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Five of the best Caribbean islands to visit

There’s no denying that the Caribbean is one of Earth’s true paradises. Instagram-worthy beaches, incredible cuisine, endless sunshine and a famously laid-back lifestyle. There are few places better for a relaxing beach holiday. But while all of this is a given, deciding on which of the islands to visit can be a little trickier.

We’ve rounded up a handful of our favourite Caribbean islands, including when to go, where to stay and how to get there.

Antigua

St John's, Antigua

It’s said that Antigua is home to some of the Caribbean’s best beaches. In fact, ask a local on the island and they might tell you that there’s a beach for every day of the year there. True or not, there’s no denying that Antigua is simply beautiful.

The island isn’t just famed for its palm-fringed shoreline. It was once the UK’s most important Caribbean naval base, and relics of its fascinating history can still be discovered today. A visit to English Harbour, at the southern-most tip of Antigua, is a must. Here you’ll be able to explore 18th and 19th-century naval buildings and artefacts, including the dockyard once commanded by Horatio Nelson

Don't miss... In early August, Antigua explodes into colour as carnival is celebrated with 11 days of festivities. But you don't have to wait for carnival to get a taste of calypso either. Just head to Shirley Heights on a Sunday, where you’ll find locals and visitors alike dancing to the local steel bands and feasting on delicious local cuisine.

Blue Waters, Antigua

Blue Waters, Antigua

Getting to Antigua

  • Fly to: Saint John's, Antigua
  • Flying time: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Time difference: GMT -5 hours

Where to stay

With seven sparkling pools, tropical gardens, elegant accommodation and sandy beaches on its doorstep, Blue Waters is an ideal choice for a visit to Antigua.

Barbados

Restaurant view, Barbados

The most easterly of the Caribbean islands, Barbados is an isle of two halves. Its eastern coast, shaped by powerful Atlantic waves, is more akin to the dramatic Cornish coastline than your typical Caribbean idyll. But head west and you’ll find sheltered coves and curving bays sloping gently into clear, warm water.

Whichever side of Barbados you choose, you’ll find dining options aplenty. Proudly wearing its badge of ‘culinary capital of the Caribbean’, Barbados is fast becoming a foodie hot spot. Brush shoulders with celebrities at fine-dining establishments such as Lone Star or the Tides, or kick off your shoes and eat the freshest seafood at a rum shack right on the beach.

Don’t miss... Visit Barbados in April for the annual Reggae Festival, which sees a week of live performances at beach and concert venues around the island. In August, The Crop Over Festival marks the end of the sugarcane harvest with a grand finale celebration. Expect calypso music, street food and a costumed masquerade through the streets of Bridgetown.

The Fairmont Royal Pavilion

The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados

Getting to Barbados

  • Fly to: Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Flying time: 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Time difference: GMT -4 hours

Where to stay

One of the island's earliest hotels, The Fairmont Royal Pavilion has managed to retain its colonial charm, pale-pink façade and old-world elegance. An enviable beachfront location makes this an excellent option for your holiday in Barbados.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia, Caribbean

If Barbados is the Caribbean’s culinary capital, Saint Lucia takes the crown for natural beauty. The island’s lush, mountain-top rainforests offer protected habitat for countless bird species, and a visit to the Edmund Forest Reserve is a must for hikers and wildlife fans. Just west of here, at La Soufrière, you’ll find the world’s only drive-in volcano. Journey in comfort to the volcano’s crater and spend time exploring the geothermal vents, mud baths and bubbling pools. And don’t forget about the Pitons. This towering pair of UNESCO-listed volcanic mountains will form the perfect backdrop to your St Lucia holiday photos.

Out on the coast you’ll find plenty of what the Caribbean is famous for — palm-fringed beaches, sheltered coves and crystal-clear water. And if the scenery above the waves isn’t enough, a scuba diving trip beneath them will reveal a world rich in marine-life, colourful coral and historic ship wrecks.

Don’t miss... The Friday Night Street Party at Gros Islet has become a Saint Lucian institution. Order yourself a rum cocktail and feast on the freshest seafood as steel bands play upbeat, vibrant calypso music. If you wake up ready for a repeat performance, head to the fishing village of Dennery on the island’s east coast for its Saturday Fish Fiesta.

East Winds, St Lucia

East Winds, Saint Lucia

Getting to Saint Lucia

  • Fly to: Hewanorra, Saint Lucia
  • Flying time: 8 hours 40 minutes
  • Time difference: GMT -5 hours

Where to stay

Set on the picture-perfect, sandy shoreline at La Brelotte Bay, the East Winds is one of the oldest and most established resorts on Saint Lucia. It’s 30 rooms and cottages enjoy a tranquil and private setting among the tropical gardens, with the peaceful beach and azure ocean just steps away.

Grenada

View over St George's, Grenada

Formed by ancient volcanic activity, the fertile landscape of Grenada provides the perfect growing conditions for tropical fruit, flowers and spices. The profusion of the latter has earned Grenada its nickname of the Spice Isle. Its verdant hillsides are dotted with nutmeg, cacao, vanilla and cinnamon plantations, interspersed with bountiful fruit fields and orchards.

Grenada’s mountainous interior offers plenty of hiking opportunities through its unique, tropical ecosystems. On the west coast, the capital town of St George’s perfectly captures the island’s cultural and historical influences. Picturesque houses set into the lush hillside overlook quaint streets and a colourful harbour. Just to the south of St George’s you’ll find Grand Anse, one of Grenada’s most famous beaches. This curving stretch of soft, white sand slopes gently into the warm Caribbean Sea. Take a dip, then head to one of the popular beach bars for an ice-cold cocktail.

Don’t miss... For a diving experience with a difference, submerge beneath the waves to explore Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park. Located just off Grenada’s west coast, this protected marine area is home to 65 sculptures of human figures, creating a unique art installation on the ocean floor. If you prefer to stay above the waves, you can experience it from the deck of a glass-bottomed boat.

Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel

Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa

Getting to Grenada

  • Fly to: St George's, Grenada
  • Flying time: 10 hours 45 minutes
  • Time difference: GMT -5 hours

Where to stay

With 30 elegant suites set among lush tropical gardens facing the sea, the Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel & Spa is one of our favourite properties on Grenada.

Turks & Caicos Islands

Grand Turk, Caribbean

The 40 islands that make up the Turks & Caicos archipelago lie like a string of pearls across the turquoise ocean off Cuba’s east coast. The islands’ sheltered cays were once used as hideouts for pirates lying in wait of Spanish galleons loaded with treasure. Today, only eight of the 40 islands are inhabited, and the locals you’ll encounter are much more welcoming.

With miles of pure white sandy beaches, it’s no surprise that the Turks & Caicos islands are considered some of the best for a luxury Caribbean beach holiday. And the island’s vast reef system is home to countless species of tropical fish and colourful coral. If you’re a fan of scuba diving or snorkelling, there’s a pristine underwater world waiting to be explored there.

Don’t miss... For a not-so-typical Caribbean experience, time your visit between January and April and you might get to see humpback whale. During their annual migration, thousands of these gentle giants journey through the underwater plateaus of the Turks Banks, and a short boat ride could bring you right up alongside them.

Amanyara, Turks & Caicos

Amanyara, Turks & Caicos

Getting to the Turks & Caicos Islands

  • Fly to: Providenciales, Turks & Caicos (via United States)
  • Flying time: 8 hours 30 minutes (excluding connection time)
  • Time difference: GMT -4 hours

Where to stay

The Amanyara enjoys a peaceful, oceanfront location on the pristine western tip of the Caicos islands. Its luxurious villas feature private sun decks overlooking tranquil ponds, with a selection of pavilions boasting private, 12-metre infinity-edge swimming pools.

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