A stay at the lavish Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, swimming with sea turtles in Barbados, hopping across a dizzying number of beaches (365) in Antigua and climbing the UNESCO-listed twin Pitons in St Lucia – there’s plenty of castaway dreams and exhilarating highs on holidays to the Caribbean and Mexico. Combine beach and culture with multi-centre holidays to Cuba or Mexico visiting atmospheric Havana before landing in Varadero, or seeing Mayan and Aztec sites along with breathtaking beaches in Cancun and Tulum. More independent explorers will love the lush green jungle and white sands of Grenada, hiking Grand Etang National Park & Forest Reserve, diving through the underwater sculpture park and working their way around rum distilleries, cocoa plantations and waterfalls. Then there are the natural wonders on the tiny island of Aruba – Fonetin Caves and the Natural Pool. For a Robinson Crusoe experience, the Turks & Caicos Islands will have you snorkelling and diving at Bright Reef, touring conch farms and indulging in one of the island’s most popular traditions, Thursday ‘Fish Fry’.
Where is the Caribbean?
Geographically, the region is considered part of the continent of North America and is home to more than 7000 islands and island countries. Some islands are surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and others border the North Atlantic Ocean.
Barbados More than 70 miles of beach to be explored with swish resorts lining turquoise waters on a millionaire’s playground of an island.
St Lucia Famed for the dramatic west coast Pitons, thick rainforest, reef-diving sites and luxury hotels.
Antigua Sun-drenched white sands, world-class sailing and warm aquamarine waters on this classic Caribbean island.
The Grenadines These south-eastern Windward Islands are renowned for untouched beauty and total seclusion on white sand beaches and in tropical rainforest.
Diving and snorkelling
The easiest ways to explore one of the Caribbean’s most breathtaking jewels is to grab a mask and fins and head into the sea. You’ll find calm azure waters, hard and soft corals and shipwrecks. The Tobago Cays in the Grenadines is home to green turtles and nurse sharks breezing under a rainbow of underwater colour whilst on the south west side of St Lucia you’ll find Anse Chastanet, one of the most fantastic snorkelling spots on the island. If you’re a beginner snorkeller, Antigua has plenty of spectacular spots where there is little to no current, making it a good introductory island for children and those looking to get out under warm clear waters for the first time.
Food and drink
Expect tiny beach shacks fringed by translucent waters and plush restaurants where white glove service is the norm. Try curry goat, creole chicken, coconut rum and red snapper ceviche, and get used to lingering over your food, dining under a delicious sunset and joining in with a reggae dance or two next to a beach bonfire. Seafood fans will be in their element – lobster, pepper-crusted tuna, conch fritters, coconut shrimp and that famous hot sauce. There are lots of superstar chefs across the islands delivering international menus, molecular gastronomy and imaginative amuse bouche. Restaurants here have a distinct advantage – freshly plucked tropical fruits, fish straight out of the water and amazing spices to season with.