Caribbean — Introduction
With a cool breeze floating off the ocean and a refreshing coconut in hand it’s difficult to imagine being anywhere more relaxing than the Caribbean.
The islands offer a friendly welcome wrapped in the warm embrace of their spirited culture. Each of the islands celebrates life in annual explosions of colour and exuberance at carnival time. But this joy of life, in all its forms, extends through the rest of the year fashioned by heavy doses of perpetual Caribbean sunshine.
The Caribbean is renowned for its perfect beaches – vast stretches of soft white sand that trickle into the twinkling aquamarine sea – but each island possesses a landscape and character that’s as individual as their people.
Get the Latin spirit in the Dominican Republic where the hip-swaying merengue is a popular dance and locals are happy to show you the moves. The island has tropical parks awash with blooming flowers and staggering trees like the Travellers Palm, canyons and creeks just right for white water rafting and a fantastic range of golf courses including links and championship designed courses by Pete Dye and Robert Trent Jones.
The Bahamas are an idyllic paradise of 29 islands, 661 cays and 2,387 islets giving you plenty of opportunity to find your own deserted isle. Every island is captivating from The Abacos with their clapboard houses to Inagua’s colony of 60,000 West Indian flamingos. The Bahamas is a treasure trove of beautiful sights, history and an intensely proud culture.
Barbados is as tropical as a fresh rum punch made from the spirit produced from its plentiful supply of sugar cane. Known as Little England, much of island life harks back to a quaint Englishness of yesteryear – from a day at the races at the Garrison to an afternoon watching cricket – the national obsession.
Its west coast is as calm and sheltered as the hot, sunny days are long, while the charge of Atlantic breakers lure surfers to its eastern shores.
Barbados’ capital Bridgetown is a shopping mecca, with duty free jewels and pearls and local crafts favourite buys.
Neighbouring St Lucia is a bright jade chink in the deep blue of the Caribbean Sea. Its interior extends to a heavily carpeted forest crowned by the mighty Two Pitons – volcanic plugs central to the foundation of this beautiful island. The Two Pitons lie next to sulphur springs and hot mud pools – remnants of the former volcanic activity on the island, as well as the delightful town of Soufrière.
Find a little slice of the Netherlands in the midst of the Caribbean Sea on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The Netherlands Antilles are full of charm and offer a unique European sensibility in a warm climate. Sint Maarten is by turns Dutch and French – a split personality that makes for a fascinating island.
The island of Tortola is the largest in the British Virgin Islands and has extraordinary sea life among its many delicate reef systems making for superb snorkelling and scuba diving trips.