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Endeavors in the Caribbean for Active Travelers

Endeavors in the Caribbean for Active Travelers

023 Trephina Gorge, East MacDonnell Ranges
Source: Flickr

So you’re planning your next vacation getaway to the Caribbean and you’re thinking about what kind of things you want to do in this beautiful part of the world. Laying out and soaking up some sun all day? Watching a gorgeous island sunset? How about snoozing the day away in a hammock? If this sounds like a waste of vacation time to you, and you want to spend your Caribbean experience enjoying more active pursuits, then have no fear; many of the Caribbean Islands offer more than just a day at the beach and picturesque sunsets.
Those travelers who are more into adventurous and active endeavors while visiting the Caribbean can spend your days with plenty of exciting activities. Try the popular sports of tennis and golf if you enjoy a little friendly competition. There are watersports and underwater exploration for those who want to get their feet wet. And nature-friendly eco-oriented endeavors allow you to become one with the great outdoors. All you have to do is decide which activity interests you the most, and you’re ready for all kinds of adventures during your visit to the beautiful and exciting Caribbean.
Caribbean Sports
A lot of hotels and resorts in the Caribbean have packages especially for tennis and golf players to accommodate sports-minded travelers. A lot of the major resorts in the region have tennis courts on location that are available to their guests and by reservations for those who aren’t staying at the hotel. A lot of the time hotels with tennis courts will offer tennis instruction for various fees, so even if you’re a beginner player, you can still enjoy some great tennis action on your vacation in the Caribbean.
If you happen to be in the Caribbean at just the right time, or if you plan a little bit in advance, you may be able to catch a professional tennis tournament during your stay. If you want to spend the daytime hours relaxing and soaking up some sun, a lot of hotels have lighted courts, so you can hit the courts at night, which may also be more comfortable than playing in the hot Caribbean sun. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a little extra for the luxury of lighting.
In order to guarantee that you get some much-coveted court time in the Caribbean, contact your hotel or other resorts near where you’ll be staying to see if they have courts available, if the courts are illuminated, and how much it costs to play. There are several islands in the Caribbean where vacationers can go to find great tennis courts and facilities, including the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica, which feature resorts that provide special tennis packages and top-notch facilities.
Golf is also a popular sport for many people visiting to the Caribbean. Golf can be a laid-back and relaxing outing, as well as provide some exciting competition. The beautiful tropical weather in the Caribbean is just right for enjoying a game of golf almost any time of year, and many of the region’s courses are located in beautiful breathtaking settings among majestic mountains and tropical greenery. Vacationers can find great golf courses throughout the Caribbean, but especially on the larger islands. The majority of courses are available to visitors and offer equipment for rental as well as golf lessons for various fees. The expenses of golfing on particular greens will vary from course to course, and can range from extremely pricey to budget play, so check ahead with the course or golf resort.
Golf players can find courses in the Caribbean that were designed by world renowned golfers and expert course designers. You can find exciting golf courses and golf resorts on many Caribbean islands with some of the best being in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
Making Waves
During your visit to the Caribbean, you’ll be surrounded by the amazing sapphire waters of the Caribbean Sea and sparkling Atlantic Ocean, so you’ll have access to a wide variety of watersports and other aquatic endeavors, like snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing, just to name a few.
People from around the world come to the Caribbean to enjoy its offshore activities in the region’s warm, clear, blue waters. Beneath the calm surface of the Caribbean waters is a wondrous world of colorful and exotic ocean wildlife including brilliant fish and coral. Because of its fascinating underwater habitats, the Caribbean features some of the most popular dive destinations in the world, and is home to various resorts and hotels that focus especially on the diving aspect of visiting the Caribbean by offering special dive package.
Dive resorts and many hotels offer their guests equipment rental for scuba diving and snorkeling, and even provide scuba diving lessons and certification, because you must have a license and some instruction in order to get the most out of your diving experience.
Volcanic vents, Coral reefs, old shipwrecks, as well as other underwater formations make great places for scuba divers to explore, and can be an unforgettable experience for vacationers of all ages. The cost of your dive or snorkeling excursion will vary according to the kind of dive you take, when you go, and what kind of certification you want to get. Travelers can find great dive spots all over the Caribbean, but especially on the Cayman and Virgin Islands.
Other water-based pursuits that vacationers can enjoy while vacationing in the Caribbean include fantastic watersports like fishing which is a popular activity for many who visit the Caribbean, which has a countless number of fish species dwelling beneath the surface of the crystal blue waters. In recent years, windsurfing has become an extremely popular watersport in the region. Also, there is kayaking, parasailing, water rafting, and many other ways to enjoy the waves of the salty Caribbean.
Ecological Activities
For a lot of travelers, a trip to the Caribbean is the perfect chance to get back to nature. Several islands in the region boast lush landscapes and are home to a variety of exotic animal species. Travelers who are more ecologically aware can experience nature in the Caribbean in a number of ways, such as through hiking, camping, and mountain biking. To find out more information about outdoor excursions and nature-related activities, the best place to start is your hotel information desk, which may be able to provide you with maps of the island, the names and numbers of rental companies where you can get camping equipment and mountain bikes, and information on local guides that you can hire to show you around island trails.
Hiking is good exercise and can be a great way to see parts of islands that can’t be reached by car. Hikers can pick from a few different levels of hiking difficulty, from leisurely strolls to brisk uphill hikes and more strenuous treks. Mountain biking is also another way to get off the beaten path and see areas of the island you couldn’t see by staying in the city limits. Take a trip up the side of a volcano, visit a cascading waterfall, or do some exotic birdwatching. In the Caribbean the ecological possibilities are endless.
If you want your vacation to be an active and exciting one while in Caribbean, you won’t be at a loss for things to do in this amazing region of the world, which is rich in various sports and activities. You’re sure to have a memorable experience while enjoying active pursuits in the Caribbean.

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The Battle Of The Sexes Is On This Father’s Day

The Battle Of The Sexes Is On This Father’s Day

Amur Tiger
Source: Flickr

(NC)—It seems once again men and women have a difference of opinion. This time the Mars vs.Venus debate is over the ideal gift for Father’s Day. A recent survey, by RadioShack Canada, shows that while women want to keep Dad organized and on track this Father’s Day, men are more interested in keeping him entertained. According to the survey, men would rather keep Dad amused with a digital camera or satellite TV (63 per cent vs. 47 per cent of women), while women would rather help Dad stay on time, on schedule and connected with mobile phones and personal digital assistants (44 per cent vs. 34 per cent of men).
Give Dad what he wants this Father’s Day
After looking at what men and women would prefer to buy for Dad, perhaps the question needs to be “what does Dad actually want to get this Father’s Day? “
• Over one-third (47 per cent) of Canadian men say they would prefer to receive a digital camera as a gift over other electronic items such as DVD players (22 per cent), satellite TVs (21 per cent) and MP3 players (seven per cent).
• Time at home. Over half of all Canadian men surveyed (56 per cent) say Father’s Day is a day to spend with family.
• Canadian men still love their electronics. More than half of the men surveyed own more than five personal electronic devices, compared to one-third of men surveyed in the RadioShack 2001 Father’s Day survey.
Source: RadioShack Canada
– News Canada

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Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao: ABC’s of the Caribbean

Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao: ABC’s of the Caribbean

St. George Island. Cyprus
Source: Flickr

Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao or collectively called the “ABC” islands, is also known as the “Dutch Leewards”. If you will look at a map of the Caribbean, you will notice that there are three dots just off the coast of Venezuela. The three islands, namely Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, share the same culture and influence from Spain, Portugal and West Indies. The official language of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao is Dutch while Papiamento is their local language.

The three islands are famous for their beach, diving spots and of course… lots and lots of sunshine. Like most of the islands in the Caribbean, the ABC islands have a hot and dry climate. Yet unlike their neighbors, the landscape is arid and flat. Their coastline boasts with white sands, crystal clear waters, and they have an offshore coral reef that is teeming with marine life; making the three islands a haven for divers, water sports enthusiast and tourist who would just love to lay back on the beach. Each island has its own well-funded national park.

The best time of the year to go to the Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao is within mid-December to mid-April where the weather is at its finest. That’s also the peak of its tourist season. Though the three islands seldom experiences rain and have very little rainfall, mild showers usually occur between October and March. Steady trade winds help keep the temperature at the average of 28ºC or 82ºF.

Curacao is the largest of the three, both in terms of population and size. The capital of Curacao is Willemstad. Aruba has a population of 80,000 and a land mass of 20 miles long, 6 miles across. It comes in second in terms of population. The capital is Oranjestad. Bonaire is somewhat larger than Aruba, with a width of 4-7 miles and 24 miles long. Its population is only about 15,000 people. Kralendijk is its capital.

Tourism is the main industry of the three islands. Aruba and Curacao have oil refineries while Bonaire has a storage facility and produces rice. The busiest economy of the three islands is Curacao, which has one of the largest dry docks in the world.

Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have good watersports opportunities. If you want to go diving, Bonaire has the best diving spots because of its immaculate coral reefs around the island. Aruba is more known for its beaches than diving, though it has some good diving spots. While Curacao has lots and lots of watersports opportunities, its diving spots are spread across the southern coast.

The next time you want to go on a vacation, just think of the first three letters in the alphabet, and you’ll be guaranteed to have a great time.

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European Real Estate To Fall In 2006

May time in the high pastures
Source: Flickr

Areas of Europe popular with holiday home buyers could see property prices fall by ten per cent or more in the year ahead, according to overseas property specialists Tribune Properties.

2005 saw the first signs of a property slow down, and even the reverse of sharp gains in holiday home prices over recent years in Spain and Portugal.

With owners unable to sell their property likely to drop their asking prices in 2006 to secure a sale, buyers will be in their strongest negotiating position since the mid to late 1980’s when prices dropped by nearly a third on the Spanish Costas.

Europe’s worst drought in living memory had an affect on the markets in Spain and Portugal earlier this year, with many would be buyers wondering if they would be able to use their pool in years to come, with consequential rentals possibly tailing off.

‘Some buyers rely on renting their holiday home out as they take out a mortgage to buy’, says Roger Munns of Tribune Properties, ‘and if they can’t rely on this it creates doubt as to whether to buy or not. Some buyers were taking the view that they should wait to see what happens’.

But it isn’t just the possibility of more droughts and unreliable rental income that is beginning to see prices drop in some areas, according to Tribune Properties.

The emergence of new European markets in the former Eastern Bloc has seen British, Dutch, Belgian and German buyers head for countries like Bulgaria where apartments and houses can be bought at a fraction of the price of Spain and Portugal.

‘Second home buyers are seeing properties offered in Bulgaria at less than half the price they thought they would need to own a home overseas, and the traditional markets of Spain and Portugal are losing out.

Already we have seen villas in Menorca drop in value by around ten per cent, and they could, and probably will, go lower still.

In addition the rate of new builds on the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca hasn’t slowed down to any great degree, and before long there could be a price correction as there is going to be quite an oversupply in the market.’

European Tax Havens

In contrast to lower prices on the Spanish Costas and Menorca, Tribune forecast that prices on the Algarve and Malta are likely to stay steady or increase as their domestic markets are strong.

The two countries they see in Europe with growth potential for 2006 are the tax havens of Andorra and Monaco.

Monaco and lesser known Andorra both offer no income tax for residents, and Andorra has seen double digit property price inflation for the last two years, with the 2005 figures likely to match. After a slow start to the year Monaco has seen strong buying in the last quarter.

With the new government in Germany increasing the top rate of income tax, Tribune forecast demand continuing through to 2006.

‘Andorra and Monaco are small countries with little room to build new property’, says Tribune’s Managing Director Roger Munns, ‘Despite the German economy being slow for the last few years it remains a very important market. The raising of the top level of tax will mean more Germans seeking residency in a country with low tax levels. Andorra and Monaco are the two most likely candidates for them to buy in and take residency’.

Tribune’s advice to potential overseas property buyers is to find out how long a property has been on the market for, and to make provisional offers of between five and ten per cent off the asking price on a shortlist of three or four properties as one owner is likely to accept. Their longstanding advice is to always employ an independent lawyer to handle any sale and deposits.

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A Touch of Adventure: Guided Tours of China

A Touch of Adventure: Guided Tours of China

Baby-doll made in China
Source: Flickr

China is one of the few countries that Westerners still feel a sense of wonder about. Not having traditionally been seen as
a tourist attraction, there are not many Western travelers who have ventured into this mysterious land.
Today, however,
guided tours of China are more plentiful and cost-effective, making seeing China all the rage with adventurous travelers.
Guided tours of China most definitely will take you to Beijing, China’s capital city. You’ll visit the Forbidden City, an
ancient city built for China’s emperors, the Great Wall of China, a must for every traveler, and you’ll still have time for
bargain shopping with Beijing’s street vendors or at Silk Alley, a bargain hunter’s paradise.
Because China is such a large country, guided tours of China often include several intra-country airline flights. The
airplane flights are exactly like those in the US and Europe, with the exception that the in-flight meal is inedible and
you won’t understand a word anyone is saying.
The next stop on many guided tours of China is the ancient capital city of Xi’an, the beginning of the historic
“Silk Road”—a trading route extending from Asia to parts of Europe. Xi’an is famous for being the site of the
“Eighth Wonder of the World”—the famed Terra Cotta Warriors of Xin.
Most guided tours of Xi’an will take you out to the countryside where the archeological site and museum for the life-size
terra cotta warriors exist. There are three archeological pits containing thousands of life-sized terra cotta soldiers,
horses and carriages. These soldiers have been painstakingly recreated from fragments of pottery and the work at the site
is ongoing.
The best guided tours of the Terra Cotta Warriors will tell you a little secret. In the gift shop, there are stacks of a
beautiful picture book of the warriors, written in several languages. Next to the stack of books sits one of the original
farmers whose well-digging first uncovered the soldiers in 1974. He’ll sign your book for free, giving you a wonderful
keepsake to take home.
A recent trend in guided tours of China is to take you on a memorable, multi-day tour on a riverboat down the Yangtze River.
Most guided tours begin in Chong Xing, a sprawling city of 32 million people in South Central China. There, you’ll board a
lovely ship and you’ll receive a room to sleep in, many with private decks so you can enjoy the scenery.
A riverboat tour down the Yangtze River should be memorable and relaxing. Guided tours of the river include daily excursions
to sites along the way. As you travel downstream, you’ll reach the Yangtze River’s famous three gorges. These are areas of
the river with huge mountains and massive cliffs on either side of the river.
Unfortunately, guided tours of the Yangtze River may not be as exciting as they are today or even as they were a few years
ago. The Chinese government is building the largest hydroelectric dam downstream from the gorges, raising the water level,
displacing millions of people and marring the beauty of the three gorges. While onboard the ship, you’ll enjoy daily
activities and fine Chinese dining every night.
Next on your list will probably be Shanghai. Most guided tours of China take advantage of the fact that Shanghai is near
the mouth of the Yangtze River and close to where you’ll disembark. Shanghai can be considered the “New York” of China.
It is the center of finance and business in China and, for seasoned travelers, it’s an excellent place to shop before
stuffing your bags for the flight home.