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“The San Juan Islands--Afoot and Afloat” by...

<i> James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer. </i>

“The San Juan Islands--Afoot and Afloat” by Marge and Ted Mueller provides tourists and residents with advice on hiking, camping, biking, boating, beachcombing and scuba diving in the 200-island archipelago near the Canadian border (The Mountaineers: $10.95).

Ian Keowin’s detailed text in “Caribbean Hideaways--1988-89 Edition” offers 98 inns, hotels, resorts and seaside villas (Harmony: $12.95).

The revised and expanded edition of “Vermont--An Explorer’s Guide,” by Christina Tree and Peter Jennison, a 420-page book, is among the most complete on where to stay, dine and play, and includes events, landmarks, shopping. It’s divided into five geographic areas, with general and lodging indexes. Maps and photos are sprinkled throughout (Countryman Press: $14.95).

Travelers who prefer to stay in a homelike atmosphere will find many choices in “B and B Directory” by Barbara Notarius, which lists 1,000 places from coast to coast (John Wiley & Sons: $12.95). “B&B--American; Style” by Norman Simpson covers lodgings in the United States and parts of Canada (Harper & Row: $10.95). “Canadian B&B; Guide” by Gerda Pantel has more than 1,400 listings (Fitzhenry & Whitside/Chelsea Green: $10.95). And “The Complete Guide to B&Bs;, Inns and Guesthouses” by Pamela Lanier lists more than 4,800 inns and 15,000 private guest houses.

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If you’re headed for the spirited land of pubs, potatoes and traditions, “Ireland--the Complete Guide and Road Atlas” has comprehensive information on 41 cities and villages in the Emerald Isle. Sixteen pages of color photos, with vignettes of the countryside and history of the area, make this worthwhile (Globe Pequot: $15.95).

Two guides accurately described as “A Traveler’s Companion,” for “Vienna” ($14.95), selected and introduced by John Lehmann and Richard Bassett, and “Dublin” ($15.95), selected by Thomas and Valerie Pakenham, are rich in accounts of people down through the centuries (Atheneum).

“Pelican Guide to the Bahamas” by James E. Moore will help glean the maximum enjoyment from a visit. The guide provides information on where to stay, eat and what to see or do on this chain of 700 tropical islands 50 miles off southeast Florida. The tips and observations cover a wide range of topics, and the maps put you on the scene ($11.95).

“Bushwalking in Australia” by John and Monica Chapman describes the soul of that country--the beautiful outback. It explains how to enjoy as many as 23 walks of 2 to 10 days past river gorges, lakes and undeveloped coastlines. The photos are above average and the 30 maps include land contours (Lonely Planet: $8.95).

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