They are sun-blessed and tropical, and the sound of insects and nocturnal birds makes for an incredible soundtrack. Reach for the rum or the earplugs.
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA– A family vacation
Why go: The island, named by Christopher Columbus after an icon in Seville Cathedral, is just 108 square miles. It is easy to access with direct flights and popular with young families. Many hotels are all-inclusive offering good mid-range value as well as family friendly facilities.
Beaches are beautiful with isolated coves and good beach bars. Half Moon Bay in the east is one to definitely check out. It’s a lovely, quiet stretch of sand with calm waters thanks to a reef. This means you can relax while the kids splash around.
Where to stay: hotels in Antigua
Getting there: find flights to Antigua
BARBADOS – The bling of the Caribbean
Why go: If you want to holiday somewhere tropical and lively with the distinct possibility of bumping into someone you know (in the … aren’t you the guy off the TV sort of way) then it has to be Barbados. You may see Simon Cowell, the Beckhams or singer Rihanna who is a native. But that’s all on the south facing Platinum Coast.
Head for the south where it is cheaper and water sports are better. The beaches are made of soft white sands, and Crane the south east is one of the loveliest. It is a little hidden as the only access is via a tiny set of stone steps.
Where to stay: hotels in Barbados
Getting there: find flights to Barbados
DOMINICA – Made for trekking
Dominica (The Travel Magazine)
Why go: This former British colony (independence came in 1978) is the most, rustic shall we say, of all the Caribbean Islands. While infrastructure and life is simple, the forests, trails, waterfalls, and all that nature offers is mature and well-developed in a Jurassic sort of way. The majority of the island consists of mountains and rainforest, three national parks three marine reserves of sparkling volcanic black sand and enough rivers for every day of the year.
Some like Indian River are ideal for lazy boat rides through mangroves and to spot wildlife. It’s an incredible scene and incidentally, where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. The island is a treckers’ delight and offers the 114-mile Waitukubulinational trail whose segments can be tackled individually. Don’t forget your binoculars.
Where to stay: hotels in Dominica
Getting there: find flights to Dominica
JAMAICA – Don’t worry, it’s safe here
Jamaica (The Travel Magazine)
Why go: This is a colourful Caribbean island made infamous by stories of drug crime and made famous by Bob Marley. The first is exaggerated and the latter is a fine legacy for an island that hosts the Reggae festival every year. Marley’s home is at Nine-Mile and open to visitors and where-ever you go there will be a Marley song being played.
There are beaches, of course, the most popular being at Ocho Rios but head for the area around Port Antonio in the north east and enjoy its outstanding natural beauty. The Blue Mountain coffee comes from the mountain range of the same name and makes for a great diversion from the beaches.
Where to stay: hotels in Jamaica
Getting there: find flights to Jamaica