Texans flock to sandy barrier isles like Galveston Island to frolic in the warm waters of the Gulf. You could do the same, or make a visit to the stately homes that grace the island. Or go on a mission to mainland Houston, to tour the impressive NASA Space Center.
Sitting just off the gorgeous Yucatan coast, Cozumel revels in its mythic white-sand beaches and world-class coral reefs. Yet Cozumel is also the last stronghold of the Mayas, who settled the island in 300 A.D. Residents still speak Maya, and sometimes wear traditional Mayan clothing. Nearby stand the great pyramids and temples of their ancestors.
The tiny island of Aruba is the smallest of the ABC Islands, which include Barbados and Curacao. Aruba lies about 15 miles north of Venezuela and has limited vegetation. The landscape consists of cacti and the curiously wind-bent divi divi trees. You may also be interested in climbing atop some of the huge boulders and exploring some of its caves. Of course, the main attractions to this island are its magnificent beaches against the turquoise waters full of spectacular marine life, which lure scores of sunbathers, snorkelers, and divers each year to the island.
Though small, Aruba has room for some luxury as well. If you travel along Palm Beach, you will find the several miles of this white sand lined with a string of hotels with glitzy casinos, restaurants and exotic boutiques. The crystal-clear waters of this beach are ideal for swimming and all kinds of watersports. However, if you prefer to stay dry, you are more than welcome to enjoy Aruba''s exotic underwater world from the glass bottom boats or on a submarine excursion.
If you are a veteran Caribbean traveler, Curacao is a good choice for you. At the beaches, you will see a range from snowy white sand to volcanic pebbles. Most of Curacao''s beauty lies around the island in its coral reefs. These coral reefs are so beautiful that they are drawing in an increasing number of divers and snorkelers.
The original Dutch settlers of Curacao did well in bringing a bit of home with them. This is seen in the appearance of the colonial buildings painted in shades of yellow, orange and blue. But no one can mistake this island as a part of the Amsterdam as the climate is dryer, the soil is barren and cacti thrive easily.
The main attractions of this island are the historic Dutch architecture, shopping, nightlife, diving and snorkeling, nature areas, caves, swimming, the Sea Aquarium, casinos, and restaurants. With all the unique culture and varied attractions Curacao has a pleasant mixture of all the best things in the Caribbean. This island is definitely good for more than laying on the beach.
With a beach for each day of the year, Antigua is a water-lover's delight. For shopping and feasting on local seafood, the capital city of St. John's offers many choices on Redcliffe Quay. Or you might motor around the coast to historic English Harbour, a superb restoration of the 18th century dockyard where Admiral Lord Nelson once ruled the British fleet.
Tortola, the tiny island that starts the long crescent of the Lesser Antilles, is a fragment of Britain, complete with right-hand drive automobiles, High Teas and soft-spoken graciousness to visitors. Wander through genteel, laid-back Road Town, then select one of the marvelous beaches, and enjoy the most un-British eternal sunshine.
Originally a fort built by the U.S. Army in 1838 during the Second Seminole War, Fort Lauderdale welcomes visitors with broad, palm-fringed beaches and an easy pace of life. Stroll along fashionable Las Olas Boulevard with its stylish shops or enjoy a sightseeing cruise through the city''s canals, boasting more waterways than Venice. Or, venture out and explore the cosmopolitan city of Palm Beach, or the wildlife sanctuary of the Everglades.