Few things (in life, in our opinion) are better than a tropical vacation. The sun, the sand, the sea -- it’s all good in our book! And thanks to a certain song by the Beach Boys, some Caribbean islands (cough -- Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama -- cough) tend to attract more visitors than others. Okay, maybe we can’t place all the blame on the Beach Boys, but do you ever hear anyone singing about The Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis? We didn’t think so. So next time you’re feeling adventurous, and are craving a tropical vacation that’s a little more “off the beaten path,” here are eight of the Caribbean’s most underrated retreats that are quite spectacular.
The smaller and less developed of the two islands that make up the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Nevis is an unspoiled paradise with a lot to offer. Friendly people, pristine beaches with beautiful blue waters, and lush tropical rain forests make this island spectacular. It’s an ideal place for couples seeking seclusion or a quiet romantic getaway. We love the Four Seasons Resort Nevis for its lush grounds, spectacular 18-hole golf course, gorgeous, Ralph Lauren-meets-island inspired rooms, delicious restaurants, and tons of on-site amenities.
One of Central America’s more over-looked tropical destinations, Honduras still remains mostly untouched. Though it might not have Costa Rica’s polish and prestige or Nicaragua’s famous surf, Honduras is seeing a rise in tourism -- so get there now, before it, too, has its own song! Roatán, the most developed of the Honduran Bay Islands, is home to the Caribbean’s largest barrier reef, making it a mecca for divers and snorkelers. The island's Pristine Bay Resort is a sprawling complex made up of massive Mediterranean-style villas, a gorgeous infinity edge pool, and a Pete Dye-designed golf course.
A sleepy, undeveloped island off the coast of Puerto Rico, Vieques is a stunning natural wonder, where there are no chain restaurants, golf courses, or built-up tourist attractions. Travelers come to Vieques to relax and unwind, and take in its natural beauty. A must-see sight is the island’s famous bioluminescent bay which appears to glow in the dark at night. The W Retreat & Spa--Vieques Island is a funky, stylish resort with an off-beat design and a laid-back attitude that fits right in with Vieques' inherent nonchalance.
Just off the coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is the southernmost country in the Caribbean chain of islands. While Trinidad is larger and more industrialized, Tobago is the smaller “resort” island. Since tourism isn’t a major driving force in the economy, Tobago is relatively unspoiled and most resorts are peaceful and low-key. Le Grand Courlan Spa Resort lies on the Caribbean side of the island, where the ocean water is calmer and cleaner than on the Atlantic side. This adults-only hotel features ocean views from every room, a spa with numerous treatment options, and several dining options.
A small British territory in the middle of the Caribbean, Anguilla exudes a feeling of upscale exclusivity -- which is perhaps due in part to the fact that it’s harder to get to than other nearby islands. With no direct flights from the US mainland, visitors must either fly to St. Martin and take a short ferry to Anguilla, or fly via seaplane from San Juan, Puerto Rico. One of our favorite spots on the island is the CuisinArt Resort & Spa (yeah as in that CuisinArt). As expected, the food is a real standout here, and most meals served on premises include ingredients from the resort’s hydroponic farm. The property’s gorgeous white sand beach is an absolute stunner, as is the on-site 18-hole Greg Norman golf course -- the only one on the island. Rooms, however, are underwhelming, and not as luxe as one might expect from a five-pearl resort.
Sometimes the hardest part of traveling somewhere new is not knowing what to expect. Though Grenada might be an underrated tropical retreat, the Sandals hotel chain is anything but. The well-known resort brand’s newest outpost, Sandals LaSource Grenada, offers all of the things Sandals customers have come to know and love -- luxurious pools, sophisticated rooms, endless dining options, and lots of romantic details -- which makes traveling to a new destination a little more reassuring. The only downsides to this luxury retreat are the small beachfront and the rough, choppy sea it faces.
Aruba’s lesser known (and less crowded) cousin, Curacao is an island in the Dutch Caribbean known for its year-round, near-perfect weather. Due to constant trade winds and warm waters, Curacao is a popular spot for windsurfing. Willemstad, its colorful capital, looks and feels like a Dutch city, with a bit of Caribbean flair. Opened in 1949, the Avila Hotel--Curacao is the longest continuously running resort on the island. The 150-room hotel blends history with modern luxury, offering updated rooms with flat-screen TVs, a sleek infinity pool, an excellent gym, two small beaches, and three restaurants.
With some of the bluest waters you’ll find in the Caribbean, the aptly named Blue Waters Antigua is one of the island’s best hotels. Set on the northwest side of the island, Blue Waters is located in a small cove known as Soldiers Bay, about 15 minutes from the capital of St. John’s. This secluded spot gives the property a feeling of privacy and exclusivity. The lush grounds are filled with fragrant flowers, several nice pools, and three gorgeous (if a bit small) beachfronts. Rooms are upscale and airy, and all have private decks and stunning island views.
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