The Caribbean

Going Our Way: Three Caribbean trip ideas for Turks and Caicos, Cozumel or Punta Cana

By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 7, 2010

Who: Zach Husid, 27, of Washington and his girlfriend, Kelly Vaughan, 25

Where: All-inclusive resort in the Caribbean

Why: Romantic getaway, with an emphasis on diving

When: Five or six days in May

Budget: $1,500 to $2,000

"We want to go somewhere with a beautiful beach, but also with scuba diving, snorkeling and other activities. We don't have a big budget, and we figured that going in the off-season would help lower the cost."

Life is all about making choices, and that goes double in the Caribbean. Or triple. Zach Husid and Kelly Vaughan, a scuba-diving, beach-loving, all-inclusive-resort-craving couple, have some decisions to make.

They can have world-class diving. They can have the gorgeous beach. They can even stay in an upscale all-inclusive on a tight budget.

They just can't have all three at once.

Bonaire, for example, is widely considered the best dive destination in the Caribbean, but if you're looking for miles of white-sand beaches, forget it. Turks and Caicos, another highly regarded dive spot, has a laid-back vibe and pretty beaches, but you'd have to scale back considerably on lodging to stay within your budget. Mexico's Cozumel boasts a winning combo of fantastic dive sites and more affordable all-inclusives, but the island isn't particularly known for its beaches. And in the Dominican Republic's Punta Cana, you can have your pick of fancy oceanfront resorts at affordable prices, but the diving isn't as dramatic.

Decisions, decisions. Depending on your priorities, here are three trip suggestions.

-- Turks and Caicos. The island chain of Turks and Caicos, a British territory about 40 miles south of the Bahamas, has one of the longest coral reefs in the world -- and you know what that means. The PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Travel Network, which offers dive trips throughout the world (800-729-7234,, ranks it among the top five most popular scuba destinations in the Caribbean.

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