, the island nation of the Dominican Republic is quickly building a reputation as one of the most beautiful and interesting destinations in the Caribbean.
On the east coast lies Punta Cana. This is the place to be if you’re looking for an all-inclusive resort set on one of the most picturesque beaches in the world. This region is often referred to as the coconut coast due to its hundreds of swaying coconut palms scattered along 30 miles of fine white sand. Most Punta Cana resorts are low-rise; the grounds are lush and tropical with foliage, lagoons and palm trees along with peacocks, flamingos, ducks, parrots and other wildlife that stroll the resorts’ grounds. The colorful waters of Punta Cana’s beaches are ideal for surfing, jet skiing, scuba diving, boating and fishing. Onshore, just as many activities can be enjoyed, including horseback riding, jeep safaris, helicopter tours and zip lining. This is also a golfer’s destination, with 11 courses scattered along the strip.
GRAND CAYMAN & BONAIRE – A DIVER’S PARADISE
For decades, divers have flocked to the Caribbean, delving into the ocean’s warm, crystalclear waters, which display spectacular coral reefs and amazing marine life. What visitors have discovered on Grand Cayman are miles of sheer coral walls, brilliantly colored tropical fish, canyons and chasms, coral tunnels, caves, shipwrecks, and seemingly endless visibility. Divided into six dive regions, Grand Cayman has more than 70 named boat and beach dive sites. Bonaire, which lies off the coast of Venezuela, is ringed by beautiful white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and a national underwater park. Scuba divers rank Bonaire’s waters among some of the finest in the Caribbean and in the world. The 112-square-mile island is a coral reef that has remained pristine thanks to the Bonaire government, which in 1979 established the Bonaire Marine Park. More than 80 dive sites can be found here, with the most distant only about a one-hour boat ride away.