I am very lucky in that, as a Caribbean Specialist Travel Agent, I have visited the islands of the Caribbean many times over the last few years. I have been to both the larger, more commercial islands and also some of the smaller, off the beaten track places.
I am always being asked – ‘Which is your favourite island’? This is difficult to answer as they are all very different and special in their own way. The first island I visited, 16 years ago is Jamaica and it will always have a special place in my heart for this reason. I have been twice since then, and still love it. There is so much to do there from rafting on the Martha Brae or the Rio Grande to climbing Dunn’s River Falls and swimming with the dolphins. To me it is what the Caribbean is all about with its’ Reggae Music, Rum Punch, Dance Halls and Jerk Pork
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to go on a mammoth educational visit with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation. It was over 10 days and visited 4 different islands including Antigua, St Kitts, Anguilla and Nevis. They are all very special in their own way but the one which stuck out in my memory particularly was Anguilla. The soft white sand beaches are absolutely stunning and there are so many choices of amazing restaurants to choose from, from traditional beach shacks to fine dining restaurants. It is definitely an island to visit if you are a bit of a foody and not one to do all-inclusive on (in fact I don’t think you can!).
I particularly like the Plantation Inns that you can stay at in the Caribbean and there are two properties we visited on this trip which I would highly recommend. The first one is on the island of St Kitts and is called Ottleys Plantation. It is in a converted Plantation Inn which has still retained its’ original features, and there are cottages dotted around the gardens . The Mango Grove Spa in the tropical grounds offers relaxing treatments and the food in the Royal Palm Restaurant is amazing! It is owned by a lovely American family who really can’t do enough for you.
The second Plantation Inn which we visited was Nisbet Plantation on Nevis ( a short boat ride from St Kitts). This is the Caribbean’s only historic plantation inn located in a spectacular setting right on the beach.
On a different trip, I spent a few days in Barbados discovering the delights of this amazing island. It is one of the most popular islands to visit and it has the bonus that it is the only island in the Caribbean to which you can take a direct scheduled flight from Manchester! This is one island to go to if you like to get out and about. It is very easy and safe to hire a car here ( even I have driven in Barbados) and they drive on the left! There is plenty to see and do – one of the most popular attractions is Harrisons cave – not to be missed and Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday night is a must!
After a lively few days in Barbados, I then took a short flight across to St Vincent in The Grenadines. Here the pace of life definitely slows down and you can literally feel yourself relax. There are many small islands to choose from in The Grenadines. A lot of them just have one hotel on the island. One of my favourites is Palm Island, accessible only by boat. It has just 43 rooms, 5 beaches to choose from and you can bike or hike around the island, enjoy sailing, snorkelling, or just relaxing by the pool or on the beach, enjoying the company of the native iguanas!
The second property which I loved in the Grenadines is Petite St Vincent. This is a really luxurious escape. With just 24 cottages and villas dotted across the island, it is very exclusive and very private. The thing I liked about it most is there are no telephones, televisions or wi-fi in the room. When you need something you have a little yellow flag outside your room which you just raise and a man comes round on a buggy to deliver whatever you require.
I could go on forever as there is so much to see and do. I haven’t even touched on St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada – I am visiting all of these islands in the next few months so maybe I will save those for the next article.
For more information on any islands or properties please visit our website www.caribbean-boutique.co.uk.