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REAL DEALS

Caribbean this season costs less, still thrilling

Dominica brands itself the Caribbean's 'Nature Island,' and Secret Beach, near Portsmouth, offers its own evidence. Dominica brands itself the Caribbean's "Nature Island," and Secret Beach, near Portsmouth, offers its own evidence. (JILL LAWLESS/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / May 13, 2007

As the weather warms up across the United States, the Caribbean begins to offer its hottest deals, reminding travelers that even in summer the weather is pleasant on the islands and that all the amenities are still there. It's just that the crowds are smaller and the prices are lower.

Dominica has everything from natural beauty to great snorkeling and diving to something called the Wacky Rollers Adventure Park . "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest " was filmed largely on this West Indian island, which will be the location for the new CBS reality series , "Pirate Master ." The Tamarind Tree has a six-night Pirates Package, highlighted by five days of tours and excursions, including a visit to all the movie sites, with the director's driver as your guide. In addition, the offer includes all meals, service charges, tax, and airport transfers. Prices through Aug. 31 start at $1,615 a person.

Visit tamarindtreedominica .com or call 767-449-7395 . For information on the island, go to dis coverdominica.com .

An example of how dramatically prices drop in the off-season : A four-bedroom villa at Villa C KUH on a hillside in St. Martin lists for $5,200 a week through Dec. 14. From Dec. 15-Jan. 5, the price is $15,000, and Jan. 6-April 15, it is $7,800.

For information on this and other villa vacations, visit Newport, R.I.,-based Wimco at wimco .com or call 866-483-4071 .

Caribbean cruises sail year round and it's hard not to find a bargain. Surfing the Internet, I was able to find a five-night western Caribbean sailing on the Celebrity Century beginning at $399 at Travelocity.com, and a seven-night eastern Caribbean cruise on the Caribbean Princess beginning at $599 at CruiseBrothers.com . Note, though, that the best prices are often on selected dates in September and October.

Bonaire celebrates Dive Into Summer June 1-Sept. 30 with a variety of offerings for divers, families, and solo travelers. One example: The Black Durgon Inn's Diver's Paradise apartment package includes seven nights' accommodation in a superior apartment for $303 per person.

Visit blackdurgon.com . For all packages and event information, visit bonairediveintosummer.com or call 800-BONAIRE (800-266-2473) .

The 138-room Buccaneer on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, where you don't need a passport, is celebrating its 60th anniversary . A seven-night Family Special, available through Dec. 19, includes two rooms, spa treatments, golf greens fees or tennis (your choice of two per package), chilled champagne upon arrival, a $100 dining credit, daily breakfast, taxes, water activities, a children's camp, and a cocktail party. Prices begin at $2,982. A five-night package, which omits the dining credit, begins at $2,072.

Visit thebuccaneer.com/spec ials.htm or call 800-255-3881 .

Perhaps a 4 1/2-bedroom Barbados estate would be to your liking. Calliaqua , part of the Sugar Hill resort community , offers tennis facilities and guest privileges at Suga Suga Beach , which include restaurant, spa, beach amenities, and water sports. With Altman Villa Rentals' Calliaqua package , guests pay for six nights and stay seven. Also included are airport transfers for up to eight people, a car rental, and dinner for eight the first night, prepared and served by your private cook. The price through Dec. 15 is $9,185.

Visit aaaltman.com/calliaqua package.php or call 866-360-5292 .

A reader's view
We recently advised visitors to Tijuana, Mexico, not to drive from San Diego but to take a tour bus or walk across the border, then take a taxi. Charles Hartjes of Medford adds this suggestion: "One can park at the parking lot [ near the McDonald's at the border in San Ysidro, Calif.] and take the bus to Tijuana. I believe it only costs about $2. It drops you off right on Revolucion Avenue. It runs approximately every 15 minutes. I used to walk it but the bus is the way to go."

New N.E. cruise
The Grand New England Cruise is a new sailing from American Cruise Lines , departing from Providence and, depending upon the cruise, harbor-hopping to such ports as Bar Harbor, Rockland, and Camden in Maine, Newport and Block Island in Rhode Island , and Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Cruises range from six to 14 nights, with prices from $2,860-$7,890. The fleet comprises four ships that at most accommodate 100 passengers, and New England sailings are June-September.

Visit americancruiselines.com or call 800-814-6880 .

Web world
The online companion to the annual summer Yankee Travel Guide to New England can be found at newengland.com . The site lists events and attractions, provides a forum for insider suggestions, offers driving itineraries, maps, and podcasts, and has several interactive features.

Love that seaweed
In Victoria, British Columbia, the Oswego Hotel & Sapphire Day Spa's For the Love of Seaweed package, available June 8-Sept. 30 , is highlighted by a night's accommodation, transportation to Sooke for a two-hour Seaweed Tour with Vancouver Island's Seaweed Lady, a trip to Sapphire Day Spa for a seaweed-inspired lunch and a West Coast Sea Salt foot soak, seaweed body wrap, massage, and seaweed facial, plus a tapas dinner at the hotel's O Bistro . The cost is $445 per person in a studio room until June 30, and from $498 after July 1 .

Visit oswegovictoria.com or call 866-602-1447.

Way up there
If you want to get away from it all, consider the Arctic Odyssey, a 10-night trip that takes you from Canada's new territory of Nunavut, into the Northwest Territories and west to the United States and Alaska's Inside Passage. The trip explores the cultures, history, and scenery of the vast area. The price of $4,239 includes airfare from Ottawa to Iqaluit (Nunavut's capital) , Rankin Inlet, Yellowknife (the Northwest Territories' capital) , Blachford Lake , Whitehorse (capital of the Yukon), and Edmonton (Alberta's capital). Also included are accommodations, a tour in Iqaluit, and a train excursion to Skagway, Alaska. Departures are year round.

Visit the Great Canadian Travel Co. at topoftheworldtours.com or call 800-661-3830 .

Cape Cod adventure
The Inn at the Oaks in Eastham has a Family Adventure Package that, in addition to a three- night stay, includes bike rentals and a kayak tour. Also featured are a full breakfast and afternoon tea each day, miniature golf, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream cones for the family. The package, available through May 25 , begins at $439 for two or $799 for four. The inn is across from the Cape Cod National Seashore visitors center.

Call 877-255-1886 or visit inn attheoaks.com .

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at car penter@globe.com

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