Set sail for the Caribbean to enjoy azure seas and white sand beaches
Azure seas, white sand beaches and a laidback way of life that’s the envy of most of the world
Azure seas, white sand beaches and a laidback way of life that’s the envy of most of the world – the Caribbean is the ultimate winter destination. But it’s a disparate area, the islands differ wildly in history, culture and atmosphere, so where’s best to head for? Like most things, it depends what you’re looking for. Here are a few of our favorites.
One of the largest islands in the Caribbean, Barbados is a family favorite. The west coast of the island is home to a series of luxe resorts (and the famous Sandy Lane where Simon Cowell spends a lot of his winter time). Kids will love the submarine tours (no need to get wet or be able to swim) that take you 130 feet under the sea to get face to face with the tropical fish. Head out to sea on a catamaran to spot turtles or turn inland to discover the island’s slavery and sugar history with a series of plantations that have become interesting and poignant museums and restaurants.
At the very southern tip of the Caribbean lies the twin country of Trinidad & Tobago. A heady mix of cultures (Tobago changed hands between the colonial powers more than any other island) and a rich history has given these islands a unique spirit. This is where steelpan music was invented and where calypso rings out from almost everywhere. If you’re up for a party, Trinidad is the place to be. The capital Port of Spain doesn’t seem to ever go to sleep and when it comes to carnival in February – we can guarantee you won’t have seen anything like it – street parties, outlandish costumes, sound systems – the islanders really know how to let loose.
Diving buffs will want to beat a path to some of the smaller islands. There’s St Croix, one of the US Virgin Islands, which has access to the Puerto Rico Trench, the fifth deepest place in the world to dive, but you don’t need to go that deep to find shipwrecks, beach dives and the pristine marine park at Buck Island. Stay in the area and head to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands to dive the 150-year-old HMS Rhone which sunk in 1867. Or fly further south to the Antilles, which are just off the tip of Venezuela and find the tropical paradise of Bonaire. Formed by volcanic eruptions this tiny island has fostered a sustainable diving policy for years meaning it’s now one of the best scuba diving spots in the world.
To get away from it all (even the A-listers across the sea) Bequia is where you should be heading for. This tiny island is an hour’s flight from Barbados and one of the Grenadine islands that are spread out around St Vincent. On a clear day you can see the private island and royal favorite Mustique, nine miles across the water. With a steep mountain ridge like a spine down this snake of an island, the leeward side is protected with pristine bays like Princess Margaret Beach which offer up the ultimate in beach bliss. The tiny capital Port Elizabeth is like a film set. Yachts moor just out to sea, tender in and pick up supplies from the brightly painted wooden houses while the local fish market is announced by the blowing of a conch shell. Stay on the Atlantic side at Bequia Beach Hotel for a gentle colonial experience with plenty of warm smiles and prepare to do very little with your days.