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Turks and Caicos is a diving paradise with a beach scene and small towns that make the small island group worth traversing. Just South of Miami, Turks and Caicos has become a tourist haven for people looking for a close outlet and a quick vacation fix. It's got romance, eco-tourism, geology and an underwater world with schools of fish and incredible geology. The bed and breakfasts, condominiums at fair prices and good airfares don't hurt the island's allure. Turks and Caicos is actually an island group consisting of 40 islands, six of which are currently inhabited by small populations. The largest of the island groups, Grand Turk, has a population of around 4,000 people. It's blessed with several inlets with excellent fishing, great walks, and some of the best cuisine in the Caribbean.

The place to start is the official Turks and Caicos tourism site at www.turksandcaicostourism.com. It has all the basic information you need for traveling to the island. Since there is a Grand Turk, a Middle Caicos, a North Caicos and a South Caicos, it's best to be familiar with all the areas available for your trip. For example, Middle Caicos and North Caicos are environmental playgrounds. South Caicos is king of the island fishing scene. The best way to get there is the daily flights out of Miami or weekly flights out of New York on American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) or the daily flights on US Airways (tel. 800/482-4322; www.usair.com) from Charlotte. Check both airline websites for specials, but usual fares start from around $600 to $800 from Charlotte and less from Miami. Grand Turk is the nation's capital and the best area for diving on the island. The beach hotels or the bed and breakfasts will come to around $125 per night and even less during less summer season. Most expensive are luxury or rustic cottages flanked by colonial-style main houses.

The Turks Head Mansion (tel. 649/946-2466; www.turksheadmansion.com), for example, one of only approximately seven properties on Grand Turk, has a four bedroom spot costing $500 per night. For one hundred dollars extra, all meals, wine and beer are included. The property is equipped with a personal chef, bartender, concierge, maid service and security guards upon request. The hotel advertises itself as a hot-spot for celebs. Over ten movies were shot last year on location at the Turks Head Studio (www.turksheadstudio.com), a full-service, yet boutique film production facility in-synch with the hotel. Better yet, the hotel is 50 feet from the blue waters of the Caribbean.

Club Med (tel. 800/457-8261; 69.20.28.184/p4p2005/getaway.cgi?ref_code=PP40001GO) has a great deal to their Turks and Caicos resort for a seven-night land-only deal starting at $1,190 for an all-inclusive trip. The resort is top-rated for diving with some of the best cuisine a Club Med resort has to offer. The accommodations are beachfront so you'll enjoy the fruits of the deep blue sea. Summer savings mean you can save up to $400. If you go a little later, say in the early fall, you get an even better deal. Club Med's special seven-day weekend starts at $750 with departure dates from September 3 to October 28, 2005.

Discount Vacations (tel. 800/650-3612; ww2.discountvacations.com/CM_AirHotel) has a special deal to Turks and Caicos, starting from $2,324 per person with air from Boston for seven-days and six-nights at a luxury hotel. Accommodations are at Beaches Turks and Caicos, a beachfront resort with everything you could imagine in the way of amenities. From tennis to horseshoes to croquet to karaoke, land sports are as prolific here as the water activities.

To book your own vacation to Turks and Caicos Salt Cay area, go to www.saltcay.tc/ for a hotel special at Pirate's Hideaway (649/946-6909). You get 40 percent off room rates that normally start around $110 for a basic room or $150 for a superior room with a king-size bed and a sitting area. You can easily see the entire island on a moped or by foot. Turks and Caicos is not the Grand Bahamas or Martinique. Its beauty is in its size. Manageable and adorable, the way the Caribbean used to be.

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