The idea of an all-inclusive is noble: one price for everything, no sticker shock at the end of your journey. But what we've found on our travels around the world is that some all-inclusives aren't really the sorts of places where you want to stay. These "campuses" keep the local environment out. Here are those we do like because they excel at becoming part of the island.
NEVIS Plan to arrive at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club on Thursday; you'll be treated to one of the best West Indian buffets in the Caribbean. What we also like about Nisbet is that it's the only plantation-turned-inn in Nevis located on the beach. Cocktails and dinner are served in the 1778 greathouse ¿ the family home of Fanny Nisbet, who went on to fame by marrying Admiral Horatio Nelson. Reserve one of the 16 cottages with screened porches that are scattered along the Avenue of Palms on the 30-acre grounds facing the sea. For breakfast, definitely order the almond French toast or coconut pancakes. www.nisbetplantation.com
YOUNG ISLAND The only way to get to Young Island Resort, a private island off the south coast of St. Vincent, is by water taxi. Ride time? A short three minutes. Walk along the island's pathways through a forest of coconut palms, almond trees, hibiscus, white ginger and flamboyants. Stone cottages ¿ some with private plunge pools ¿ are tucked along the shore and the hillsides. Legend has it that a Carib chief once lived on the island. www.youngisland.com
GUANA Step onto Guana Island and you'll immediately feel at peace: Guana Island is a nature reserve. A long-term program has restored the abundant flora and fauna, including the red-legged tortoise and six roseate flamingos that reside in the pond. The resort's 16 whitewashed rooms and cottages cling to hilltops and are situated to maximize views of the sailboat-studded Caribbean and other Virgins. All produce is grown on the island (and even sung to) by gardener Dr. Liao. And if the soft sand beach that cups supremely swimmable White Bay, complete with a floating platform, is too, uh -- crowded (which is not likely since this private island holds a maximum of 36 guests), there are five other beaches from which to choose. www.guana.com
BAY ISLANDS Venture into the little-explored Caribbean, Cayos Cochinos -- part of the Bay Islands of Honduras. The only proper resort in this bio-reserve is Plantation Beach Resort, with 10 simple cottages built of local stone and mahogany. Although there are hiking trails on the island, days are mostly spent diving on this well-preserved section of the barrier reef. Nearby are a turtle and coral marine research center and Garifuna villages that can be visited. www.plantationbeachresort.com
SOUTH ANDROS If you think of a concierge as your key to the hottest tickets in town, think again. At Tiamo Resorts on South Andros Island in the Bahamas, the nature concierge will lead you on a hike to see orchids and iguanas, introduce you to the ecology of the 11 different snorkeling sites or point you to the best hammock for an afternoon nap. Tiamo's 11 screened-in beach bungalows keep you comfortable indoors without sealing you away from the outdoors. Locally made wood carvings and straw crafts appear throughout; and fresh "fruit of the sea" is served almost daily. www.tiamoresorts.com
ST. LUCIA Watched over by the Pitons, Anse Chastanet is one of those resorts that make it easy to imagine never going home. Nature is the focal point, and it's incredibly lovely on St. Lucia. There's nothing you'll lack for getting to know it. Biking trails: check. Nooks that command mountain views that move your soul: check. Quiet beaches: check. On the hillside and along the beaches are suites that bring in local life with regionally made furniture and madras fabrics. Guides offer walking tours of the resort's 600 acres. www.ansechastanet.com