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Best Caribbean holidays

beach-at-coral-reef-club-barbados

By Mark Hodson and David Wickers, Sunday Times Travel writers

We love the Caribbean – beautiful beaches, great hotels, fabulous food and lots to see and do. But which are the 10 best Caribbean holidays? Here are our personal picks.


Barbados has more top hotels than any other island, most of them found along the so-called Platinum coast on the west side of the island. Top restaurants too – though don’t come with too thin a wallet.

Grenada is the perfect island for those who want to do more than lie on a beach.  With its mix of sophisticated hotels and intimate hideaways, it also boasts a lush green interior, hiking trails and attractions ranging from working rum distilleries to nutmeg plantations. Our recommended place to stay is the Calabash Hotel.

Tobago is a small friendly island with great beaches, lazy fishing villages and beautiful lush rolling hills. There are several charming small hotels including Toucan Inn and Blue Haven. View the latest special offers.

St Lucia is arguably the most scenic of all the islands, with dramatic mountains, lush forests, charming plantation houses and even a drive-in volcano. Best hotels include Smugglers Cove Resort & Spa and the couples-only Rendezvous. See more holiday ideas in St Lucia.

Antigua boasts a beach for every day of the year, even one for leap years if you count the pink sands of its sister island Barbuda. This is an ideal destination for families. But do tear yourself away at least once to visit English Harbour, a tropical Greenwich restored as the old sea dogs would have known it.

Aside from beaches, rum and reggae, there’s a lot of Jamaica to get eco-excited about. Its 1,000ft mountains, cloaked in rainforest, have species of birds and flowers found nowhere else on earth as well as the world’s second largest butterfly, the giant yellow swallowtail. Stay at the lavish all-inclusive Sandals, tuck yourselves away at Jamaica Inn, a charming boutique hotel on a private beach, or head for Round Hill where you can choose between Ralph Lauren-designed hotel rooms or spacious villas with pools.

The British Virgin Islands are loved by sailors, and have some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Expect a mix of luxury pampering, authentic experiences and exhilarating activity on the water. Classic barefoot hotels like the Bitter End Yacht Club are great for both couples and families.

The Bahamas are great for island-hopping, and also an ideal destination in the “shoulder” seasons of autumn and spring. They are arguably a bit too chilly in December, but perfect in October or March. Recommended island combinations include Pineapple Fields on Eleuthera and Coral Sands Hotel on Harbour Island.

The Cayman Islands offer the greatest variety of catalogued dive sites in the world. Whether you are a beginner or an expert (Jacques Cousteau put the islands in his premier half dozen), you’ll be able to experience both reef and wreck diving. The islands also has some superb accommodation including the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, the Caribbean Club and the Cotton Tree.

You could stay put on any one of the Grenadines, roosting on Mustique, Petit St Vincent, Bequia, Young, Mayreau and other islands, but why not scoop up several by hopping along the chain by yacht or ferry? Book with Sunsail.

Rented houses in the Caribbean tend to come ready staffed with at least a cook/housekeeper and, in the swankier properties, maids, laundresses, butlers and night watchmen. It’s like having a small hotel all to yourself. Check out these villas from CV Travel.

With their numerous anchorages, safe and sheltered waters and scores of boats for charter (flotilla, bareboat, skippered or fully crewed), the British Virgin Isles are a paradise for a sailing holiday. Again, we recommend Sunsail.

See our expert guide to the best time to visit the Caribbean and details of the weather in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.

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