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The islands of the Caribbean

were formed by massive upheavals caused by earthquakes and volcanoes. Some islands are coral-limestone mountains pushed up from the sea bottom, while others are mountains of volcanic ash with fertile soil and rainforests.

Coral islands, such as St. Thomas, Sint Maarten, Antigua and Barbados, are surrounded by reefs teeming with exotic tropical fish. They are generally less mountainous, have a drier climate and less fertile soil than volcanic islands. Vegetation on coral islands is thick, low-growing, hardy and drought-resistant. Water can be scarce, forcing certain islands to purchase water from others, practice water conservation, collect rainwater and grow fewer crops. Coral islands have naturally protected harbors and superb white sand beaches, attracting trade and tourism.

Luxuriant tropical vegetation and steep mountainous terrain are found only on those islands formed by volcanic eruption, such as Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis. Volcanic fumaroles are nature’s pipelines, transporting water and minerals from the depths of the earth to irrigate the craggy slopes of fertile soil. Mist continually clings to the tallest peaks, producing daily rain showers that range in force from a sprinkle to a deluge. The rain dissipates quickly and dries in the heat of the tropical sun, but it creates the dense rainforests, which make up the hothouses of the Caribbean.

Many varieties of plants were imported to the islands by settlers from all parts of the globe, anxious to recreate an atmosphere reminiscent of home. Plants grow so well in the rainforest that they become almost unrecognizable – taller, broader, greener and producing more fruits. Small garden variety ferns become giant trees, flowering bushes produce a profusion of blossoms and hothouse plants grow wild.

Cruisers should plan a hike into the rainforest on at least one of the volcanic islands, arranging for a guide who knows the pathways and can point out interesting plants encountered along the route. To truly appreciate the rainforest, you should discover the primeval atmosphere within its deepest parts, where you might hear the song of tree frogs, taste pure spring water and swim in a pool beneath a cascading waterfall. For any such excursion, wear lightweight clothing that dries quickly, old tennis shoes or stable walking shoes, and bring along a hat rather than an umbrella for the occasional rain shower. After all, if it doesn’t rain in the rainforest, you’ve been cheated.

Imagine a place with 1,000 miles of pristine beaches overlooking a crystalline turquoise sea. A place where the mid-day siesta is still a time-honored tradition and the free-spirited Merengue is the national dance of choice.

Unhurried, unencumbered, and unbelievably liberating from everyday cares and stress. This is the Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort in the enchanting Dominican Republic – an all-inclusive vacation experience reserved for members only. As a member, your vacation lifestyle includes V.I.P amenities and services at the Lifestyle Holidays Vacation Resort in Puerto Plata, Punta Cana and other premier travel spots throughout the world.

Enjoy members-only gourmet restaurants and al fresco buffet dining. Unwind at the private-access beach club with attentive members-only service. Experience live entertainment shows, beach-party extravaganzas, exciting casino nightlife, and so much more reserved for V.I.P’s alone. Add in world-class golf, water sports, and endless island adventures…this is the lifestyle you deserve.