If you’re looking to the Caribbean to take the chill out of your bones this winter, go exploring beyond the usual haunts of the jet set – you’re guaranteed a much richer experience. The thrill of discovering a new favorite island is half the fun. So if you’re ready to branch out, here are a few islands to kick-start your imagination.
Breathe in the sweet and spicy air from all the nutmeg and cocoa farms on this gorgeous West Indies island where English and Grenadian Creole are spoken. Visitors can wander over 40 white beaches, including the famous two miles of creamy sands along Grand Anse, or sample the wares at three rum distilleries and discover how cocoa beans are processed at "chocolate farms" while nibbling on artisanal treats. Day trips to explore nearby islands are also a must – Petite Martinique and Carriacou are short ferry rides or puddle-jumper flights away and provide an authentic taste of local cultures and foods.
Once you figure out how to pronounce it (kur-uh-sau), you’ll start to feel at home on this laid-back paradise. Curaçao is one of the three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea – it’s part of the ABC islands (Aruba and Bonaire are the other two). In Curaçao’s capital of Willemstad, recognized as a historical area by UNESCO, you can admire the Dutch colonial architecture. There’s much to enjoy among these pastel-colored buildings, but make sure to walk through the incredible street art of the nearby Scharloo District. While beach delights are easy to find in Curaçao, adventurous types can hike up for grand views atop Christoffelberg, also known as Mount Saint Christoffel.
Here’s another Caribbean gem, just a little off the beachy beaten path. Dominica is a lush tropical island found between Martinique and Guadeloupe. The island’s vibrant coral reefs just offshore are a diver’s paradise where volcanic subsea terrain and hot springs create a welcoming environment for many fascinating marine life. Snorkeling at Champagne reef – among all those little bubbles escaping the volcanic rock – might just tickle your fancy, too. Several top-end luxury resorts have opened in the last few years, making this small island packed with natural beauty an even more enticing destination.
This outer island in the Bahamian archipelago moves at a deliciously slow pace. Its name comes from the Greek word for "freedom," which is apt because Eleuthera – while lined with gorgeous pink sandy beaches – is free from crowds or cruise ships or casinos. This thin island – no more than two miles wide – gives visitors views of both the roiling Atlantic Ocean and the calmer Caribbean Sea. Visitors who drive along the Glass Window Bridge – a causeway that connects the north and south and dubbed the narrowest point on Earth – can see both at once from their car. Eleuthera simply hopes its visitors slip into island time and escape normal life for a while.
This year, let’s find you a new Caribbean hideaway.