Best for: Beach lovers, Families.
If your perfect holiday activity is relaxing on the beach and completely switching off from the world, Aruba is the destination for you. It’s known as ‘One Happy Island’ by locals and holidaymakers alike, thanks to its chilled-out vibes, beautiful beaches, and year-round sunshine. In fact, Aruba gets on average just 18 inches of rain per year, and is known to be one of the sunniest of the Caribbean islands.
And, it's got plenty to show off about. Spots like Eagle Beach are award-winners, and regularly rated among the best in the world. Talcum-soft, powder-white sand comes as standard, and coastlines are dotted with picturesque Divi Divi trees. They're all public too, so no matter where you’ll stay, you’ll get access to the best swathes of sand.
Aruba is also a great pick for families. Head to Baby Beach and pitch up for the day next to the paddle-friendly lagoon with your little ones, visit the local Donkey Sanctuary, take a trip on the Jolly Roger pirate ship, or try Renaissance Island, where you can feed flamingos on the beach.
Best for: Adventure seekers, Honeymooners.
St Lucia’s tropical, mountainous terrain makes it the prime spot for outdoorsy, adventurous types. Hike up the soaring Piton Mountains, zip-line through a rainforest, and make your own chocolate bar at a cocoa plantation.
Watersports fans can take their pick of everything from kayaking and windsurfing to deep-sea fishing and jet-skiing. And if you're honeymooners seeking romance and relaxation, try the stunning Hideaway at Royalton St Lucia resort for the perfect secluded and luxurious retreat. After a spa break? Head to the award-winning BodyHoliday hotel, which boasts rejuvenating, cutting-edge spa treatments and specially-prepared health-conscious cuisine.
Best for: Culture vultures, Adventure seekers, Foodies.
Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, and the infamous 'Cool Runnings' bobsleigh team are just a few of Jamaica's famous exports. Pop culture-buffs have loads to explore on the island, including Bob Marley’s house and Usain Bolt’s memorabilia-packed restaurant – or why not spend your morning meeting locals?
The scenery doesn’t disappoint either, with everything from dense tropical rainforests and dramatic mountains to long sandy beaches and towering waterfalls. In Negril, you can watch cliff divers perform acrobatic leaps from Rick’s Café, and lounge on Jamaica’s best stretch of sand, Seven Mile Beach. Ocho Rios is where you’ll find the famous Dunn’s River Falls and Mystic Mountain’s zip-line and adventure course. Meanwhile, Montego Bay is the prime place for partygoers.
Best for: Animal lovers, Culture buffs, Adventure seekers.
The Dominican Republic combines colonial towns and Hispanic culture with impressive scenery – forests, mountains, mangrove lagoons, and long, sandy beaches. Here you can switch between city sightseeing and activities like snorkelling, off-road safaris and even golf.
The capital, Santo Domingo is packed with UNESCO-listed sites, cathedrals and street art murals. It's also home of the Americas’ first cathedral, Alcázar de Colón, and the Columbus Lighthouse, which is said to contain some of Christopher Columbus' remains. After you’ve ticked off the city, get out and explore the tropical landscape. Head to the Los Haitises National Park to look for exotic birds living in the rainforest, and see the region's swamps and sugar cane fields. And, just an hour’s drive from La Romana in the Samana Peninsula you can see humpback whales in the wild. Huge colonies come here to breed in the warm waters – spot them on a boat trip out into the bay from mid-January to the end of March.
The island is also a golfer’s paradise – Punta Cana has 12 courses, while La Romana is home to the legendary ‘Teeth of the Dog’ links course.
Best for: History buffs, Beach lovers, City and beach stays.
There’s a huge white-sand coastline and private, secluded beaches in Varadero, so there’s plenty of space to relax and soak up the rays. The luxurious Royalton Hicacos offers up secluded beachfront spots and private adults’ only sections for a peaceful stay. You can then take a day trip or stay for a couple of nights in Havana to immerse yourself in the iconic city. It’s full of colourful colonial-style buildings and 1950s Cadillacs. By day, explore the UNESCO-protected old town, Renaissance mansions and film set-style colonial architecture. By night, visit the bars where author Ernest Hemingway used to visit, and enjoy salsa rhythms, a lively atmosphere, and of course, endless mojitos.
Best for: Party-goers, Celeb-spotters.
‘Liming’ is the Bajan term for relaxing in the company of friends, and this life skill epitomises the kind of holiday you’ll have on this laid-back island. It also happens to be a celeb favourite, so if you fancy rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, this is the place to be. Our Colony Club by Elegant Hotels is just along the coast from A-list hangout Sandy Lane, so you might just see Simon Cowell whizzing around on his jet ski if you stay there.
When it comes to getting your culture fix, make a beeline for Bridgetown, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012 and is filled with historic spots like Chamberlain Bridge, Heroes Square, and the Lord Nelson Statue. And, although it’s a tropical island, Barbados boasts distinct British influences – such as elegant colonial houses, afternoon tea on terraces, and cricket matches on lawns. So, if you’re partial to a home away from home, this is the destination for you.
The buzzing Barbados nightlife is another draw for party-goers. St Lawrence Gap is the place to be after dark, and is packed with rum bars, Bajan restaurants and clubs that are open all night. You’ll also get your fill of unique attractions with the 17th century Sunbury Plantation House near St Lawrence, the gigantic limestone Harrison’s caves in the centre of the island, and an old Concorde that you can explore if you’re a bit of an aviation enthusiast.
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Author: Selina Akhtar
It’s easy to unwind at Royalton Hicacos. Located on the Hicacos peninsula in Varadero, this hotel is set between white sandy beaches and a belt of jungle greenery.
The award-winning Accra Beach Hotel & Spa is just footsteps from Rockley Beach - one of the best beaches in Barbados.
Positioned on Negril's famous Seven Mile Beach, puts white sands and the Caribbean Sea in the palm of your hand.
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