Caribbean Comeback guide

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CARIBBEAN

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welcome

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Welcome Back

22 Tobago Sponsored feature

37 BVIs Sponsored feature

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Safety Measures

23 The Great Outdoors

38 Transport

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The Bucket List

26 Festivals and Events

The Caribbean is ready and waiting

Wild and untamed natural beauty

Health protocols and hygiene regimes to reassure visitors

20 unforgettable ‘must do’ experiences in 20 unforgettable destinations

10 Wellbeing

Soothing solutions and treatments for the mind, body and soul

12 What’s New

Water parks, festivals, food tours, local cooking lessons and much more

16 Jamaica Sponsored feature

Where to find natural space and distance away from the crowds

Colourful and spectacular celebrations

Stunning beaches, sugar cane fields and tropical forests

28 Family & multi-generational holidays

Experiences for the ages – suggestions for a great family holiday

Options include self-catering cottages all-inclusive resorts and beach retreats

18 Sustainable Tourism

32 St Kitts Sponsored feature

20 Weddings & Honeymoons

34 Workations

21 Cayman Islands Sponsored feature

36 Gastronomy

Tourists can sign up for experiences that put money into local communities

Dreamy places and spaces to say ‘I do’

Sandy beaches and thrilling adventures

Planes, cruise ships and yachts – Getting to, and travelling around, the Caribbean

40 Multi-centres

Perfect twins and how to visit several destinations on one trip

27 Barbados Sponsored feature

30 Accommodation

Beaches, Blue Mountain, Blue Hole British-colonial architecture

Unspoilt islands, reef-lined beaches

43 Calendar of Events

Dates and occasions to plan a visit around

44 Map

The nations of the Caribbean

46 CTO Chapter UK & Europe members list

Directory of destinations and services

Chill out, kick back and relax on the Caribbean’s authentic island

Home from home: Extended stay visas

The spice of life from roadside stalls to top restaurants

About the Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK & Europe Limited: The Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK & Europe Limited – known as the CTO Chapter UK & Europe – was established to promote, encourage, foster and develop tourism to the Caribbean from the United Kingdom and Europe, with the aim of communicating a strong and positive image of the Caribbean and educating those working in the travel industry about the Caribbean. The CTO Chapter UK & Europe is a public and private sector membership association, led by a board of directors. The CTO Chapter UK & Europe is registered at Companies House 4322568. The registered office is Suite 37, 6th Floor Amp, Dingwall Road Croydon CR0 2LX, telephone +44 208 948 0057 or email digital@caribbean.co.uk For more information please visit www.caribbean.co.uk and follow us on all social media channels.

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welcome back

a place in THE SUN Space to unwind, cooling trade winds, scenic vistas and an environment in which to reconnect, the Caribbean makes for the perfect post-pandemic holiday, says Debbie Ward

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pen spaces, natural beauty to sooth the soul and the chance to safely reconnect with loved ones and nature itself have been simple pleasures many of us have craved since the pandemic struck in March 2020. The Caribbean offers all of the above in abundance and the good news for travel agents and anyone planning a holiday of a lifetime is that it is waiting with open arms. The following pages will offer tips on all the Caribbean has to offer – its sandy beaches, lush rainforests, colourful reefs, exciting cuisine, world-famous music and carnivals...and much more. At the time of writing, the rules to keep both visitors and residents safe vary between the nations of the Caribbean, and are likely to stay fluid for a while yet. – but tourists shouldn’t be fazed. “Our destinations have clear entry protocols that are easy to find and understand,” advises Carol Hay, Business Development Director,

Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK & Europe Limited. “Those planning a visit should check out each destination’s website or speak with their travel agent. Also see the information provided online by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) at carpha.org.”

A WORLD OF CHOICE

With so many fabulous and diverse destinations across the region, the trickier problem is likely to be choosing where to go. Perhaps you want a premium hotel experience, of the type that can be found in Barbados, The Bahamas, Aruba and others; a family all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic or Saint Lucia; or an ecoadventure activity holiday among the rainforests of St. Kitts, Dominica, Belize, Montserrat, Tobago or Guyana? Weddings and honeymoons will be in demand in 2022 and top properties – from Le Barthélemy in St. Barth’s to The Cove in Eleuthera, The Bahamas) – offer an alluring mix of scenic location, great service and a guarantee of privacy and seclusion.

KINGSTON’S CAPITAL APPEAL IN JAMAICA “Take your time,” says Cheree, my guide, as I admire the rose-beds of Emancipation Park and the bronze figures of the Redemption Song memorial, named after the Bob Marley song and dedicated to the slaves of Jamaica’s past. Next up on my Kingston tour is The Bob Marley Museum, the singer’s former home and, Cheree explains, where he survived an assassination attempt in 1976. My history lesson in Jamaica’s capital continues at the antique-stuffed

Georgian mansion, Devon House, built by Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel. Aside from the tropical foliage, the heritage site has a definite UK west country feel, with brick cottages and stables turned into a bakery, and the iScream ice cream parlour where I choose a clotted cream vanilla cone. Leaving the house, Cheree spots a roadside fruit seller and we buy a bag of orange jackfruit, that grows on the treetrunk, and the Jamaican apple which is like a plum but less sweet.

The Caribbean exudes romantic appeal

Divers can swim with reef sharks in the Cayman Islands, explore the underwater sculpture park off Grenada or experience Belize’s Great Blue Hole, listed among the world’s top 10 dive sites. If you’re new to diving, or like to snorkel, the Caribbean’s warm waters, its reefs and shipwrecks are a popular place to learn. Golfers can tee off on championship courses in the Dominican Republic, Barbados, St. Kitts, Nevis and Jamaica, while equestrian types can enjoy a beachfront horseback ride that ends with a swim in the Caribbean sea in Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Tobago and several other places. Adrenaline junkies can zip-wire across a forest canopy, bike or hike a mountain trail, climb a waterfall or raft a river. Sailors and anglers also love the Caribbean. Options include deep-sea fishing trips, while the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), The Bahamas and Antigua are among the top choices for yachtsmen. With crewed yachts for charter you don’t need to know the ropes to set sail – making this a popular option for families. “The Caribbean is much more than a beach destination; you can have a whole adventure,” says Colin Pegler, Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK & Europe Ltd. And there’s plenty of history and culture to discover: learn about the period of

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“We always say if you’ve been to one Caribbean destination, that’s it, you’ve been to one. We encourage people to stay longer”

Colourful carnivals are a big draw card

enslavement, the days of sugar plantations, and the Caribbean’s spice trading and rummaking heritage. Then meet indigenous communities, such as rastafarians, or join in the fun at a colourful carnival. Those just looking to chill can hole up on a quiet island such as Nevis or one of the Grenadines or enjoy a castaway experience by spending a day picnicking on a private cay. Combine a lively destination with another that is more chilled on a twin- or multi-centre holiday made possible by the inter-island

flights and catamaran ferry services. “If you’ve been to one Caribbean destination that’s it, you’ve been to one! We encourage people to stay longer, experience more than one resort and to island hop,” says Carol Hay. With several destinations – such as Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica – promoting workations (or staycations), a stay of weeks or even months is now possible. Holidaying in the Caribbean is also an ethical choice: the region’s economy is heavily dependent on tourism so all visitors will be

Watching the marine life

helping local businesses – hotels, guest houses, beach bars, taxi drivers, roadside stallholders and others – get back on their feet. And businesses large and small are mindful of a shift in what tourists want. “There is more emphasis on health and wellness. Visitors will want that feeling of space and will take more individual tours,” explains Colin Pegler. Whatever Caribbean destination(s) you travel to, such extra thought and planning will ensure you’ll be in safe hands. •

Romance & Wellness

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safety measures

CLEAN BILL The nations of the Caribbean have put in place a range of confidence-building measures designed to reassure visitors, says Peter Ellegard

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hile most British holidaymakers were unable to visit the Caribbean between March 2020 and summer 2021 due to the global pandemic and UK Government travel restrictions, many destinations in the region continued to welcome travellers from elsewhere, primarily the U.S.

As a result, safety and health protocols are now well tried, tested and robust. With vaccination programmes for residents also well advanced across much of the Caribbean, it means visitors can look forward to enjoying their holidays with greater confidence. Leading resort companies have elevated their standards of quality and cleanliness to instil consumer confidence. For example, AMResorts has introduced a CleanComplete Verification programme, with protocols that match the highest standards in health and hygiene. Backed by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), measures include ongoing sanitation activity in all areas with high human contact, restrooms regularly sanitised and disinfected, sanitisng gels available throughout the resort, distancing between beach and pool loungers and other protocols around the spa and pool areas. Sandals Resorts International is offering complimentary Covid-19 testing to all guests across its Sandals and Beaches Resorts prior to their departure, to help them meet UK reentry requirements. And many individual hotels have also introduced their own initiatives. For example, in Barbados, the Crane Resort opened the Caribbean’s first on-site hotel PCR COVID testing lab. The ‘Jetsetter’ launch package (£79) includes a Rapid Antigen test prior to departure to the UK. In the event of a positive test, Crane guests are offered a luxury ‘isolation suite’ with kitchen, living area and a private pool, free of charge. It seems probable that some Caribbean destinations will likely remain closed to international travel longer than others, but

New health and safety protocols are in place

since July 19 2021 the UK Government has no longer been recommending against travel to amber list countries – which includes many Caribbean nations. Also, as of September1 2021, several Caribbean countries are on the green list – meaning visitors do not have to quarantine on their return to the UK (but they must take a Covid-19 test on or before their second day back). Of course, UK regulations are only one side of the coin. In the Caribbean itself, it seems likely that most nations for the foreseeable future will only permit entry to fully-vaccinated travellers, perhaps with exemptions for under-18s, with visitors needing to submit a negative result from a PCR test taken within days of their arrival. There will also be tests on arrival, with visitors required to stay in their hotel or villa pending the results. However, with the situation so fluid readers are advised to check the websites of individual destinations for the up- to-date regulations and entry requirements.

HEALTHIER, SAFER TRAVEL WITH CARPHA

The Caribbean’s Public Health Agency (CARPHA), through its Regional Tourism and Health Program, has launched two innovative and dynamic tools to improve travellers’ confidence and reinstate healthier and safer travel to the Caribbean.

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The Caribbean’s Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has launched two innovative dynamic tools to improve travellers’ confidence

The Caribbean Traveller’s Health Assurance Stamp for Healthier, Safer Tourism (HST) assists travellers in making ‘safer choices’ when choosing tourism facilities and services in the Caribbean. The HST Stamp, endorsed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) and the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC), recognises suppliers that implement the

recommended COVID-19 health measures. A second tool, the Caribbean Traveller’s Health Mobile App, is a health information bank that provides information by destination, including entry requirements, health alerts, HST Stamp awardees, COVID-19 prevention measures and the option of confidentially reporting an illness. Downloadthe free app on Apple Store and Google Play. See: carpha.org/ thp/healthier-safer-tourism •

Travellers explore, destinations entice and people make the experience! 33 pristine beaches blended with authenticity, warmth, Caribbean style and

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you have Anguilla. A small island with a slow pace and warm welcome. For information go to ivisitanguilla.com or contact your travel agent. caribbean.co.uk

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the bucket list

Wow! moments Unforgettable ‘must do’ experiences abound across the Caribbean – here’s 20 guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, says Sara Macefield

Climb Dunn’s River Falls: Jamaica

This beautiful waterfall features on most island tours and offers torrents of exhilarating fun. This natural treasure was made for climbing, with warm crystal-clear waters cascading 600ft down to the beach. Sure-footed guides lead climbers up and over limestone terraces, scrambling over giant boulders, diving into tempting pools and standing under powerful torrents for the most invigorating of natural showers.

Swim with Stingrays: Cayman Islands

The shallow sandbar at Grand Cayman, reached by boat, is home to famously tame stingrays that sweep through the waistdeep water like a flotilla of Vulcan bombers to feed on handfuls of squid proffered by visitors. Prepare for close encounters of an aquatic kind as rays flap around and brush boldly past, sucking up squid through their tiny mouths.

Swim with stingrays in the Cayman Islands

Ride the Scenic Railway: St. Kitts

Trundle across St. Kitts’ lush slopes on a Toytown-like train that serves up stunning views and an insight into the nation’s history. The gentle two-hour ride follows an 18-mile route on the original railroad, built across sugar plantations that produced the ‘white gold’ which made St. Kitts the wealthiest English colony in the West Indies.

Fly between the Pitons: Saint Lucia

Swoop through Saint Lucia’s famous natural landmarks on a flightseeing trip showcasing the volcanic terrain of the country’s rugged south. Helicopter tours promise spectacular vantage points across the snaggle-toothed Pitons, rising up in vivid emerald green that contrasts with the cobalt backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Adding to this visual feast are sparkling waterfalls, lush rainforest and the steaming Soufriere Volcano.

Great views from St. Kitts Scenic Railway

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The spectacular Pitons in Saint Lucia

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the bucket list

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Visit a live volcano: Montserrat

Experience a modern-day Pompeii in this tiny jewel, known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean for its verdant landscape and rich history dating from the first Irish Catholic settlers. The island’s recent history has been dominated by the Soufriere Hills Volcano, whose eruptions turned former capital Plymouth into an ash-covered ghost town which is now visited on tours that also feature Montserrat’s Volcano Observatory.

Go underground in Harrison’s Cave: Barbados

Descend into pitch-black tunnels to explore the subterranean network of milky-toned limestone caverns stretching for three miles. Harrison’s Cave is one of Barbados’s most popular and unique tourist draws–

attracting visitors who ride electric trams noiselessly through caves of beautifully illuminated stalactites and stalagmites, where crystal-clear streams race into gushing waterfalls that tumble into deep mysterious pools.

Step back in time at Nelson’s Dockyard: Antigua

The atmospheric stone columns and former warehouses of this historic site not only reflect Antigua’s maritime history but remain the world’s only Georgian working dockyard. The gracious buildings, where young Horatio Nelson was based in the 1780s, now house restaurants and shops, while overlooking the harbour is Shirley Heights, the venue for Sunday night parties where guests enjoy spectacular views of the setting sun.

Freeport Bahamas, Junkanoo Festival

Party Junkanoostyle: The Bahamas

Catch the carnival spirit with a Junkanoo Rushout celebration of cowbells, drums and whistles accompanied by colourful costumes and exuberant dancing. This Bahamian version of carnival traditionally

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runs over Boxing Day and New Year’s Day and stems from the celebrations of African slaves who were given holidays at this time. In recent times, Junkanoo has been extended to Saturdays in summer.

LIFe’s A beach: Anguilla

Miles of blindingly-white stretches of sand and pink-tinged beaches stand out as among the best in the Caribbean and are a signature draw of this British Overseas Territory. Anguilla is only 35 square miles, but has 33 beaches to choose from, lapped by iridescent turquoise waters and offering a perfect antidote to the stresses and distractions of everyday life.

Sailing: British Virgin Islands

Dotted like precious jewels across sapphire waters, this tropical archipelago is sailing heaven thanks to warm trade winds that caress this corner of the Caribbean Sea. Aside from being supremely beautiful, the BVIs are full of isolated coves, pretty bays and deserted sandbars, allowing plenty of chances to jump overboard and swim ashore to one of the welcoming beach bars.

see hummingbirds: Tobago

Nothing beats the thrill of seeing hummingbirds at close quarters. The birds dart like iridescent sparks among tropical blooms, hovering briefly to extract the sweet nectar in their long slender beaks. There are six different types of hummingbird on Tobago, and around 260 birdlife species in total, making it one of the world’s premier bird-watching destinations.

A crowd-free beach in Anguilla

Dive with whale sharks: Belize

Sharing the sea with these gentle giants off the coast of Belize, where they gather in spring and early summer, is a key attraction of this fabulous diving destination. The clear and warm offshore waters host the world’s second largest barrier reef and a 400ft deep blue hole, one of the world’s top dive sites.

Spice up your life: Grenada

Known as the Spice Island of the Caribbean

thanks to the abundant mix of herbs and spices grown here, Grenada is one of the world’s foremost growers of nutmeg. Stop for the natural flavours, including cinnamon, cloves, ginger and locally-made chocolate, gracing stalls at the spice market held in the picturesque capital, St George’s.

Go Dutch: Curacao

There’s a distinctive European flavour to Curacao’s capital Willemstad – the Caribbean’s answer to Amsterdam – where beautifully-preserved 17th and 18th Century gabled houses line the waterfront in a

Discover natural wonders: Dominica

As home to the Caribbean’s only longdistance walking path, the Waitukubuli National Trail, along with numerous natural treasures, Dominica is hiking heaven. With rugged mountainous terrain, hot springs, a boiling lake and breathtaking waterfalls, the self-billed Nature Island of the Caribbean has dramatic scenery in abundance and is the only island where the Kalinago indigenous tribe of Carib Indians still lives.

Sail the sapphire waters of the BVIs

Colourful buildings in Willemstad, Curacao

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The vibrant colours of carnival in port of Spain, Trinidad

rainbow of colours. Many are designated world heritage sites by UNESCO and houses typical Dutch shops. The city is also home to the Mikve Israel Synagogue, dating from 1674 and the oldest synagogue in the Americas.

Rainforest march: Martinique

The rainforested mountains of this French territory provide rich rewards for hikers on a network of trails that carve across steep slopes, cutting through lush forests and following rivers which offer the chance to cool off under waterfalls. One of the longest trails is a coastal route showcasing the Atlantic coast and superb sea views.

Desert trekking: Aruba

The Arikok National Park, accounting for nearly 20% of this Dutch territory’s landmass, couldn’t be further from the lush jungle normally associated with the Caribbean. Instead, it is a melting pot of Amerindian remains, abandoned gold mines and disused farms, surrounded by desert scrubland dotted with tall cacti, a rugged coastline and views to Venezuela from Aruba’s highest point.

Carnival revelries: Trinidad

The annual explosion of revelry that is the Trinidad Carnival is legendary and known

as the Mother of all Carnivals. Costumed dancers, bedecked with exotic headdresses of sequins, beads and feathers, dance along the streets of Port of Spain, following trucks booming out pounding beats that compete with the distinctive rhythm of steel pan bands.

Swim with wild turtles: St Vincent & the GRENADINES Stretching in an arc downwards from St Vincent to Grenada, the Grenadines have long proved irresistible for romantics and escapists. The protected waters around the islets of the Tobago Cays are rich in marine life, making them ideal for snorkellers who can swim with the numerous green sea turtles that gather here.

the revolutionary spirit: Cuba

Large cactus in the desert of Santa Cruz, Aruba

Tropical palm grove of Martinique Island

There’s nowhere quite like Cuba – the home of rum and revolution, cigars and salsa music, and iconic figures, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Its well-worn capital Havana is a mesmerising blend of old and new, where the narrow cobbled streets and grandiose piazzas of Old Havana represent the city’s Spanish colonial legacy at its best. •

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MIND and BODY

For travellers who focus on renewing body and spirit, options include beachfront workouts, yoga retreats, wellness resorts and a range of Spa treatments, says Kathryn Liston

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unshine, warm seas, tropical nature and exotic fruits, the Caribbean’s natural ingredients provide the perfect recipe for relaxing, recharging and rediscovering your inner Zen. In Jamaica, discover the serenity of the Blue Mountains, float along the Martha Brae River and, at the new Eclipse at Half Moon, improve your health and energy levels by sampling organic foods from the traditional ital diet, free from meat and additives. Hotel and resorts across the Caribbean – including Barbados, Curacao, Aruba,

Stay healthy and feel energised in the Caribbean

Martinique, Bonaire, Guyana, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and St Martin – feature first-class spas offering treatments, such as cinnamon-infused chocolate massages at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, Grenada. Guests at True Blue Bay also receive a wellness kit of essential oils and herbal teas. Yoga, pilates and juices made from fruit and vegetables grown in the organic kitchen garden are included in stays at the East Winds boutique resort, Saint Lucia. A Stay Well programme at Secret Bay, Dominica, includes treatments at the Gommier treetop Spa, yoga, canyoning, scuba diving and hiking. The resort’s organic farm supplies ingredients for immune-boosting shots and native herbal teas. Native flowers and oils are used in treatments at two new Spas: Malliouhana resort, Anguilla, and Palm Heights on Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, while the overwater spa at Kamalame Cay in The Bahamas is perfect for a spot of pampering. Mud massages in Belize are said to provide healing benefits, as do the volcanic stones and spices of St. Kitts. Signing up for a retreat is a wonderful way

to switch off from the outside world. For example, Jamaica Inn in Jamaica stages a three-day mindfulness and meditation retreat, led by psychotherapist Lena Franklin. Sunrise and sunset meditation, yoga, nature walks and two holistic therapies are included in retreats offered by Carlisle Bay in Antigua. Castara Retreats in Tobago is among the many properties offering Yoga retreats – usually a week-long event – and energy healing yoga sessions. The all-inclusive Aerial on private Buck Island, which sleeps 30 guests, is the BVIs’ latest wellness resort. Guests can sign up for activities that include writing workshops, environmental healing classes and oceanwater therapies. And those staying at Point at Petite Calivigny in Grenada can enjoy fitness, Spa, meditation and yoga programmes, paddleboard workouts and boxing classes. An underwater breath work programme at Windjammer Landing in Saint Lucia is designed to enhance the diving experience. Nevis has launched a JustBe video highlighting the island’s nature, walks, therapeutic hot springs and holistic Spas. •

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Added ATTRACTIONS The destinations of the Caribbean have been busy unveiling new products, experiences and tours to tempt both returning and new visitors, says Kathryn Liston

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ater parks, chocolate festivals, food fairs, rum tours and transparent kayaks are among the new visitor offerings in the Caribbean. Barbados has a host of new attractions for visitors. A water park at Rascals Beach Bar and Restaurant claims the title of the world’s largest aqua fun park. It caters for all ages, with water slides, a children’s play park and Barbados’ first Wetball park. Reopened in July 2021, Eco-Adventure Park at Harrison’s Cave, now managed by Chukka Caribbean Adventures, offers a new range

Harrisons Cave, Barbados

of experiences including an eco-adventure park, zip-line experience, nature trail, and various kids’ activities, which complement the popular tram tour of the caves. In Jamaica, the newly opened Chukka Ocean Outpost at Sandy Bay sits on an old sugar plantation. The open-air playground has chill-out areas, with swings, hammocks and suspended lounge beds where visitors can unwind while listening to reggae hits spun by the park’s resident DJ. There are also activities like ATV and dune buggy safaris, horseback riding, catamaran cruises and power snorkelling, along with a beachfront

True Blue Bay Boutique Resort rum tasting

restaurant, bird aviary and Jamaica’s first over-the-ocean zip line - which ends with a thrilling splash in the Caribbean Sea.

CUISINE

Also in Jamaica, master the art of cooking like a local at Jakes Hotel on the south coast. Interactive lessons cover island dishes like jerk chicken, ackee, and run down (a fish stew) – all made with fresh ingredients. The Cayman Islands are looking ahead to the 2022 version of the popular Cayman Cookout, which will be held on Grand Cayman between January 13-17. The event, featuring a line-up of celebrity chefs, wine and spirit experts and culinary influencers, will take place on Seven Mile Beach at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman hotel. Guests will enjoy cooking demonstrations, exclusive tastings and unique gourmet experiences. The Reef Restoration team in Curacao has introduced a new coral nursery dive. Offered by CURoius2Dive, it includes a briefing about coral restoration, ‘fragmentation and maintenance’. Guests help out in the removing of algae and check the progression of corals by taking measurements to calculate growth curves.

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what’s new

With corals, white beaches, clear blue waters, varied flora and fauna, and shipwrecks, Curaçao is a great place to learn how to dive. Or visit the Curacao Sea Aquarium, celebrating 35 years in 2021, and sign up for a new submarine dive with Substation Curaçao which will take you up close and personal to sea life through the Ocean Lens, or swim with stingrays, tarpon, jacks and others during a snorkel in Animal Encounters.

ADVENTURE

In the BVIs a new ‘soft adventure’ company, Hike BVI, invites visitors to explore the hidden trails of the islands with their own knowledgeable ‘Hike Guru’. Available on Salt Island, Norman Island, Little Harbour and Virgin Gorda, the tours range from three to five hours’ long and include a lunch and private boat trip, along with a crystal-clear ocean, sandy beaches and views of the mountains and tropical areas beyond.

The Baha bay waterpark

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ON THE TRAIL OF FIDEL IN CUBA It is small wonder Cuba’s government had such a hard time finding Fidel Castro’s revolutionary hideout in the mountainous and verdant Sierra Maestra. On the sound of an approaching spotter plane the occupants would release camouflaged shutters over the windows, as my tour guide nimbly demonstrates. I take my time touring the buildings at La Plata, Fidel’s former HQ, scrutinising artefacts such as his funky ‘50s-style fridge and a typewriter used for communiqués. It was from here that Also in the BVIs, Voyage Charters has launched the destination’s first electricpowered charter yacht. The Voyage 480 Electrified yacht caters for up to 10 guests In The Bahamas, the Baha Bay waterpark in Nassau, opened in summer 2021 with slides, uphill water coasters, wave pool, surf simulator and a kids’ island. Guests staying at adjacent Baha Mar enjoy unlimited access. Staying in the same destination, multiple James Beard award-winning chef Marcus Samuelsson debuted his new restaurant, Baha Mar Fish + Chop House, at Baha Mar in July 2021. He source fresh local ingredients and Bahamian seafood, washed down with a cocktail from a rooftop bar. In Grenada, Cayaks is a unique eco-tourism product that allows customers to see the unspoiled underwater landscape and marine life below, using fully transparent kayaks. Atmospheric night experiences are also

Reservations: US/CAN 1 (866) 252 0689 | UK: 0 (800) 917 6197 reservations@landingsstlucia.com | www.landingsstlucia.com

Fidel’s forces struck out for Havana, before overthrowing the Batista government in 1959 and installing Fidel as leader, a post he’d keep for 50 years. The wildlife-rich Sierra Maestra is popular for its world-class hiking, but I am not yet done with the Cuban Revolution. In a small restaurant in a village below the mountains, an aged group of musicians, dressed in the military green fatigues of the type seen in Fidel’s own revolutionary band, strike up a tune. It’s a day that will live me forever. available, as the two-person kayaks are illuminated by blues and greens. A food platter and wine is included on the tours. Grenada has launched a host of new tours including a Field to Bottle Rum Tour. Guests are taken on an immersive experience, from the sugar cane fields along the way learning about Grenada’s rich history and harvesting their own cane at River Antoine Estate. They then learn about the intricate rum distilling process before being invited to fill out and label their very own bottle of rum to take home. On Anguilla, Malliouhana has introduced sea fishing and transparent acrylic paddleboards that allow guests to spot turtles and other sea life during the day and night-time trips. Also new at the resort is Catch N’ Cook: guests enjoy an afternoon of fishing at sea and later get to dine on their catch prepared by Malliouhana’s culinary team. •

Nestl ed o n th e sh o r e s of Rodne y Bay a l o n g o n e o f St. L u c i a ’s m ost ce le brate d bea c h es. T h e L a n di n gs Re sort and Spa is a l u xu r i o u s a l l -su i te vi lla re sort f e aturing o n e-to -th r ee-bedr o o m units with e x pansiv e ter r a c es, bo a sti n g ma r ina or oce an v ie ws, ma n y wi th pr i va te pl u nge pools. With an expa n si ve spa , pr i va te butle r options, f re e n o n -mo to r i sed wa ter sports, te nnis courts, fi tn ess c en ter , ki ds c l ub, Wif i, ple nty of n ea r by a dven tu r es a n d re staurants and a l l i n c l u si ve o pti o n s i t is the ide al f am ily esc a pe fo r all age s.

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JAMAICA

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estled comfortably right in deep end with a dip in Port Antonio’s 200ft the middle of the Caribbean, deep Blue Lagoon. Or head to Dunn’s River Jamaica truly is a sparkling Falls and climb the stunning 600ft waterfall. gem of an island that provides One of Jamaica’s national treasures, it’s a welcome feeling of escape. scattered with a series of miniature pools, When you think of Jamaica, you might think providing the perfect place to relax as you of beaches, bikinis and sunshine. You’d be make the leisurely climb to the top. absolutely right, but there’s a whole world of All of this physical activity isn’t without wonder beyond the beach. With something reward though. When the sun goes down, for everyone, it’s an island just waiting to be there’s a world of food and nightlife to rediscovered. keep you entertained. Sample The famous Blue Mountains the world-famous Jamaican are a perfect example. If Jerk Chicken, and you’re feeling energetic, experience authentic One of the top ten you can conquer these Jamaican rum. Then beaches in the world, spectacular peaks and take the Appleton Negril’s seven-mile beach enjoy the added bonus Estate Rum Tour and is famous for its casual, of seeing Jamaica’s get an inside look at the laid-back atmosphere Blue Mountain coffee 18th century-style rum plantations, nestled into making process that’s still the hills 5,000ft above sea in use today. level. Those who make the 7,500ft Of course, a trip to Jamaica hike to the peak are rewarded with simply wouldn’t be complete without breathtaking views of over a 100 miles. a visit to the Bob Marley Museum, located Or, for something a bit more relaxing, inside his former home. It’s the ultimate place consider a bamboo raft down the scenic to celebrate the life and music of the Father Martha Brae River, where you’ll experience the of Reggae, whose music resonates within the peaceful serenity of the Jamaican landscape. heart of every Jamaican. Keeping with a water theme, dive into the It’s this genre of music that echoes

throughout the island: in bars, restaurants, out on the street and from music boxes taken to the beach. Soak it up and drink it in! This is the home of Reggae and Jamaicans aren’t shy about sharing their love of it. Jamaica has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so why not experience them in a slightly different way? Take a horse riding trip on the beach that provides you with a feeling of freedom as you ride along the sand and in the Caribbean Sea. This is just a taste of the diverse experiences that Jamaica has to offer. Combined with the warmth and friendliness of the locals, it promises to be an escape from everyday life you’ll never forget.

Turquoise waters of Blue Lagoon

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FAMILIES LOVE JAMAICA

If you think a small island can’t pack a punch, you haven’t visited Jamaica. Their playful spirit, natural beauty and prolific history will be an enriching experience for the whole family. Whether you take the gang on a zip-lining through the rain forest, zooming down the mountains on a Jamaican bobsled or horse riding on the beach and even in the sea, there are numerous activities to ensure you’ll have the time of your life. Families can enjoy a huge variety of activities such as rivertubing and kayaking, 4x4 off-road safaris and those with a taste for heights can ride a chairlift to the top of Mystic Mountain. Little explorers can visit the Kool Runnings Water Park which has 10 amazing water slides, one of several resort water parks. For more family fun visit one of the Dolphin Cove locations and swim with the dolphins, sharks and stingrays. With the friendliness and warmth of the locals, Jamaica is an escape from everyday life that you and your family will never forget.

Sit back and relax whilst being punted slowly down a three-mile stretch of the beautiful Martha Brae river, on a thirty-foot long, handmade bamboo raft

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sustainable tourism

local Heroes Visitors will play a crucial role in helping tourism businesses – large and small – across the Caribbean rebound, says Debbie Ward

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ver a year of welcoming just a fraction of their usual volume of international visitors hit the Caribbean – a region heavily dependent on tourism – harder than most. Multiple businesses, large and small, rely on an influx of visitors so choosing and booking a holiday to one or more Caribbean nations will play a crucial role in a ‘recovery phase’ that will last years rather than months. There are plenty of ways and means tourists can ensure their visit supports local communities. Meeting and chatting to drum-makers, buying their wares and sampling homegrown vegan dishes is part of the cultural experience at Rastafarian Indigenous Village in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Similarly, the island’s Community Tourism Village programme offers the chance to have lunch with a family in Resource Village, South Manchester.

The Village Tourism Programme in Saint Lucia also uses visitors’ holiday funds to develop local infrastructure, while new seafood restaurants operated by local entrepreneurs in the west coast fishing village of Anse La Raye also rely on the support of tourists. Saint Lucia is also encouraging visitors to linger longer and embrace aspects of local life through its Live It programme. Those staying up to six weeks can enjoy activities like creole cooking sessions and volunteering to teach school children or get involved with sports teams or even women’s empowerment organisations. For responsible travellers working in the scientific, academic, volunteer and educational sectors, Guyana’s SAVE Travel Guide enables them to get involved in local research and development. In Grenada It takes just 30 minutes’ training for holidaymakers to learn to help local children take to the water under a Get

Visitors are crucial for local businesses

Grenada Swimming scheme. Holidaymakers in Antigua can help with reforestation at Walling’s Nature Reserve, a communitymanaged National Park. And at Sandy Ground village in Anguilla they can learn about the island’s trading heritage by trying salt picking.

community engagement In San Nicolas in Aruba, Aruba Mural Tours showcase how eye-popping artworks transformed a post-industrial ghost town. Visitors in Belize can join a Bike With Purpose tour which provides students with bicycles and helps them develop hospitality skills. Sustainability-minded hotels across the Caribbean are also encouraging community engagement. In Jamaica, Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos,

Frying high in Barbados It’s another sizzling, sultry Friday night in Barbados and Oistins Fish Fry is packed to the grills. As I make my way back to my group’s table, mouth-watering plumes of sweet-smelling grill smoke envelope the other busy stalls. My stomach is doing joyful cartwheels as I clock the mounds of fresh grilled fish, accompanied by hearty dollops of macaroni cheese and coleslaw, which I wash down with a chilled Banks beer. As the evening wears on, the place starts to heave, the swelling crowds –

locals and tourists alike – look set for a fun-filled Friday night. Meanwhile, in the central clearing, a moonwalking Michael Jackson impersonator is running through his moves. Only when we dispense with our overflowing trays of delicious comfort food do we turn our full attention to the entertainment, as a live band takes over. Later, we move on to St Lawrence Gap, keeping an eye out for local celebs. We are told Rihanna has been spotted here in the past – but she’s not here tonight.

Hire a bike and support a small tourism operator

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Stop at a local street side shop, bar or market – those experiences will be worth their weight in both Caribbean dollars and memories

Sandals Resorts International encourages guests to help schoolchildren boost their English skills, while its Volunteen-ism programme in Jamaica and Turks & Caicos invites teenagers to join beach cleans or share computer skills. Booking a night or two in a family guesthouse or homestay provides muchneeded funds for communities while offering a glimpse into local Caribbean life.

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Yet some of the simplest ways to engage and spend locally are the most rewarding – such as the Oistins Friday Night Fish Fry in Barbados (see panel on opposite page) and the Caribbean chicken lunch at Kalinago Barana Aute Cultural Village in Dominica. Wherever your travels take you, be sure to stop at a local street side shop, bar or market – those experiences will be worth their weight in both Caribbean dollars and memories. •

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weddings & honeymoons

VOW and DECLARE Unable to tie the knot during months of lockdown, more couples will be looking to enjoy their big day surrounded by friends and family in the Caribbean, says Kathryn Liston

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here is a multitude of options and venues when it comes to saying ‘I do’ in the Caribbean. An underwater wedding is a creative choice for couples looking to really splash out on their big day – and there are diving clubs in the Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia and The Bahamas and others that will provide plenty of appropriate bubbles. Non-divers can also take the plunge and marry in an Atlantis submarine in Barbados. A secluded sand bar on Exuma in The Bahamas will appeal to those looking to exchange vows surrounded by oceans of wows, while a new pier at Petite Calivigny, Grenada, enables couples to marry with the

Exhganging vows in Saint Lucia

turquoise Caribbean Sea lapping around them. At Cap Maison in Saint Lucia a zipwire delivers the rings – and champagne – to your ceremony on the Rock Maison sea deck, while at Sandals’ South Coast Montego Bay and Ochi Beach in Jamaica over-the-water chapels featuring a glassfloor aisle are a novel touch Bungalows with glass-floors (for viewing the marine life) and 24-hour room service are perfect for honeymoon seclusion: couples staying three nights or longer at any Sandals resort receive a free wedding package. Wedding groups at the luxury Round Hill and Villas in Jamaica will be in esteemed company: Noel Coward, Ian Fleming and John F and Jackie Kennedy have all stayed at the resort. Weddings take place on the Spa lawn, beach or pool sun deck. In Anguilla, the hand-built West Indian sloop, Tradition, provides an authentic backdrop to photographs, which are taken from an accompanying boat. Afterwards, honeymooners speed off to the private Sandy Island and Prickly Pear for lunch a deux. Those looking for their own Love Island have plenty of options – from

the privately-owned Petit St Vincent or Palm Island, with its white-powder sands, in the Grenadines to Richard Branson’s Necker Island and Moskito Island in the BVIs. But for those twosomes wanting to avoid much of a wedding fuss, a Just The Two of Us package offered by Elegant Hotels’ seven hotels in Barbados might meet the brief. Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in Saint Lucia offers a similar package. Dominica’s rainforest is perfect for active honeymooners staying at the six-star Secret Bay, where a lionfish expedition, gorge tour and snorkelling are on offer. Swimming with whales, canyoning and hiking are included in a seven-night celebration package at Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort, Dominica. Those wanting to celebrate with friends can book a Buddymoon at COMO Parrot Cay, Turks & Caicos, where The Sanctuary accommodates 14 guests. They can also take over Elegant Hotels’ adults-only The House or Treasure Beach, Barbados, or 10-villa Secret Bay, Dominica. Wedding packages, often complimentary if the couple stay there, are offered by hotels in a wide range of destinations. •

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CAYMAN ISLANDS Discover white sandy beaches, spectacular wildlife, a diverse culinary scene and thrilling adventures in Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac

HOTELS AND VILLAS

The three Cayman Islands offer visitors accommodation to suit all, from luxurious resorts and smaller boutique-styled hotels to self-catering villas and dive lodges – and all within easy reach of white-sand beaches and the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Alternatively, spacious villas and condos offer a high standard of self-catering facilities. But for that ultimate relaxation choose a private chef to create delicious locally inspired dishes or book a beachside private yoga session. Luxurious beachfront hotels offer relaxing spa and wellness plus watersports and diving.

ADVENTURES

Cayman’s crystal-clear waters offer the thrill of adventure – from sailing, snorkelling and night-time bioluminescence kayak tours to kite-surfing. Divers can experience spectacular marine life with a choice of 365 dive sites, suitable for all levels. Check out Stingray City, a unique shallow sand bar where friendly stingrays congregate in open waters. Or head to sister island Cayman Brac for abseiling, rock-climbing and hiking.

BEAUTIFUL BEACHES

Although famed for beautiful Seven Mile Beach, other small beaches and coves are dotted around the Cayman Islands. Head for Smith’s Barcadere, close to George Town, for snorkelling, swimming and lunch under shady trees. Or chill at laid-back Rum Point on the North Side. Kayak or snorkel before enjoying a plate of crispy calamari or jerk chicken. Relax in a hammock and sip a Mudslide cocktail. To the south is Spotts Beach, often deserted and home to green sea turtles.

CULINARY DELIGHTS As ‘the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’, with more than 200 restaurants, the Cayman Islands offer unique culinary experiences served up with sunshine, clear blue seas and a warm Caymanian welcome. Offering mouth-watering farm-to-table cuisine, many restaurants feature menus serving only locally-sourced organic fruit, vegetables and herbs. Local dishes include freshly cooked fried fish, conch stew in a harbour-front restaurant or Cayman Style Beef in a local restaurant in Bodden Town. Try ‘Swanky’ – Caymanian lemonade made with brown sugar – and finish with Cassava Heavy Cake, a famous local dessert.

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beyond ordinary... With secluded white sand beaches lapped by sky blue waters, breathtaking natural beauty, stunning biodiversity and authentic Caribbean hospitality, Tobago occupies a special place in the hearts of all who visit – and we can’t wait to welcome you! Discover Tobago for your perfect post-COVID-19 escape and prepare to explore our unspoilt, untouched, undiscovered island. To book a future holiday, visit: BA.com/Tobago You can find out more at: TobagoBeyond.com #101ReasonsTobago

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the great outdoors

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call of

NATURE For those looking to enjoy a holiday where they put space between themselves and other visitors, the options are limitless in the Caribbean, says Tamara Hinson

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inding that natural getaway for some private time and solitude is easy in the Caribbean, where social distancing was often the norm before the phrase was coined. Whether it’s in a destination ringed with sugary-white deserted beaches, a gentle walk through a rainforest or in a national park in the shadow of a summitable volcano, the Caribbean has space and fresh air aplenty. Strolling on a beach in Saint Lucia, with its two towering pitons as a backdrop, is an instant stress-buster, as is joining one of several trails in Antigua that start out from Nelson’s Dockyard National Park or Shirley Heights and reward walkers with views of the island and the Caribbean Sea. Immerse yourself in nature in the scenically wondrous and lush Dominica, an adventurelovers’ playground with its nine active volcanoes, 365 rivers and a tangle of hiking trails. These include the Waitukubuli National Trail, the Caribbean’s first long-distance walking route. Montserrat has 11 chracterful hiking trails, with classifications ranging from light to extreme. Popular is the trail which leads to the island’s important petroglyphs, discovered as recently as 2016. Archaeologists believe the carvings date back over 1,500 years and were created by the destination’s first settlers, the Amerindians. Travellers heading to the Cayman Islands will find numerous opportunities to learn about the region’s flora and fauna. Start with a hike along one of the trails which twist through Grand Cayman’s Mastic Reserve.

A waterfall and pool to call your own in Tobago

A Bioluminescent Bay tour in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Space aplenty in the British Virgin Islands

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the great outdoors

Ziplining in Belize

The forest is home to Cayman’s native parrots, West Indian Woodpeckers, butterflies, lizards, frogs and hermit crabs. Tour guides are available on many of the Caribbean’s popular hiking trails. They will point out birdlife, wildlife and landmarks along the way, and impart information on the culture, history and peoples of the area. Tour guiding is a vital source of employment and visitors are encouraged to contribute to the local economy by joining a guided tour or employing a guide when on a solo walk. For a real walk on the wild side, head to Tobago, which achieved the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere designation in October 2020. The scheme was created to celebrate destinations with innovative approaches to sustainable development and the improvement of relationships between people and the environments they inhabit. The country’s lush interior offers plenty of opportunities for adventure. Jamaica is not short of fabulous town

English Harbour from Shirley Heights, Antigua

experiences, in Kingston, Ochos Rio and Montego Bay (where Harmony Beach Park opened in summer 2021 with amenities that include a jogging trail, sports courts and children’s play area) but Jamaica’s real beauty lies among its abundance of outdoor space and vast tracts of wilderness.

MOUNTAINS AND REEFS

St Vincent and the Grenadines is a destination with abundant ‘room to breathe’. A new Beaches resort due to open in 2021, on St Vincent’s south-west coast, will provide the perfect base for those keen to explore the island’s lush rainforest and mountains. Visitors should consider hopping on the ferry from St Vincent to Bequia, where colourful villages cling to forested slopes grazed by sheep and goats. Some of the best views of nearby islands are from Bequia. And consider a visit to Tobago Cays – five tiny inhabited islands which can only be reached by boat. The highlight of these

Sailing in Grenada is a breeze

uninhabited islets and reefs is the horseshoeshaped reef, one of the Caribbean’s best snorkelling and scuba diving spots. Aruba is a perfect option for holidaymakers looking for a destination that provides a sense of personal freedom but with resorts to suit every budget. Arikok National Park is popular with both cyclists and hikers, its lunar-like landscape covering 20% of the island. It is a ‘must visit’ for its wildlife (including Aruban whiptail lizards, burrowing owls and Aruban parakeets) and its caves, some of which contain ancient pictographs left by Caquetios, and graffiti scrawled by early European settlers.

DANCING IN THE MOONLIGHT IN NEVIS They emerge one by one from a pile of eggs buried deep in wet sand. We make notes, counting the broken shells and the stillborn embryos and registering the number (40) of Leatherback turtle hatchlings that make it to the top. Carefully, we place the tiny creatures into a folded T-shirt. It is almost midnight and, under a mercury moon, I am out on patrol with volunteers from the Nevis Turtle Group. Between June and October – turtle

nesting season – they are here on Lovers Beach most evenings, monitoring the excavated nesting sites. We tread carefully to the water’s edge, stepping over the tangled tree that are natural barriers for the turtles. We place the hatchlings, wriggling like miniature clockwork toys, into the foaming water. As we make our way back along the beach by torchlight, we are startled by a large shadowy shape: an adult green turtle shuffling its way to the ocean. The two-hour turtle watch is an activity offered by the Four Seasons Nevis. Green sea turtle in the Caribbean Sea

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At a time when health is at the forefront, visitors will want to seek out destinations where they can surround themselves with nature

Aruba’s resorts and hotels are encouraging visitors to discover the local wildlife. One example is the Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, which has teamed up with birder and photographer Michiel Oversteegen, to offer guests an Aruba Birdwatching and Nature Tour. Other companies offering tours which focus on Aruba’s less-crowded corners, which can be explored on foot, horseback or by mountain bike.

Hotels in Anguilla are also responding to guest requests for active pursuits that take them to the island’s natural spaces. Guests at the Belmond Cap Juluca can join an Early Bird Nature Walk around the nearby Cove Pond, which borders the resort and is a nesting spot for island bird species such as Killdeer, Wilson’s and Snowy Plovers. Award bonus points if you spot a Greenthroated Carib or an Antillean Bullfinch. •

FEEL FREE TO DISCONNECT

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Bon Biní and welcome back to Curaçao. We cannot wait to see you again. Soaking up the sun on one of our beautiful beaches, enjoying our warm hospitality and our laid-back island vibe; we know you can’t wait to feel it for yourself again.

our dushi friends from abroad. There is no better time than now to travel to Curaçao.

Curaçao has reopened and we’re thrilled to welcome back

Ready to travel? Please follow the steps on dicardcuracao.com.

Entry requirements and local measures are in place to keep our local community and travellers safe. Please check curacao.com for travel updates.

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festivals

Join THE PARTY Music and dancing are usually mainstays in a huge mix of events and carnivals that sees both locals and visitors immersed in local culture and colour, says Karl Cushing

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olourful and spectacular carnivals and festivals, often accompanied by the backdrop of a pulsating beat, are a Caribbean trademark. Take the supercharged celebrations each February of J’Ouvert, Trinidad & Tobago, when costumed holidaymakers rise early to join locals on the street for technicolour paint throwing. The two-day beano across the capital is sustained by an infectious soundtrack of soca and calypso. Excitement levels reach fever pitch ahead of events such as Jamaica’s Bacchanal (April), or Cropover in Barbados (July/August), before the streets erupt with music, dancing and fabulously costumed revellers.

Simply catching a parade, such as the joyous two-day finale of Saint Lucia’s Carnival (June-July), can make for an unforgettable trip. It is ‘authentic’ too, with locals celebrating for themselves not for the tourists. Quirky, uniquely local occasions, include Burying Vaval, held in Dominica on Ash Wednesday, which centres on an elaborate burial ceremony for the spirit of carnival. Or there’s always the donkey races which feature in August’s Carrot Bay Cultural Fiesta in the BVIs or Tobago’s Buccoo Goat & Crab Race Festival, held each Easter. Food and drink events are hugely popular and music events - many with international artists – take place on the bigger islands. Take Barbados where April’s Reggae Festival and October’s Jazz Festival share a calendar with February’s Vujaday, focused on house and techno. Or Saint Lucia, where the Jazz & Arts Festival (May) and Roots & Soul Festival (August) sit alongside September’s Wellness Music Festival. Jamaica’s reggae roots bear fruit at Sumfest, held each July in Montego Bay, with January’s Birthday Bash paying homage to Bob Marley, and the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival (May/June) among the other showstoppers. Active travellers will appreciate events such as the Hike Fest in May on Dominica.January mainstays such as the Bermuda Triangle Challenge, and the marathons in Bahamas and Trinidad kickstart a packed running calendar. Other fun challenges include the annual St. Kitts to Nevis crosschannel swim in March.

The region’s excellent sailing conditions take centre stage at such events as Antigua Sailing Week (April/May), with some great, smaller options in the European winter months, too, including Saint Lucia’s Mango Bowl Regatta (November). Those championing the world-class conditions under the water include Saint Lucia Dive & Adventure Week, held in September. Events championing local heritage and culture include Jamaica’s Accompong Festival (January) and Saint Lucia’s Creole Heritage Month (October), while Nevis’s 12-day Culturama Festival (July/August) is among those commemorating the former enslaved people. The events calendar is busy in December, when St Croix hosts a month-long Crucian Christmas Festiva, and Saint Lucia’s Festival of Lights & Renewal ushers in National Day, on December 13. Revellers on St. Kitts and Nevis incorporate their festive celebrations into Sugar Mas, stretching from November to January, while for Bahamians, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day means Junkanoo. New Year’s Eve is a good time to be in the BVIs, which hosts the Trellis Bay extravaganza, while fireworks in Philipsburg, St. Maarten, welcome the new year in with an explosive bang. •

Antigua sailing week

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Discover

BARBADOS

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ith beautiful beaches, One iconic Bajan food experience not to glistening waters, be missed is The Friday Night Fish Fry at delicious rum and the Oistins Bay Gardens, where locals and welcoming locals it’s no tourists enjoy delicious food amongst art and surprise that Barbados is known worldwide craft stalls and live music. as a holiday paradise. Fancy something more lavish? Try one of Need some more convincing? Read on to Barbados’ many fine-dining restaurants, like find out what’s waiting for you in Barbados… the Lone Star Restaurant, famed for its idyllic Between the beach and the water, your beach setting and delicious food. family will never be short of things to do. While the island will draw you in with This coral island is home to its idyllic beaches, delicious over 80 white-sand beaches. food and rum, time and HOME OF RUM Whether you are looking to time again, it’s the Bajan Rum is the essence of laze the day away along atmosphere that will Bajan culture. Try a tipple the shore or get your have you coming back. in one of the island’s 1,500 adrenaline pumping with Barbados is famous rum shops or learn about activities in the water, you for its relaxed are sure to find happiness atmosphere and its its origin with a tour of on one of the island’s people are known for Mount Gay Rum stunning sandy beaches. being one of the most Distillery However, there is more to this welcoming in the Caribbean. destination than sun, sand, and Whether tasting delicious Bajan sea! Barbados is known as the Culinary delicacies, enjoying a tipple in the Capital of the Caribbean for good reason – local rum shop or grooving to calypso beats, from street food to fine dining, it has plenty to you can be sure you’ll spend your time in offer every type of foodie. Barbados amongst good vibes. Try flying fish, the island’s national dish, Barbados is considered one of the safest with cou-cou, or some Bajan fish cakes, Caribbean islands to visit and has handled served in most iconic rum shops! the COVID-19 pandemic well, implementing

regulations to help suppress the spread of the virus. Read more at www.visitbarbados.org.

WELCOME STAMP

Looking for more than a holiday? Launched in July 2020, the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp visa offers individuals from across the globe the opportunity to live and work remotely in paradise. The visa is available to anyone who meets the requirements, including those whose work is locationindependent and retirees who meet the financial threshold. Individuals, couples and families are invited to apply at www.Barbadoswelcomestamp.bb.

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Barbados – an island of good vibes

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family & multi-generational holidays

holidays for THE AGES

From swimming with stingrays to hurtling down zip-lines to learning how to paddleboard, the Caribbean is a fun-filled adventure playground for families, says Kathryn Liston

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he Caribbean offers multiple opportunities for creating wonderful family memories. Its family-friendly hotels, luxury villas – some with a private chef – and all-inclusive resorts with kids’ clubs and waterparks cater for all group sizes and ages. The clear, warm waters of the Caribbean Sea provide fun for all. Swim with stingrays in the Cayman Islands or Antigua, frolic with dolphins in St Maarten and paddle with turtles in St Thomas in the

A Mayan history lesson for the family in Belize

Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada

U.S. Virgin Islands. The whole family will be fascinated by the friendly pigs that live on Big Major Cay, one of 365 islands in Exuma, a district of The Bahamas. The pigs paddle out to greet arriving boats. Visitors here might also spot nurse sharks and the endangered Exuma Island iguanas. In Tobago, active families can enjoy a range of watersports at Mount Irvine or Minister Bay while kite-surfers can learn the ropes from instructors at Pigeon Point and cyclists can ride the invigorating Elvis Goats cycle trail or ease up on the gentle Chala’s Trail, created by local villagers. Tours and bike hire, including e-bikes, are available. The Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a great place for families to discover the pristine coral reef and at the same time learn how to sea kayak, sail a kayak, SUP, snorkel, or fish Belizean style. Inland, Mayan temples and tombs at Altun, Caracol and Santa Rita offer a history lesson. In Grenada, take a traditional Carriacou sloop to the underwater sculpture park or the Caribbean’s largest ship wreck, Bianca

C, or captain your own kayak on a night-time

A family cabana at Beaches Negril, Jamaica

Rainforest Canopy Tram, St Lucia

guided bioluminescence tour from Grand Cayman’s Rum Point and watch billions of plankton particles create an amazing light display. A kayak is the best way to reach Rendezvous Bay, Montserrat’s only whitesand beach, and to tour the mangroves of Lac Bay on Bonaire’s western coastline. Nature-loving families will find plenty to entertain them in the Dominican rainforest, where hot springs, bubbling mud pools, geysers, rivers, waterfalls, rare orchids and colourful birds abound. Activities include hiking and canyoning. In Guyana, see some of the estimated 910 bird species and 6,000 species of plants. A zip-wire is an exhilarating way to traverse the rainforest and you’ll find them in St. Kitts, Belize, Jamaica, Antigua, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St Martin, Trinidad and Haiti, where the Dragon’s Breath is the Caribbean’s longest. An aerial tram in Saint Lucia provides little ones with a bird’s eye view of hummingbirds while a jeep safari is a fun way to explore the rainforest of Antigua. A high-speed catamaran can whizz visitors off to neighbouring Barbuda for the day, where they can visit the Frigate Bird Sanctuary. An adventurous way to explore Aruba’s scenic desert, rock formations and amazing coastline is by joining a quad or ATV tour. Younger visitors will enjoy meeting Barbados’s popular green monkey residents

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The whole family will be fascinated by the friendly pigs that live on Big Major Cay, one of 365 islands in Exuma in The Bahamas

at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve which is also home to flamingos, armadillos and caimans which wander freely throughout the park. In the central uplands of the island, Harrison’s Cave Eco-Adventure Park features trams which take visitors on a ride of the crystallised, limestone cave, where they will see flowing streams, deep pools of crystal clear water and towering columns. A trip to a volcano offers an educational

experience for the entire family. Saint Lucia has the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano while the Caribbean’s active volcanos include Mount Pelee in Martinique, La Soufriere on St Vincent, which erupted in April 2021, and Soufriere Hills in Montserrat, which did the same in 1997, burying the now-abandoned capital, Plymouth. Visitors can view the town from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. •

R E A DY TO WE LCO ME YOU

Feel that tug? It’s the feeling you get when you’ve gone too long without seeing the ocean, or walking on the beach, or tasting the salt air. Head to one of 16 unique island destinations and feel the tug fade as soon as your toes hit the sand. We’re ready to welcome you home. Even if it’s your first time.

Bahamas.com | T: + 44 207 355 0800

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accommodation

a view From self-catering cottages to beachfront villas to five-star resorts, there is an accommodation choice in the Caribbean to suit every taste and budget, says Tamara Hinson

T

here’s never been a wider choice of accommodation in the Caribbean, with many favourite properties enjoying recent refurbishments and a host of new openings. Travellers can choose from a range of accommodation styles, whether a five-star beach resort, a one-off boutique property with mountain views, a small pension on a tiny island, an all-inclusive couples-only establishment or even a city property run by a major hotel international brand. In Jamaica, nestled between the rolling hills of Montego Bay and the Caribbean Sea, the new Eclipse at Half Moon features 57 new villas, an infinity-edge pool and a private beachfront with a natural swimming cove. The 826-room Riu Montego Bay hotel emerged from a facelift in December 2020 – guests at the now adults-only resort enjoy 24hour all-inclusive service and themed parties. A Jamaican hat trick is planned by Sandals, which is to open three properties on the island: Sandals Dunn’s River (2022), Sandals Royal Dunn’s River (2023) and Beaches Runaway Bay (date to be confirmed).

Eclipse at Half Moon, Jamaica

Sandals will also open a fourth familyfocused Beaches property on St Vincent in late 2022, following acquisition of Buccament Bay Spa & Resort. In total, Sandals operates 15 couples-only resorts and three family-friendly Beaches Resorts in the Caribbean, in destinations including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas and Turks & Caicos. Marriott will expand its Caribbean presence by turning Sunwing Travel Group’s Blue Diamond Resorts into Marriott Autograph Collection properties by late 2021. These include resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Antigua. Also in Antigua, Curtain Bluff celebrates its 60th year in 2021 with renovated suites and pool, a refreshed gym and a new yoga deck.

luxury openings

On Anguilla, Resorts and Residences by CuisinArt, Anguilla is undergoing a major renovation following new ownership and will emerge in November 2021 as the Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club. It will launch with

Jungle Bay, Dominica

The new Margaritaville, Belize

a fleet of jets exclusive to the resort. Also on Anguilla the luxurious Malliouhana, set on a rocky stretch of coastline flanked by two beaches, has added a new spa. More luxury options are popping up on Saint Lucia, where the SoCo Hotel group opened a boutique property in June 2021. The 76-room all-inclusive, adults-only SoCo House – billed as having a Miami-chic-meets-rustic-Creole vibe – is the second opening for SoCo, which also has a property in Barbados. Another exciting revamp is the makeover of Saint Lucia’s Viceroy-branded Sugar Beach resort, which will reopen in November 2021 with new beach bungalows, fresh culinary offerings and an outdoor grill. On Grenada, Spice Island Beach Resort on Grand Anse Beach, will reopen in late October 2021. In Dominica the three-star Fort Young Hotel completed a room refurbishment in July 2021, featuring 40 renovated rooms, a Zemi Spa and a new gym, while Jungle Bay has reopened after an expansion which added more rooms and villas. In The Bahamas, Margaritaville Beach Resort is the newest property in Nassau while just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, the Resorts World Bimini Beach opened in May 2021 with lagoon pools, private cabanas, ocean-view dining and more. Grand Cayman can also offer visitors a choice of new poperties. Arrivals in 2022 include the 100-room St James’ Point

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In Antigua, Curtain Bluff celebrates its 60th year in 2021 with renovated suites and pool, a refreshed gym and a new yoga deck

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the 351-room Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residences and the 18-apartment VIDA Ocean Adventure Lodge, which will offer activities such as kitesurfing, horse-riding and kayaking. In Belize, a Margaritaville resort will open on Ambergris Caye in late 2021. Since May 2021 Ambergris Caye has also been home to the Alaia Belize, Marriott’s first Belizean property, which has condos, suites and villas.

An exciting opening for 2023 is the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Caye Chapel, on a private island in a marine sanctuary. Marriott has opened the 152-room Aloft Ponce hotel in Puerto Rico, its second Aloft hotel in the Caribbean, with a rooftop pool and the Caribbean’s largest Hard Rock Cafe. Montserrat offers an array of charming villas and apartments, many with mountain and sea views. •

All-Inclusive

Family Fun All-Inclusive

Adult Escapes

Look no further than Hilton All-Inclusive Resorts for your next family-friendly tropical getaway. HILTON LA ROMANA Dominican Republic ■

HILTON LA ROMANA Dominican Republic

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Reservation-free dining and limitless spirits served at multiple dining and drinking venues Waterpark fun plus water activities, including windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, ocean trampoline jumping

HILTON ROSE HALL Jamaica ■

HILTON PLAYA DEL CARMEN Mexico

356 rooms and suites including spacious family suites offering minibars, room service and Wi-Fi

495 modern rooms and suites with private balconies, minibars, room service and Wi-Fi Reservation-free dining and drinking at 6 gourmet restaurants and 6 bars and lounges Largest resort beach in Jamaica, ocean-view pools, kids programming and massive waterpark

Call Travelpack on 0208 585 4020 or Email holidays@travelpack.com

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ST. KITTS

The Authentic Caribbean

n

amed after Saint Christopher, World Heritage site whose imposing the patron saint of travellers, citadel overlooks the ocean. Marvel at St. Kitts is as welcoming as demonstrations of traditional craftsmanship its informal name suggests. at Caribelle Batik while taking a tour of At just 68 square miles it’s a small but historic Romney Manor. Then climb aboard perfectly-formed hidden gem in the northern the ‘Sugar Train’, originally built to transport Leeward Islands that offers an authentic sugar cane, for a gentle two-hour ride while Caribbean experience without the crowds. being serenaded by a choir in colourful Known for its cloud-shrouded mountains Kittitian dress. Take a stroll around historic and rich heritage, St. Kitts’ appeal is beyond Basseterre on a walking tour and let its secluded beaches. storytellings transport you Those on the weekly British through history. St. Kitts is Airways service from Londondominated by Gatwick to Robert Llewellyn KicK bacK the dormant Mount Bradshaw International Fresh-off-the-boat Liamuiga volcano, home to Airport, close to the capital seafood and local a crater lake, green vervet city of Basseterre, can produce are on offer touchdown in style at the across the island. monkeys and rainforest airport’s Kayanjet Lounge: Kick back on the crisscrossed with here they can relax on the black-sand beach in hiking trails outdoor terrace and sample Dieppe Bay at Arthur’s some island food while staff deal restaurant, which offers a seawith their luggage and entry formalities. to-table dining feast. A holistic health experience is served up at Ital SWeet SpotS Creations at Fari Organic Farm, pairing vegan Iconic heritage sites await history buffs and veggie food with a yoga session among and those looking to delve into St. Kitts’ mango and pineapple trees. culture. The big guns are out at Brimstone Bars at the hotspot ‘The Strip’ in Frigate Hill Fortress National Park, a UNESCO Bay are alive with local brews, refreshing

cocktails and mellow Caribbean sounds. And no Caribbean visit would be complete without sampling the local rums of Brinley, HiBiscus and Belmont. Cheers!

iSland giftS

Pick up handmade, hand-painted wooden accessories from Denica, who draws on her Caribbean heritage when crafting bold designs for DenicaConnorDezignz. Or check out Caroline Joseph, who makes jewellery from Lionfish spines, sea glass, palm husk and volcanic lava rock. Take home some Mother Becky Bush Tea made with local ingredients and infused with Kittitian tradition.

Fabulously fresh seafood

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Set the scenery

Picture this: you’re standing high above the lush St. Kitts rainforest, overlooking the Wingfield River, about to take the flight of your life. Gliding 250ft above the treetops at 80km per hour, a Sky Safari Tours zip line gives a bird’s eye view of the entire Wingfield Estate and the island beyond. Equally spectacular panoramic view of the Caribbean Sea and neighbouring islands are the reward for those who hike up to Mount Liamuiga’s rim. Anyone feeling brave enough can descend via a rope into the crater itself for a refreshing dip in the lake below. Bird fanciers will be in their element spotting the Brown Pelican, Caribbean Elaenia and Grey Kingbird – and have a high chance of recording an undocumented species! If that’s too sedate, they can leave others in their dust on an off-roading quad bike tour.

Life’s a beach

Beach huts serving up local food? Check! Exhilarating watersports? Check! Secluded picnic spots? Check! Whatever the vibe, St. Kitts’ beaches have it covered. Zoom around on a jet ski or chow down on fresh lobster, fish and conch at lively South Frigate Bay or South Friars Bay. The pristine waters, coconut trees and white sands of Banana Bay and Sandy Bank are the perfect retreat for couples looking for peace and quiet, with the scenic route along the way setting the mood for romance.

refresh your mind, body and spirit

The rejuvenating powers of the island’s native flowers, spices and volcanic stone await you. Refresh your mind and body with exclusive treatments, yoga and meditation sessions. Be pampered at St. Kitts Marriott Resort or the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, which both have full-service spa facilities. Experience a rub down like no other with local lava rock during a Firestone Massage at the Park Hyatt, Sugar Mill Spa & Sanctuary or try the unique Bamboo Signature Massage at Marriott’s Emerald Mist Spa – or do both and start and finish your trip with a St. Kitts glow!

Smooth sailing

Your catamaran is bobbing along on the waves, the sea breeze is ruffling your hair and the verdant peaks of Nevis are slowly materialising on the horizon. After you drop anchor in a secluded cove, a beach barbecue awaits – with some local rum to wash it down. Then snorkel in the clear blue turquoise waters of St. Kitts. You can also take the six-minute water taxi over to Nevis or join a sunset cocktail cruise? Your glasses will be kept topped up as you enjoy the magical mixing of soft pinks, purples, reds and yellows as the sun drops into the ocean. Observant sailers might even catch a glimpse of the famous green flash as the sun dips below the horizon.

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workations

WORK, REST and play

Done with working from home or commuting to the office? Then consider a stay in the Caribbean that combines work with leisure and sunshine, suggests Peter Ellegard

H

ow about swapping your dreary home office in the UK with one by a tropical beach – and staying there for up to two years? That’s the lure being offered by several Caribbean destinations and hotels that have launched extended-stay programmes for international visitors to work remotely. In this virtual age of Zoom calls from anywhere, relocating to the Caribbean is now both realistic and attainable. Here are some options to consider.

BARBADoS

Barbados was one of the first to recognise the potential of replacing missing tourist dollars with income from long-stay visitors when it launched The Barbados Welcome Stamp in July 2020. The scheme allows you to live and work remotely in Barbados for up to a year, for a fee of US$2,000 for individuals and US$3,000 for families. You can’t seek new employment in Barbados; rather you must ‘transport’ your current job with you. Applications for the required visa are processed within five days.

monTSeRRAT

Montserrat’s Remote Worker Stamp is a 12-month travel permit which allows

non-nationals who are employed and earn an annual income of US$70,000 to remain for up to a year. Applications cost US$500 or US$750 for families (up to three dependants).

DominicA

Dominica’s extended-stay visa programme, called Work in Nature (WIN) aims to tempt those wanting a healthier work-life balance. Applicants can live and work on the verdant island for up to 18 months. Incentives such as duty-free on selected items and discounts from service providers are also included under the scheme.

AnTiGUA AnD BARBUDA

Antigua and Barbuda’s Business on the Beach campaign specifically targets the UK market, encouraging Brits to swap their morning commute for the sunshine and 365 palm-fringed beaches of the twin-island nation by applying for a long-stay visa under the Nomad Digital Residence programme. It gives special-resident authorisation for up to two years and costs £250 per applicant and £125 for a spouse and each dependant.

Chilling out after a day’s work

AnGUillA

The Work from Anguilla scheme allows visitors to stay for up to 12 months. Application fees cost US$2,000 for individuals and US$3,000 for families.

cAYmAn iSlAnDS

The Global Citizen Concierge programme offers a visa for up to two years. Fees cost US$1,469 per annum, for two, and US$500 per dependent. Applicants must have a job paying at least US$100,000 a year.

SAinT lUciA

Saint Lucia has an immersive programme called Live it, with visitors able to stay for up to six weeks on customised and curated visits. They are paired with a Live it Island Specialist, a local tour operator who acts as

THe BAHAmAS

The Bahamas Extended Access Travel Stay programme (or BEATS) provides a permit to work or study remotely for a year. The work permit costs US$1,025 for each approved applicant and US$500 for each dependant. The remote worker visa is renewable on a case by case basis for up to three years.

Live and work in the Caribbean? Food for thought

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Programmes that allow extended stays for ‘digital nomads’ are aimed at the Caribbean’s key source markets, which include the UK

a personal guide before and during their stay and tailors activities such as learning creole cooking or exploring the island’s rainforests. Many island hotels offer special perks and amenities for remote working guests.

ARUBA

Aruba’s One Happy Workation scheme allows UK travellers to stay and work on the island for up to 30 days. More than 20 resort

hotels have signed up to a scheme offering special rates for long stays and all-inclusive food/drink packages.

Dominican republic

The Dominican Republic has an extended-stay visa. Properties including Eden Roc Cap Cana and Casa de Campo offer Work from Paradise packages that include IT support and rooms with ergonomic chairs and desks. •

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cuisine

SPICE UP your visit

From local fare at roadside stalls to top cuisine prepared up by master chefs trained in leading culinary schools, food in the Caribbean is a feast for all the senses, says Karl Cushing

F

rom Oistins’ bumper Bajan Friday Fish Fry in Barbados to meals made special by dramatic settings – such as at Antigua’s Sheer Rocks – dining in the Caribbean is both a delight and a cultual experience. At Montpelier Plantation on Nevis, candlelit lanterns illuminate the ancient weeping fig tree afront the restaurant’s stone façade, while at Miss T’s Kitchen in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, local flavours are enjoyed along with a rustic, colorful ambience. Visitors can savour everything from the famed fine dining of Anguilla - often

A delicious plate of crayfish in Anguilla

prepared by chefs trained in New York and California’s best culinary schools - and St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, where highend establishments include Too Chez and Savant, to comforting local staples such as Jamaican curry goat or ackee and saltfish. Regional differences further spice up a visit: peruse a menu in the ABC islands, where high-end eateries include Bonaire’s Brass Boer, and you’ll find enervating dishes such as bonchi kora soup, pan bati pancakes, and classic desserts such as tentalaria di cashupete. The influence of Spanish cuisine is felt in many parts of the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic enjoy stewed chicken dish pollo guisado, or head to Puerto Rica for classics such as stewed beans and rice, or the pork dish Pernil abodo, with pineapple rum cake among the lip-smacking desserts. And no trip to Havana, Cuba’s capital, is complete until you’ve dined in a grand old paladar, such as La Guarida. Highly-rated destination restaurants such as Le Petibonum on Martinique and L’Esprit, on St Barthelemy underpin the French Caribbean’s reputation as a gastronomic powerhouse, while diners at Le Pressoir,

on St Martin, can be forgiven for lingering longer than expected on account of its adjoining rum palace, Le Part Des Anges. The Caribbean’s abundance of fresh, healthful produce, from fruit and veg to seafood, makes market and farm visits a must, not least on Grenada where spice garden and cocoa farm tours are popular. Culinary events such as the annual food and drink festivals held in Barbados, Saint Lucia and Jamaica make great hooks for booking a trips as do Anguilla’s Extraordinary Eats in April and the Cayman Cookout on Grand Cayman in April. The surfeit of sensational seafood is a highlight. The humble conch is celebrated in Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos which holds a Conch Festival each November. The mollusc is equally beloved in destinations such as the Bahamas, where eateries like Flying Fish Gastrobar, Graycliff and Banana Bay enjoy loyal followings. Events that showcase a particular product include Belize’s San Pedro Lobsterfest (June/July), Grenada’s Chocolate Festival (May and the Nevis Mango Festival (July), an appetiser to St. Kitts & Nevis’ Annual Restaurant Week. •

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sponsored feature

Escape to the

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS A holiday in the British Virgin Islands, an archipelago of 60 sunny islands in the Caribbean, will be one that overflows with adventure and romance

SAIL

Thanks to its calm waters, steady trade winds and well-equipped marinas, the BVIs is revered as the sailing capital of the world. Visitors are always stunned by the clear line of sight between the 60 islands and how effortless it is to island hop. Novices can sail with a crewed yacht with a private charter company like The Moorings or sail your own yacht and drop anchor when the mood strikes. Marinas can accommodate any vessel and local shops offer provisioning services. Visit during events like the SUP Painkiller Cup in January and the BVI Spring Regatta in April.

STAY

Guana Island

From luxury resorts and private islands to beautiful villas and welcoming cottages, there are accommodation options to suit all budgets across 15 islands, with almost all properties close to a beach, clear waters and pristine sands. The newly opened The Aerial on Buck Island is an all-inclusive private island destination offering authentic experiences. There are new villas at Baraka Point and Guana Island, and Saba Rock will relaunch later this year.

CELEBRATE

With marriage licenses easy to obtain and recognised internationally, and a backdrop of pristine beaches, green peaks and turquoise blue sea, the BVIs are perfect for weddings and events. Book your wedding or event at a luxury resort, such as Oil Nut Bay, and exchange vows overlooking the sea. A team of wedding planners will be on hand to help. Alternatively, book a private island to celebrate – there will be plenty of time to reconnect and enjoy the remote location.

DIVE

With one of the largest barrier reefs in the Caribbean, the diving and snorkelling is some of the best and safest in the world. No matter what your skill level – from novice to expert – expect to see an underwater wonderland of towering reefs of corals, caves, tunnels, and extraordinary shipwrecks including the RMS Rhone and the Chikuzen. Families can choose from an array of local dive companies which offer basic diver experiences in addition to Scuba Diver and Open Water Diver courses.

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transport

Caribbean is flying high Travellers heading to the Caribbean can take advantage of new flights from Virgin Atlantic and British Airways along with a host of regional transport choices, says Steve Hartridge

GETTING THERE

The Caribbean is well served with flights from the UK, with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic operating increased scheduled services to several destinations in 2021/22. At the time of writing, BA’s “dynamic schedule” of Caribbean routes lists Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and the Turks and Caicos. The airline will also lift the suspension of flights to St Kitts on October 3 2021, with a service from Gatwick – this will move to a twice-weekly service on October 16. British Airways advises that it changes its timetables twice a year and may also need to adjust flights at other times “in line with operational requirements”. Virgin Atlantic also has big expansion plans for the Caribbean. It will launch a Heathrow-St Vincent and the Grenadines service – the first direct service to the destination from Europe – on October 13 2021 plus a twice-weekly service from Heathrow to The Bahamas on November 20 2021.

Island sailing in Puerto Rico

The airline will increase UK capacity to Barbados by 60% from October 31 2021, and will offer five flights a week there from Manchester and 11 weekly flights from Heathrow. Virgin will be returning to Saint Lucia on December 18 2021, with three weekly flights from Heathrow. It also plans to launch three flights a week from Manchester to Montego Bay, Jamaica, from November 6 2021. And the good news from Virgin keeps on coming, particularly for those in Scotland planning a Caribbean holiday: the airline is to introduce twice-weekly flights from Edinburgh to Barbados from December 5 2021. The route will be Scotland’s only direct service to the Caribbean. Virgin also flies to Antigua and Grenada and expects to restart its Tobago and Cuba service “in the upcoming months”.

GETTING AROUND

BY AIR: The Caribbean is well served by an extensive domestic network, which makes island hopping by air very viable. InterCaribbean Airways connects Cuba with Jamaica; Turks & Caicos with The Bahamas,

An inter-island flight arriving in Saint Maarten

Several cruise lines offer Caribbean itineraries

Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic and the BVIs; The BVIs with Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Saint Maarten, Antigua and Dominica and flies between Barbados and Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada, with more options seasonally. Caribbean Airlines links Trinidad with Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent, Saint Lucia, Antigua, St Maarten, Guyana, Cuba, Jamaica (and onwards to The Bahamas) and points in Central America, USA and Canada. Liat, a regional carrier based in Antigua & Barbuda, flies to Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Vincent. A multitude of private charter options are also available. By Ferry and Catamaran: Scheduled ferry and catamaran services travel between several island groups. Operators include L Express des Iles, between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Saint Lucia; Balearia Caribbean, connecting Florida and the Bahamas; Ferries del Caribe, between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico; Barbuda Express linking Antigua and Barbuda; Twin Islands Ferry Service between Antigua and Montserrat; Anguilla Ferry

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The Caribbean is well served by an extensive domestic air network, which makes island hopping viable

System connecting Anguilla and St Martin; Osprey Lines linking Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique and the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Transportation Co. connecting the twin islands. There are also various options between St. Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and within the BVIs. For a smaller-scale sailing experience, consider a yacht charter. Due to its usually excellent weather, good sailing conditions and the proximity to each other of many island destinations, the Caribbean Sea is one of the most popular destinations for chartering in the world, with a host of bays and moorings that offer privacy and comfort along with a wide variety of exclusive beach clubs. UK tour operators offering Caribbean sailing holidays include Sunsail, on bareboat (for experienced sailors) or skippered charters from the BVIs, St Martin, The Bahamas, Antigua, Belize, Grenada and Saint Lucia and sociable flotilla holidays in the BVIs. Dream Yacht Charter and Horizon Yacht Charters also have skippered or fully-crewed catamaran charters (including chefs) while The Moorings offer crewed yacht charters from several islands.

By Cruise Ship: Taking a cruise around the Caribbean is a great way to sample several destinations on one trip. Many major cruise lines voyage around the Caribbean, among them Celebrity, Carnival, Crystal, Princess, Disney, Fred Olsen, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean International, Regent Seven Seas, Holland America, Silversea and Seabourn. The Caribbean is reaping the benefits as the cruise industry recovers and more ships start sailing through the region, particularly out of the Florida ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. For the 2021/22 winter cruise season, more cruise companies will be basing ships in the islands, making it attractive to tag on hotel stays. For the first time, cruise ships have homeported at Nassau in the Bahamas, giving guests the chance to start and finish voyages here, while others are based in Barbados, an established Caribbean homeport for several cruise lines. Celebrity Cruises was one of the first companies to return to the Caribbean in June 2021 when it launched cruises from St Maarten, while MSC Cruises has since started sailing from Nassau. The Italian-style cruise line has also commenced Bahamas mini-cruises from Miami to Nassau and its new Ocean Cay

Catamarans offer island transfers

private island resort, with plans to follow these with longer itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Luxury players have the Caribbean in their sights as well with Seabourn basing a ship in Barbados and Crystal Cruises offering intra-Caribbean departures from Nassau and Bimini in the Bahamas. Crystal Cruises also plans to operate 16 Caribbean itineraries from late November 2021 to March 2022. Ports of call for Crystal Symphony will include St Kitts, Antigua, Dominica, the US Virgin Islands and Jamaica. New boutique line Tradewind Voyages, which operates the world’s largest tall ship Golden Horizon, also plans to spend winter 2021/22 sailing from Barbados, while Marella Cruises is planning a winter season from Jamaica. Royal Caribbean International has three Caribbean destinations in its sights with departures from the Bahamas that will call at its private island CocoCay, plus Barbados and Puerto Rico. Further ahead and Holland America Line is planning to have seven ships sailing from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean in winter 2022/23, including its two newest vessels. The season also marks the 25th anniversary of its private island resort Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. •

Cruise passengers arrive in Grand Turk

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multi-centres

twins Few places lend themselves as well to island-hopping adventures as the Caribbean – and the combinations are many and varied, say Sara Macefield and Debbie Ward

T

he legendary Italian explorer Christopher Columbus was the first to discover the appeal of this vast archipelago of 7,000 islands spread over 2,500 miles of sparkling azure seas when he arrived in what is now The Bahamas more than 500 years ago. Columbus’s island-hopping quest was to find “pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other objects and merchandise whatsoever” that he had promised to his Spanish patrons, but today’s travellers to

Local vibe in St Martin

Catamarans connect Caribbean islands

the region come in search of more simple creature comforts and fabulous memories. The Caribbean’s natural treasures, its dramatic scenery, its picture-postcard beaches, rich history and diverse cultures are precious rewards enough for intrepid visitors who can bolt together two- and three- and even four-centre stays. And the good news is that it is easy to book a multi-destination visit or make day trips to neighbouring nations. The Caribbean may be ‘one region’ but each of its constituent countries have their own very special appeal - and travellers looking for a taste of this diversity can take advantage of an extensive transportation network of local flights, cruises, ferries, yachts and even catamarans. For both travel agents and visitors putting together a trip that takes in one or more countries, the key is good planning. Travellers can go as speedily or as slowly as they please, depending on whether they fly or opt for more leisurely sea-going alternatives. While sister nations like St. Kitts and Nevis,

Trunk Bay, US Virgin Islands

caribbean.co.uk

Grab a seaplane in The Bahamas to access a secluded beach

Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the islands known as the ‘Grenadines’ are natural choices for a twin-centre holiday, and hopping around The Bahamas or the BVIs is easy, there are many more combinations that link well together. UK Caribbean specialist tour operators recommend pairing Barbados and Grenada, Barbados and Antigua or Saint Lucia and Antigua, while Barbados twinned with St Vincent and the Grenadines is also an attractive option. Or why not contrast a lively island with a second that enjoys a more relaxed vibe, or a lush rainforest-covered destination with a country with stand-out beaches?

gateway destinations A leading tip is to start at one of the main gateway destinations served by direct air services from the UK – such as Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, Antigua, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts – before taking a connecting flight or sea transfer to spend the rest of the holiday elsewhere in the Caribbean. It is quite straightforward to jump from one island to another by linking onto local services and such is the proximity of South and Central America that another option is to pop across to Belize or Guyana, which share a Caribbean coastline but offer a very distinct character, culture and set of attractions of their own.


multi-centres

41

Combine a lively island with a second that enjoys a more relaxed vibe, or a lush rainforest-covered destination with one with stand-out beaches

isLAnd grouPs

Anyone planning to visit just two or three destinations is advised to concentrate on island groups that are close together or those that are connected by regular direct flights and ferries. For example, Barbados is a good hub for exploring the Eastern Caribbean, while Antigua and Jamaica lend themselves to the northern part of the region.

Finding the available regional travel connections often requires dedicated research. To take one example, those looking to travel to Anguilla, the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, have a raft of options. They can travel through St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport or arrive on Anguilla via sea-shuttle or ferry. An alternative is to fly directly from San

CONNECTING THE UK AND THE CARIBBEAN Plan your Caribbean trip

UNITED KINGDOM

Nassau Havana

Manchester

THE BAHAMAS

London

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

South Caicos Grand Turk Salt Cay

Providenciales CUBA

Santiago de Cuba

Puerto Plata

Cayman Islands Montego Bay JAMAICA

Port-au Prince Kingston

Cap Haitien

Santiago Punta Cana Santo Domingo

HAITI

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

San Juan

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS (BVI)

Tortola

St Maarten Antigua

PUERTO RICO

St Kitts Dominica St Lucia Barbados

St Vincent Grenada British Airways |

Virgin Atlantic

interCaribbean - Current Routes

|

Aer Lingus | Planned Routes

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Tobago Port of Spain Georgetown

Book @ interCaribbean.com or Visit a Travel Agent

Multi-Centre Untitled-2 1 and Getting Around_v21.indd 41

GUYANA

Follow us @interCaribbeanAirways

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42

multi-centres

Juan to Anguilla via a smaller carrier such as Seaborne Air, which offers a scheduled service daily. Belize, on the northeastern coast of Central America can be reached from the likes of Aruba and Curacao.

cruising grounds

Ferries are a fabulous means of getting around within island groups such as The Bahamas, St. Vincent and the Grenadines or the British Virgin Islands, where travellers can even hop over to the relatively nearby U.S. Virgin Islands. However, perhaps the easiest, most comfortable and most cost-effective way to tick off lots of Caribbean hot spots in one trip is to take a voyage on one of the many cruise ships that sail through the region year-round. This is the world’s top cruising ground, with the biggest choice of sailings

Multi-Centre and Getting Around_v21.indd 42

Treasure Beach, Jamaica

during winter. As several start or finish at islands such as Puerto Rico, Barbados and Jamaica, there’s plenty of scope for visitors to extend their trip by tagging on a few days at either end of the sailing – or even both. Such cruise-and-stays are popular options, enabling travellers to combine a whistle-stop

Fort King George, Tobago

tour of both the Caribbean’s buzzing islands and quieter rustic boltholes by ship with a relaxing hotel or villa stay that lets them get under the skin of the destination. With so many contrasting options to choose from, Caribbean multi-centre stays offer a match made in heaven. •

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calendar of events

43

2022 EVENTS The Caribbean’s fabulous array of annual events has been mostly on hold since 2019, but destinations across the region promise they will be better and more colorful than ever in when they return in 2022. Here’s a selection to consider.

February 25 - March 1

January

February 28 - March 1

ARUBA CARNIVAL

Join in this month-long party of colourful celebrations and torch-lit parades.

TRINIDAD CARNIVAL

Join in the Caribbean’s craziest street party where powder, paint, mud and even chocolate are thrown during J’ouvert.

DOMINICA CARNIVAL THE REAL MAS! A feast of Calypso music, competitions, costume bands and street parties.

January 29 - February 21

BAMBOO CHICKEN MUSIC FESTIVAL, BELIZE

Get your feet tapping at this three-week music gig celebrating local musicians.

March - first full moon before Easter

MOONSPLASH MUSIC FESTIVAL, ANGUILLA

Reggae artist Bankie Banx hosts international artists at this beach party under the stars in Rendezvous Bay.

February 13-17

CAYMAN COOKOUT, RITZ-CARLTON HOTEL

Join world-renowned chefs at this intimate food and drinks festival and enjoy demonstrations and tastings.

March 17

ST PATRICK’S FESTIVAL, MONTSERRAT Enjoy the two-week-long celebration highlighting Montserrat’s African and Irish heritage. It culminates on St. Patrick’s Day March 17, which is a public holiday.

February 14-23

April 30 - May 6

ANTIGUA SAILING WEEK

Sailors from all over the world will compete in the 53rd running of the regatta, with races, prizes and plenty of festivities.

May 1 - 10

SAINT LUCIA JAZZ AND ARTS FESTIVAL, CASTRIES

Enjoy jazz concerts, art shows, street parties and an artists and artisans market during this popular 20-year-old festival.

July/August

SPICEMAS FESTIVAL GRENADA

Pack a dazzling costume for this celebration of music and colour – and dance until dawn. Parades take place the second Monday and Tuesday of August.

July

GRENADA CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL, TRUE BLUE BAY RESORT

CURACAO CARNIVAL, WILLEMSTAD

March 27

Calling all chocoholics! This festival of a thousand chocolate-themed events and tastings will satiate any sweet tooth.

August 6

February 24 - March 1

Take the plunge and join locals on the annual 2.5-mile swim between the two islands, starting from Oualie Beach Bay.

Island Tomba music star in this cultural celebration of festivals and parades.

MARTINIQUE CARNIVAL Each day has a costume theme such as Burlesque weddings – where men dress as brides – and the day of the devil, where everyone wears red.

NEVIS TO ST KITTS CROSS-CHANNEL SWIM

March 30 - April 3

BVI SPRING REGATTA, NANNY CAY

Watch international sailors take part in this five-day festival of racing (and parties).

INDEPENDENCE DAY JAMAICA

A year-long calendar of events will celebrate the island’s 60th anniversary of Independence (from the UK) in 2022, culminating in fireworks, concerts and parades on the big day itself.

December 26 & January 1 April 24

BARBADOS REGGAE FESTIVAL

Head on down to Bridgetown for this annual music festival, with live performances at several venues.

JUNKANOO, THE BAHAMAS

Put on your dancing shoes for this cultural pageantry and street parade, which is accompanied by cowbells, horns and goatskin drums. Nassau hosts the biggest.

caribbean.co.uk

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The Abacos 44

map

FLORIDA

PRIMARY LANGUAGES SPOKEN English unless indicated French Dutch

Grand Bahama

Eleuthera

GULF OF MEXICO

Spanish English

Nassau Andros

Cat Island

SCALE 0

50

100

150

The Bahamas

200 miles

The Exumas 0

150

300 km

Long Island

MEXICO

CUBA

Cayman Islands

Cayman Brac

Little Cayman Grand Cayman

Jamaica Belize

HONDURAS

NICARAGUA

THE CARIBBEAN Belize Guyana

COSTA RICA

PACIFIC OCEAN

PANAMA

COLOMBIA

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2021_MAP v2.indd 44

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map

45

Turks & Caicos

British Virgin Islands Haiti

Puerto Rico

US Virgin Islands

Dominican Republic

Saint-Martin

Anguilla

St. Maarten

St. Eustatius

Antigua & Barbuda Guadeloupe

St. Kitts Nevis Montserrat

CARIBBEAN SEA

Dominica

Martinique Saint Lucia St. Vincent & The Grenadines

Aruba

Barbados

Bonaire Grenada Trinidad & Tobago

Curaçao

VENEZUELA

Guyana caribbean.co.uk

2021_MAP v2.indd 45

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This guide is published by Selling Travel, BMI Publishing Ltd, 501 The Residence, No 1 Alexandra Terrace, Guildford GU1 3DA UK. Tel: +44 (0)20 8649 7233 Fax: +44 (0)20 8649 7234 Email: enquiries@bmipublishing.co.uk Website: www.bmipublishing.co.uk, Publisher: Sally Parker, Editorial Director: Steve Hartridge, Writers: Sara Macefield, Debbie Ward, Kathryn Liston, Tamara Hinson, Peter Ellegard, Designer: Matt Bonner, Louisa Horton, Production Manager: Clare Hunter, Production Administrator: Steve Hunter, Managing Director: Matt Bonner, CEO: Martin Steady | The natural and human environment is important to us. We take great care to ensure that the paper products used to produce this brochure, are manufactured from timber which is sourced from responsibly managed and harvested forests. Images sourced from: Caribbean Tourism Organisation UK and Europe Limited (CTO Chapter) and members, iStock.com, bigstockphoto.com and Unsplash. Credit cover image: Tim-Foster - Unsplash

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JAMAICA

SAINT LUCIA

ANTIGUA

BAHAMAS

G R E NADA

BARBADOS

CU R AÇAO 2022

HO LIDAY IN A CARIBBEAN PARADISE

11

SANDALS GRANDE ANTIGUA, ANTIGUA

2020

VOT E D T H E WO R L D ’ S L E A D I N G A L L- I N C L U S I V E R E S O R T S

25 Years Running

Y E A R S I N A R OW

Book With Confidence, With The Brand You Can Trust With 40 years’ experience providing Luxury Included ® holidays on the Caribbean’s best white sand beaches, we can’t wait to welcome guests back to our award-winning resorts. From sumptuous accommodation and endless land & water sports, to 5-star Global Gourmet™ dining and premium brand liquors & cocktails, we are the experts in all-inclusive travel.

Look Forward With Us Not only is our Caribbean home a safe destination to book that long-awaited trip, our future holds an abundance of exciting innovations and new resort openings, including our expansion to a brand-new destination – the beautiful Dutch-inspired island of Curaçao. This will mark the eighth island for the brand in the Caribbean region, where our new resort is due to open in Spring 2022.

Platinum Protocol Of Cleanliness For complete peace of mind we’ve taken every precaution to enhance our already industry-leading health and safety protocols, encompassing all points of contact at every resort. We are safeguarding our guests’ stay ensuring they can sit back, relax and enjoy a worry-free escape. Plus, when it’s time to return home, Sandals will be providing complimentary in-resort COVID-19 testing, available to every guest who may require one, in order to re-enter the UK.

Sandals Resorts are on sale for travel up until December 2023, so now’s the time to book that much needed all-inclusive Sandals holiday with the brand you can trust.

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