Island Hopping in the Caribbean: 10 Pristine Getaways

For the ultimate paradise experience, head to theses 10 pristine getaways filled with tropical wonders. In a world of underwater coral gardens teeming with marine wildlife and lush tropical rainforests, the islands of the Caribbean are some of the most cherished natural wonders in the world. In fact, vacationers travel from all corners to witness the clear, turquoise waters and scuba dive in the rare marine sanctuaries.

10. Guadaloupe

Set sail for a magical adventure in the tropics of Guadaloupe, a natural paradise filled with unforgettable activities like snorkeling the reefs, swimming with dolphins, and relaxing on white sandy beaches with a bright colored cocktail. With a minimum of tourism infrastructure, the large island is ideal for exploring pristine waterfalls and rivers in Basse-Terre, the mountainous western half and the smaller islands that float nearby in a stunning turquoise hued-sea. Other highlights can be found on the north coast at the Port D’Enfer and Pointe de la Grande Vigie with dramatic cliffs scattered across the dazzling aqua waters. Nature lovers can go on mountain treks through tropical jungles in Basse-Terre on a trail leading to the magnificent Cascade aux Ecrevisses on Route de la Traversee. And for an unforgettable scuba diving excursion, grab your gear and head to the Jacques Cousteau Underwater Reserve, a protected underwater oasis.

Pointe de la Grande Vigie

9. Cuba

With Cuba’s vibrant cultural and history starting with the Spanish influence, get ready to enter a world of café con leches, vintage 1950s cars, and the cherished Buena Vista Social Club. Part of the Greater Antilles, Cuba is a perfect getaway spot for experiencing their distinctive cultural mecca of Havana and discovering some of the most untouched marine ecosystems in the world. For a scuba diving adventure of a lifetime, head to La Costa de las Piratas, an underwater sanctuary of 56 reef sites teeming with marine wildlife. Along the way, make a stop at the beachside town of Varadero to sample some Cuban cigars and drink rum with the sociable locals. All-inclusive hotels line the island’s most popular beach and could be a useful home base for afternoon water excursions.

cuba varadero

8. St. Vincent and the Grenadines

What sets St. Vincent and the Grenadines apart is its dramatic natural beauty and like many islands in the Caribbean, a great way to see the sights is by sailboat. You might recognize the white sandy beaches, waterfalls, and lush rainforests in scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean, which was filmed here. It also is home to Mick Jagger and David Bowie’s private islands outside of St. Vincent. With its jagged mountain terrain and La Soufriere volcano in the north, it’s a haven for eco-tours and nature trekkers. The hike up the 4,000-ft volcano is about a four-hour climb and along the way, you’ll pass through a series of diverse vegetation like tropical rainforests, coconut plantations, and a cloud forest with stunted growth.

Grenadines

7. Martinique

With its tropical flowers covering the countryside and lush mountain rainforests in the background, Martinique is a beautiful getaway that inspired the famous landscapes by French artist Paul Gaugin. To see the vibrant natural wonders up close, head to the Carbet Mountains on a scenic drive through the interior rainforest. The drive starts at Route de la Trace that follows an old path laid by the Jesuit priests in the 1700s. Scuba diving excursions are also popular, especially the graveyard of sunken ships off Saint-Pierre and the caves and tunnels off Rocher du Diamant. For the novice diver, a good place to get your fins wet are in the shallow coral gardens near Cap Enrage, a underwater habitat filled with tropical fish and sea turtles. The Main Hull, a sunken Canadian barge, is also an ideal spot for the beginner wreck diver.

Martinique

6. St. Lucia

When it comes to tropical island getaways, you can expect all the standards of paradise in St. Lucia, a small island in the Windwards and neighboring Martinique and St. Vincent. Get swept away in a natural wonderland filled with turquoise waters teeming with fish and corals, tropical rainforests, and unspoiled, white sand beaches. A good place to get into the island spirit is at Discovery, a high-end resort in the popular Marigot Bay. Flanked by lush, green hills, the bay is considered one of the most beautiful in the Caribbean and has been the setting of several films, including Firepower (1979) and Dr. Dolittle (1967). For stunning bay views and lounging poolside with cocktails, Discovery suites are nestled high in the hills overlooking the bustling marina. From here, you can take excursions to nearby coral sites for an afternoon of snorkeling.

St. Lucia

5. Barbados

With its beautiful beaches, clear turquoise waters and natural wonders abounding, the tiny island of Barbados encourages exploration, particularly along the coastline of Bathsheba, which is known for its massive rock formations and boulders scattered along the shore. Another popular eco-destination is Harrison’s Cave near St. Thomas, a spectacular labyrinth of hidden waterfalls and underground rivers. On the west coast, you’ll find pristine sandy beaches that are ideal for sunbathing under coconut and palm trees swaying in the breeze and with a coast lined with luxury resort hotels in the distance. The island is also full of colonial relics like St. Nicholas Abbey, a grand stone mansion built on a sugar plantation in the mid-17th century.

Harrison’s Cave

4. Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire

Just outside the Atlantic hurricane belt are the Dutch isles of Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire, which are protected from storms by their strategic southern Caribbean location. In Aruba, you’ll find a mix of lively street scenes at the action-packed casinos and resorts lining the coast. Close by is the Arikok National Park, a change of pace with its natural tranquility and thriving wildlife. Meanwhile, over in Bonaire, the flamingo colony in southern Pekelmeer enjoys protected seclusion in between trips from Venezuela for nesting obligations. The isle also has several protected marine sanctuaries, making it one of the top scuba diving destinations in the Caribbean.

Bonaire, flamingo

3. Anguilla

Standing out among the beautiful islands of the French Antilles is Anquilla, a modern resort island that is cherished by vacationers for its bright turquoise waters that glow from the surrounding ancient coral base. All around the island you’ll find cays and coral reef sites for unforgettable scuba diving and snorkeling excursions. Back on the mainland are some of the Caribbean’s most luxurious resorts like the swanky Carimar Beach Club on Meads Bay Beach or Cap Jula lining the west end of the coastline. The flatlands of the interior are also ideal for a horseback ride through the tropics and the horse handlers at Seaside Stables are always ready to help you saddle up for a romantic sunset trail ride in paradise.

Anguilla

2. Virgin Islands

The jewel of the Virgin Islands is St. John and the Virgin Islands National Park is the major highlight, a tropical Eden filled with pristine natural beaches, verdant hillsides, and reef patches in Caneel Bay. The great thing about tiny islands is that you’re never far from a strip of coastline that invites afternoons of swimming and snorkeling year round. Day sailing is also a favorite activity and a great way to explore the waters and inlets surrounding the islands. Boats leave daily from Cruz Bay and venture out to offshore cays and snorkeling meccas. Back on the mainland are excellent wooded hiking trails like Reef Bay Trail and Lind Point Trail, which have impressive views of Cruz Bay.

Virgin Islands

1. Trinidad and Tobago

Situated in the southernmost part of the Caribbean chain, the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a fascinating getaway with its diverse natural habitats and thriving tourism infrastructure. The shorelines range from wild, hilly terrain carpeted with verdant foliage to calm, sandy beaches that encourage blissful seaside afternoons and tranquil sunset strolls. Tobago’s central forest preserve is also full of wildlife and exotic plants in the oldest protect rainforest in the Western Hemisphere. More lush rainforests dominate the northern landscape of Trinidad next door while peaceful waters lap onto the serene shorelines on the east coast.

Tobago

The Best Places to Travel in January

It’s January. The holiday season has passed. The snow is piling ever higher and a wicked wind blows out of the north, bringing with it polar vortexes and wind chill factors enough to freeze your face in a matter of minutes. The nights are long and the days are frigid, even if they are sunny. You need to escape…but where? Try one of these 8 locations on for size, traveler, and get your bags packed for some nicer weather.

8. Belize

Mexico is the giant of Central American tourism, offering both cheap resort tourism for snowbirds and spring breakers, offering up opportunities to explore jungles, ancient Aztec ruins and contemporary Mayan culture, but Belize has many of the same qualities, but with fewer tourists. Lying along the Caribbean Sea, Belize is quite a bit smaller than the neighboring countries of Mexico and Guatemala, both in terms of area and population. In recent years, Belize has become a popular alternative for those looking to escape the droves of tourists in Mexico. Although Belize can cost a little more, it offers opportunities for travelers to explore extensive coral reefs, jungle and wildlife reserves and Mayan ruins. Belize is home to the largest cave system in Central America, if you’re up for some subterranean adventure. January averages temperatures of 24°C (75°F) and is part of the dry season, meaning you can expect sunshine.

Belize 2

7. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been something of an anomaly in Central America; it has been democratically stable whereas other countries have faced upheaval and dictatorships, and Costa Rica has been pushing a green agenda to take care of its natural resources. The country aims to become carbon-neutral by 2021 and has even been named the greenest country in the world. For that reason, Costa Rica has become Latin America’s go-to for ecotourism, with a special focus on green tourism. Costa Rica’s most famous natural landscape is the cloud forests, tropical rainforests formed in the heights of the Cordillera mountains that traverse the country, and it’s marine ecosystems as the country is bordered by both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The country comprises less than 1% of the world’s landmass, but contains 5% of its biodiversity. January is dry season and average temperatures are about 27°C.

Costa Rica

6. Aruba

Just 29 kilometers north of the coast of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea, lies the island-nation of Aruba. Aruba is an interesting island: it forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and its citizens are Dutch. Aruba’s climate has helped its tourism industry as the island lies outside Hurricane Alley and experiences a dry climate, producing reliably warm, sunny weather year-round. The interior of the island features hilly terrain and desert-like scrublands dotted with cacti, while the south and western shores have white, sandy beaches that are relatively sheltered from the ocean. Although Aruba doesn’t celebrate its National Day until March, January 25 is the celebration of the birthday of Betico Croes, a proponent of Aruban independence and considered by some to be the “father” of Aruba as an independent state.

Aruba

5. Cyprus

Want to get further afield and go trans-Atlantic for January? Check out Cyprus. Located south of Turkey, Cyprus has the warmest winters—and indeed, the warmest climate—in the Mediterranean European Union. Snow is only possible in the Troodos mountains, while most coastal locations experience pleasant 16–17°C weather throughout January. It may not be beach weather, exactly, but it is certainly warmer than some climates—and with almost 200 sunshine hours for the month on average, Cyprus can be a reprieve from the long, dark nights of more northern locations. Cyprus has a rich history, stretching from Greek to Byzantine to Ottoman empires, and many traditions to explore. Music, art and cuisine are all integral experiences for visitors. Not looking to escape winter? The Troodos mountains provide a great skiing experience, an excellent alternative to the busy Alps of western Europe.

Cyprus

4. Grenada

The island of Grenada and six smaller islands, located at the southern end of the chain known as the Grenadines, form the country of Grenada. Another southern Caribbean destination, Grenada is known as the “Island of Spice,” because it is one of the world’s largest exporters of nutmeg and mace. The island is cooled by the trade winds during the dry season. Beach tourism is centered on the capital of St. George in the southwest, while Saint David and Saint John parishes have witnessed the growth of eco-conscious tourism in recent years. Grenada has many idyllic beaches along its coasts, the Grand Anse Beach in St. George, a 3-kilometer long strip of white, sandy beach, is considered one of the finest in the world. Another major natural attraction is the island’s abundance of waterfalls, including the Annandale Falls, Mt. Carmel and Seven Sisters.
Grand Anse Beach

3. Canary Islands

Although part of Spain, the Canary Islands have a much different climate than most of the country. Temperatures average about 20°C on most of the islands in the chain, and January generally sees relatively little precipitation. Santa Cruz is the wettest island at this time of year, receiving, on average, about 1.25 inches of rainfall. The Canary Islands have plenty to recommend them aside from sunshine and warm temperatures. La Palma is home to cloud forests, similar to the forests of Costa Rica. Most of the islands, including Tenerife and Gran Canaria, feature black sand beaches. Tenerife’s nightlife at Playa de las Americas is legendary. Tourism is a well-developed industry and the island’s function almost like a Caribbean getaway for most of Europe. Perhaps the best part is that getting here won’t cost much more than flying to some Caribbean destinations.

Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock.com
Alexander Tihonov / Shutterstock.com

2. Barbados

This island in the Lesser Antilles has earned itself a reputation as a more exclusive and chi-chi getaway in the southern Caribbean. This is somewhat true: trips to Barbados are usually more pricey compared to places like Mexico and Dominican Republic. The dry season runs from December to May, and gentle breezes keep the island’s temperatures more moderate than some of its neighbors. The western and south shores are popular for beach tourism, while surfers would do well to visit the Atlantic coast, where tumbling waves make for ideal surfing conditions. The country’s coral reefs provide ample opportunity for diving and snorkeling. Another popular activity is shopping, as there are several shopping districts in the south of the island, many of them offering duty-free shopping. Golf and helicopter rides are also popular tourist activities.

Bridgetown Barbados

1. Curacao

About 65 kilometers north of the Venezuelan coast, you’ll find the island of Curacao. Along with Saint Maarten and Aruba, the island is part of the Dutch Caribbean and forms a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until 2010, it was known as the “island territory of Curacao,” one of five such territories in the former Netherlands Antilles. The island has a tropical Savannah climate and January marks the start of the dry season. The temperature hovers around 25°C and less than two inches of rain falls during the month. Curacao has been less reliant on tourism than other Caribbean islands, although it is popular with divers and snorkelers. Many coral reefs can be reached without a boat and the island’s southern coast features calm waters and numerous small beaches. If you’re looking for a less-frequented getaway, skip Aruba and spring for Curacao.

Curacao

 

10 Most Luxurious Vacation Caribbean Destinations

The Caribbean has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Each island has its own culture. Some islands are known for their beauty and seclusion, others are known for their nightlife. Here is a list of the 10 most luxurious vacation destinations in the Caribbean.

1. Bermuda

The first thing that comes to mind when Bermuda is mentioned is pink sand. Not only does the island have pink sand, it also has pink architecture. Rental cars are not allowed on the island. Tourists use cabs and buses to get around the island. Cab drivers give guided tours, and bus stop signs are colored pink and blue to help locals and tourists get to their destinations.

Bermuda

2. Turks and Caicos

In the Turks and Caicos you will find nearly deserted beaches, water in different shades of blue and luxury spas. The islands are home to world famous restaurants and hotels. In the Turks and Caicos, you can enjoy snorkeling and other water sports in peaceful serenity.

Turks and Caicos

3. St. John

St. John is a small gem among the other U.S Virgin Islands. The natural beauty of the island has been carefully maintained. The island can only be reached by ferry. Tourists interested in snorkeling enjoy the underwater snorkeling excursion known as Trunk Bay. Unlike other popular snorkeling destinations, this underwater snorkeling adventure is lined with signs that provide interesting information on the aquatic life.

St. John Virgin Islands

4. St. Barts

This island is one of a kind. Celebrities have made this island a popular tourist destination. In spite of the island’s small size, tourists can take tours on luxury yachts, shop at designer stores, and watch cactus plants bloom at night. The culture of the island is distinct from other islands in the Caribbean.

St. Barts
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

5. Anguilla

If you decide to vacation in Anguilla, you cannot pass up the chance to visit Shoal Bay. This beach constantly ranks as one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. It is one of the few places in the Caribbean where you can take a glass boat tour and end the day by enjoying a tropical drink from one of the beach bars.

Anguilla

6. St. Lucia

This island is popular among honeymooners. The scent of mangoes and black sand beaches make this island a gem in the Caribbean. Tropical flowers and volcanoes provide the perfect scenery for a couple celebrating their new marriage.

St. Lucia

7. Aruba

The weather in Aruba is perfect all year round. If you are vacationing in Aruba, you do not have to plan your trip around the annual hurricane season. The island is located in the southern part of the Caribbean. Hurricanes rarely make landfall in Aruba. The desert climate is a sharp contrast to the islands beautiful beaches. Tourists can participate in hiking, golfing and several other outdoor activities.

Aruba

8. St. Martin

If you want to gamble while on vacation, this is the perfect island for you. When you are ready to leave the casino, you can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and other water sports. The French side of the island has an elegant appeal. If you are looking for nightlife, you will find partygoers on the Dutch side of the island.

St. Martin

9. Cayman Islands

Tourists looking for nightlife can find everything they are looking for in the Cayman Islands. The island chain also has several smaller islands that are perfect for nature watching. Visitors to Little Cayman can swim in the Caribbean Sea and watch several rare birds. The population of the island is less than 200 people. It is the perfect place for tourists who want a deserted island vacation experience.

Cayman Islands

10. Barbados

Barbados is only 166 sq. miles. Despite its small size, the island has a population of over a quarter million people. Visitors to the island enjoy water sports and some of the best rum in the world. The island has a vibrant night life and world famous golf courses.

Caribbean Wedding - Barbados

Top 10 Destinations for a Caribbean Wedding

One of the best ways to have a perfect wedding is to make it a destination wedding. This allows the guests to enjoy a beautiful vacation along with the wedding, and it allows the bride and groom to get a head start on their honeymoon. There are many wonderful wedding destinations around the world, but there is no region that is more perfect for a wedding than the Caribbean. Here is a look at the top ten destinations to have a Caribbean wedding.

1. Antigua

Antigua is one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world. For those looking to have an upper-crust wedding, this is the place to do it. It is home to some of the highest-end resorts in the Caribbean as well as many yacht clubs. There is room here for every price level, though. There are 365 beaches for visitors to choose from on Antigua, so the perfect beach wedding is a possibility for everyone who wants to get married here.

Caribbean Wedding - Antigua

2. Jamaica

Jamaica is set up for tourists, and it, consequently, has a huge range of resorts for beautiful, tropical weddings. The fabulous energy of the island will ensure that the wedding turns into a success.

Jamaica

3. The Bahamas

This is a Caribbean wedding spot that every couple can be happy with. With more than 700 islands for them to choose from, it will be possible for every couple to find the wedding spot of their dreams in the Bahamas.

Caribbean Wedding - The Bahamas

4. Barbados

Visitors will find Barbados to be one of the most welcoming islands in the Caribbean. That makes it the perfect place to host a wedding. There are also lots of wonderful honeymoon resorts located on the island, which means the couple can have their nuptials and get started on the honeymoon without delay.

Caribbean Wedding - Barbados

5. Grenada

The white and black sands of Grenada make the perfect setting for a beach wedding with barefoot guests sporting huge smiles on their faces. Grenada is a paradise full of beautiful beaches, amazing scuba diving locations and a completely unspoiled landscape. The island offers one of the best getaways in the world, and couples will start their marriage off in an amazing way when they are wed in Grenada.

Caribbean Weddings - Grenada

6. Aruba

Aruba has something to offer for every style of wedding. It is home to some of the fanciest resorts in the Caribbean, but they are located in one small area of the island. That means couples looking for a secluded beach wedding will have lots of places to choose from on the island.

Caribbean Weddings - Aruba

7. Puerto Rico

The island has fabulous beaches, great food and lots of resorts to make planning a wedding easy. This convenient location makes it easy for guests to come to this destination as well, which is a definite bonus.

Caribbean Weddings - Puerto Rico

8. Trinidad and Tobago

This is one of the most popular destinations for weddings in the Caribbean. It has quite a wedding industry built up and it is perhaps the easiest place legally to get married in the region. This country offers the best of both worlds. There are fancy resorts and an amazing nightlife, but there are also many secluded natural wonders to enjoy as well.

Caribbean Weddings - Trinidad and Tobago

9. Dominican Republic

Like Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic makes for a convenient destination for wedding guests to make the trip. It is also full of lots of great resorts and beautiful beaches to hold a wedding. The island offers many charms for honeymooners as well, including some fantastic beaches, warm people and fabulous parties.

Caribbean Weddings - Dominican Republic

10. St. Lucia

The island of St. Lucia is home to some of the most extravagant resorts in the Caribbean, and they love to cater to weddings. They have everything necessary to create the perfect storybook wedding that both the couple and the guests will remember for the rest of their lives. Just remember that this extravagance does not come cheap.

St. Lucia