Caribbean Vacation Sampler -2
Cayman condos & villas and Aruba Sunshine
Grand Cayman has one of the best beaches in all the West Indies, the dramatic Seven Mile Beach (which honest locals readily admit is only 5-1/2 miles long.) Grand Cayman, a crown colony with an extremely stable government, enjoys the status as one of the world's great tax havens.
Cayman is often referred to as the "Super Bowl of Scuba" because of its lush cora1 reefs and seemingly unlimited visibility.
Its North Wall is ranked as one of the Caribbean's best dives, and Sting Ray City--where sting rays can be hand fed and stroked--is one of the most exciting anywhere.
Topside, Cayman is known for two equally unusual tourist attractions. The Turtle Farm, a research facility filled with hundreds of sea turtles of all sizes, and Hell, a small village which takes its name from the large formation of strange rock outcroppings that look like the moon's surface.
When Seven Mile Beach is crowded, much less used beaches can be found near the town of West Bay. Less known to many visitors are the beaches at Cayman Kai and Rum Point, about 45 minutes by car from Seven Mile Beach. It's a short hop from the ferry dock at the Hyatt resort.
Cayman could almost be considered condo city since there are more condominiums than hotels on the prime beachfronts. Condos are generally larger than the hotel rooms, cost considerably less and boast the advantage of full kitchen facilities. Villas, apartments and cottages are also available.
Aruba, Where The Sun Always Shines
Situated just 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba's interior is almost desert-like, but its pure powdery beaches are a true oasis, kept cool by the constant trade winds. At just 12 degrees above the equator, Aruba enjoys a warm, stable climate, making it one of the best places for an ideal winter escape.
Aruba exudes a wonderful Dutch charm with orange-colored roofs reminiscent of Holland. Dutch is still the official language, but the one mostly commonly heard is Papiamento, a blend of Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Indian. Fortunately for visitors, everyone also speaks English.
The windward coast is Aruba's most striking spot. There is a magnificent natural bridge, and this is also home of the island's best secluded beach, Andicouri. But the best beach is Palm Beach on the lee coast, where the hotels, casinos, and restaurants are centered.
Just beyond hotel row is Malmok Beach, Aruba's premier snorkeling and shelling spot. Hotel rates average about 1/4-1/3 less than on other comparable islands, but the biggest bargain is the shopping district on Nassaustraat in the city of Oranjestad. All items are sold duty free and without any annoying sales tax. You'11 find a wide variety of goods, from cameras, perfumes and watches to fine Delftware and Limoges and Dutch cheese.
Don't miss the excellent dining in the small restaurants in Oranjestad. You'll find a restaurant for just about every nationality imaginable, reflecting Aruba's melting pot heritage. Of particular note is the Indonesian rijsttafel with its extensive array of highly spiced dishes.