After the devastation caused by last year’s hurricanes, some of the islands in the Caribbean are still rebuilding. Some islands were hit worse than others. St. Martin for example, sustained serious damage to over 90% of its buildings and many resorts remain closed, while businesses on islands like Turks and Caicos have fully reopened after enduring widespread flooding.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid the islands that were affected. Many of the resorts are open for business – business that they will need – but 2018 will inevitably provide a growth opportunity for those islands unaffected like Jamaica, Aruba and others, as wary visitors seek alternate options.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman make up this small chain of islands. At approximately 76 square miles, Grand Cayman is the largest island in the British territory, and the heart of the action. Home to the dazzling crescent-shaped Seven Mile Beach, world-class dive spots, and Stingray City, a series of sandbars that create shallow waters where you can interact with Southern Stingrays, you will not be short of water-based fun in Grand Cayman. In addition to the stunning beaches, luxury resorts, first-class dining and unrivalled amenities abound on Grand Cayman. There’s duty-free designer shopping, the Greg Norman golf course at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, and high-end restaurants with Michelin starred chefs.
If you want to get off the beaten track, both Cayman Brac and Little Cayman make easy day trips. Brac, the second largest isles, is renowned for spectacular wall and shipwreck diving, deep sea fishing and as a nature-lovers paradise, with lush forest that over 200 species of birds call home. Little Cayman is exactly how it sounds. This tiny island is just ten miles long and one mile wide, making it an idyllic island getaway. It’s also a mecca for divers thanks to Bloody Bay Wall Marine Park, famed for its huge drop offs, colorful coral and amazing marine life.
If you’re looking for a wild tropical paradise with a luxury resort experience, you’ll find it in St. Lucia. Dominated by the majestic Piton Mountains, St. Lucia’s dramatic landscape of jagged green mountains, lush rainforests and palm-fringed beaches is perhaps the most photogenic island of the Caribbean. Looks aside, there’s also plenty to see and do. Spectacular reef diving, off-beach snorkeling and boat tours with panoramic island views are just a few of the ways to spend your time on or under the water, while on land you can laze on fine-sand beaches, hike the rainforest, swim in fresh waterfalls or fly through the treetops on a zip lining adventure.
With a wide range of accommodation from luxury beachside resorts to boutique hotels, fine dining and luxurious spas, you will find amenities as incredible as the views in this UNESCO World Heritage listed island paradise.
St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Although it may sound more like the name an offbeat rock band than a chain of islands in the Caribbean Sea, St. Vincent and the Grenadines comprise more than a hundred islands scattered between St. Lucia and Grenadine. St. Vincent – the largest land mass – is a rugged island of volcanic formation, while the Grenadines are a series of islands, cays and reefs formed by a volcanic ridge.
This is of course the perfect place for a yachting vacation, although five-star luxury resorts can be found across a number of the islands as well, including St. Vincent and the smaller isles of Canouan, Mustique, Palm Island, and Petit St. Vincent. While the mountainous St. Vincent offers stunning views and striking black volcanic sand beaches, the low-lying Grenadines are the opposite with white sand beaches and shallow turquoise bays.
The best thing about this tropical archipelago is you can escape the crowds found on many of the Caribbean islands, especially during high season. Here you can and find solitude in paradise, while still enjoying the creature comforts of first-class accommodations, dining and outdoor activities, although that may not last for long with the newly opened Argyle International Airport on St. Vincent. If this stunning archipelago is on your bucket list, the time is now.
Turks and Caicos Islands
With only eight inhabited islands in a chain of forty, Turks and Caicos offer plenty of secluded beaches and islands to explore. Home to the one of the world’s largest barrier reefs, it’s a mecca for diving, and equally attractive for kite boarders and windsurfers thanks to consistent winds and shallow waters. Fishing is also a top drawcard for many tourists due to the large numbers of Blue Marlin found in the waters of this archipelago, and in the right season you can catch the annual migration of thousands of humpback whales.
Another British territory, these coral islands offer the ultimate in luxury amenities without the crowds, making it perfect for those seeking some solitude with five-star service, dazzling beaches and sky-blue waters.
Despite being seriously impacted by last year’s hurricane season with flooding and high winds, the islands are reported to be open and back to business as usual, although you may want to contact resorts directly to check on amenities and services prior to booking.
Would the 2018 Caribbean destination list be different without the damage caused by last year’s hurricanes? Without a doubt. St. Bart’s, Anguilla and St. Martins/St. Maartens are just a few of the islands that usually take top place for Caribbean luxury. And these islands are still worth visiting in 2018 – they just may require a little more pre-vacation research.