Top Spots in the Caribbean

8 January 2013
Read Time: 1.6 mins

The Caribbean comprises 7,000 islands in the Caribbean Sea, south-east of The Gulf of Mexico, each unique in their natural beauty, cuisine and culture. With five James Bond films shot in the Caribbean, it's little wonder that these islands attract travellers seeking adventure.

Here are our favourite Caribbean island destinations.

Grand Cayman Grand Cayman

Cayman Islands
The British Overseas Territory of The Cayman Islands comprises three small islands by the Cayman Trench, which are the deepest waters in the Caribbean. Visit Grand Cayman if you must but better to get away from its commercialism and see the slower-paced sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Enjoy the natural beauty of the islands while hiking, diving, snorkelling or unwinding on the sandy beaches. Take a day trip to Little Cayman to enjoy Sandy Point.

Aruba and Martinique
Aruba - "One Happy Island" - boasts white beaches and crystal clear water, making it an ideal Caribbean dive destination. Discover sunken shipwrecks and brightly coloured coral reefs off Hadicurari Beach. Explore Arikok National Park and on Tuesdays enjoy the lively Bon Bini Festival. French outpost, Martinique, the "Island of Flowers", boasts the magnificent Balata Gardens and fine dining in Fort-de-France. The cuisine is a mouth-watering fusion of French, African and Creole dishes, served with a hot “chien” sauce.

Barbados and the Bahamas
The easternmost island in the Caribbean and the home of white rum, Barbados is aptly known as "Little Britain". The Bajas gained independence from Great Britain in 1966 but you can still enjoy a spot of tea at the polo or the cricket. Surfers won't want to miss The Soup Bowl, a break that pro surfer, Kelly Slater, puts in the top three waves in the world. The Bahamas vibrant markets are juxtaposed against luxurious resorts and casinos, and 700 islands of stunning natural scenery. Indulge in a luxury holiday or strip it back to enjoy the simple pleasures: swimming, snorkelling, diving and fishing.

The heart of the Caribbean and its third-largest island, Jamaica is the home of reggae music, the Rastafari movement, sugar cane and coffee. Hit the beaches - Boston Bay Beach in Port Antonio for the best surf and Seven Mile Beach in Negril for family fun - or to really get the adrenaline going, try river rafting on the Rio Grande and hiking in the Blue Mountains. Jamaica's famous Mountain River Cave, located in Cudjoe Hill, St Catherine, contains pictographs dating back to 1000 years, giving visitors a sense of place and Caribbean history.

Ready to rumba? Havana, Cuba, Jamaica, is the place to party. Famous for its dubious pirate past, free-flowing rum, fragrant cigars and sultry dance clubs; Havana is the heart and soul of Cuba. Take a city walk to see colonial buildings and classic cars. Hit the white sands of Trinidad's Playa Ancon and explore Camaguey, along winding streets built to stop pirate raids. For something completely different, head into remote Baracoa, on the isolated northeastern corner of Cuba.

Xanthe Coward

Xanthe's favourite travel destinations are the Greek Islands, Indonesia, Fiji and Vanuatu. With a background in performing arts, fine food, wine and good times, Xanthe enjoys travel that brings her close to the locals and their leisure activities. Being a theatre reviewer means that Xanthe will always do dinner and a show before checking out the late night city scene and still be up early to find the markets and a decent pot of chai.