Caribbean castaways – a brief guide to 5 authentic islands

Travel trends can be fickle – one moment the whole world and her dog want to marvel at steamy geysers in Iceland; and then next season it’s all about devouring culture in Malta. Yet some destinations stand the test of time; visit after visit. Undoubtedly that includes the Caribbean. The luxurious playground of the world, these evocative archipelagos of thousands of islands never cease to seduce the senses. Yet despite remaining a top international destination for decades you can still find authenticity, unspoilt scenery and mouth-watering local cuisine. Here’s a few of our favourites.

St Lucia

Over recent years this verdant forested island with jaw-dropping vistas of volcanic spires and beautiful bays, has developed a sophisticated niche in luxury wellness tourism. Unsurprisingly, since the natural wonders of this lush tropical island embrace visitors in healing tranquillity. Visitors can leave the beaches behind, and head into the interior to hike and bike the forest and mountain trails. Hire a 4×4 and discover your own secret cove on the wild eastern coast. Forget an over-priced rum cocktail and instead eat like a local, tucking into the freshest seafood, like spiny lobster, and discover age-old recipes including ‘green figs’ and saltfish (the national dish of unripe bananas with preserved fish). This is the Caribbean like you dreamed it would be.

Barbados

Barbados is the quintessential Caribbean island, with its pink sandy beaches made from crushed coral; colonial era architecture in the UNESCO recognised capital of Bridgetown; and dazzling turquoise and azure bays that are so iconic of this part of the world. Yet did you know the island is also home to a tropical forest? Welchman Hall Gully is the place to walk amongst rainforest trees and lush native vegetation. The east of the island offers a perspective of Barbados’ wild beauty, where powerful Atlantic ocean waves break and crash onto the shore. Barbados is probably the culinary capital of the Caribbean with a wealth of upscale fine-dining restaurants as well as some great local hangouts. Here Indian, African, Creole, and European cuisine fuse, long before it was considered fashionable. Bajan food is the best; whether simple, fresh and tasty fish cakes or a salt bread sandwich; to fine-dining dishes of local fish like cou-cou flying fish.

Turks and Caicos

South of the Bahamas and north of the Dominican Republic, one finds the tropical archipelago of Turks & Caicos. Grand Turk is a popular cruise stop, with an impressive port complex. The island also boasts charming British Bermudan architecture. Many of the exclusive resorts are found on neighbouring Providenciales, with its postcard perfect beaches. Yet take the ferry across to the laid-back North Caicos and Middle Caicos and it’s a natural paradise for outdoor pursuits like hiking, caving and of course enjoying the pristine beaches. If you love snorkelling or diving, the uninhabited islands promise the most spectacular sites to explore.

Bahamas

Asked to name a Caribbean nation and the chances are the Bahamas will be topping the list. The Islands of the Bahamas are amongst the most popular in the Caribbean. From the swimming pigs of The Exumas to the extraordinary Treasure Cay Beach of The Abacos, there’s plenty to discover; and hundreds of islands to explore.

To experience the Bahamas as it must have been before the European colonists and navigators arrived, make a trip to the Acklins and Crooked Islands. Experience kilometres of untouched beaches: enjoy wonderful sites for snorkelling and diving, abundant with sea life; and catch sight of fascinating limestone caves.

The Caribbean is worthy of being amongst the world’s favourites holiday destinations. In this breath-takingly beautifully part of the world, there is a rich diversity in cultures, heritage, cuisines, and landscapes; together with experiences for luxury-lovers and adventure-seekers alike.

Paola Fiocchi Van den Brande is Director of Passepartout Homes Ltd. Passepartout Homes Ltd. offers an exclusive portfolio of luxury villa rentals in Italy, France, Greece, Croatia, Thailand and worldwide.

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