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Jan31
Perfect and Quick Caribbean Island Escapes

islands.jpgIt's cold and rainy here in Atlanta today. Weather like this makes me yurn for summer days filled with warm weather and bright skies. Weather like this also makes me wish I was sitting on a beach somewhere with an umbrella drink in one hand and a great book in the other.

So, if you're like me and want to head to an island, consider a quick jaunt to the Caribbean. Luckily, the editors of Island Magazine have compiled a list of "Perfect Caribbean Escapes" which can be accomplished in under a week. Just enough time to get your island fix before returning home to shove your walkway.

Here are a few island destinations (some you've heard of and others you haven't) easily accessible in a few days:

Dominica:

Dominica likes to call itself the "Nature Island of the Caribbean, " and this island lives up to its eco-tourist publicity. Lush, tropical rain forest blankets much of the island, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park alone covering about 17,000 acres. In a landscape straight out a hiking boot commercial, trails bordered by large ferns and wild orchids lead to waterfalls, rivers - and one of the world's largest boiling lakes.

Curacao:

The happy marriage of sturdy 17th- and 18th-century Dutch colonial architecture and the colorful palette of Caribbean colors gives the capital of Willemstad a sense of place, European-style, unlike any other in the West Indies ... Curaçao is twice as large as Aruba (but with less than half the number of hotel rooms) ... The landscape resembles Bonaire, both on land (desert, cactus) and underwater (healthy reefs, easy shore diving) ... The coast of Venezuela is only 35 miles to the south ... Amstel beer is brewed locally from distilled seawater (the source of all water for the island) ... Some 20 miles of one-way driving trails and hiking paths crisscross rugged Christoffel National Park at the western end of the island...

Grenada:

Grenada's greatest natural assets are, well ... its natural assets. Beach lovers have their pick of more than 40 ribbons of sand. Grand Anse, with two miles of white sand and sheltered waters, is the best known, but secluded strands abound within easy reach along the east coast - if you have a 4-wheel-drive. And you'll want one on this island of tropical rain forests, waterfalls, mountain lakes - and some of the most rewarding hikes in the Caribbean. One of the rewards? Take a deep breath: The scent of spices - nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and clove - is always in the air.

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