Saturday, October 13, 2007

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

St. George Harbor, Nassau, Bahamas
Photo by IrishNYC

Bahamas Facts

The Bahamas is an archipelago comprising 700 islands and 2,000 cays (small islands) located east of Florida, United States and north of Cuba in the Atlantic Ocean. The great majority of the locals speak English, so you should be comfortable communicating with them. Bimini is the closest island to the United States and is thus often referred to as the gateway to the Bahamas. Andros Island is the largest. Other islands include Abaco, Great Inagua, Eleuthera, Cat Island, Long Island, San Salvador Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Exuma, Mayaguana, Grand Bahama and New Providence. The capital city of the Bahamas is Nassau which is located on the island of New Providence. The Bahamas is among one of the richest nations in the Caribbean, its economy mainly driven by the tourism industry, which is again fueled mainly by its neighbour, the United States of America.

Attractions of the Bahamas

The Bahamas has a pleasant subtropical to tropical greatly moderated by the waters of the Gulf Stream. If you are a celebrity watcher, Wikipedia list among its notable residents as Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, Shakira, Sidney Poitier, Johnny Depp, Anna Nicole Smith, Dannielynn Marshall Birkhead (Anna Nicole Smith daughter), Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Oprah Winfrey, Rick Fox, Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, David Copperfield, Joseph Lewis (486th richest person of Forbes The World's Richest People list 2006), Lenny Kravitz, Sean "Diddy" Combs, John Travolta, Daniel Nestor and Eddie Murphy.

If you like festivals, visit the Bahamas on Boxing Day, 26th of December, when the biggest event, the Junkanoo (a street carnival) is held. Another big event is the New Year's Day (January 1). So if you plan your visit between the 26th of December and the 1st of January, you will witness the 2 biggest event in the Bahamas.

As you can see from the photo above, the water in the Bahamas is crystal clear. Its coral reef, mangroves and sea turtle habitat as well as the unique, quiet lifestyle is a big tourism draw. These, the beautiful beaches, its warm weather, plus the fact that visitors from US, Canada, European Union, Japan and most industrialized countries do not need an advance visa for stays of up to three months are the major attractions of Bahamas. You can sunbath, swim, snorkel, scuba dive, go fishing, etc.

There are other attractions like the gigantic Atlantis casino resort on Paradise Island. Others include Pirates Of Nassau, Ardastra Gardens & Conservation Center, Bay Street, Botanical Gardens, Christ Church Cathedral, Fort Charlotte, Fort Fincastle, Garden Of Remembrance, Government House, Graycliff Cigar Factory, Junkanoo Expo, Straw Market, Hartley's Undersea Walk, Pompey Museum, all on New Providence.

On the Grand Bahama Island, you will have Paradise Cove, Garden of the Groves, Hydroflora Gardens, Underwater Explorers Society, Rand Memorial Nature Center, Parrot Jungle's Garden of the Groves, Port Lucaya Marketplace, The Dolphin Experience and International Bazaar,

At The Abacos, you have Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society, and in the Out Islands, there are Albert Lowe Museum, Inagua National Park and Elbow Cay.

Cruise to the Bahamas

Joining a cruise on a luxury liner is a great way to have a vacation to the Bahamas. Many such cruise depart from the Port of Miami, the Cruise Capital of the World. You can even get a one day cruise to the Bahamas, but a longer stay in the Bahamas will be much more enjoyable if you can afford the time. You can even get a free Bahamas fun day cruise during the month of your birthday!!!! This is courtesy of the Discovery Cruise Line. If you are the lucky one and it is now your birthday month, but you will like to take your loved ones along, or it is not your birthday month, but you still want to enjoy a cruise to the Bahamas, they also offer cruise special offers. Check them out. They have other cruise to offer as well.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Caribbean and Hawaii

There are great similarities between the Caribbean and Hawaii. Most of the Caribbean are islands just as Hawaii consists of many islands. Both have tropical and sub-tropical climates. Both lies off the coast of the Americas. Both offers similar activities - sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking in rain forests, etc.

Owners of accommodations for holiday makers should make use of this opportunity of listing their properties for free at rentals. For the moment, this site appear to only feature Hawaiian vacation rentals, but my prediction is you will see much more choices in the future, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Caribbean vacation rentals on that site.

Hawaii consists of hundreds of islands and atolls spread over 1,500 miles, but only eight main islands, including Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii Big Island. You will find links to vacation rentals to some of them at vacation rentals including Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Big Island, and specific sites like Waikiki, Kihei, Wailei, etc.

If you want to go to the capital city of Hawaii, which is Honolulu on the Oahu Island, you will have to surf to vacation rental information. Although only the third largest island, Oahu has the largest population of all the Hawaiian islands. Sunset Beach - North Shore is a 2-mile long beach on Oahu. Sunset Beach is one of the best surfing sites in the world, boasting of waves over ten feet high. The Triple Crown of Surfing, a premier event on the professional surfing tour, is actually four separate events. One of them, the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing, is held at Sunset Beach.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Booking accommodation in the Caribbean the easy way

The Caribbean consists of many countries, and having an online hotel booking site like worldwide hotel accommodation will be a real Godsend for a vacationer seeking accommodation in the Caribbean. There is a special site for Caribbean Hotels & Other Lodging. On this site for Caribbean accommodation, you will find a category of 23 regions including Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands. Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Martin/St. Barts, Trinidad Tobago, Turks and Caicos Isles and Virgin Islands (British and US). Not only that, you have a map with the regions (text) which is clickable. Click on that clickable text, and you will be taken to the site with a list available for that region. This will be very helpful for the indecisive who need help to make up his or her decision as to where to go for that wonderful holiday in the sun.

Travailing with the family? Look for family-friendly hotels. Most of them are for areas in the United States, but I see Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands listed. Worried about what is happening to our one and only Spaceship Earth which still don't have a lifeboat and will like to do your part, look for eco green lodging. I see Caribbean listed in that site too. Got hooked on yoga? There are yoga retreats and such yoga retreats are available in Bahamas and Costa Rica. For the health conscious and spa enthusiasts, there are even more choices for spa resorts. You will find spa resorts at Anguilla, Bahamas, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia and West Indies.

You can also get a no-string attached discount using Special Offer Code SPC7258603 with which you can save $10 for reservations over $100. This offer last till 31st December, 2008.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Vacation rentals for the Caribbean and the rest of the world

The Caribbean comprises many countries, and seeking vacation accommodation country by country can be a big time waster. However, you can find at CARIBBEAN VACATION RENTALS all the Caribbean countries listed and I am sure you will find that a great convenience. However, that site is not only for the Caribbean only, but for the whole world, and you can look for world wide vacation accommodation at vacation rentals. Further, this is not only for vacationers seeking vacation rentals, but also for vacation rentals property owners who wants more exposure to list their properties. For them, all they need to do is to click on List your vacation rentals. When you get someone renting your properties, there will be no referral fees. Instead, there will only be a low annual fee to pay.

Hawaii is not exactly a Caribbean country, but has all the similarities and offers about almost similar activities, both having warm tropical weather, lots of nice beaches and sparkling ocean for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. But there are differences. Hawaii was never colonised, unless you consider joining the federation of the United States of America colonisation. Hawaii culture is Polynesian, American and Asian. Most Caribbean countries were colonised by European countries before, who left some influences. Plus the culture of Caribbean countries is influenced by its African background of most of its population. And in Hawaii, you can get snow in the mountain peaks.

In a survey by the Hawaii's Department of Economic Development and Tourism, 71% of Hawaii's visitors are from continental US while only 54% of visitors to the Caribbean are Americans. I just checked the origin of visitors to this site. The majority (36%) are from the United States and for them, if they go to Hawaii, there is no worry over currency and passport plus electrical voltage.

If you plan to visit Hawaii instead of the Caribbean, you can book your accommodation via Hawaii vacation rentals.

Hawaii consists of hundreds of islands and atolls, but there are only eight main populated island, and the second largest is Maui. If you go by the number of people who have visited that island before and decided eventually to settle there, it must also be the most pleasant and livable. There are many towns in Maui, but the most luxurious and also the most expensive is Wailea. It has lots of high class hotels and holiday resorts plus exclusive golf courses and tennis clubs. Wailea draw celebrities like bees to honey. It is a good place for celebrities watch.

There are less expensive alternatives to Wailea, like the nearby Makena or Kihei. You can enjoy what beautiful Maui have to offer and still take a short hope over to Wailea without having to break your bank. These two towns are also a good place for whale watching from the beach. Just get a good pair of binoculars.

Sold on visiting Maui? Get your accommodation from Maui vacation rentals.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Caribbean Cruise Guide

Caribbean Cruise Guide
by: Jonathan Medcalfe

Comprising of around 50 islands (750 if you count the archipelago of the Bahamas), the Caribbean is a real treasure trove when it comes to cruising. A rich variety of vistas, people and places await, along with swaying palms and idyllic beaches of golden sand. The network of islands in the Caribbean is in fact so extensive that it is possible to book several Caribbean cruises and avoid going to the same islands twice!

There are four basic Caribbean cruise routes used by cruise operators:

Western Caribbean Cruise Route - Departing from seaports in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, the Western Route takes in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, the island of Cozumel, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and any number of islands off the coasts of Honduras and Belize.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise Route - One of the most popular Caribbean cruise routes, the Eastern Route typically departs from Florida and other seaports along the eastern seaboard of the United States. The route calls on destinations such as Key West, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands the Virgin Islands (including St. Thomas and St. Croix), and Puerto Rico.

Southern Caribbean Cruise Route - This route normally commences at San Juan in Puerto Rico, and takes in many possible destinations along the Lesser Antilles and the Netherlands Antilles as far west as Aruba.

Exotic/Long-duration Caribbean Cruise Route - This route takes in any/all of the above destinations, and can sometimes end in a different place to where the cruise started.

Given this broad assortment of destinations available in the Caribbean, it can be a bit overwhelming when trying to make that crucial decision on which islands to fit into your itinerary. After all, you don't want to miss out on some true Caribbean gems, do you? So, whether you're planning a short vacation or a longer cruise break away from home, here is a selection of 'must-sees' & 'must-dos' on your Caribbean adventure.

St Croix (Virgin Islands) - Take a night kayak trip in Salt River National Park and visit the first landing site of Christopher Columbus on his voyage to the New World.

Grenada - Although ravaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Grenada is still well worth a visit for its scuba diving. You can explore the largest shipwreck in the Caribbean here and see an underwater volcano.

St. Thomas (Virgin Islands) - The Cinnamon Bay National Park offers excellent snorkeling opportunities. You can see a wealth of underwater life in the shallow waters around St. Thomas.

Jamaica - Why not try your hand at bamboo rafting in Montego Bay?

Puerto Rico - No Caribbean cruise would be complete without a visit to the world famous Condado Beach on the island of Puerto Rico.

Aruba - Want to find Caribbean paradise? How about relaxing on one of the 365 beaches that surround the Dutch island of Aruba.

St Kitts - Swim with the turtles in the waters around St Kitts and then relax on the pink sand beaches on this beautiful island.

Good luck with planning your trip and happy cruising.

About The Author
FG Cruise provides detailed information on cruise vacations including articles and tips for that perfect cruise. To find out more info visit here:

Saturday, July 14, 2007

St. Thomas: The Best Place To Shop In The Caribbean

St. Thomas: The Best Place To Shop In The Caribbean
by: Justin Burch

Beautiful beaches and lavish accommodations aside, St. Thomas is widely regarded as the Caribbean’s premier shopping destination. With over one million cruise ship passengers and overnight Caribbean resort guests visiting St. Thomas each year, the island’s ports have long been bustling centers of commerce and trade. Much of the finest duty-free shopping is concentrated near the waterfront of the island’s historic capital, Charlotte Amalie. At discounts of 40-60% off American mainland prices on goods such as jewelry, fine china, crystal, electronics, perfume, clothing and liquor, the bargains are seemingly endless. Adding to the allure is the fact that U.S. citizens are allowed a duty-free shopping allowance of $1,600, twice the amount of any other island in the Caribbean and three times that of European nations.

Visitors to St. Thomas should begin their shopping tour in Charlotte Amalie’s downtown and waterfront areas. The historic Dutch provincial warehouses along Main, Back and Waterfront Streets, beautifully restored to host a plethora of unique shops, allow visitors to shop and sightsee simultaneously. In the alleys surrounding the Main Street area (Royal Dane Mall, Palm Passage, Riise Alley and many others), shoppers will find smaller boutiques specializing in unique local products and Caribbean oddities. Inviting restaurants and entertaining bars are located amongst these stores, ideal for lunch or an island cocktail. Most shops in this exclusive shopping district are open Monday through Saturday; including holidays from 9am to 5pm. Shops in the downtown and waterfront areas are typically closed on Sundays, unless a cruise ship is in port. The shops at larger St. Thomas hotels usually remain open on Sundays, however.

The Havensight district is another concentrated collection of shops catering to St. Thomas’ visitors. Located near the primary cruise ship dock, this shopping area is comprised of The Havensight Shopping Center, The Buccaneer Mall and The Port of Sale. Featuring over 60 distinctive stores within the waterfront warehouses, the Havensight district is another great option for cruise ship passengers with limited time and overnight tourists alike. Like the shops on and around Main Street, tourists will find great prices on jewelry, clothing, perfume, liquor, electronics, music, sunglasses and assorted souvenirs. Also, Havensight is another great location for lunch, featuring a number of friendly cafes. Shops in the Havensight district are generally open from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week when cruise ships are in port. Yet, during high season some cruise ships stay in port later into the evening. On such days, the shops in the Havensight will remain open until 7pm.

Also in Charlotte Amalie, across from Emancipation Park and Fort Christian, is the Vendors’ Plaza, an assortment of small booths, tables and tents displaying a vast assortment of souvenirs. Here, in addition to the luxury goods found in other shopping districts, you will also find many locally produced products and unique regional food items. Vendors’ Plaza is generally open Monday through Saturday from about 7:30am, when the vendors start setting up, until 5:00pm. On Sundays, fewer vendors set up, though the Vendors’ Plaza is still worth a visit when one or more cruise ships are in port.

Directly across the street from the Vendors’ Plaza is The Native Arts and Crafts Cooperative. Run by local artists, the Cooperative features a plethora of Caribbean artwork not available in any mall or shopping center.

For the more adventurous tourist, smaller shopping areas catering principally to residents are located throughout the island. Such shopping centers as American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook, Lockhart Gardens, Tutu Park Mall and Nisky Center offer visitors distinctive cultural opportunities in addition to essentials like grocery stores, pharmacies and clothing stores. Tillett Gardens is a charming local haven for pottery, silk-screened fabrics, candles, paintings and handcrafted jewelry. The Mountain Top and Paradise Point centers are also interesting options because shopping is accompanied by captivating, hilltop views. In Frenchtown, travelers can find some of the best cuisine the Caribbean has to offer.

As the heart of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas continues to astonish travelers with its refined pleasures. Combining a relaxed Caribbean atmosphere with the vibrancy of city streets, St. Thomas may just be the best of both worlds.

About The Author
This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes select pieces about travel in St. Thomas and other Caribbean resort areas for Marriott Resorts Marriott Resorts

Friday, July 13, 2007

Saint Croix: Marvel In The Colors Of The Caribbean

Saint Croix: Marvel In The Colors Of The Caribbean
by: Clinton Douglas IV

Beautiful Saint Croix Island, located in the tropical Caribbean Sea just 1,200 miles off the Miami coast, is the largest land body in the United States Virgin Islands. Long, peaceful beaches, sugar and rum plantations shape the landscape. Homes, historic churches, commercial ports and plantations boast architecture dating as far back as the early eighteenth and nineteenth century and reflecting Spanish, Dutch, French, Danish, British, Knights of Malta and American influences. Thriving sugar crops gave way to tourism in the late 1960s as the islands primary source of income. So you’re sure to be treated like royalty.

When visiting Saint Croix, you’ll discover a wealth of indoor and outdoor activities from which to plan your days around. Outdoor adventures abound, with scuba diving along 702 acres of vibrant coral reefs, horseback riding across lush, green hills and pastures, snorkeling among underwater trails, sport-fishing, bicycle riding, hiking and island exploration. From wide streets to haunted plantation ruins, this enchanting island is a perfect vacation get-away.

Golf is another popular sport, with several notable courses including the award-winning Carambola Golf Club which hosts the annual LPGA tournament and has received Golf magazine’s prestigious gold medal.

Nightlife abounds both at island casinos and clubs, and at seasonal local events. Many vacationers schedule their trip around Jump Up, a thrilling block party ideal for all age groups. Watch calypso and youth bands decorate the night, while streets are blocked from regular traffic. Enjoy face painting and watch the tall Mocko Jumbies, elaborately costumed characters on stilts, dancing and parading down the streets.

Indoors, you’ll find the thrill of casinos, duty-free shopping and fine dining. Island cuisine is influenced by St. Croix’s oldest crops, from okra to cabbage and corn. Food fair also includes succulent seafood, lobster, conch fritters, burgers, barbeque delicacies and savory mango salsa sauce. Then give your meal the perfect island twist with a Cruzan Rum infused Calypso Daiquiri.

Island tours and trails help you explore all of the island’s beauty, attractions and beaches, as viewed through local eyes. When visiting, discover the natural beauty by air, open-air jeep, open-air bus, four-wheeler or foot. You’ll gain a different perspective than you would staying poolside in your hotel or resort.

Purchased by the United States in 1917, visitors don’t need a passport to enter. However you do need some form of identification which may include a valid passport, government issued ID card or drivers license plus an original birth certificate.

Discover Saint Croix today by booking your travel vacation.

About The Author
By Clinton Douglas IV of who provides free, quality articles for your newsletter, website or publication on topics such as Saint Croix: vacations. Please link to this site when using this article.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Exploring The ABC Islands

Exploring The ABC Islands
by: Justin Burch

As a group, the ABC islands offer an incredibly distinctive Caribbean vacation. Consisting of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, the ABC Islands were under the control of the Netherlands as the Netherlands Antilles until 1986. In that year, Aruba gained independence, though the island is still aligned with the Dutch Kingdom. Today, the Willemstad, Curacao serves as the capital of the Netherlands Antilles, a colonial grouping which also governs Bonaire and the smaller islands of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. As a result of Dutch rule, each of the islands is dominated by Dutch colonial architecture and custom, though in most cases infused with colorful local flourishes. Yet, despite this European influence, the ABC islands are as exotically Caribbean as you can imagine. From the diverse sporting opportunities to the wonderfully rich history, these Caribbean resort islands definitely have much to offer any type of traveler.

Aruba, the most southwestern of the ABC Islands, is located 42 miles from Curacao and a mere 15 miles from the coast of Venezuela. The premier Caribbean resorts are located in Aruba, the most developed and glamorous of the ABC Islands. As a result, over one million visitors are attracted to the island each year. But Aruba has far more to offer than glitzy Caribbean resorts, casinos and restaurants. Nearly 20% of the island is devoted to Arikok National Park, home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire Caribbean. The island is also a popular destination for water sports, hosting an internationally recognized windsurfing competition each year. For many travelers, Aruba represents the ideal, picture book Caribbean vacation.

Bonaire, on the other hand, is the least developed of the ABC islands. The primary attractions here are the coral-filled waters off the coast and the laidback ambiance of the island. About 25 years ago, the local government designated much of the sea surrounding the island a marine park, preserving the reefs and beaches for the enjoyment of scuba divers and snorkelers. Expectantly, over half of the island’s annual visitors come to explore these waters. Beyond the 60 official dive sites, Bonaire is also known as a top bird watching destination. Inside the sprawling Washington-Slagbaai National Park and throughout the island, over 200 species of exotic birds can regularly be spotted. For a relaxing Caribbean vacation away from the crowds, Bonaire may be the perfect island.

Curacao, the largest island in the Netherlands Antilles, lies between Aruba and Bonaire in the Caribbean Sea. The island boasts an interesting history, visible in the museums and vibrantly painted buildings of the island’s capital, Willemstad. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city is also home to the oldest operating Hebrew synagogue in the Western Hemisphere and several other historic sites. Walking the streets of this colonial treasure, you will hear residents speaking four distinct languages: Dutch, English, Spanish and the indigenous Papiamentu. This cultural diversity is also present in the island’s cuisine, some of the most unique fare in the Caribbean. Like the other ABC islands, the opportunities for fun in the water are limitless. There are also plenty of great options for families including the Curacao Seaquarium and plenty of quiet, unspoiled beaches. While Aruba is the most luxurious of the islands and Bonaire the most pristine, it could be said that Curacao rests somewhere in between.

As you can see, each of the ABC Islands has a unique flavor and distinctive tourist opportunities. Whether you are looking for a culturally informative and historical trip, an exotic getaway or an active Caribbean vacation, you can definitely find what you are looking for on one of the ABC Islands. Best yet, why not tour all three of the islands? The result would certainly be an amazing, well-balanced Caribbean vacation.

About The Author
This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes select pieces about travel in the Caribbean for the Marriott Resorts

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tax Havens of the Caribbean-- the Tax Havens of the Caribbean-- Tax Havens of the Caribbean-- the Cayman Islands

Tax Havens of the Caribbean-- the Cayman Islands
by: Howard Giske

Investors and corporations desiring to get away from SEC regulations, and US taxes can conduct business operations from the Caribbean, including the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Dutch Antilles, and the Cayman Islands. The banking sector of the Caymans contains 450 banks from 65 countries, and is the fifth largest banking centers in the world.

The Cayman Islands have never implemented income tax or corporate tax. This is as a form of “tax competition”, against all the taxing monetary authorities and governments all over the world. Places like the Cayman Islands play a key role in “globalization”, since they are a place where investment deals between corporations from many countries can be made without the interference of national sovereignty or tax law. Unlike their reputation as rogue centers for finance, they are connected to all the money-center banks in New York, Tokyo, London, and Hong Kong.

Over 650 Hedge funds were recently registered in the Cayman Islands, bringing the grand total of hedge funds there to over 7,000. Hedge funds routinely set up in this tax haven to attract investments and avoid taxes in the USA, Europe and other countries. Even U.S. Pension funds invest in Hedge Funds, through their shell companies to avoid paying taxes. Assets of the hedge fund sector exceed $1.3 trillion. Another $2.5 billion in pension funds from Japan were moved into hedge funds and similar investment vehicles recently. There were also over 2,000 mutual funds operating out of the Caymans. Financial regulation is administered by the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. International pressure exists to improve the regulation of the securities and investment business. These questions were dealt with in discussions in a British parliamentary White Paper. Tax-treaties between the U.S. and Great Britain and the Netherlands are being revised to deal with such problems.

The Caymans took steps to improve anti-money-laundering measures, which got it removed from the NCCT, the Non-cooperating Countries and Territories list. The Cayman Islands have complained that they want to make sure there is a level playing field so the regulations that they must exchange tax information are applied to other well-known tax havens.

With the U.S. stock-markets going nowhere for several years, there has been a shift to non-traditional investment methods. The idea of the hedge fund is to be market neutral. It makes money by taking short and long positions in a variety of derivative instruments. They often use a lot of derivatives, such as options, calls, puts, warrants and so on. Many hedge funds in Europe are headquarted in the Cayman Islands, and are listed on the Dublin Ireland stock Exchange, while others use Luxembourg as their European base of operations.

Hedge Funds can get investments through a “Fund of Funds”, which allows smaller investors to have their funds pooled and be invested in a hedge fund. So instead of a minimum investment of $1 million, investors can join the Fund-of-Funds pool for as little as $25,000. This involves hedge funds fees, and a second layer of fees at the Fund of Funds level

About The Author
Howard Giske is a legal consultant. For legal information for small business: Legal Form Guide, for Incorporation services:

Monday, July 9, 2007

Panama's New Real Estate Boom

Panama's New Real Estate Boom
by: Steven Rich, MBA

DONALD TRUMP can't be wrong, can he? Trump has fallen so much in love with Panama that he is building a $220 Million, 65 story (2.4 Million square foot) hotel/condo monoliths called the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower in a posh Panama City neighborhood. Trump will build 500 luxury condominium units along with a 312-room hotel. This complex will include a casino, private beach club and a marina. Groundbreaking is scheduled around this Christmas with a completion date in 2009.

Why is Trump doing this in Panama of all places? In an April 24, 2006 press conference in New York, Donald Trump said his interest in Panama was sparked three years ago when his "Miss Universe" pageant was held in Panama. He saw that Panama city was "beautiful" and vowed he would develop there if the right opportunity came up. His project was "easily funded", noting that as many as seven "major financial institutions were fighting to put up money." He agreed that "Americans are coming in droves to Panama," due to it's political stability, low cost of living, low interest rates, and being located outside of any hurricane path. "It's great for baby boomers." Trump said, although the project will be marketed worldwide. The condominium units will start at $180,000 with unobstructed ocean views.

Panama is just beginning to realize a real estate boom!

Besides Trump, many international real estate investors are also discovering Panama.

For example:

Bigger Than Trump: An even taller skyscraper will be built near Trump's Tower. The Ice Tower will have over 100 floors making it the tallest building in all of Latin America, tied with the Empire State Building as the second-tallest in the Western hemisphere and 9th in the world when it is completed in 2010.

And Another! Even before Trump's Tower and The Ice Tower are completed, another skyscraper (93 floors) called El Palacio de la Bahia will be completed in 2009 costing over $160 Million. They've already sold several dozen condos mostly to Europeans because this is a totally European investor project.

I asked a Panama City real estate brokerage owner, Daniel Hanna (Panama Real Estate Group, what he thought about how the Ice Tower and Trump's Ocean Club will affect Panama's Real Estate prices? His response echoes most real estate agents in Panama: "As Panama continues to grow in many different industries, these projects will definitely set a new standard of living in Panama, thus increasing the prices around the entire country."

So, why are all of these real estate investors coming to Panama?

A little History will help explain these phenomena. Panama has always had a close relationship with the United States, which helped Panama to secede from Colombia in 1903 and was the first country to recognize the new Republic of Panama. The U.S. government built the Panama Canal starting in 1904. Only until the year 2000 did Panama actually take control of its Canal after the U.S. closed all of its military bases and left. People used to jokingly refer to Panama as the "United States of Panama" due to its close ties to the U.S. After the U.S. left, Panama's economy slumped. Then American retirees re-discovered Panama as a peaceful, safe, and cheap place to retire.

Economical Growth: In 2004, real estate construction activity sprang up in different parts of the country. Mostly retirement communities nestled amongst the many beautiful unoccupied beaches and mountain valleys. In 2005, construction permits rose by 90% while Panama's economy grew by a respectful 6.4%. The Panama Canal recorded its third consecutive year of double-digit growth in toll revenues. Tourism and financial services also made impressive growth gains.

Americans came back to Panama because of the excellent infrastructure built by the Americans, low crime, numerous English-speaking natives, great Immigration Visa programs; the currency has always been the U.S. Dollar, and great Tax incentives.

The Best Reason is that Panama is so cheap to live! Land, housing, local foods, transportation, leather goods, clothing, and local artisan wares are all far cheaper than anywhere in North America or Europe.

Don't Take My Word for it. Read what leading experts have to say about Panama's real estate opportunities.

The NY Times recently wrote: "Panama is increasingly lighting up the radar screens of those searching for an affordable alternative to the more traditional south-of-the-border retreats in Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean, where escalating prices increasingly rival those along America's own beach fronts."

Forbes Magazine (July 11, 2005) praised Panama as a recommended "PARADISE FOUND: WHERE TO RETIRE ABROAD" where a U.S. couple "purchased a lot on a hill overlooking a golf course and have built a three-bedroom white-stucco house with a red-tile roof (total cost: about $250,000)." in Boquete. "You can hear the sound of rivers here," says Janet. "It's very peaceful."

National Association of Realtors: Tom Stevens, who is their current President, recently visited Panama and explained: "We're seriously thinking of investing here. It's a great opportunity. Prices are what it was like in the U.S. 20 to 25 years ago."

The London Financial Times wrote in its April 14, 2005 issue that Panama is now passing Costa Rica as the place to invest. "Like Costa Rica, Panama is loaded with exquisite beach towns, has inviting tax and ownership policies for foreigners and a long history of political stability. Moreover, Panama City is an urbane, safe city that has long had a military and civilian US presence because of the canal. A gated-community, three-bedroom luxury home on a golf course in the mountains can be had for $250,000 to $350,000, real estate experts say... Chuck Bedsole, who oversees Latin American real estate for PriceWaterhouseCoopers, thinks Panama is at an earlier stage in the real estate boom."

Conde Nast Traveler's October 2004 issue declared: "Panama is the new Central American bargain where the U.S. dollar - the market currency - goes a long way."

Is it Safe to Buy real estate in Panama? Buying Real Estate in Panama is safe and secure for foreigners. The U.S. State Dept. verifies this by stating: "Titled land, and the process of buying this, is similar in concept to that of the U.S., and land deeds are duly recorded with the Public Registry..."

How Long Will this Boom Last? It's just starting. Donald Trump hasn't even broken ground yet.

Daniel Hanna, the Panama City real estate broker, reiterates: "Invest in Panama real estate now before the Towers are completed. Panama will become a hot real estate market because it has so many attractions than just real estate construction. Soon, the world will know Panama for its natural beauty, healthy climates, and charismatic people. Living in this beautiful country is just a benefit!"

The National Geographic Traveler predicted in December of 2004: "Panama is now where Costa Rica was 10 years ago. Panama is getting ready to explode."

"Boom" I can hear the distant rumbling of a Big Boom yet to come!

About The Author
Steven Rich, MBA is the Marketing Manager for Panama Offshore Legal Services at: Panama Offshore Legal Services.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Villas At Stonehaven Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago

The Villas At Stonehaven Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago
by: Peter R Stewart

The best Tobago Villas must be The Villas at Stonehaven, which by reputation seem to offer one of the best Caribbean Holiday experiences ever.

Thinking about booking villas in Tobago, don’t even bother to check out any Tobago Villa rental companies just book into Stonehaven.

This place and its villas can only be described as total luxury. Each is very very roomy, over 3700 sq. ft., with amazing views, and a private infinity swimming pool. You can then add to that stereos, Television with DVD player, and a good Barbecue in each villa, all 14 of which are built on a hill, and designed for maximum privacy.

Add to this that each villa comprises three spacious and extremely well furnished air conditioned bedrooms, including fans and ensuite bathrooms. Even better is that each bedroom has a sea-view.

Add to this computer points, a very spacious and modern kitchen, with laundry room which is fully equipped.

You will also find a huge covered veranda, with relaxing chairs, a dining table and chairs for wonderful alfresco eating.

There is housekeeping included which means your laundry is done each morning, and you can have breakfast and lunch prepared for you by the housekeeper. Whilst all of this luxury is apparently self-catering, you then discover the Pavilion restaurant for light lunches and well cooked candlelight dinner. If you want the dinner can be served in your villa.

The Pavilion restaurant is part of the Clubhouse with a bar, and a lavish infinity pool.

Stonehaven Villas is a remarkable Tobago villa rental, but in reality it is a top class hotel, being listed as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Before deciding to take a Tobago Vacation and stay at Stonehaven, you should understand that Tobago is somewhat undeveloped. Therefore you will lack huge numbers of bars and restaurants. Renting a car or a 4x4 is a must do.

You will also want to eat out, and there are restaurants and bars within fifteen minutes, including Café Coco, Indigo, Bonkers, Seahorse, Dillons.

Stonehaven Villas in Tobago is recommended for your next Tobago Vacation

About The Author
Peter Stewart writes exclusively for In Kenya Safari as well as World Wide Vacation Spots and he has in depth knowledge of the places he writes about.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scuba Diving with Club Med in Turks and Caicos

Scuba Diving with Club Med in Turks and Caicos
by: Clint Leung

One scuba diving vacation option for divers is with the Club Med resorts that offer intensive dive programs. These particular Club Med locations have full service scuba diving centers staffed by PADI and NAUI certified instructors as well as full equipment rentals. Club Med has locations with dive intensive programs in the Caribbean and the South Pacific. One such resort is the Club Med Turkoise in the Turks and Caicos islands located southeast of the Bahamas. While these islands are not the lushest in the Caribbean, they do have excellent coral reef systems making it a top scuba diving destination in the region.

For those scuba divers who do not want to be bothered with transit between hotels, restaurants and dive boats, Club Meds are a wonderful option since everything is on site. Like other high end all-inclusive resorts, Club Meds have excellent dining, decent rooms plus great facilities for water and land sports. A bonus feature of Club Meds is the inclusion of instruction for many activities such as sailing and water skiing as well as the nightly entertainment on stage.

As for the scuba diving programs which are offered at additional cost, they usually offer standard five day packages which include a two tank trip every morning plus a weekly night dive. There are optional single tank dives in the afternoon as well. In my estimation, the Club Med Turkoise location I went to had 50% divers and 50% non-divers. It was kind of funny to see that the guests who go to bed the earliest in the evenings and show up in the dining room first thing in the mornings are the scuba divers. Many divers I met were repeat guests. This proves that the Club Med is able to attract a loyal following among some scuba divers. The resort is ideal for couples where one spouse is a diver and the other is not. There are plenty of other activities on site for the non-diving spouse to do while the other is out diving. Later in the afternoon, couples or friends could get back together to do other activities or simply relax. I went to this Club Med as a single traveler and had no problems fitting in. The dining room staff usually asks guests whether they would like to sit with a singles table or one with couples. The advantage of this Club Med setup is that it is very easy to meet other guests on a social level. I ended up socializing and diving with people from Europe as well as North America.

The Club Med dive boats are huge. These boats have rows along each side and another row in the center. They are ‘cattle’ boats for sure as there can be as much as 40 divers for each trip. However, they are nice ‘cattle’ boats with two ladders in the back platform and a large upper deck for the boat ride. A very nice feature of these boats is that there are two safety stop bars below the boat at the 15 feet mark. These bars are excellent for beginner scuba divers who still have problems remaining at a level 15 feet for their safety stops. All they have to do is hold on to the safety stop bar and wait for the 3 minutes. On each bar, there is also a regulator for those who are low on air. Scuba divers can dive in either guided groups led by a divemaster or in their own buddy groups. Either way, there is an adequate briefing before each dive. The guided groups are particularly good for divers who do not want to worry about navigation.

The diving at Turks and Caicos is wonderful with steep walls during the first part of each dive. The return portion of each dive will generally be over a reef system with lots of small to medium size marine life. One resident barracuda nicknamed Charlie is often seen and likes to hang out between the safety stop bars checking out the divers. In general, the diving is similar to that in the Bahamas but you won’t find crowds of dive boats out in the water here since Turks and Caicos are not as saturated with dive operators and tourists yet. For an extra charge, it is possible for the resort to arrange a 3 tank day trip with an outside scuba operator to dive some sites further out that have larger marine life. Some divers took this option and returned with very positive reviews of multiple shark sightings.

If scuba divers are interested in going to a Club Med, it is important to verify which locations currently offer the intensive dive programs. Different Club Meds also have different atmospheres. Some are livelier with a party scene and some are quieter. Consulting a travel agent familiar with Club Meds will be useful. Club Med does have a good scuba diving program with very professional staff and is an option worth checking out if one doesn’t mind being on dive trips with relatively large numbers of divers.

About The Author

Clint Leung is a NAUI certified Master and Rescue Scuba Diver. He is also owner of Free Spirit Activewear (Free Spirit Activewear), an online retailer/designer specializing in premium quality scuba diving activewear. Free Spirit Activewear has numerous information resource articles on scuba diving as well as free eCards.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Costa Rica Visitors Guide

Costa Rica Visitors Guide
by: Roger Dalton

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to visit with your family or even alone.

Many couples honeymoon in Costa Rica combining romance, adventure and mystical visits to volcanoes, rainforest's, waterfalls, and secluded beaches. Our goal here is to provide a condensed guide that you can print and take with you to use for reference. For more detailed information about Costa Rica our website is the best information source on the web.

Country Information

Costa Rica is in Central America north of Panama and south of Nicaragua. The Pacific ocean borders the country to the west and the Caribbean to the east.

The citizens of Costa Rica are affectionately called Tico's and Tica's. In all of Latin America, the Tico's are most like North American's in their thought process. There are many cultural differences but tourism and tourists in general are welcomed warmly in this country.

Costa Rica has the highest literacy rate in Latin America. Every four years elections are held with 95% of the population participating in the voting process. Costa Rica has had no military forces since 1946. 27% of the country's budget is spent on health care. Although there are demonstrations occasionally civil unrest is not present. Costa Rica is considered to be the "Latin American success story".

The country has 110 volcanic craters, six active volcanoes,mountain ranges throughout the central portion of the country and secluded beaches with rain forest filled with wildlife butting right up to the shoreline.

Temperature varies with elevation. Humidity is present and noticeable, especially at sea level. Mosquitoes are obviously part of any rain forest but are not as noticeable as most parts of Florida, for instance due to the natural predators maintaining an ecological balance not found in places like Florida. (Bring repellent with Deet however!)

Costa Rica has a wet and dry season. The wet or "green" season is from May until November each year. During this time rainfall is more prevalent in most regions (Guanacaste province is the driest area in the country) with sunshine typical in the morning hours with showers in the afternoon and at night. Green season is when hotels offer discounts and crowds are minimized. As mentioned earlier, the northwestern portion of Costa Rica is the best "green" season destination due to rainfall considerations.

General Information

Entry requirements for visitors differ depending on your country of origin. US citizens, Canadians, and United Kingdom tourists need a valid passport but do not require a visa. The maximum stay under these conditions is 90 days but can be extended an additional 90 days through a travel agent or within the country through immigration.

Vaccinations are not required for malaria and other diseases to visit Costa Rica.

The water in most areas is safe to drink. Some coastal areas are exceptions however. Bottled water is recommended simply due to taste considerations. If you are at the Multiplaza mall in Escazu for instance the water is perfectly fine to drink. Smaller communities on the coast can be problematic however.

Costa Rica has the best fruit in the world in my opinion. Eat anything and everything in sight!

Driving in Costa Rica is an adventure! A stop sign in Costa Rica is treated like a yield sign in North America. Potholes in certain areas are HUGE. If renting a car consider the following:

* Do not leave valuables in the car.
* Rental agencies look for any trace of dents and dings
* Roads are narrow and guard rails are usually not present
* Did I mention POTHOLES

Electricity is standard 110v like in the USA but generally not grounded. This means that any device requiring a three prong plug will not work without an adapter to two prongs. So, bring an adapter for anything requiring three prongs.

English is widely spoken in tourist areas and major metropolitan areas. Driving a rental car all over the country with no knowledge of Spanish might be problematic. It is generally easy to find someone to help you in English in tourist areas and big cities however.

Medical facilities are available throughout the country. Remote areas, however, only have clinics for minor issues and often have few English speaking staff members. San Jose has excellent medical facilities and English speaking doctors are quite common. Ask the proprietor of the hotel you chose about medical facilities in the area if you have health concerns.

Emergency service in Costa Rica is available by dialing 911.

Holidays are taken seriously in this country. Visit around Easter or Christmas and it will seem that the entire country is shut down. The Easter and Christmas holiday's are celebrated for more than a week!

Traveler Safety

Violent crime exists in every society. Costa Rica is a safe place to bring your family or to travel alone. Most crime is property theft and pick-pocket oriented theft.

Make sure that you leave your Rolex at home.

Do not keep your wallet in your back pocket. Keep it in your front pocket.

Do not place valuables in backpacks slung over your shoulder.

Many places are perfectly safe to walk at night. Others are not. Ask a local.

Beaches have rip tides.

A riptide is narrow. If caught in a riptide swim parallel to the shore for a short distance until you no longer feel it pulling you away from shore. Salt water is easy to float in. Don't freak out!

Sharks are prevalent in certain areas of both the Pacific and Caribbean.

Sharks are of concern for fishermen and surfers primarily. If you are not a pro ask about the area you plan to visit. Some of the island's around Costa Rica have huge populations of sharks.

Costa Rica is just north of the Equator. Use sunscreen liberally and drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids while in the elements. I know, now I sound like your mother!

Taxi's have meters. Many unofficial taxi's ply their services in the country. Prior to any trip anywhere, agree on the price before you get in the taxi unless they are using the meter. Many taxi's do not use their meters.

Most hotels, resorts, and bed and breakfast's provide transportation from the airport and are valuable resources to identify the fair cost from one place to another when using taxi services.


Beaches in Costa Rica are not all the same. Some beaches are great for surfing and poor choices for children. Many beaches include amenities close by and plenty of tanned bodies to admire. Others offer secluded splendor and less amenities. Careful planning is necessary to find the right area for a successful vacation here.

The beach options are too numerous to even mention here. Please consider looking at our beaches page for information about some of the best beaches. For surfing we have a surfing page highlighting the best spots to catch a wave.


Some parts of Costa Rica look more like the moon than Central America!

Arenal is an active volcano that offers excellent potential for all the elements of an active volcano. The Tabacon hot springs is a beautiful area offering relaxation, romance, and wonderful atmosphere.

Poas volcano is close to San Jose in the Central Valley and provides eerie views of one of the world's largest volcanic lakes in its crater. Poas is easy to hike compared to other places and has no facility for food and drinks in the park area.

Rincon de la Vieja is in northwestern Costa Rica (Guanacaste province) and is actually a compound volcano meaning that there are more than one composite volcanoes aligned on a ridge. Rincon has 9 eruptive craters, includes bubbling mud pits, and volcanic geysers. Hikes to the summit are controlled by park rangers to keep people from getting lost. Obviously this is more challenging hiking compared to Poas!

Rain Forests

Rain forests and animals of the rain forest are one of the big attractions of Costa Rica. Birdwatching, flora and fauna, monkey's, sloths, and many other creatures abound in the rain forests of Costa Rica. Each region has slightly different plant life and animals populating the forests. The lodge and hotel accommodations range from primitive to exotic. Take your time and choose an area that combines activities that you and your family have interests in.

Manuel Antonio is one of the most popular parks in Costa Rica. The park is located in the Central Pacific area and provides great accommodations, rain forest, waterfalls, and beach vacations.

Monteverde Cloud Forest is a wonderland of nature. Located near the Arenal volcano about 3 1/2 hours from San Jose this misty forest is a great place to see birds, monkey's and other wildlife in a well tended easily hiked park.

Corcovado National Park is lowland rain forest and is home to a large population of scarlet macaws. The park features well designed trails, camping, and plenty of ranger stations. The hiking is strenuous, pack your own food and get back to nature in the southern Pacific portion of Costa Rica.

Cahuita National Park provides flat easily hiked trails, and plenty of wildlife in thick lowland forest. White face and howler monkey's are your companions here. Generally rustic accommodations and less amenities are characteristic on the Caribbean coastal areas.

Final Thoughts

Fun Costa Rica Vacations hopes this visitors guide has been helpful to you. Our goal is to provide useful information to travelers and specifically first time visitors to Costa Rica.

For this reason, if you did not find the answer to a pressing question you have about Costa Rica please contact us at our website about it. We want to provide the most accurate up to date information available to visitors to ensure a fun vacation for all!

Best Regards,

Staff at Fun Costa Rica Vacations

About The Author

Roger Dalton

Publisher for Fun Costa Rica Vacations a destination guide for fun vacations in Costa Rica.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Jamaica - A Tropical Paradise

Jamaica - A Tropical Paradise
by: Denny Phillips

From the brilliant white sand beaches to the diverse island culture, Jamaica is one of our favourite Caribbean tourist destinations. The crystal clear ocean waters and the year-round warm climate makes it the ideal travel vacation for sun-lovers. There are many diversions to keep visitors happy: fishing, scuba diving, wind surfing, horseback riding, swimming, snorkelling, golfing just to name a few. In the evening there is fine dining at Jamaica’s elite restaurants and resorts—combined with truly unique Jamaican cuisine, and the night life is certainly hopping!

One of the best things that I have found about Jamaica is the warm, friendly people and the rich, diverse Island culture blended from around the world. In fact, Jamaica’s motto is “Out of Many, One People.” Although African and European influences dominate the culture, the British, Spanish, Irish, Indian, Chinese and German are all represented as well. The official language of Jamaica is English, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it as you will most likely hear “Patois” which sounds like a foreign language but is actually a combination of rhythmic English and slang. “Irie mon” is a common phrase you may hear, which really just means “cool” or “everything is good.” The currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar, but US dollars are widely accepted.

Jamaica is the largest English-speaking Island in the Caribbean and it is the third largest island overall, spanning 4,400 square miles. The best tourist spots are on the north coast, with Montego Bay and Ocho Rios being the most popular, as well as Negril on the west coast. I have toured the whole Island, from Kingston (Jamaica’s capital) through the Blue Mountains to Port Antonio, around the north coast, on down through Mandeville, Alligator Pond and Treasure Beach and back around to Kingston, so I am well able to tell you a bit about each destination you may wish to travel to.

Ocho Rios is located, as I said, on Jamaica’s north coast and is known as Jamaica’s garden centre. Some of the most popular daytime activities include biking, diving, deep-sea fishing and golf. Ocho Rios also has one of the best polo facilities in the Caribbean.

Of course, the must-see attraction in Ocho Rios is the famous Dunn’s River Falls, where visitors, lead by a sure-footed Jamaican guide, are able to climb up a series of falls that cascade from the mountains to the sea. The falls themselves are a spectacular sight and climbing the falls is an adventure not to be missed. As a bit of trivia, in the film “Cocktail” with Tom Cruise, Duns River Falls is in a memorable scene. Close by, just off of Main Street in Ocho Rios are two craft parks, the Ocho Rios Craft Park and the Olde Market Craft Shoppes, and The Ocean Village Shopping Centre is also nearby. Here there are hundreds of vendors selling local crafts, and everything from gold watches to wood carvings and the famous Blue Mountain coffee. Also, you will be able to sample the traditional jerk pork prepared over an open grill – a spicy culinary experience for the adventurous. There is also duty-free shopping at the Taj Mahal Shopping Centre.

Just west of Ocho Rios in Aracobessa is another favourite tourist attraction, James Bond Beach and Ian Fleming’s former home called Goldeneye.

Montego Bay is where most travelers arrive in Jamaica, which is home to the North Shore airport and the island’s busiest cruise ship pier. Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city and is Jamaica’s original tourist hotspot.

Montego Bay’s attractions include a number of plantation tours, as well as a new attraction featuring the legendary great, Bob Marley. For the adventure traveller, there are also bamboo river rafting tours. As well, there is great fishing by fishing charters for marlin, tuna and kingfish. One may also go cycling, golfing, horseback riding or scuba diving here, and there is another popular local shopping district. A popular tour from Montego Bay is to Wyndham Rose Hall Plantation which was once a legendary 18th century sugar plantation, and a popular spot for golfers would be on the Robert von Hagge Championship Golf Course.

Of course, the beaches in Montego Bay are not to be missed. But beware – a friend, while visiting Jamaica, sat under a coconut tree and got conked on the head by a falling coconut, in fact three coconuts! I asked her why she didn’t move away after the first one hit her (of course, the coconuts fell in a bunch of three – but I thought it was funny!) (P.S. – She wasn’t really hurt!)

Negril is located on Jamaica’s western coast with a seven-mile long fantastic white sand beach. It extends from the nineteenth-century Negril Lighthouse in the parish of Westmoreland in the south to Bloody Bay (so named for the days when whalers cleaned their catch there) in Hanover Parish in the north. Negril is famous for its “hippie” era where the hippies set up a colony there and enjoyed the laid-back lifestyle and “ganja”. From this hippie-era colony, Negril has been labelled the “Capital of Casual”. Although I wasn’t interested, Negril does offer some clothing optional beaches.

Laws control resort development and no building is allowed to be taller than the tallest palm tree. Negril doesn’t offer the extensive shopping of Ocho Rios, but it does have an assortment of unique shops, including the Negril craft market.

Negril is said to offer some of the best scuba diving in Jamaica. You can also enjoy deep-sea fishing excursions, a vast amount of water sports, and golf at a new golf course, Negril Hills. If you choose to go parasailing, the sight of the sparkling azure waters and the dazzling white sand beach is a truly memorable experience. Other activities can include tennis, squash, glass-bottom boat reef trips, sunset catamaran cruises and spectacular nightly entertainment.

Although I stayed at a number of different locations in Jamaica, a memorable one was at a family-oriented all-inclusive resort. They offered everything one could want, from unlimited alcoholic beverages for adults to baby-sitting services, and even a special snack bar geared to children with all-you-can-eat pizza, macaroni ‘n cheese, and hamburgers. I was very impressed with how the staff entertained and watched over our children. In one instance, our kids were kayaking around a little bay area. Being adventurous they ventured out towards open water. The staff member followed them in his kayak and gently herded them back. I was very impressed how he handled it. It was a very pleasant stay there.

On the whole, I love Jamaica, from the warm friendly people to the crystal clear waters and all-year round warm climate. There is not much that Jamaica doesn’t offer for an ideal vacation. The Island is unique in its culture and cuisine (have you tried boiled green banana, saltfish and ackee, jerk chicken or fried breadfruit?) The resorts are experts in what they offer guests – especially the all-inclusive ones. The only thing that I might caution you about is travelling alone/unaccompanied outside of the resorts. It can be dangerous, but if you stay within your resort or take guided tours, you shouldn’t have any problems. “No problem, mon!”

To view more travel articles, visit: Vacation Travel Quest.

About The Author
Denny Phillips, who majored in English at University, has combined her love of cooking, travelling and art into several articles and travel reviews. Read other articles by Denny on her websites: Good Cooking Central and Vacation Travel Quest.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More Than Spring Break in Cancún

More Than Spring Break in Cancún
by: Jennifer Smith

For years vacationers have been drawn to the beautiful scenery that Cancún has to offer. There is, after all, a reason why the Mexican government chose this coastal city to be its tourist flagship. Blue waters, white sands, and plenty of room for development meant that Cancún was the perfect place to draw in visitors.

Image and Reality

Cancún's popularity with American travelers – meaning English is widely spoken and popular chain stores and restaurants can be found there – and relatively low costs has helped it to become a haven for spring breakers, and has become better known as a party spot than the escape it was designed to be. Still, many vacationers looking for a resort location that is perfect for honeymoons or other peaceful getaways also consider Cancún.

How can honeymooners mix with the out-all-night lifestyle Cancún is becoming so well-known for? The simple answer is that Cancún has come to be the name used for the entire Caribbean coast of Mexico's Yucatán peninsula. The Yucatán peninsula contains the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancún resides. In fact, so do fascinating Mayan ruins and wide stretches of nearly untouched beaches. Cancún isn't the only place travelers may choose to visit in the Mexican Caribbean.

Plenty of Places to Go

Cozumel is an island off the coast that is home to a small city and an airport, but there you'll find plenty of world-class snorkeling and diving on the world's second largest reef. Mayans held this island as the sacred home of the fertility goddess Ixchel, and now it houses ruins for visitors to explore. Isla Mujeres is another popular island just miles away from Cancún in the Caribbean Sea; you'll find the ruins of many Spanish galleons sunk just off its coast.

The ruins at Tulum are some of the most famous in Mexico. Here travelers can see a holy Mayan city and visit “The Castle.” This fortress is built on a bluff overlooking the ocean, offering spectacular sights for visitors willing to take the trip. Unlike the hustle and bustle of Cancún, this area is a haven for backpackers and ecologically-oriented travelers.

Those looking for something upscale and secluded, on the other hand, may want to consider the area known as the Mayan Riviera. It's called by several variations of this name, such as the Riviera Maya, and stretches along the coast from Cancún to Tulum. Areas like Playa del Carmen are a part of this beautiful coastline. Often rental villas with private slices of beach line the shores here instead of sprawling hotel and resort complexes. Some areas of the Mayan Riviera, such as Xel Ha and Akumal, are also known for their eco-tourism opportunities.

So, while it's easy to see why students may enjoy the wilder side in the city of Cancún, it's not difficult to understand how travelers can find the perfect honeymoon escape and family travel in the area as well. Mexico's Caribbean coast has much more to offer than just Cancún, though the city has become a figurehead for their tourism.

About The Author

Jennifer Smith writes for Cancun Guide, Virgin Islands Guide, and other Segisys travel Web sites.

© 2005, Interactive Internet Websites, Inc.

Article may only be reprinted if it is not modified in any way, and if all links remain live.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cruise In The Caribbean With Caribbean Cruise Lines

Cruise In The Caribbean With Caribbean Cruise Lines
by: Louise Wasa

The weather is one of the most beloved features of the Caribbean Islands. You can expect to have the perfect weather here almost the year around. The best way to enjoy the Caribbean´s lovely weather is to travel with a Caribbean Cruise Line.

Yes, you can always take a plane to the Caribbean if you are in a hurry. That is the quickest and probably the cheapest way to reach your island destination. If you want to combine transportation with leisure views of the islands from the ocean a Caribbean cruise is best. There is no better way to enjoy an island paradise than from the deck of a luxury cruise line ship. It also great to unpack once and still reach many destinations.

About two million persons take a Caribbean cruise line each year to enjoy the cruising, the beautiful beaches and a warm weather. The cruises are very popular also because of the activities and amenities that are available on board. Most of these ships cruises and make stops at various islands along the way and that gives you a chance to enjoy several aspects of the islands all for the price of one.

If you decide to take a Caribbean travel cruise you should take some time and plan ahead. Not only because of the price as a Caribbean cruise are on the expensive side compared with all inclusive and other packages. If you plan well and choose the right season you can get a great deal with many of the Caribbean cruise lines. For example, cabins may get fully booked months before the Caribbean travel cruise is scheduled to depart. If you want to make it your chosen cruise, you should book early. You can also work out the details of your own Caribbean travel cruise through an online travel agent.

On the internet you can check for several great cruise lines. For example, if you are taking a Caribbean cruise line with your kids, you should stick to the Disney cruise because if anything, this is guaranteed to have activities designed specifically for children. When traveling as a couple, then look for one of those romance-themed cruises that provide you with a quiet atmosphere, like the Princess cruise for instance. On the other hand, if you want to sail on board the most luxurious ships, then look to liners known for their top notch Caribbean travel cruise services, such as Crystal, Silver Sea or the new Queen Mary II.

About The Author
Louise Wasa always writes about valuable news & reviews.

A related resource is Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Resources

Further information can be found at Home Improvement