Sleeping under a palm tree, strolling on endless beaches and eating ice cream while floating in a turquoise sea. What could be further from your everyday world? When you sail the Caribbean you''ll discover how relaxing, entertaining and just plain fun a week really can be. Visit a variety of beautiful islands and escape to paradise on your next vacation.
The tiny island of Aruba is the smallest of the ABC Islands, which include Barbados and Curacao. Aruba lies about 15 miles north of Venezuela and has limited vegetation. The landscape consists of cacti and the curiously wind-bent divi divi trees. You may also be interested in climbing atop some of the huge boulders and exploring some of its caves. Of course, the main attractions to this island are its magnificent beaches against the turquoise waters full of spectacular marine life, which lure scores of sunbathers, snorkelers, and divers each year to the island.
Though small, Aruba has room for some luxury as well. If you travel along Palm Beach, you will find the several miles of this white sand lined with a string of hotels with glitzy casinos, restaurants and exotic boutiques. The crystal-clear waters of this beach are ideal for swimming and all kinds of watersports. However, if you prefer to stay dry, you are more than welcome to enjoy Aruba''s exotic underwater world from the glass bottom boats or on a submarine excursion.
Bonaire has consistently been ranked as the finest snorkeling and scuba diving destination in the Caribbean for two decades. This is because of the island's diligent stewardship of its marine resources. Since 1979, all the waters of Bonaire's coast have been legally protected.
Besides snorkeling and scuba diving, there is plenty more to be done here. Bonaire has trade winds that are usually steady and wash over the island. This creates ideal conditions for windsurfing. The sere beauty of this semi-desert landscape is home to an assortment of wildlife. Atop the rock formations of Washington Slagbaai you can find iguanas toasting themselves, while they watch a vast cloud of orange-pink flamingoes drift across the bone-white salt flats. The divi-divi trees bending into the surreal sculptures of the wind, and towering cacti represent the Caribbean's diverse ecology.
Another great thing about Bonaire is that it has a yearly average temperature of 82 degrees F (27.8 degrees C) with an average water temperature of 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C). All year, Bonaire is not likely to see more than 22 inches (56 cm) of rain. This can be attributed to its nearly constant humidity of 76% and year round sunny forecast.
If you are a veteran Caribbean traveler, Curacao is a good choice for you. At the beaches, you will see a range from snowy white sand to volcanic pebbles. Most of Curacao''s beauty lies around the island in its coral reefs. These coral reefs are so beautiful that they are drawing in an increasing number of divers and snorkelers.
The original Dutch settlers of Curacao did well in bringing a bit of home with them. This is seen in the appearance of the colonial buildings painted in shades of yellow, orange and blue. But no one can mistake this island as a part of the Amsterdam as the climate is dryer, the soil is barren and cacti thrive easily.
The main attractions of this island are the historic Dutch architecture, shopping, nightlife, diving and snorkeling, nature areas, caves, swimming, the Sea Aquarium, casinos, and restaurants. With all the unique culture and varied attractions Curacao has a pleasant mixture of all the best things in the Caribbean. This island is definitely good for more than laying on the beach.
This fertile isle is a land of rain forests, tropical flowers, and abundant sugar cane. After a stroll around the charming colonial streets and shops of the capital, Basseterre, tour the island or visit Brimstone Hill Fort, an impressive construction that is one of the wonders of the Caribbean world.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the island of St. Thomas was once inhabited by the Ciboney tribes around 1500 BC along with two other tribes, the Taino or Arawaks and the Caribs. Even today you will be able to find evidence of these late tribes. Also before the European began to form a colony on this island, pirates once roam this island. The most common stories of pirates usually include the names of Blackbeard and Bluebeard who have been known for thieving Spanish ships filled with gold coins and other valuables. In 1917, the Danish flag was a thing of the past and the flag of the United States is a thing of the present.
Due to the beauty of this island, breath taking attractions are everywhere you look. This island is equipped with historical sites such as the Charlotte Amalie to marine parks and beautiful botanical gardens throughout the island. During your visit make sure you indulge in the Nightlife full of calypso music for your listening pleasure as well as great restaurants for your dining pleasure and semi-block parties for your dancing delight.
Aristocratic, stately and gracious, Charleston personifies the flavor of the Old South. Tour the town's many historic homes and gardens by coach or by horsedrawn carriage. Boone Hall Plantation recreates the antebellum grandeur, and the Isle of Hope recalls the Low Country past. Tour Fort Sumter where, on April 12, 1861, local troops opened fire beginning the Civil War.
The main attraction in Port Canaveral is the Kennedy Space Center, featuring exhibits and an IMAX theater which takes you through the entire history of America's space program- complete with a space launch from start to finish. Or, travel to nearby Orlando, home to more theme parks than anywhere else on earth - including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
The fortress of El Morro guards the harbor against long-gone Sir Francis Drake and his British privateers. The colorful streets of Old San Juan retain the Latin flavor of its seafaring past, when this was the heart of the Spanish Main. Sample the fiery rum made here, or indulge in an icy treat made from fresh tropical fruit and enjoy the Caribbean atmosphere.
Dutch St. Maarten is a great place to stop just to shop. Its capital is Philipsburg and fills a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond. It is a bustling center of international trade with lively shopping streets, cafes, and hotels. Strangely enough it has two main streets called Front Street and Back Street.
On Front Street, which is the main thoroughfare, duty-free shops line the road as far as the eye can see. These duty-free shops offer everything from Italian leather goods and Japanese cameras to native crafts. Don't be afraid to venture the alleyways that will lead you to arcades and courtyards filled with flowers.
The Courthouse is the most prominent landmark on Front Street. It is a grand white wooden structure topped with a cupola built in 1793. Front Street also includes the Simartin Museum so that visitors can get and excellent introduction to local St. Maartin history. There are also historical forts that are monuments to Philipsburg's strategic importance in St. Maarten's history.
Philipsburg has not been left behind in the time, however. It has combined its historical legacy with 20th century excitement. Since its waterfront has become a popular stop for cruise ships, the shore of this town is covered with restaurants, cafes and nightclubs that offer entertainment well into the night.