With thousands of islands, the Caribbean is home to some of the most stunning holiday locations on the planet. However, with a surplus of mammoth hotel complexes, cruise ships and packs of partying students, discerning holiday-goers need to choose their destination very carefully. Stay clear of the masses, relax on the region’s most exquisite beaches and explore exceptional natural settings on these spectacular under-the-radar islands.
Free of large-scale resorts, those looking to escape the all-inclusive experience — yet make the most of the Caribbean’s beauty — will find their paradise on this 16-mile-long island. A British overseas territory located east of the Virgin Islands and north of Saint Martin, it has over 30 pristine beaches, wonderful local boutiques, great art galleries and an excellent variety of dining options from haute-cuisine to casual food shacks. Don’t miss out on its mouth-watering seafood, some of the best in the whole Caribbean. Watersport fans will also revel in the island’s excellent watersport opportunities from sailing to kite-surfing.
Canouan Island, The Grenadines
Of the 32 island’s of the Grenadines, picturesque Canouan is ringed with beautiful beaches, coves and bays, is dense in lush forest and features jaw-dropping sea views. The beautiful island is abundant in tropical flowers from purple Petunias to flaming red Flamboyant trees, set against the backdrop of steep green mountains. These slopes are ideal for hiking — of course the higher you go, the more breathtaking the views! The island benefits from a perfect climate all year round thanks to the gentle trade winds that blow and sunny days as the norm. In the evenings admire the stellar sunsets, cocktail in hand, to the soundtrack of groovy Caribbean calypso rhythms.
Harbour Island, The Bahamas
An impressive chain of 700 islands and cays, The Bahamas encompasses some of the most idyllic islands of the Caribbean, of which Harbour Island is a particularly well-hidden gem. Located off the coast of North Eleuthera and only accessible by boat, it’s known for its long stretches of fine pink sand, amazingly crystal clear waters and blissful average temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Its exceptional beauty has attracted stars like Diane von Furstenberg and Elle Macpherson, drawn to its relaxed, luxurious holiday homes which avoid the ostentatiousness of some of the other glamorous islands in the region. Its an ideal place for snorkeling, diving and lazy picnics on sandbars.
If you’re looking for some tropical adventures to go with your beach time — and to stay away from the crowds — then make your way to this gorgeous landmass of unspoilt natural splendor. Not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, Dominica is a sovereign island country in the Lesser Antilles between the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. A former British colony, it gained its independence in 1978. Covering an area of 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi), its been dubbed the “Nature Isle of the Caribbean” due to its pristine environment. You can spend your days trekking through its virgin rainforest, discovering cascading waterfalls, gurgling springs and a diverse array of flora and fauna. Some visitors take on the mild challenge of scaling the 1,447 metres (4,747 ft) Morne Diablotins whereas others rest their weary bones in Boiling Lake, the world’s second largest hot spring found in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beach-lovers can get their fix on the sandy stretches along the island’s northeast coast.
At the southern tip of Caribbean, Grenada remains offbeat with few hotels and cruiseships, making it an excellent destination for sunseekers craving long days in peaceful, white sandy beaches tucked away in secret coves. It also draws sailors and divers who enjoy exploring the many shipwrecks and reefs just off the shoreline. Its lush rainforest clinging to its volcanic slopes are perfect for hiking, swimming under waterfalls and bird watching, though watch out for the cheeky mona monkeys. Holidayers can also visit the island’s spice plantations, namely for nutmeg, 30 percent of world’s total production of the spice comes from Grenada. Visitors are surely to pass through historic St. George at some point where they can take in its colonial charm, lovely boutiques and bustling cafes.