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The Western Caribbean - A Tropical Playground
by Roy Witman © 2008

Situated between Cuba and Belize, in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, are three little islands with big reputations for adventure. If departing from the U.S. and traveling through the Gulf of Mexico, cruise passengers would quickly find themselves approaching Cozumel, Mexico; the Cayman Islands and Jamaica. Let's visit each one and discover why these ports always rank high on vacation and honeymoon wish lists.

Cozumel, Mexico

Located off the eastern shore of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Cozumel boasts an annual average temperature of 81 degrees Fahrenheit. With white- sand beaches and water that seems to swirl from aqua to azure blue, the island is home to some of the best beaches in the world.

Playa Uvas Beach is the preferred location for sunning for many vacationers. More than sand and surf, Playa Uvas has its own restaurant and lounge offering something cool to sip on a hot day. With covered dining as well as a shaded, grassy area that offers an escape from the heat, this beach caters to those who expect the best. You can even get a massage! Comfortable beds with crisp white sheets are arranged under canopies right by the shore for a relaxation experience you won't soon forget.

But Cozumel is more than just beaches. Deep- sea fishing offers the thrill of reeling in huge marlin, sailfish and even barracuda that brings an adrenaline rush which leaves you begging for more. Avid scuba divers (including the late Jacques Cousteau!) love these waters and return year after year to experience the enormous variety of sea life found here. Massive sea turtles, brilliantly colored fish and some of the most interesting marine plants in the world are within reach. From exhilarating ATV jungle safaris to windsurfing and more, Cozumel will leave you breathless.

The Cayman Islands

Comprised of three islands, this colorful grouping of hotspots is vibrant, lively and one of the most sought-after scuba retreats in the world. Whether you choose Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman, you're in for more fun on, in and under the water than you've ever imagined!

Crystal-clear water, two local shipwrecks, an abundance of coral reefs, and a huge variety of plant and animal marine life make the Cayman Islands an elite destination. Scuba divers from around the globe flock to the Caymans every year because the sights are always changing.

From Cayman Turtle Farm (with over 16,000 turtles of different varieties) to Stingray City (a fascinating way to view hundreds of stingrays in their natural environment) to the spectacular show of naturally forming blowholes, Grand Cayman is a true delight.


A wonderful contradiction of mountains and beaches, Jamaica is eclectic, interesting and a world of fun! From championship golf to scuba diving in Montego Bay, you'll wonder why you never came here before.

Ever been river rafting on an island? You can on Jamaica! Bamboo rafting is a prime pastime in Montego Bay. Hop aboard and hold on tight as you're whisked away down one of three rivers. Rather dive deeper into your vacation? Scuba is a favorite pursuit here. From canyon and wall diving to exploration of the protected waters of Montego Bay Marine Park to the nearby shipwrecks, it's a wonderland just waiting to unfold before you.

At day's end, head out and partake of an active nightlife filled with fine dining and exciting discos. Dance till dawn then start your adventure all over again!

With balmy breezes, bright sunshine and warm temperatures; you'll love soaking up the rays and the scenery of the western Caribbean. Many cruises offer itineraries that call on all three of these ports. Check with your favorite travel agent today for more details and pricing on this family-friendly, exhilarating destination.

Read more about Caribbean Cruises.