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The Caribbean brings to mind crystal clear waters, easy living, and romantic thoughts of pirates hiding their treasures during the discovery of the New World. A Caribbean beach vacation promises rum punch, hibiscus in the hair, and relaxing on some of the best beaches around. Add to that most Caribbean islands' proximity to the United States, and it is easy to understand why it is such a popular destination. This popularity makes it all the more difficult and important to find pieces of this paradise that are unmarred by overdevelopment. Look around, though, there are plenty such gems left. In the British Virgin Islands (BVI, to those “in the know”) The Baths at Virgin Gorda offer silky, deep pinkish gray sands, and water that no words or photos can quite capture. The Baths can get crowded, but for good reason: swimming and snorkeling are excellent all year, and locals on Virgin Gorda are among the Caribbean's friendliest. In Puerto Rico, Culebra Island and its beach, Playa Flamenco, offers sand, sun, and serenity. Culebra is an island located halfway between Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and it has been a nature reserve for years, leaving its natural habitat and beaches in excellent condition for snorkelers, divers and birdwatchers. A hideaway of the rich and famous – or at least the chic – is Englishman's Bay on the island of Tobago. Stylish boutique hotels don't mar the escapist effect of Englishman's Bay's white sand beach that is surrounded by a palm tree jungle. Like many of the best beaches in the Caribbean, this beach is secluded and good for year-round swimming and snorkeling.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|