The Caribbean is what you see when you close your eyes as you endure yet another tiresome February commute under leaden skies. What you see – the sun-soaked beaches and lush palm fronds that drive Bounty’s advertising team wild with excitement – are there in abundance. Yet the islands offer more than that stereotype: much more.
If the be all and end all is the beach, Antigua has enough of those to keep you occupied: allegedly 365 of them. A convenient number for local tourist agencies? Perhaps. But you’ll be too busy choosing your favourite to care. Resorts in the north-west can cater for your every desire, but you’ll have company. For a more intimate experience, try one of many secluded coves to the south-west or, for true seclusion, try sister-island Barbuda, a paradise with beaches, beaches and not a lot else.
If you demand more from your paradise, St Lucia could be the one for you. Its reputation for high-end honeymoon retreats (and prices to match) could put you off, but you’ll find plenty of cheaper accommodation not far from the action. The island’s dramatic Pitons mountains and lush interior offer eco-adventures, and there are plenty of activities both on and under the sea too. That way, when you hit the beach you’ll feel you really earned it.
With so many islands to visit in the Caribbean, you might find it hard to choose just one. Island hopping in the Caribbean isn’t often as easy as it should be, but if you don’t own a yacht and still fancy drifting between relaxing islands, the Grenadines were made for you. To the south of the chain, spicy Grenada has nutmeg, rum and friendly locals. Its main town, St George’s, has one of the most picturesque waterfronts in the Caribbean. Further north, Carriacou and Bequia offer a slower pace of life and some deserted beaches. If you fancy a real splurge, you can mix with royalty and celebrities on exclusive Mustique, but be warned: your wallet will suffer.
Forested Dominica is a different beast altogether. The beaches are nothing special, but they’re not why you’re here. The island is geared towards the adventurous traveller. Stunning walks in virgin rainforest, lead to spectacular waterfalls or a boiling volcanic lake. A new path even allows the more intrepid visitor to walk the entire length of the island – a daunting but unforgettable 115 miles.
If you somehow tire of the islands’ natural beauty, or just fancy a change of scenery, why not take in the Caribbean’s best city break destination: Havana, Cuba’s capital. Here, among some stunning Spanish colonial architecture you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a different age as vintage cars still squeeze through the narrow streets. Among the atmospheric (some might say dilapidated) buildings, the city buzzes to authentic mambo and salsa, both of which grew out of this fascinating and utterly contradictory city that needs to be seen to be believed.
With over 7000 islands there’s enough in this corner of the world to fuel a lifetime of daydreams. One of the best ways to fund your travels is to start a travel blog, click here to check out the best way to get one started today.