Eastern Caribbean

Nassau, Bahamas. The Straw Market is a Nassau tradition, and you'll find all sorts of souvenirs on sale, from thatched purses to hair-braiding. If you'd rather just spend the day as a guest at the showy, 34-acre Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, consider purchasing a day pass. Beach lovers will want to hit Paradise Island, where you can find all manner of water-sports rentals and eateries.


Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos. This small island chain's claim to fame is its powdery white sandy beaches, and position on a major coral reef. So watersports such as diving, snorkeling and catamaran excursions are popular. Lined with pastel-painted wood buildings, Cockburn Town contains the governor's house, old churches, the public library and a small plaza containing the Columbus Monument, which claims that the explorer landed there in 1492.


St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., Charlotte Amalieis easily walkable and a duty-free shopping mecca (although bargains are not always as good as they seem). Magens Bay wins praise as one of the Caribbean's top beaches, but for a true snorkeling adventure, take the ferry over to St. Johns.


Tortola, British Virgin Islands. It's all about beaches and watersports in this gorgeous corner of the Caribbean, although hiking and shopping are also popular. Take the ferry to Virgin Gorda and snorkel and swim among the prehistoric boulders that make up "The Baths." Or head over to Jost van Dyke and indulge at some of the region's most famous beach bars. (We like Foxy's and Soggy Dollar.)


San Juan, Puerto Rico. Visit Old San Juan's most historic monuments, particularly El Morro, with original sections that date back to the 16th century. If you have longer in port, don't miss El Yunque, the only rain forest designated as a U.S. National Forest where you can see numerous waterfalls, ferns and wildflowers along the marked trails.


St. Maarten/St. Martin. You get two cultures for one stop, as the Dutch and French sections of the dual island have retained their heritage. Philipsburg on the Dutch side is the hub, with streets crammed with duty-free jewelry shops, electronics (bargaining recommended) and liquor. Marigot is the capital of the French St. Martin, and is filled with designer boutiques and fabulous restaurants, bistros and cafes. Adventure junkies (or aviation enthusiasts) won't want to miss Sunset Bar & Grill, which sits at the end of the runway at Princess Juliana International Airport. St. Maarten is also a good jumping off point for day trips to Anguilla, St. Bart's and Saba.