The best Garifuna village to visit is tiny Miami, a few miles from Tela, a Honduran coastal city with a broad beach, inexpensive in-town accommodations, and the first-class Maya Vista Hotel on a hillside overlooking the expansive sea, whose restaurant is one of the best in the area. From Tela's central plaza, Garifuna Tours leads day trips to Miami, a village of palm-thatched huts protected by 25 or so miles of uninhabited beach. An authentic lunch and sometimes a bit of impromptu Garifuna music make for a quick but unforgettable look at a culture as untouched as possible this close to the United States.

Honduras also offers more traditional retreats, such as on the famed Bay Islands, consisting of 50 islands or keys, the largest of which, Roatan, is 40 miles long and three miles wide. With clear turquoise water and an extensive barrier reef system, Roatan offers some of the most spectacular diving and snorkeling in the world. Scuba trips are the Bay Islands' chief attraction - on many islands it's the only attraction - but Roatan offers first-rate, full-service resorts sprinkled along pristine beaches at the base of the island's lush, green hills. Among the surprises are a number of fantastic Italian restaurants, which seem as oddly placed here as the Garifuna populations on the mainland. The answer to the Italian mystery is soft beaches, steady winds, and busy beach bars and clubs, all of which have made Roatan a fixture on the Italian tourism trail.

San Blas Islands, Panama
Limited electricity, phones, and visitor services mean there's not a lot to do on many of the more than 350 San Blas Islands other than roll over and keep the tan lines even. Most of the islands can be explored in a few hours or less, leaving a lot of down time. Getting the picture? The pace in this out-of-the-way corner of Panama is slow - imagine a Masterpiece Theatre miniseries on the lost works of Euripides - perfect for swinging in a hammock and knocking off a Great American Novel or two.