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Winter Sun Breaks – The Caribbean by Robin Richmond

The build up to Christmas is always an exciting time of the year with various parties to attend and presents to buy. However, January and February can become pretty depressing times of the year, with little to look forward to and the festive cheer of Christmas nothing but a distant memory. Booking a winter holiday and getting some sun can be the perfect tonic to beat the winter blues – and where better to head than the Caribbean!

Lets face it swapping horizontal sleet and freezing winds for a beautiful, warm beach isn’t a tough choice – but choosing the right holiday package to ensure a holiday of a lifetime. With prices becoming increasingly more competitive for long-haul winter sun destinations, a Caribbean holiday shouldn’t necessarily mean a begging letter to the bank manager either. In terms of destination, you’re spoilt for choice between the popular islands of Barbados and Jamaica or the equally beautiful Dominican Republic or Grenada, among others.

The Dominican Republic is becoming an increasingly popular destination for British holidaymakers – not least for its consistently warm temperatures. Most tourists stick to the southern and eastern coasts where the weather tends to be dryer. The island is covered in white-sand beaches, dramatic mountain ranges and spectacular rivers and waterfalls – meaning it fills every fantasy you may harbour of a tropical island. The island also boasts a multitude of top class hotel accommodation, such as the beautiful Barcelo Bavaro Beach and Caribe.

Located on a 3km stretch of tropical beach surrounded by a coral reef one can not ask for much more in terms of location. The hotel provides an excellent choice of facilities against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Guests can enjoy the use of 8 restaurants, 13 bars, 24 hour casino and several swimming pools. All bedrooms are air conditioned and equipped with modern amenities. For further details on this hotel check out which has some fantastic offers for 2006.

Perhaps the most famous island in the Caribbean, Jamaica has been a popular tourist destination for decades. The variations in landscape from the expansive beaches to the lush jungles, misty mountains and African esque savannas mean that one can enjoy a multitude of views and outdoor experiences. While the island has a somewhat dubious reputation for high crime rates the problems really are isolated to a few inner city area and can be easily avoided.

Jamaica owes part of its success to the prevalence of all-inclusive resorts, which were first popularized here and have spread to several other Caribbean islands. While many people complain that staying in the resort limits ones exposure to real Jamaican life it should be remembered that they do have the choice to leave at any point! The resorts also allow you to really control the holiday budget and have huge amounts of fantastic activities available that will keep you entertained for the entire stay.

Whether you’re interested in a relaxing sail from bay to bay on a chartered yacht or an energetic hike through the mountains, there are activities to capture almost anyone’s interest. The island is a mecca for Anglers who can spend an adventurous day out looking for Jamaica’s famous deep sea fish, while divers can get right into the underwater environment.

For the less adventure-minded tourists there are plenty of other more low key activities to choose from. The island has a number of world class golf courses to choose from and the local artwork and craft shops are a great place to buy gifts for friends. If even that sounds to energetic then sun bathing while imagining all your cold friends and family stuck back in the UK comes highly recommended!

Most tourists are willing to overlook Jamaica’s rough edges, because, overall, it’s a fantastic place to visit and an ideal getaway for some summer sun. For further details on the island visit

About The Author

Robin Richmond is a UK based travel writer who is webmaster for in his spare time.

Reprinted from

Planning for Costa Rica by Terrell James

When traveling it is essential to plan ahead, so when you arrive at your destination, you lessen the chances of being at a loss of what to do. Knowledge gained from others travel can be invaluable, especially when planning to travel to somewhere you have never been before. The advice on this page is helpful to everyone planning a trip to Costa Rica.


The money used in Costa Rica is called colons. You can change dollars into colons at the airports in San Jose and local banks. The exchange rates can be from the low 200s to 400s colons for each US dollar. (Now everywhere in Costa Rica you can buy or pay in US dollars, but I think things are cheaper if you pay in colons.) Other ways you might get colons is if you pay for something in US dollars, you will receive change in colons. During my stay at Costa Rica, I once paid a cab driver in US money, and I received change in the local currency. You should also make sure your dollars are not torn. Local banks and businesses do not accept torn US dollars. I tried to exchange a torn $50 bill, and the bank would not accept it!

-Bringing Money

On my trip I brought my money half in dollars and the other half in American Express cheques. When a traveler cheque is used there will be a commission fee.

When to visit/weather

Costa Rica has two seasons – the dry season and the green season (or rainy season). The dry season is from December to March. The dry season is the busiest time in Costa Rica. Prices are much higher and it is harder to find a place to stay. Now in the green season you will find much cheaper prices. The green season is from April to November. During the rainy season it generally rains for a few hours and then clears up.

Traveling within Costa Rica

Bus – You can catch one to most parts of the country. There are a few places where the bus comes only once a day though…

Cab – There are red cabs throughout the country. If the cab driver tells you the meter is broker, just get out. First it is illegal for a cab driver to drive with a broken meter in Costa Rica; secondly he might just be trying to rip you off.

Renting a Car – You can rent a car, but to me personally I would find driving in Costa Rica difficult, since I’m not from the country and it seems there are a lack of street signs. Also the prices for a car rental can be pretty expensive.

Local airlines – You can catch local flights to places throughout Costa Rica. They are regularly scheduled and reasonably inexpensive.

Cities and Towns

Cities in Costa Rica are San jose (The Capital) Alajuela, Cartago, Heredia, Jaco, Liberia, Manuel Antonio, park, Pochote, Puerto Limon, Puntarenas, Parismina, and Tamarindo.

About The Author

Terrell James

An experienced traveler to Costa Rica, the author of this article, Terrell, is the webmaster and owner of the website Costa Rica Travel

Barbados: Coast to Coast by Joan Wingert

The capitol of Bridgetown serves as the dividing point between the West coast and the South coast. Nearly every hotel and resort on the island will be located on or near one of these two coasts. What is the difference? Are there advantages to one or the other for a visitor to the island?

The prevailing easterly trade winds affect the most distinctive natural differences between the two. Because the wind invariably blows from East to West, the eastern coast has heavy surf—the primary reason there are no hotels on the East. There are some very nice beaches but they are not suitable for swimming or watersports activities.

This Easterly wind also bends around the south coast, creating a bit of wind and surf there as well for those beaches. It is not surprising that this is where the best windsurfing is located (and there are some world-class locals). These beaches are generally suitable for swimming; only during bad weather will the red "no swimming" flag be posted.

The West coast is on the leeward side of the island (the wind is blowing offshore not onshore). These bays and beaches are much calmer with very light surf. Snorkeling and nearly all day trips aboard private boats is perfect here along the calm West Coast.

The resorts, shops, restaurants, and other business establishments of each coast also exhibit a decidedly different "personality."

The resorts along the South Coast will range from 2 to 4 stars. Prices for accommodations on the South coast tend to be relatively modest and reasonable.

The central locale of the South coast is St Lawrence Gap. Without a doubt, this is THE local hotspot, featuring a cobblestone walkway with gas lighting, and lined with one interesting restaurant or bistro after another. Barbados is known for its many wonderful (let me say it again—wonderful) restaurants, and several are located here in the "Gap."

Between the Gap and Bridgetown, the area is busy with a variety of establishments including banks, gas stations, KFC, Chefette (the local fast food outlet featuring rotis to go), etc. strung along the South coast highway. Old and run-down buildings sit side-by-side with brand new buildings—evidence that many old structures are being replaced with new.

The West coast is sometimes referred to as the "Gold coast" or the "Platinum coast," and is less intensive in its development. Some of the coast is the preserve of the rich and famous, whose stunning villas will occupy some of the beach area.

The center of the West coast is Holetown, the original English settlement which dates to the early 17th century. This has a delightful shopping area, including a series of "chattel house" shops. Outstanding restaurants are dotted here and there along the coast.

The West coast features mostly 4 and 5 star resorts. The accommodation costs for staying on the West coast will generally be higher than on the South coast of this lovely island, Barbados.

About The Author

Joan Wingert is editor for Caribbean dot Travel (, a recently-launched website specializing in information for travelers to the Caribbean. Our site includes an interactive library ( which hosts articles on any and all things related to the Caribbean as well as travel in and around the islands.

Reprinted from

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