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Welcome to the CaribbeanWhether you're an adventurer, beach lover, or Bob Marley's biggest fan, the Caribbean has you covered. This diverse region offers options for every budget, and it's easy to get to -- there are direct flights from all over the States. Sand seekers flock to the Bahamas, Anguilla, and the Turks and Caicos. Adrenaline junkies head to the Dominican Republic, Dominica, and St. John. And those interested in culture and history pick Puerto Rico, Barbados, and Martinique. Other all-around favorites include St. Lucia, Jamaica, and St. Martin. Which one will you choose?
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Anguilla: Shoal Bay East Beach
The sugar-soft stretch of sand is an island favorite. Long expanses of gently nodding palms and swimming-pool-clear water are dotted with restaurants and beach bars for afternoon cocktails.
How to get there: The beach can be found on the island's northeast coast, and every taxi driver in town will know exactly where it is. Or, call up a driver/guide like Accelyn Connor (264-497-0515) to drop you off and pick you up when you're ready to head home.
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Harbour Island, Bahamas: Pink Sands Beach
This gorgeous speck of land is known for its flower-lined streets, quaint cottages, and above all for the pinkish hue of its eastern beaches. Pink Sands beach, the most famous, is a three-mile-long strip that's wide and rarely crowded. Go for a leisurely stroll, take a dip in the calm water, and if you need a break from the sun, grab lunch at Sip Sip (242-333-3316), a laid-back spot with delicious food (try the conch chili and lobster quesadillas).
How to get there: Most people come to Harbour Island by water taxi from Eleuthera. Then rent a golf cart in the island's only town, Dunmore Town, to joyride over to Pink Sands.
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Barbuda: Palmetto Point Beach
With a population of only 1,500, Barbuda remains a tiny, sleepy, off-the-beaten-path kind of place. If you want to find a breathtaking secluded beach, look no further than Palmetto Point. This 11-mile swath of light-pink sand is so unspoiled that your footprints might be the only ones out there.
How to get there: Palmetto Point stretches along the island's southwestern coast. Many of Barbuda's roads are unpaved and lack signage, so it's best to hire a taxi. Log onto barbudaful.net for a great, up-to-date listing of transportation options.
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Tobago: Pigeon Point Beach
Tobago is Trinidad's little-brother island, and with its diminutive size comes smaller crowds. It's rife with stunning beaches, but Pigeon Point stands out with its pristine sand, warm water, and ample amenities (all without feeling like a tourist trap). If lounging on a perfect beach just isn't exciting enough for your tastes, take a Jet Ski out for a spin or try windsurfing.
How to get there: The beach decorates the island's southwest corner and is part of the Pigeon Point Heritage Park, so it costs a couple of dollars to get in. Check out the island's tourism board site for a list of reputable taxi companies.
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British Virgin Islands: Sandy Spit
Sandy Spit, a tiny outcropping off Jost Van Dyke in the BVIs, is like your screen saver come to life. Topped by only a handful of coconut palms, this islet is encircled completely by blindingly white sand and gradient shades of water. Oh, and the snorkeling is awesome -- think swaying fan coral and schools of tropical fish.
How to get there: Yachting is king in the BVIs. Many travelers charter a boat for several days from a company like the Moorings, and spend a day anchored off Sandy Spit. If you'll be boatless, book a day trip instead. King Charters is a great option that's located on nearby Tortola.
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St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Tobago Cays
Each of the uninhabited Tobago Cays is ringed by tiny coves filled with snow-white sand. The islands themselves are surrounded by a huge reef, which breaks the waves and results in glassy, peaceful water. This area was made for snorkeling, but it's also the aquatic playground of sea turtles, which seem to enjoy the water as much as the people do.
How to get there: Water taxis can be arranged from the nearby islands of Union, Mayreau, and Canouan. Or, tour operators based on St. Vincent or Bequia offer day trips there, too.