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The Oakland Tribune (CA)
Caribbean Isles Vacation Choices
BY ELAINE WALKER
June 23, 2003
WHEN Texas guidebook authors Paris Permenter and John Bigley launched their romance travel Web site Valentine's Day, 2000, more than half the listings featured resorts and boutique properties in the Caribbean islands.
Proximity helped. Some Caribbean islands, like Jamaica, Cozumel and Grand Cayman, are only a couple hours flight from Dallas and Houston, easy targets for a long weekend jaunt.
But the main reason the islands are so well represented is sun, sand and sea.
"So many people equate romance with the islands, with tropical flowers and lots of sunshine," says Permenter. "The Caribbean has that, plus diverse cultures. You have French and Spanish and Dutch and English heritages, so the food and language and music and art varies from island to island.
"And most people don't realize the topography varies from island to island. On Jamaica and St. Lucia you have mountains and lush vegetation, but Aruba is a desert. So the activities available on each island vary as well."
Permenter and Bigley launched www.lovetripper.com to complement their 27 travel guides, 20 of which focus on the Caribbean.
The site, recommended for romantic travel information by National Geographic Traveler's online edition and Yahoo Internet Life magazine, has more than 900 pages of destinations around the world for weddings and honeymoons and romantic getaways.
It also includes information about requirements and regulations for getting married abroad.
When planning a trip to an area that stretches from south of Florida to the coast of Venezuela, it's best to do your homework.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization, which represents 33 countries, has a wealth of information. Call (800) 356-9999.
We asked Permenter for a quick primer on the Caribbean. Here are her tips.
If you are interested in:
Duty-free shopping. The historic district of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands; call (800) 372-USVI or visit www.usvitourism.vi
Nightlife. San Juan, Puerto Rico, (800) 866-7827, www.prtourism.com
Family vacations. All-inclusive resorts in Jamaica, (800) 233-4JTB, www.jamaicatravel.com and the Bahamas (800) BAHAMAS, www.bahamas.com
Scuba diving. Cayman Islands, (800) 346-3313, www.caymanislands.ky; Bonaire, www.infobonaire.com; and Anguilla, (800) 553-4939, www.anguilla-vacation.com.
Birding. Puerto Rico, (800) 866-7827, www.prtourism.com; Dominican Republic, www.dominicana.com.do; and Trinidad and Tobago, (868) 623-6022, www.visitTNT.com.
Golfing. Puerto Rico, (800) 866-7827, www.prtourism.com; Jamaica (800) 233-4JTB, www.jamaicatravel.com and Bahamas, (800) BAHAMAS, www.bahamas.com
Budget travel. Bahamas, (800) BAHAMAS, www.bahamas.com Jamaica (800) 233-4JTB, www.jamaicatravel.com and Dominican Republic, www.dominicana.com.do
Information on all islands is available at www.caribtourism.com or www.doitcaribbean.com