Close your eyes and picture a Caribbean island. What do you see? Picture-postcard beaches, swaying palms or a rum punch or two, perhaps? The Caribbean is all this and more. Each island has its own distinct character and charm, so if you’re looking for a memorable break, it’s handy to know the key differences between each one. Here is our guide to help you choose the perfect destination for your Caribbean holiday.
Brimming with charm, Jamaica dances to the beat of its own drum. Birthplace of the legendary Bob Marley, this island has all the assets you’d expect from a Caribbean getaway, with a little extra spice. Extract yourself from that poolside lounger and wealth of cultural attractions await, from rafting down the Martha Brae River to hiking in the Blue Mountains. Fans of Noel Coward should check out Firefly, burial place and former residence of the flamboyant and talented British playwright and actor. Then there’s the delicious and flavoursome food; be sure to try jerk chicken, beef patties and of course ackee and saltfish, the delicious national dish.
From the dramatic twin peaks of the Piton mountains to its fine sandy beaches, the volcanic island of St Lucia has an escapist Robinson Crusoe vibe, yet with all the trappings of luxury you’d expect from an island synonymous with chic all-inclusive resorts. Those not content with relaxing on the sublime shores can hike or zip-wire through the rainforest, making St Lucia an appealing prospect for active travellers. Underwater exploration is also on the menu with the clear waters playing host to pristine coral, colourful parrotfish and moray eels.
English-speaking Antigua is famous for having 365 beaches, one for every day of the year, but this is by no means it’s only claim to fame. History buffs will be in their element with a number of interesting sights to explore, including Nelson’s Dockyard, a reminder of the Island’s colourful naval past. No trip to Antigua is complete however, without time spent at Shirley Heights; it’s one of the best vantage points on the island, and on Sunday nights it becomes a party spot with barbecues, rum-punch stalls and steel drums playing.
If freshly caught fish, laid-back charm and a handful of jaw-dropping natural attractions are your bag, Barbados is the holiday venue for you. Aside from its 92km stretch of sleek platinum-blonde coastline, there’s plenty to keep you busy, with Harrison’s Cave a top tourist attraction worthy of your time. The Barbados Wildlife Reserve and Grenade Hall Forest is a must for nature lovers and a great place get up close to Barbados green monkeys in their natural habitat. You might also see iguanas, peacocks and the odd snake!
A trip to Cuba definitely offers something different from its Caribbean counterparts. This vibrant destination, with its dramatic historic past and colourful present, offers up a smorgasbord of cultural experiences, alongside some impressive beach resorts. Most visitors choose to split their time between buzzing Havana and the seaside town of Varadero. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time in Havana with cigar shops, vintage American cars and the sounds of salsa rhythms drifting from the numerous bars and cafes. Writer Ernest Hemingway lived here, and visitors still flock to the Bodeguita del Medio, a bar he used to frequent. Cuba is a feast for the senses.
A Caribbean holiday is like a couture dress – it never goes out of style. However, to make sure you get the perfect fit, it’s worth doing your research and selecting a destination that ticks all your boxes, before investing your hard-earned cash!