Photos: Caribbean way of life

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  1. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of the Barbados Tourism Authority shows Harrismith Beach, Barbados. Sun, surf and sand are the main draws on this tropical Caribbean island. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Barbados

    This undated photo courtesy of Barbados Tourism Authority shows The Watering Hole rum shop in Barbados. The rum shops on the island are good places to sample local food and drink, watch a game of dominos, or just get to know the friendly and hospitable Bajans. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. St. Lucia

    Developed, beautiful and situated in the Eastern Caribbean, St. Lucia is accessible from Europe and Canada, and reachable -- albeit not as easily -- from the United States. St. Lucia is known as a romantic destination. The island gets plenty of visitors, including wedding parties. (Holger Leue  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. St. Lucia

    Cocoa pods lie on the ground ready to be processed at Fondoux Plantation in Soufriere, St. Lucia. Cocoa is one St. Lucia's main produce alongside the more obvious banana crop. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. St. George's

    The capital of Grenada, St. George's is considered one of the prettiest harbor towns in the Caribbean. Grenada's unique layout includes many finger-like coves, making the island a popular sailing destination. (Richard Cummins  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. The Cayman Islands

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Stingray City

    The Cayman Islands very popular attractions, Stingray City and the nearby shallows known as the Sandbar, provide the only natural oportunity to swim with Atlantic Southern Stingrays. (David Rogers / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. St John's

    In high season, up to five cruise ships visit St John's, Antigua, each day. The boats unload mostly American and European passengers who fan out across the island visiting the casinos and beaches. Antigua is easily accessible, and can offer good values for tourists. (Chris Jackson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Antigua

    Antigua, located in the Northeastern Caribbean, is a popular tourist spot. While there are high-end, stylish hotels, the island also features a large number of mid-priced options. Visitors will find beach bars, restaurants, casinos and shopping. (Richard I'Anson  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Antigua

    People walk along an area known as Devils Bridge in Indian Town Point, Antigua. Antigua is a wintertime destination for many visitors from the north. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Dominica

    Not as well known as other Caribbean islands, Dominica is green, fertile and mountainous. Visitors will find some opportunites to scuba dive, but watersports are not its main draw. The island does, however, offer a slew of rainforest trails -- great for hiking and sightseeing. (Greg Johnston  / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Dominican Republic

    An old church building is seen in La Romana, the third-largest city in the Dominican Republic. (Wayne Walton / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Belize

    Belize gets more than 850,000 visitors each year. The hot spot allows watersports such as kayaking and snorkeling, as well as inland activities like hiking and birding. The Mayan ruins of Altan Ha, pictured, are easily accessible from Caye Caulker. (Andrew Marshall / Lonely Planet Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. La Tortuga

    A fisherman repairs his nets on Cayo Herradura, off the island of La Tortuga in Venezuela. The country offers visitors a variety of activities to choose from, but remains undervisited -- especially compared to its South American neighbors. (Lynne Sladky / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Cuba

    Cuba blends the fantastic attractions associated with other Caribbean destinations with an amazing history. Tourists can stroll white sand beaches, take in the incredible architecture and party into the early-morning hours. (Javier Galeano / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. St. Barthelemy

    St. Barthelemy is a vacation spot of stars and millionaires. Trendy, chic and sexy, St. Baarths is safe for tourists, but expensive to visit. About 8,700 people reside on the island. (Mark Mainz / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Puerto Rico

    A man climbs to a 40-foot waterfall at the south side of the Caribbean National Rain Forest, commonly called El Yunque, near Naguabo, Puerto Rico. Most visitors hike the well-marked paths in the northern half of the park's rain forest but the trails in the south allow hikers and nature lovers to explore the only tropical forest in the U.S. national forest system. (Herminio Rodriguez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Puerto Rico

    The cupola of San Juan Cemetary as well as colorful homes sit next to the ocean in Old San Juan, the original capital city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The old city is a historic district of seven square blocks made up of ancient buildings and colonial homes, massive stone walls and vast fortifications, sunny parks and cobblestoned streets. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Puerto Rico

    Men play dominos in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is a well-preserved colonial city that allows tourists a peek into the past. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Guadeloupe

    Guadeloupe isn't as developed as some other Caribbean islands, but it offers a variety of beaches -- some active with watersports, some secluded. The island also offers beach bars, restaurants, mid-range hotels and other tourist amenities. (Marcel Mochet / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 11/30/2005 6:15:10 PM ET 2005-11-30T23:15:10

The holidays are just around the corner, so we've combed the beaches and shopped the stores to compile a catalog of holiday gifts perfect for Caribbean travelers. Does someone on your list deserve his own private island? (Dear Santa, that's a hint.) Is your special someone a diver, a drinker or a golfer? Many of these gifts are the kind that keep on giving, so make sure you're the one who gives and receives.

(1) Fulfill those Robinson Crusoe fantasies by joining celebrity castaways like Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio and Faith Hill, who've all bought private Caribbean islands. For only $2.2 million you can lord over Belize'sRendezvous Cay, a 10-acre isle with a five-bedroom, five-bathroom house and separate staff accommodations. Surrounded by six beaches and thick with palms, hibiscus and almond trees, Rendezvous' proximity to the Belize Barrier Reef means great snorkeling and diving nearby. (

(2) Put A “yo ho ho” in someone's “ho ho ho” with Pusser's Trafalgar Bicentenary Ship's Decanter, the Tortola-based rum company's limited edition commemorating the Royal Navy's most important victory. Official seals and Admiral Nelson's famous battles decorate the bottle, and its rope bumper was woven in the same factory that supplied the line for his flagship. Not just a collectors' item, slip out the cork and you'll find a dark Caribbean rum — distilled in wooden pot stills and aged for 15 years in oak — that offers a truly special toast for tinsel time. ($125;

(3) To see if Santa has his sea legs, wait up for him on the world's largest cruise ship, Cunard's Queen Mary 2. The 14-day Yuletide in the Caribbean cruise sails round-trip from New York City Dec. 20-Jan. 3, with excursions to Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Grenada, Barbados, the Grenadines, Martinique, St. Maarten and St. Thomas. (Rates start at $2,999; 800-7-CUNARD;

(4) For the person who has everything and needs a spectacular place to put it, a Caribbean villa makes the perfect home for the holidays — all year long. Of course once the relatives hear you have a tropical retreat, you'll find them very available for visits. With a place like Villa Marrakesh, though, you can accommodate a half-dozen cousins. This St. Maarten stunner has four bedrooms and four bathrooms with Jacuzzis and outdoor showers. A pro chef designed the gourmet kitchen, and from the living and dining areas you can walk out to the pool deck, which is surrounded by lush gardens. ($2.2 million; Jennifer's Vacation Villas, 631-546-7345;

(5) For the people you want to pamper, send them for a full day of indulgence at the world-renowned Sandy Lane Spa in Barbados. For six hours and 30 minutes their bodies will be relaxed and revitalized by jet-blintz water massages, marine hydrotherapy baths, full-body massages, rebalancing aromatherapy facials, shirodhara hot-oil healings and holistic nail treatments. (Total Indulgence package, $550; 246-444-2100;

(6) And for do-it-yourself indulgers, spoil them with Aveda's Caribbean Therapy line of products, which includes bath bars, soaks and body mists. The rejuvenating Caribbean Body Creme ($26; comforts the skin while relaxing the senses with the delicate aromas of sandalwood and lime.

Slideshow: 2005 Holiday Highlights (7) For those on the fly, cast them off to the bonefishing capital of the Bahamas for a seven-night fishing expedition hosted by Fly Fishing in Salt Waters magazine ( and Frontiers International Travel. Join FFSW editors at the Mangrove Cay Club in the Exumas Jan. 7-14. The package is $2,715 per person, based on double occupancy, and includes a professional fishing guide. (800-245-1950)

(8) Your favorite fly guy or girl will always be ready to hook up when they're packing Orvis' Frequent Flyer rod ($225), which breaks down into seven pieces, each less than a foot and a half long. Pair it with Orvis' Battenkill Mid Arbor fly reel ($125), and they can tackle bonefish wherever they land. (

(9) As an expensive gift for free spirits, let them island-hop in style aboard a new Leopard 40. This blue-water cruising catamaran comes in both three- and four-cabin configurations, with two heads. Named “Boat of the Year 2005” by Cruising World magazine, this cool cat is designed for easy sailing with a small crew. ($329,000, which includes delivery to the Caribbean; The Moorings, 877-795-4389;

(10) Treat the swingers on your list to one of the Caribbean's classic courses, the par-72 at the Tryall Club in Jamaica. Famed for its signature fourth hole, which plays from oceanside tees across a river, and for its personable and professional caddies, Tryall has had a strong golf tradition since the '70s. Packages include accommodations, taxes, greens fees, cart and caddy. (Six nights in a one-bedroom villa are $3,780, based on double occupancy Jan. 5 to April 15; 800-238-5290;

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(11) Give the gift of peace (and quiet) on earth or turn up the tunes under the tree with two new Sony audio products. The tiny two-watt SRS T33 travel speaker (shown; $40) turns your digital music player into a baby boom box so you can enjoy and share your favorite music in a hotel room or on a beach chair. Sony's MDR NC50 Noise-Canceling Headphones ($200) fold flat for easy packing and are ideal for creating a soothing silence on noisy airplanes or for filling your head with a selection of pure sounds from your music player. (

(12) For the foodies, forgo the fruitcake this year and get them Walkerswood's Cook-Up Kit ($9.95), a four-pack of the Jamaican company's famous Caribbean sauces. It includes six-ounce bottles of traditional Jerk Seasoning, Curry Paste, Coconut Rundown and Escoveitch Pickle Sauce. For $18 you can buy the kit and a Walkerswood Caribbean Kitchen cookbook. (876-917-2318;

(13) For Santa's favorite snorkelers, tanks aren't necessary to experience the world's greatest underwater encounter: snorkeling with humpback whales off the Dominican Republic. Aquatic Adventures is adding two special 10-day trips at the height of the 2007 Silver Bank whale-watching season, giving live-aboard passengers the opportunity to double their time among the gentle giants. ($4,920; Feb. 17-27 and Feb. 27-March 9, 2007; 954-382-0024;; 2006's regular-length trips still have a few spaces open)

(14) For divers who do it deeper, the ultimate gift is Suunto's James Bond-worthy titanium-bodied D9 dive computer. Though it's only the size of a hefty watch, the D9 keeps track of all your underwater details (including tank pressure and air consumption with its wireless transmitter), talks to your PC for downloading dive logs, and is the first dive computer to include a digital compass. ($900 or $1,400 with wireless;

(15) For the beach babies, whether infants or enfant terrible teens, the professional nannies and Kids Kamp counselors at Beaches all-inclusive resorts stand ready to make it a vacation for the whole family. Parents can join in the fun of scavenger hunts led by Sesame Street characters and game time in the Xbox Oases — or they can just drop the kids off. Beaches in Negril and Turks and Caicos even include 18,000-square-foot water parks. (Rates start at $265 per adult per night and $85 per child 2 to 15 years old; 888-BEACHES;

(16) And to keep the kids happy during those trying travel times, bring along a V Smile Pocket, the battery-operated portable game system that uses entertaining content like Toy Story, Cinderella and Scooby Doo to surreptitiously teach kids ages 4 to 8 spelling, counting and logic skills. ($89;

Caribbean Travel & Life is the magazine for anyone in search of the perfect tropical getaway. Each issue presents expert insider’s advice on where to find the Caribbean’s best beaches and attractions, its finest resorts and spas, liveliest beach bars and activities, and its friendliest people.


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