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Aruba

This friendly, small island lies off the coast of Venezuela. Descendents living here are Dutch and Spanish, with English widely spoken. Vegetation is similar to a desert and if you are not a cactus or watered frequently, your chance of survival is not good. The island lies out of the hurricane belt and that makes it a good place to visit, July to December. The islanders obtain their water from one of the largest desalination plants in the world. It is a very safe island with little crime.

Beaches are wonderful. Numerous casinos will keep the gamblers happy and the strong winds will excite the windsurfers. For those looking for entertainment there are night clubs and Vegas type shows. I would recommend renting a car for at least part of your visit to explore the island. There are a couple of golf courses, one of them being listed in the top ten of the world.

There are all-inclusive resorts but there is so many fabulous dining choices that I probably would not go that route. There is a meal package offered for an excellent price, which allows you to check out various restaurants. There is a good cross section of hotels and condos to choose from.

I would be happy to return to this island anytime for another visit.

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Bali

A long way to go for rest and sunshine. It is a good idea to stop somewhere enroute to break up the trip. We spent a few days in Singapore. You will experience some very different culture in Bali. If you book a package, most trips include various tours which will expose you to different parts of their life. I did not find the beaches particularly nice. I encountered the most aggressive street hawkers that I have ever seen here.

Most hotels include breakfast in the package. I found the lower end hotels rather musty smelling and felt at least a 4 Star hotel would be the best. There were all kinds of food to be sampled and we really enjoyed trying different dishes. Try the restaurants on the beach as they allow you to pick out your fish fresh and then it is cooked in coconut husks. Taxis and food were reasonably priced. Hiring local guides was also a good bargain as we were not too sure driving was the best course of action.

This trip was a great cultural experience but not my first choice in beaches.

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Cook Islands

Raratonga is one of my favourite places that I have visited. This island of paradise is small, friendly and totally laid back. No one
will approach you to buy anything. You will most likely have to go looking for them. The snorkeling was some of the best that I have done. We rented a motor scooter for the week - you need to buy a license but it is a nice souvenir. They are only open weekdays but they told us to go practice until Monday and return then.

There are some full service hotels but there are many efficiency type lodges where you can do some cooking. There are no high rise hotels here. Expect rooms to be pretty basic. In 10 days we did not try all the restaurants that we wanted to. Local products are reasonable but many items most be imported from New Zealand and are fairly costly. You will find shopping in town where a market is held once a week. New Zealand currency is used. The music is beautiful and one of the best places to experience it first hand is church on Sunday. This is a common pastime for tourists to do.

If Raratonga is not quiet enough for you, fly to one of the out lying islands. We headed to Atituki and there were not too many choices for food or hotels and food was pricey. More wonderful snorkeling though, and a great place to rest.

When you travel to the Cook Islands you do not cross the date line and you are in the same time zone as Hawaii. Some people stop in Hawaii on the way there or on their return. If I had the time and money I would spend part of every year in the Cook Islands.

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Punta Cana

My favourite place in the Dominican Republic. This is a great spot for beach lovers! The white sand extends for miles and we spent hours walking on the beach. There is no town close, so do not expect real life. Resorts were built on a marvelous section of beach. It is a fairly new area so there are many good quality 4 Star hotels to choose from. Various flea markets provide shopping.

There are many day trips - snorkeling, catamarans, fishing and my favourite the Outback Safari. The hotels are pretty much where the entertainment is, so do not go looking anywhere else for it. A magnificent place to unwind. Make sure you choose a great hotel, as that is where you will be for your food and entertainment.

 

 

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