Each island has its own personality, with hints of its European past mixed with traditions of local culture. Sun worshippers are tempted by sugary sands and turquoise seas, while explorers discover lush tropical forests and a rainbow of reefs. The accommodations are just as spectacular, from oceanfront views to luxurious rooms. The following resorts, villas and hotels are among the Caribbean's most sought-after and are destinations in themselves.
Antigua's coastline glistens like a bright diamond, with 365 dazzling-white beaches surrounded by seas of azure and a coral reef that is a diver's dream. Elegant hotels dot this island sanctuary and provide guests every luxury.
ANTIGUA PLACES TO STAY
Galley Bay Resort & Spa - www.galleybayresort.com
St. James's Club & Villas - www.stjamesclubantigua.com
The Verandah Resort & Spa - www.theverandah.com
Benefitting from its British and West Indian traditions, Barbados offers guests the best of both cultures, from its afternoon tea and lively cricket matches to its festive street life and spicy local cuisine.
BARBADOS PLACES TO STAY
Turtle Beach Resort Barbados - www.eleganthotels.com
With its mountainous rainforests, breathtaking beaches and world-famous resort complexes, Dominican Republic is a holiday playground for Europeans, but Americans are catching on to its charms. Here Spanish is not just the language but a state a mind that embraces meringue, latenight dinners and siestas under the sun.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC PLACES TO STAY
Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa - www.lifestylehaciendaresorts.com
Dreams Resorts & Spas - www.dreamsresorts.com
Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa - www.dreamsresorts.com/drepc/
Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana - http://www.dreamsresorts.com/drepb/index.html
Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa - www.dreamsresorts.com/drelr/
Known as the Honeymoon Capital of the Caribbean, Aruba provides the ultimate romantic setting, with year-round great weather, cooling trade winds, silky white sand beaches and posh resorts that cater to newlyweds and those who still act like newlyweds.
ARUBA PLACES TO STAY
Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort - www.AmsterdamManor.com/Islands
Aruba Bucuti Beach Resort & Tara Beach Suites - www.bucuti.com
Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa - www.radisson.com/aruba
With its soft white sands, turquoise waters and fertile forests perfumed with frangipani and nutmeg, Grenada is the Caribbean's Garden of Eden. Grenada is a delight to the senses and draws those who wish to feel relaxed and reenergized.
GRENADA PLACES TO STAY
Laluna - www.laluna.com
La Source - www.theamazingholiday.com
Home of Bob Marley, Rastafarians and reggae, Jamaica is a music mecca and so much more. Approximately the size of Connecticut, this island paradise is comprised of magnificent mountains and waterfalls surrounded by a ring of sandy beaches.
JAMAICA PLACES TO STAY
Villas by Linda Smith - www.jamaicavillas.com
Grand Lido Resorts & Spas ~ Grand Lido Negril ~ Grand Lido Braco ~ Breezes Runaway Bay - www.superclubs.com
ST. MARTIN/ST. MAARTEN
Each side of this intriguing island has a distinct personality. Lively Dutch Sint Maarten entertains tourists day and night with bountiful beaches, water sports, ritzy nightclubs and casinos. Its French neighbor, St. Martin, is more subdued and formal, with secluded beaches, the finest French restaurants, high-end shopping and lavish accommodations.
ST. MARTIN/ST. MAARTEN PLACES TO STAY
Radisson St Martin Resort, Marina & Spa - www.radisson.com/stmartin
For those who wish to visit more than one Caribbean island, consider a Star Clippers cruise, which visits ports that are untouched by larger cruise ships.
CRUISING PLACES TO STAY
Royal Clipper - www.starclippers.com