Caribbean Getaways

Carrieban beach boats

It’s not too late to take a Caribbean vacation—low season lasts until December 15th, which means prices are super affordable until then. If you haven’t booked a vacation yet, take this chance to try out one of these luxury resorts available at a fraction of their winter season price. While these days are indeed sultry, the nights are delightfully breezy and there’s nothing better than a gorgeous, sunny beach getaway in paradise during the last days of summer.

The Island: Anguilla

Caribbean beach coral

Why Go: This tiny island is known for its peace and quiet and great food. Many people do little more here besides moving from their beach chair to the gin-clear waters and back again. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Must Do: a day trip to Sandy Isle, a tiny island surrounded by a coral reef. One can go snorkeling and swimming there then follow it up with lunch and drinks at the beach bar and restaurant.

Where to Stay:

The whitewashed villas at the five-star CuisinArt Resort & Spa have front and center views of the turquoise Caribbean Sea. The hotel is not only known for its top-level service, but also its restaurants where many of the ingredients in the out-of-this-world dishes come from the resort’s onsite hydroponic farm and organic garden. www.cuisinart.com

Cap Juluca’s white, Moorish architecture says “Mediterranean” but the vibe is distinctly Caribbean at this collection of secluded villas perched along a powdery shoreline. A-listers come here for R&R, but everyone is treated like a star. www.capjuluca.com

Where to Dine:

Scilly Cay, a tiny island just a three-minute boat ride off the shore. Go barefoot, eat lobster, and drink copious amounts of rum punches at the restaurant on the beach.

Caribbean beach palm Sunset

The Island: Antigua

Why Go: This British island is a sailor’s paradise with its nautical vibe, and it boasts 365 beaches, one for every day of the year.

Must Do: A trip to Nelson Dockyard’s National Park to see restored 18th-century buildings, peek into the museum and crafts shops, and watch the gleaming yachts bob on the marina.

Where to Stay:

Caribbean beach view

Hermitage Bay is hidden away at the end of a dirt road and is a small, quiet, all-inclusive luxury resort, where the spacious 25 luxury cottages have large terraces and some have their own infinity plunge pools. www.hermitagebay.com

The St. James’s Club & Villas is a deluxe, family-friendly resort that feels like a private country club. You’ll never get bored with the four restaurants, five bars, six pools, spa and six tennis courts scattered around the sprawling property. The free kids club is worth its weight in gold. www.stjamesclubantigua.com

Where to Dine:

You’ll never go wrong with the catch of the day at Cecilia’s High Point Café, just minutes from the airport. The casual restaurant is a place to listen to smooth jazz while dining on fresh mahi mahi, or the chef’s daily pasta dish. www.highpointantigua.com

Caribbean beach palm tree

The Island: Barbados

Why Go: The British influence reigns supreme making it a very genteel atmosphere (afternoon tea, anyone?). Still, there’s a lively surfing, cricket, and music scene around.

Must Do: A trip to the Mount Gay Rum Visitors Centre gives insight on the world’s oldest rum, produced since the 1700s. The 45-minute tour ends with a tasting or a cocktail and an opportunity to buy this smooth spirit.

Where to Stay:

Caribbean beach turtle

The Crane is a historical, out-of-the-way seaside hotel and an intimate, kick-back spot. Choose to stay in one of the modest historic rooms or one-room suites with your own private pool. The hotel is located on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, making for one very dramatic scene. www.thecrane.com

Turtle Beach Resort is one of the few all-inclusive options in Barbados and is also an all-suite resort. Guests spend days on the white-sand beach or in the water windsurfing and snorkeling. At night they take the three-minute walk to St. Lawrence Gap and hang out at the clubs and lounges. www.turtlebeachresortbarbados.com

Caribbean beach museum

Where to Dine:

Sample Bajan favorites of fried flying fish, macaroni pie and fried plantain at Fisherman’s Pub, an inexpensive waterfront restaurant where you’ll rub elbows with locals as they tuck into their tastes-like-home lunch. 246-422-2703

The Island: Bonaire

Why Go: The Dutch island’s bath tub warm waters are a scuba diver’s and a snorkeler’s dream. Days and afternoons are spent just offshore in the Caribbean Sea where there’s easy access to eagle rays, angelfish and more. Nights are spent around the bar telling tales of denizens of the deep sightings.

Must Do: Get dive certified once and for all, through your resort, and play in one of the Caribbean’s most exotic marine parks. If there’s a place to do it, it’s here.

Caribbean beach coral

Where to Stay:

The Plaza Resort Bonaire is one of the biggest and most popular properties of the basic, no-frills hotels found on the island. Rooms are spacious (many people bring their own equipment) and come with just enough comforts of home. Step right onto the beach and you’ll be dazzled with the array of sea life. www.plazaresortbonaire.com

One of the more upscale hotels on the island, the Harbour Village Beach Club is surrounded by a lush tropical garden, unusual on this arid island. The Dutch-Colonial modeled guest rooms are lavishly decorated with rich fabrics and plantation-style furnishings and the views of the sea and the marina. www.harbourvillage.com

Caribbean beach boats in water

Where to Dine:

The Zeezicht Seaside Bar and Restaurant is well loved by locals and tourists alike for serving authentic island eats such as keshi yena, a casserole made from a hollowed out Edam shell and stuffed with cheese, spiced meat, raisins and olives. 599-717-8434

The Island: Grenada

Why Go: Known as the “Spice Isle”, the sleepy island is teeming with nutmeg, cinnamon, and all things fragrant that permeate the air. The lush rainforest and mountainous terrain is perfect for nature lovers.

Must Do: Hiking in the Grand Etang National Park where the various trails through the mountainous terrain take you past a lake and gorgeous waterfalls. Watch for mona monkeys and exotic birds in the verdant rainforest.

Caribbean beach orange sunset

Where to Stay:

Spice Island Beach Resort is one the finest resorts in Grenada and it happens to be an all-inclusive to boot. The fact that it’s owned by a real life knight and has had royalty as guests is no surprise. Suites are decked out in Balinese furniture and some of the sprawling villas come with their very own plunge pools. www.spiceislandbeachresort.com

Laluna is a 16-cottage resort tucked away on a hillside with views of the sea. It has quite the Bohemian vibe and is dedicated to holistic health with its yoga center and spa. The richly painted rooms are outfitted in Italian linens and have their own private plunge pools which lend an air of decadence. www.laluna.com

Where to Dine:

British celebrity chef Gary Rhodes is at the helm of the eponymous restaurant at the Calabash Hotel, where reservations to taste dishes like callaloo soup and coffee-rubbed pork filet are a must, even in low season, due to its popularity. 473-444-4334

The Island: Jamaica

Caribbean beach green palm tree

Why Go: The heady mix of rum, reggae and an ultra-chill vibe that no other island duplicates. Plus the land is an exciting mix of sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs, and misty jungles.

Must Do: Take a ride down the Martha Brae River, whose name comes from an Arawak Indian witch who tricked Spanish gold seekers into drowning themselves in its waters. Today, visitors have a more exciting adventure riding atop a traditional 30-foot long bamboo raft and slowly gliding three miles down the river passing cottonwood, allspice, and almond trees.

Where to Stay:

The Palmyra is Montego Bay’s newest beachfront resort located in the relatively quiet Rose Hall section of the region, away from the bustle of the downtown area. It is built on the condo-hotel model, so every sleek suite comes with a living room, a full, state-of-the-art kitchen and is filled with flat-screen TVs and every electronic amenity one could want. An on-site market is available to fill your fridge with local favorites from jerk sauce to premade rum punch. www.thepalmyrasolis.com

Hugging the cliffs of Negril’s west end is Rockhouse, a small laid-back hotel with just 34 thatched-roof rooms and villas to its name. It’s surprisingly affordable and its location affords front-and-center views of the amazing Jamaican sunsets, which will be your entertainment as there are no televisions. This is the place to decompress. www.rockhousehotel.com

Caribbean beach wave rocks

Where to Dine:

Scotchies in Montego Bay is the place to get anything jerk, from pork to sausage. The casual roadside restaurant serves up the flavorful meats spiced to the local, not tourist palate with sides of bammy (fried bread), yam, and roasted breadfruit. Wash it down with a Red Stripe beer or Ting grapefruit juice and pretend like your lips aren’t burning like crazy. 876-953-8041

The Island: St. Lucia

Why Go: It’s an island like no other with a lush rainforest, twin mountainous peaks called the Pitons, a drive-in volcano, and even tawny sand beaches. There’s something for everyone.

Must Do: The Friday night “Jump-Up” in Gros Islet is a rollicking street party where locals and tourists mingle over food, drinks and blaring calypso, soca, and reggae music.

Caribbean beach houses coast

Where to Stay:

Ladera is hillside haven that’s a big draw for honeymooners bypassing the big resort experience. The open-air rooms have breathtaking panoramas thanks to a missing fourth-wall, so the Piton Mountains are on full display, especially when viewing them from your private plunge pool. www.ladera.com

Cotton Bay Village is secluded away in the Cap Estates region, a self-contained beachside community where each accommodation option ranges from a townhouse to an immaculate villa. There’s a restaurant, bar, pool and a small market to stock your kitchen in advance of your arrival. www.cottonbayvillage.com

Where to Dine: Rodney Bay is chock-full of restaurants, and for a taste of something different, try the “Eurobbean” fusion cuisine at The Edge restaurant. Serving the island’s first sushi, you’ll find jerk beef nori maki and grilled dorado with spiced cabbage. www.edge-restaurant.com

The Island: The Turks and Caicos

Why Go: This under-the-radar archipelago of 40 islands and cays fans out into the turquoise sea like a spray of emeralds. It is home to one of the Caribbean’s best beaches—Grace Bay, where the sand is as close to sugar white as you’ll ever see. Know that this isn’t the island to party—it’s for those who truly want to kick back and relax with book and cocktail in hand.

Must Do: Whether it’s a half-day or full-day snorkeling or diving excursion, getting into these amazing waters is a no-brainer. The blue sea just beckons you to explore the coral reefs full of Technicolor fish. There are plenty of tour operators at resorts who’ll take you out to their favorite spots in the Caicos Cays, the North Caicos, or other superb spots.

Caribbean beach

Where to Stay:

It takes a 30 minute speedboat ride from capital Providenciales (Provo) to get to the Parrot Cay private island resort. As well known as it is, it’s also been lauded for its privacy (a multitude of celebs have stayed here) as well as its renowned COMO Shambhala Spa which specializes in yoga, Pilates, and alternative healing therapies. After a day of relaxing, one retires to his simply designed, airy cottage. www.parrotcay.como.bz

The Veranda is a 123-room all-inclusive resort located on the fantastic Grace Bay Beach on Provo. Rooms are condo-style where most accommodations are apartment replicas that come with full kitchens and living rooms. In addition to the on-property tennis courts, guests can relax in the spa or head to the water sports pavilion to sign up for sailing, snorkeling, or other watersports. www.verandatci.com
Where to Dine: Arguably, Provo’s best restaurant is the beachside Anacaona at the Grace Bay Club hotel. Catering to an adults only crowd and for dinner only, you’ll find a sophisticated Euro-Caribbean menu filled with fresh seafood (the jerk & rum marinated sea bass is not to be missed) to be enjoyed under the stars along with a fine wine. 649-94

 


Chanize Thorpe
Chanize is a travel and lifestyle writer who spent 10 years working for Brides Magazine before divorcing the subject and moving on to other topics. Today, she contributes to Caribbean Travel & Life, HotelChatter and Jetsetter.com, and writes for a variety of in-flight publications including Frontier Airlines and American Eagle. She sometimes misses the bridal world and occassionally writes for Destination Weddings and Honeymoons and even plans honeymoons as one of Jetsetter.com's Personal Travel Consultants. Her specialty is the Caribbean, although her passport has been getting a good deal of European love lately, for which she's very grateful!

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