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A luxury guide to the Caribbean

A luxury guide to the Caribbean

Golden sandy beaches, sapphire seas and swashbuckling tales make the Caribbean a warm-weather wonderland and a leading destination for the luxury seeking traveller.

With this in mind we’ve enlisted the help of Reuben Abtar, from tailor made Caribbean specialist Your Caribbean, to talk us through his five favourite islands for a luxurious, authentic escape.

The Caribbean islands are a haven for those seeking a luxurious escape but now increasingly our customers are asking for more than the ubiquitous 5 star hotel with first rate spa, they are looking to experience the Caribbean authentically. Luxury accommodation might mean an off the beaten track white washed plantation house furnished in the colonial style and complete with wraparound porch and verdant greenery, and whilst idyllic beaches might feature, these are more likely to be tucked away gems known more by the locals- the perfect spot for roasting some breadfruit with a sundowner. With Jamaican and Bajan heritage, I’ve spent many a happy time on the beautiful islands of the Caribbean, but here are my top 5 for luxurious, authentic escapes:

Barbados: The festival beat, real food and flawless beaches

We all know Barbados for its stunning beaches, perennial sunshine and cooling trade winds. But Barbados also offers some truly authentic Caribbean experiences if you want to find them. Oistins on the south coast has a regular Friday night fish fry where you can sample fresh tuna, swordfish, marlin, mahi-mahi and flying fish as locals and travellers alike come to enjoy good food, great entertainment and even better company. The island is also home to some of the best carnivals of the Caribbean like the Barbados Reggae festival with beach party, party cruise and reggae on the hill show, surely a Caribbean must! Plus, Crop Over between May and August, with their steel pan orchestra, mesmerising masquerade bands, calypso tents and traditional Bajan feel give you a taste of the real Barbados.

Brimstone Hill in St Kitts

St Lucia: Jazz, partying and heavenly luxury

St Lucia certainly knows how to do luxury. Jade Mountain resort where you can swim in your infinity pool with the majestic Pitons views spurring you on is heavenly. You need not just look though, a hike up the 2619 feet of Gros Piton is worth it for the stunning views of the island from the peak. Each spring, the glorious Pitons are the backdrop for one of the most refined carnivals of the Caribbean, the Jazz and Arts festival, an extravaganza devoted to iconic jazz legends and acclaimed entertainers and artisans. St Lucia has over 98 miles of beautiful coastline from Rodney Bay down to Anse La Raya, Vieux Fort and Soufrière, and whether you prefer the high end hotels and spas of Rodney Bay or the party like atmosphere of Anse La Raye, there is something for everyone in St Lucia.

Antigua: An exotic dream with an English twist

If Britain were given an exotic makeover, chances are it would end up looking a little like Antigua. Packed full of pretty villages, enough beaches to see you through every day of the year and host to the Greatest Summer Festival which turns 60 in 2016. Stunning parades, jam sessions and a feel of real Caribbean exhilaration is in the air thanks to the party like atmosphere. Over in the north west of the island, the beaches are luxurious and amenity laded, whilst the south west offers beaches that are more secluded and unspoilt. And when you think of the Caribbean, its history as a major sugar producer might feature. Head to Betty’s Hope, a restored plantation, for an authentic look into the past. Also Nelson’s Harbour, the only remaining Georgian harbour in the world and once home to the British Navy, is fascinating.

Jamaica: A relaxed vibe, horseback rides and some spiritual mountains

The third largest of the Caribbean islands, Jamaica is a bubbling pot of possibility. Its relaxed reggae vibe, rugged mountain ranges, natural wonders and wealth of cultural experiences mean you can pack a whole lot into your holiday. Take the seven mile beach of Negril, located on the west of the island not too far from Montego Bay and its popular Doctor’s Beach, here you can head out on horseback to explore and perhaps sample some real, authentic Jamaican food. Ackee and saltfish, the Jamaican national dish served with roast breadfruit and fried plantains is a taste to savour! Ocho Rios in the north offers the famous Dunn’s River Falls and the Green Grotto Caves, a clear underground labyrinth of mystical caves and lakes, once home to Arawak Indians and used by smugglers. Another must would surely be the spiritual Blue and John Crow mountains, full of dense rainforest and endangered species, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Idyllic beaches have made the region a leading destination. Image credit: bulla
Idyllic beaches have made the region a leading destination. Image credit: bulla

St Kitts: For the tropical dream with a dash of history

St Kitts, a quarter national park with beautiful beaches ranging from sugary white to volcanic grey and home to one of the liveliest strips of the Caribbean in South Frigate Bay, is a true tropical dream. But the beaches, beautiful as they are, are just a part of the islands charm. History abounds in St Kitts, like at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, built by the British military in the 17th and 18th century and offering unrivalled views across the island and islands beyond. It capital Basseterre to the south of the island is where you can pick up original artwork and sculptures and visit the historic Independence Square. To experience the unique environment of St Kitts, its northern, central and southern mountain ranges and rainforests are packed full of many species of bird and wildlife and for true peace and seclusion, head to Banana Bay where you can contemplate life amidst the towering coconut trees.

Your Caribbean offer authentic, tailor made holidays to the Caribbean. 7 nights from the 24 Nov – 01 Dec 2016 at the Infinity on the Beach Hotel, Barbados, is from £1,850pp, including a range of ‘Live it Like a Local’ experiences.