Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda share a history that dates to 3100 BC, when Amerindian hunter-gatherers established settlements here. Today, Antigua and Barbuda form a single sovereign nation heavily influenced by its British legacy. English is the main language. The most important attraction is Nelson’s Dockyard, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The islands are dotted with 100 British colonial windmills (many turned into pubs and shops). And the residents are cricket mad, with local heroes like Sir Viv Richards, one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Antigua also boasts 365 spectacular beaches—one for every day of the year.


Aruba is beloved for its long white-sand beaches, divi-divi trees, and pleasant, dry climate. Its strong Arawak heritage is reflected in Oranjestad’s museums, folklore presentations and art exhibits. As the capital, Oranjestad abounds with attractions like the Archaeological Museum, Fort Zoutman, and Wilhelmina Park. A special treasure is Arikok National Park, home to Conchi (or the Natural Pool). Accessible only by foot, horseback or 4x4 vehicle, this circle of rocks on a deserted coastline forms a large tidal pool. Relax in the calm water surrounded by a rugged landscape for a wholly different island experience.


Pink sand beaches, pulsating nightlife, garden-splashed manor homes (including one owned by George Washington), a UNESCO-listed capital city (Bridgetown), and Mount Gay rum. Barbados is a sweet Caribbean cocktail with one powerful special ingredient: the Barbadian or “Bajan” people. Outgoing, warm and courteous, they recognize all "children of the island" as Bajans—though their ethnicity may be Afro-Caribbean, British, Irish, Chinese, Indian, Jewish or Lebanese—and they welcome visitors with equal good will.

British Virgin Islands

Nearly 60 islands comprise the British Virgin Islands, and only 15 are inhabited, making the archipelago a favorite of sailors, fishermen, divers, and island-hoppers looking for seclusion. Some come to Virgin Gorda, with its unusual granite boulders and grottoes known as “the Baths.” But the most popular island is Tortola, the capital and largest of the BVIs. Here you will find the best of both worlds: blessedly uncrowded beaches, plus cultural attractions like the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum, J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens and the Virgin Islands Folk Museum.

Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac form this autonomous British Overseas Territory, renowned as an offshore financial haven for the wealthy. But the islands’ true riches are the famously friendly people and its trove of natural wonders. All beaches are open to the public, including Seven Mile Beach with its luxury resorts, diamond-bright sand and turquoise water. The Caymans abound with marine species. Even if you do not scuba or snorkel, you can get up close and personal with some of these gentle creatures at Stingray City, the Turtle Farm and Dolphin Discovery; or admire the island’s rare blue iguanas at the Botanical Park on Grand Cayman.

St. Kitts

Celebrated for its tropical rain forests, cloud-wreathed mountains, and alluring beaches, St. Kitts constitutes one country with the neighboring island of Nevis. Originally inhabited by native Caribs, it was settled in the 17th century by the British and French, who imported West African slaves to work the plantations. This complex cultural legacy is reflected in the colonial architecture, Creole language and cuisine, and African-influenced music. The capital, Basseterre, is one of the Eastern Caribbean’s oldest towns and its highlights include the Circus, a waterfront roundabout fashioned after London’s Piccadilly Circus; and Brimstone Hill Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

St. Lucia

Few Caribbean islands can match the geologic diversity of St. Lucia. The volcanic twin Pitons (Gros Piton at 2,617 feet and Petit Piton at 2,460 feet) soar over pristine beaches and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nearby, dormant Soufrière Volcano emits its steam. Join the locals in the natural mud baths, said to enhance your complexion. The vibrant French-English-Afro-Caribbean culture comes to life in the capital, Castries, with its main square named for native son (and Nobel laureate) Derek Walcott. St. Lucia has a unique cultural phenomenon in that nearly every islander pledges loyalty to one of two historic associations: La Magwit (marguerite) or La Woz (rose). These mutual aid societies were formed in the slave days, and overlaid with mystical significance. Today, each association has its own festival (on August 30 and October 17) that includes pageantry, folk dancing and singing, and good-humored rivalry.

St. Martin

Shared by France and the Netherlands, St. Martin has a fascinating dual personality: the Dutch side of the island is dotted with resorts, while the French side exudes the romance of a quaint village. St. Martin also boasts nearly 40 picture-perfect beaches, but its unique claim to fame is its reputation as the Caribbean’s culinary capital: there are more than 400 restaurants ranging from no-frills lolos (open air barbecues) to elegant establishments. The entire island has a robust arts scene, and many open studios. You will find superior shopping in the high-end boutiques along Front Street in the Dutch capital of Philipsburg; and in the harborside markets of the French capital, Marigot.

St. Thomas, USVI

Like its other US Virgin Island neighbors, St. Thomas is blessed with stunning beaches including Magen’s Bay (often cited as one of the world’s best). But it stands out for its cosmopolitanism: it is the most populous of the US Virgin Islands, with Afro-Caribbean, European, and mainland American residents. Historic Charlotte Amalie, the territorial capital, presides over a stunning harbor and is known for its duty-free shopping. It still bespeaks the island’s Danish past with its colonial neighborhoods rising along flower-fringed step streets called frigangs. Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro was born here in 1830 and his childhood stone house is nestled on Main Street. The Jewish synagogue, whose floor is made of sand, is the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere.

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