Much of volcanic Dominica is blanketed by untamed rainforest that's a verdant backdrop to experiences such as an intense trek to a bubbling lake, soothing your muscles in hot sulfur springs, getting pummeled by a waterfall, snorkeling in a glass of ‘champagne’, swimming up a narrow gorge – the list goes on.
Americans from the east coast fleeing winter make Aruba the most touristed island in the southern Caribbean. And that’s not really surprising given that it has miles of the best beaches, plenty of package resorts and a compact and cute main town, Oranjestad, which is ideally suited for the two-hour strolls favored by day-tripping cruise-ship passengers.
Antigua's capital, St John's, is tucked into a sheltered bay, about 5 miles west of the airport. Most hotels and resorts cluster north of here along Dickenson Bay and south in historic English Harbour. The best beaches hem the west coast between Jolly Harbour and Old Road Town. The wind-swept east is sparsely settled and has only a few beaches.
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Just the name St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) evokes visions of exotic, idyllic island life. Imagine an island chain in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, uncluttered by tourist exploitation; with white-sand beaches on deserted islands, sky-blue water gently lapping the shore and barely a soul around.
Veering from a manicured coast of plush golf resorts and posh surf spots, this region rears up into the less-visited vine-tangled crags of karst country, where landscapes seem positively prehistoric with yawning cave systems, mogotes (vegetated, steep-sided hillocks) and lonely spreads of forest.
St Martin & Sint Maarten
Two nations, one island. How strange it feels to visit a half-Dutch, half-French territory, with two very distinct personalities. For visitors, it's a great opportunity to get the best of both worlds. First and foremost, get your tan. With 37 picture-perfect beaches that are spread out all over the island, your vacation here is sure to be a dream.
West of Ocho Rios
As any experienced island traveler will tell you, in Jamaica the best-laid plans can veer wildly astray. Such was the case with Christopher Columbus. In 1503, on his fourth voyage to the New World – and his second trip to Jamaica – the explorer’s two remaining ships were pummeled by a storm.
While Trinidad booms with industry and parties all night, tiny Tobago (just 42km across) slouches in a deck chair with a beer in hand watching its crystalline waters shimmer in the sun. Though Tobago is proud of its rainforests, fantastic dive sites, stunning aquamarine bays and nature reserves, it’s OK with not being mentioned in a Beach Boys song.
Once a rustic fishing village, Las Terrenas today is a cosmopolitan town and seems as much French (approaching a colony) and Italian as Dominican. Fashionable-looking European women in designer sunglasses ride their personal ATVs with a bag of baguettes in tow, battling on roads with way too many motos.
Go-go Curaçao balances commerce with Unesco-recognized old Willemstad and an accessible beauty, thanks to hidden beaches along a lush coast. It’s a wild mix of urban madness, remote vistas and a lust for life. It has a rich history dating back to the 16th century. Central Willemstad boasts fascinating old buildings and excellent museums.