Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Hawaiian Islands

The legendary and world famous resort of Hawaii is one of the most prestigious places for recreation throughout the world. Hawaii located in the heart of the Pacific, are U.S. state and covers an area about 17 000 square kilometers.

Wet and pleasant climate areas, savanna and many tropical forests attract tourists from many countries. The largest city of Hawaii - a Hilo, Kailua, Kaneohe. City Honolulu is considered to be the center of Hawaii famous for many island resorts, unique culture, dances, national dress and traditions. The magnificent nature of the tropics, warm and clear ocean, combined with the hospitality of the indigenous people have made this place a dream of many people in the world. A Hawaiian "aloha", which means greeting and farewell as well, and the expression of friendly sentiments, knows almost everyone.

The history of the islands consists of many thousands of government of various nations. It is known that the Polynesians originally inhabited the islands. After the discovery of the islands by James Cook in 1778, whom the islanders had eaten as a defeated enemy, the islands were part of the kingdom. In 1994 Hawaii became a republic. And 1959 - the 15th state of the USA.

The most famous and populous of the Hawaiian Islands - the island of Oahu. Here, at each corner is full of attractions: the capital of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, Hawaii's royal Iolani Palace with a statue of the founder of the royal Kamehameha dynasty. It is here and we are all aware of the same name the film base of Pearl Harbor.

Besides, on the island of Oahu there are active volcanoes Mauna Loa and Kilauea, eruption of which can sometimes be viewed by the tourists. Equally attracted the attention of visitors of the island and the extinct volcano Mauna Kea.

In the city of Hilo is the Lyman Museum, which is known for rare and interesting exhibits of Hawaiian culture.

Hawaiian Islands are the glory of places where the best beaches in the world for diving and windsurfing.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Caribbean Hurricane Season

From May to late December, prices for Caribbean vacations drop, and the bargains get so tempting one almost forgets the H-word.

Officially, hurricane season stretches from June 1st to November 30th, and hits not only the Caribbean islands but also parts of Mexico, Florida and the Texas coast. Within that time frame, August to October are peak months. The official Caribbean hurricane season occurs from 1st June through to 30th November but the hurricanes are not evenly distributed across the region during this time.

Although there's not really a totally safe zone, the southern ABC islands -- Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, in the Dutch Caribbean near Venezuela -- are considered the best bets. Also, Trinidad and Tobago are below the hurricane belt.
Cruise ships are a practical way to visit the Caribbean during the risky season, as they can simply re-route if a storm threatens.
Regular travel insurance comes in many varieties -- such as Trip Cancellation or Interruption-- and some policies may also offer protection against weather; check with your travel agent or insurance company.

Once May rolls around, low rates beckon at resorts in the Caribbean and on Mexico's Caribbean coast (Cancun and the Riviera Maya) ; yet every few years, one of these popular spots is pummeled by a tropical storm. Florida too is vulnerable: on the Gulf Coast, on the Atlantic coast, in the Keys in the south; even tourist powerhouse Orlando -- in the middle of the state-- gets an occasional blast.

Even though the Caribbean hurricane season is from June through to November, there are still times when hurricanes are unusually quiet. If you visit the Caribbean in July, you'll be happy to know that hurricanes rarely effect the region. October has by far the largest number of hurricanes. The second most frequent occurrence for hurricanes is in June.

Hurricanes occasionally form in May so don't be fooled into believing that they can't form outside these dates.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Dominican Republic Luxurious Resorts...

The Dominican Republic is a land of contrasts – the physical kind, like the highest peak and the lowest point in the Caribbean, and the more metaphorical kind, like that between the urban street life of Santo Domingo and the rural villages only a short drive away. Santo Domingo, or ‘La Capital’ as it’s typically called, is to Dominicans what New York is to Americans, a collage of cultures; or what Havana is to Cubans, a vibrant beating heart that fuels the entire country. It’s also a living museum, offering the sight of New World firsts scattered around the charming cobblestone streets of the Zona Colonial.

The second-largest country in the Caribbean and one of the most affordable, the Dominican Republic also offers diverse culture and a unique Latin flavor.

Must-see sights
# Beaches: Located on the easternmost coast, Punta Cana offers a 20-mile stretch of pristine white sand.
# Sports fans: Watch pro baseball players practice in the off-season from October to January.
# Visit the historic district of Santo Domingo, where shops and cafйs line cobblestone streets lit by gas lamps.

The Dominican Republic is home to the largest all-inclusive resort industry in the world. This type of resort typically includes your accommodations, meals, beverages, and activities all in one price.

The past 10 years have been kind to the tourism industry here. The island was once was a well-kept secret, known only to surfers and travelers trying to get by on the cheap. But that time is over - now there are thousands of resorts and hotels in the Dominican Republic. Every major city on the country has plenty of each – the eastern beach of Punta Cana is the latest to delve headlong into the burgeoning tourist industry.

Santo Domingo, Boca Chica, Punta Cana, Playa Dorada and Cabarate are the main areas to stay on the island, each one offering something different to the traveler. Santa Domingo is the sprawling capital, alive with restaurants and bars and historical monuments. For many it may be a bit too much, especially those looking for a more relaxing vacation, but the activity in the city is as infectious as it is hectic. Bound into many itineraries as merely a day trip, Santo Domingo misses out on a lot of the tourists – which is too bad because you'll find a number of the quirkiest and hippest hotels in the Dominican Republic in the capital city. Casinos and voluminous bars give you something to do at night when you stay at the Sofitel Nicolas Ovando or the pink-tinged Renaissance Jaragua Hotel and Casino.

The Dominican Republic resorts here are not at the same high standard as many of the other areas, but decent values and beautiful beaches abound for those who explore Boca Chica.

Punta Cana is the new hot place to be for all inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic. Coco palms sway as pale tourists attempt surfing lessons. Untouched beaches are all along the coast. Here you'll find the highest grade of luxury available in Dominican Republic resorts – there are 25,000 rooms for rent around Punta Cana. The fact that they are almost invariably sold out months ahead of time should tell you everything you need to know about this scenic area of the island.

Playa Dorada is back on the northern coast of the country, and where a handful of the very first Dominican Republic resorts were built. The beautiful Gran Ventana Beach Resort is here, and a fine deal. But the definition of luxury is found here in the boutique hotel called Casa Colonial Beach and Spa. Stucco walls, fine cuisine and a rooftop deck to enjoy your rum punch distinguish this all-suite treasure as the pinnacle of hotels in the Dominican Republic.

The final, and for many, most likable spot on the island is the city of Cabarete. Along with nearby Sosua, this is the place to stay if you want to play on the beach all day and in the clubs all night. Somewhat overlooked for years as merely a surfer hangout, there are still a number of independently owned, quality hotels and inns for those who venture to the north. Fewer and far between are the all inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic from which the country derives its fame, and that alone is a selling point for many.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Islands of the Bahamas...

The Bahamas are an archipelago of about 700 islands and 2,400 uninhabited islets and cays lying 50 mi off the east coast of Florida. Only about 30 of the islands are inhabited; the most important is New Providence (80 sq mi; 207 sq km), on which the capital, Nassau, is situated. Other islands include Grand Bahama, Abaco, Eleuthera, Andros, Cat Island, and San Salvador (or Watling's Island).

Blessed with the perfect location—less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida; the perfect climate—averaging a little over 75 degrees; and the perfect environment—crystal clear turquoise blue waters and pearly white sandy beaches, the Islands of the Bahamas is the perfect travel destination for your wedding, siesta, party, honeymoon, or family vacation. Enjoy luxurious all-inclusive Bahamian resorts, Bahama fun filled tours and a variety of Bahamas vacation activities in the Caribbean's most popular sub-tropical location.

The Islands of the Bahamas is unique with their individual character and charm--and there is some truth to this.

Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas, located on New Providence Island offers a variety of experiences from non-stop excitement to peaceful relaxation. Nassau is the center of industry, commerce and communications and presents a special charm which captures the elegance of the old world while at the same time incorporating up-to-the-minute modern features. Here one will find well-preserved colonial buildings, exciting attractions, duty free shopping, one of the largest straw markets in the Caribbean, thrilling land and sea sports, pristine beaches, delightful cuisine and unique cultural activities.

New Providence is home to Nassau--the nation's capital is the center of industry and commerce in the Bahamas and serves an interesting blend of old world colonial architecture, vast straw markets, and an abundance of people combined with sophisticated new world luxury reminiscent of the 007 movies.

Linked to Nassau by bridge is the famed Paradise Island--home to luxurious beaches, a world class golf course, the most plush hotels in the Caribbean, gigantic casinos and of course world class entertainment.

Approximately 360 financial insti- tutions are licensed to do banking and financial trust representation in The Bahamas. The country is the leading off-shore financial centre in the world.
The Bahamian dollar is the national currency. It is equivalent to, and interchangeable with, the American dollar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Caribbean wedding traditions

Weddings are fairly casual affairs, with the bride and groom dressed in their finest. The bride wears a veil and walks to the groom's house, then they walk together to the church with the whole town turning out to congratulate them. Anyone is welcome to the wedding. Only honored guests receive written invitations. The bride's father or both parents give her away, and the groom has no best man.

The traditional wedding cake is called a Black Cake, a sort of rum fruitcake recipe passed down through generations of the bride's family. The reception can go on all night, and the happy couple usually spends a week honeymooning, either right in town or on another island.

The Caribbean wedding traditions are really interesting and exciting due to the fact that many Caribbean islands follow the wedding traditions of the Americans while the others create a peculiar blend of the African and European cultures which is typically Caribbean and could be found nowhere in the world.

The customs actually vary from island to island. But a common custom enables the bride and the groom to dress in their finest clothes. Then the bride and the groom head towards the church either from the bride's place or from the groom's place. Then the church bells ring in order to announce the wedding to the island. Usually the villagers line the street to view the bride and the groom walking to the church and it is compulsory for every onlooker to comment on the bride and the groom's clothes.

The guests are usually invited by the word of mouth, only in some exceptional honored cases, invitations are hand written. The bride's father or both the parents escort her to the aisle with her face covered by a veil. At the end of the ceremony, the groom lifts the veil and kisses his new bride, which is an amalgamation of catholic and African traditions.

The food served to the guests include typical food of the island like curried goat, spicy chicken jerky and fried plantains. The Wedding cake is prepared in the traditional manner. It is the traditional black cake, the recipe of which has passed down from generation to generation. The cake is made of flour, brown sugar, fresh eggs, butter and cherries, raisins, prunes, currants are added to it. The cake is served with Hard Rum Sauce. The dried fruits added to the cake are soaked in rum in a crock pot for a period of two weeks to one year. The guests are also treated with sweets.After the wedding ceremony the newly wed couple leave for honeymoon or spend a week at home in absolute privacy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Caribbean Carnival

Caribbean Carnival is the term used for a number of events that take place in many of the Caribbean islands annually. Carnival is a colorful and exciting event celebrated throughout the Caribbean region. Each island has its unique method of celebrating Carnival, and the dates of carnival vary throughout the islands.

The Caribbean's Carnivals all have several common themes based on folklore, culture, and religion, not on amusement rides. Carnival tradition is based on a number of disciplines including: "Playing Mas"/Masquerade; Calypso Music and crowning a Calypso King or Monarch; Panorama (Steel Band Competition); Jouvert morning; and a number of other traditions.

In many parts of the world, where Catholic Europeans set up colonies and entered into slave trade, carnival took root. Today Carnival celebrations are found throughout the Caribbean. Traditions of the cultures have come together and especially African dance and music traditions transformed the early European carnival traditions in the Americas. Important to the Caribbean festival arts are the ancient African traditions of parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks. These traditions were believed to bring good fortune, to heal problems and chill out angry spirits. Caribbean carnival traditions also borrow from the African culture the tradition of creating pieces of sculpture, masks and costumes. For the Caribbean people carnival became an important way to express their rich cultural traditions. It takes many months of coming up with a theme or overall concept and developing costumes for the dancers. Lots of creativity, energy and patience is put into work such as welding, painting, sewing, gluing, applying feathers, sequins and glitter. Carnival groups, entertained by music orchestras, parade and dance wearing costumes depicting a common theme.

Carnival Celebrations

When Carnival first began it was celebrated from December 26 until Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Nowadays Carnival festivities and activities are being held year-round in the Caribbean. The dates on which Carnival celebrations such as; music competitions, festivals, concerts, street 'jump-up's', beauty pageants, balls, parades etc. take place may vary from country to country, from island to island.

For days, sometimes weeks, the people of the Caribbean express themselves socially and artistically and sheer joy with visitors from all over the world. Everyone, including the spectators, is part of the celebrations.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Food plays a central role in family life and traditions in the islands. Cooks spend days preparing menu offerings for holidays, festivals, and special family gatherings. The cuisine of the Caribbean is like a cultural patchwork quilt. Each “patch” or dish represents the plentiful bounty of the islands' lush tropical vegetation, combined with the one or more diverse groups of people that have lived there, including the original Carib and Arawak Indians, followed by the Spanish, British, French, and Dutch settlers, as well as Africans, who have had a profound influence on the food and cultural traditions of the islands. Later followed Indian and Chinese settlers, and travelers from the United States.

Caribbean recipes combine African, Amerindian, French, East Indian, and Spanish styles of cooking. These traditions are a reflection of the early settlers of the region. Rice is the staple of a Caribbean meal and isn't complete without a generous helping. It is eaten with a variety of sauces and beans. You'll find the rice on each island may be a little different. Some season their rice, or add peas and other touches - like coconut. Sometimes the rice is yellow, but other times it is part of a dish.

Jamaican , Haitian, Guadeloupean, and other French Caribbean islands enjoy goat meat. Goat water stew has been chosen as the official national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. It is a tomato-based stew, made with goat meat, breadfruit, green pawpaw (papaya), and dumplings (also known as "droppers").

Another Caribbean recipe favorite is called "Cook-up", or Pelau. This dish combines meats like chicken, beef, pig tail, saltfish, and vegetables with rice and pigeon peas.

Seafood is one of the most common Caribbean recipe delicacies in the islands due in part to their geographic location. Each island will likely have its own specialty. Some prepare lobster, while others prefer certain types of fish. Barbados is known for its "flying fish," while Trinidad and Tobago is known for its cascadura fish and crab.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Caribbeans...

With over 35 unique destinations, the Caribbean provides a wide variety of tropical isles for all kinds of vacationers. Beach-goers will be delighted with the white sand beaches in most of the Caribbean; those in search of waves will want to head to beaches on the eastern side of those islands closest to the Atlantic, while snorkelers may choose the calmer waters of beaches facing the Caribbean Sea. There are many other ways to enjoy the warm waters off the shores of these beautiful islands, including surfing, sailing, scuba diving, windsurfing, and swimming with dolphins....

Caribbean Island....

* Anguilla
* Antigua and Barbuda
* Aruba
* Bahamas
* Barbados
* Bonaire
* British Virgin Islands
* Cayman Islands
* Curacao
* Dominica
* Dominican Republic
* Grenada
* Guadeloupe
* Haiti
* Jamaica
* Martinique
* Montserrat
* Puerto Rico
* Saba
* St. Barthelemy - St. Barths
* St. Eustatius
* St. Kitts and Nevis
* St. Lucia
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin
* St. Vincent and Grenadines
* Trinidad and Tobago
* Turks and Caicos
* US Virgin Islands

On land, the larger towns provide excellent shopping opportunities, lush rainforests are home to hundreds of plant and bird species, and golf courses and horse stables provide some other activities. The islands also range in size and popularity; some attract cruise ships, shoppers, or families, while others are small and secluded — perfect for newlyweds on their honeymoon. All in all, there are about 50 islands in the Caribbean, ranging from small coral outcrops to large nations.