The Caribbean. A timeshare dream destination and winter sun favourite, each Caribbean island is its own unique paradise. To fill the winter season with a little Caribbean flavour, GoTimeshare spotlights some of the most beautiful bays and gourmet getaways in Part 1 of The Caribbean Island Guide (Part 2 next month).
Grenada’s a great pick if you’re the cricket-on-the-beach type, and there are plenty of beaches to choose from. Grand Anse, or Magazine, where you’ll spot flying fish and pink boulders…or the laid back La Sagesse with its monkeys and mangroves.
A forty minute flight north of Antiqua, Anguilla has some of the best beaches of all of the Caribbean. There’s the two mile stretch of perfectly formed beach at Shoal Bay East where the clear waters make it a star snorkelling spot, but to see them all, hire a bike or car and compile your own personal “Best Beach Shortlist”.
Beautiful beaches aside, Anguilla’s the Caribbean’s gourmet island – if you can tear yourself off the super fine sand. Dale Carty, chef at Tasty’s Restaurant in South Hill, serves his grandmother’s chicken, black bean and plantain casserole and the fresh tuna is superb.
Also in the village of South Hill there’s E’s Oven where local chef Vernon Hughes makes a mean coconut-crusted grouper with curried beans and a banana rum sauce – his cosmopolitan inspiration comes from when he worked as a chef in New York and San Francisco.
For “West Indian tapas” try da’Vida, at Crocus Bay, where platefuls of lobster spring rolls with ginger chilli sauce are served with a sea view.
For celebrations,head for Veya in Sandy Ground with its supper club feel and view of swaying palms outside. You’ll find sautéed red snapper with fresh papaya and basil mashed potato, and lots of Indonesian/Vietnamese-influenced dishes, as well as Moroccan Spiced Shrimp Cigars, layered salads, and even Andalucian Gazpacho.
For an ultra-relaxed flip-flop fees, Smokeys at the Cove fits the bill. There’s a live band at weekends and the rhythm is reggae.
Fantastic fun for kids, with its water parks and adventure centres, it’s an easy island to get to with direct flights from the UK. Once the haunt of the smart set, it’s now one of the most family-friendly islands but rum lovers will love it, too as there are plenty of mellow hang-outs where you can sip a powerful cocktail and watch the sun set.
British Virgin Islands
Their get-away-from it all, paradise-found feel appeals to the millionaire set, which is why there are so many luxury hideaways here. Capitalist and philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller – of the famous Rockefeller family – opened a number of eco hotels during his lifetime, including one at Caneel Bay on Saint John on the United States Virgin Islands which became a favourite celebrity escape, and other resorts in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and the British Virgin Islands. One of the pioneers of eco-tourism, Rockefeller built the eco-friendly Little Dix Bay on a long screscent-shaped beach on Virgin Gorda. Even today the spa, set on a cliff, remains true to his vision, using local ingredients such as goat’s milk and honey for the massage therapies.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Nowhere near as well known as some of the other parts of the Caribbean, this group of islands is one of the quietest destinations – so not surprisingly there are some top spas here. Parrot Bay sums up its low key luxe vibe – if the name sounds familiar, it’s because this private island resort, dotted with beachfront villas, attracts the jet set, including Hollywood royalty who come for the holistic spa experience far from the madding crowds and away from the camera-popping paparazzi.
Few places – New York, Paris and Jamaica, perhaps – conjure up such a strong image of a place as Cuba. We’ve seen Havana in the movies…its American classic cars cruising the streets, paintwork faded by the Cuban sunshine…the music…the cigars…Che Guevara and Castro.
The government has invested heavily in tourism, and now it’s a great value destination where the average year-round temperature hovers at a very pleasant 25C.
Havana’s old colonial buildings make it a photographer’s dream and the natural scenery is stunning, so if you’re looking for a vibrant destination with plenty of colour and character Cuba’s a good choice – venture away from the towns and you’ll be richly rewarded by desert island paradise beaches and fascinating wildlife – as in crocodiles, ostriches and water buffalo.
Virgin Atlantic and British Airways operate non-stop flights from London to several of the islands, as well as more destinations but you’ll have a stop-off in between. The local airline Red Jet does low cost flights between Jamaica, Barbados, Antique and Trinidad with very low one-way fares (starting at around £25). You probably haven’t heard of LIAT but the carrier operates a comprehensive route network around the islands, and it’s worth checking both their websites www.flyredjet.com and www.liatairline.com .
If you’re rather take the scenic route, Road Town Fast Ferry, Speedy’s, Antigua Ferries and Osprey Lines all criss-cross the islands.