It’s already been a long and cold winter, and you’re craving a sunny vacation in the Caribbean. For a truly relaxing and rejuvenating experience, choose one of these five hidden gems, where the pools are quieter, beaches wider, and the experiences unforgettable.
Forty percent of Bonaire visitors are return-travelers, and it’s easy to see why. The island’s amazing reef-lined coast is routinely listed as one of the best in the Caribbean and has been protected since 1979. So head down in late April for some of the area’s finest snorkeling and scuba diving sites, and also enjoy Rincon Day, a celebration of the oldest town on Bonaire and in the Dutch Caribbean.
Canouan is a quaint island in the Grenadines Island chain, stretching less than four miles long and less than two miles wide. Despite its small size, the island boasts some of the world’s best beaches and romantic hideaways, and you’ll find your secluded paradise at the four-star Tamarind Beach Hotel & Yacht Club with serene tropical gardens and a beach bar.
Truly looking to find a quiet retreat in the Caribbean? Look no further than Vieques, located just seven miles off the shores of Puerto Rico. The destination has been named one of the Top 10 Islands of the Caribbean by TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards, and while the island offers the largest wildlife refuge in the Caribbean, one of the brightest bioluminescent bays in the world (the water really glows!), and beaches boasting radiant silver and black sands, it truly impresses as a laid-back retreat without a single traffic light.
We might be cheating here since the Dominican Republic is already a favorite Caribbean destination, but generally when you think of the DR, you think of Punta Cana. Travel less than four hours north of the city, and you’ll be rewarded with the gorgeous province of Samana. Relax upon Playa Rincón, voted one of the best beaches in the world by Condé Nast Traveler and a serene hideaway only reachable by jeep or ATV, or go on a whale-watching excursion. Samana Bay is one of the world’s best places to see humpback whales as more than 3,000 return every year during mating season from January through March.
Be enchanted by Curaçao, one of USA Today’s 10 Best Caribbean destinations. Only two and a half hours from Miami by plane, the island has more than 35 beaches, 55 different cultures, and a European feel, with Willemstad, the island’s capital, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the island’s first winery with special events and tastings, or visit the unique aquarium with lagoons and natural exhibitions. The Curaçao Tourist Board recently was presented with the “Destination Pioneer” award by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association for its efforts to develop the island into an all-welcoming destination for travelers.