When you imagine deserted white-sand beaches fringed with coconut palms and lapped by turquoise waters, one of the places on the planet that most springs to mind has to be the sun-soaked islands of the Caribbean. These idyllic isles, “discovered” by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, boast absolutely every characteristic associated with the quintessential tropical paradise. From soaring green mountains and secluded coves, to pastel-hued colonial villages and reggae-infused, laidback vibes – the Caribbean has everything you could ever want in an island getaway.
Here are some of this year’s most sought-after Caribbean destinations – perfect to enjoy on land or from the plush environs of your own luxury yacht charter. Best of all, for the keen yachters, 2018 promises to offer an especially amazing selection of charter yachts in the Caribbean.
The British Virgin Islands or BVIs, as they’re more commonly known, are a collection of isles that are best experienced by sea, perhaps onboard a BVI yacht charter, because of the unparalleled access that gives you to their shielded private bays and unspoiled beaches.
Discover one island more picturesque than the next in this glorious archipelago. Belly up to a beach bar on Virgin Gorda and order a fruit-filled concoction that packs a punch. Hike up steep cliff sides and through lush vegetation brimming with vibrant flowers. Dig your toes into the silky white sands of an untouched beach on Norman Island, Jost van Dyke or Tortola. Swim in aquamarine waters, glistening in the noonday sun.
Fish for massive game, such as whopper-sized mahi mahi, tuna and wahoo, off of Scrub Island. Or, grab a spear gun, snorkel and flippers and head to Blue Chrome Reef, where you might just land a lobster or two – which can be barbecued on the beach later, under the stars in the sultry Caribbean night.
The exquisite islands that make up the Caribbean chain of the Windwards include Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica. Each isle seems more exotic than the last, with volcanic peaks, black-sand beaches, centuries-old colonial architecture and majestic natural scenery.
Sip fragrant coffee and sample Parisian-flavoured fare in cafes and bistros on the French-accented isle of Martinique. Walk through wild, untamed rainforests on Dominica. Make your way to the crest of volcanic peaks and bathe in steaming mineral-rich waters in St Vincent.
Brave a thrilling visit to the world’s only drive-through volcano on St Lucia. Snorkel or scuba dive on reefs teeming with vibrant marine life, off of the powdery white sands of Bequia. Uncover your own version of treasure when you come upon the turquoise lagoons and shipwrecks of the Tobago Cays. Escape reality completely this year in these islands, which are, for many, the closest thing to Eden on earth.
Two other Caribbean destinations that are bound to have heads turning and airlines booked up in 2018 are the Leeward Island gems of Antigua and Guadeloupe.
Showcasing 365 breathtaking beaches, a different one for each day of the year, the ideal way to explore this island is onboard your own yacht charter in Antigua. Leave your footprints in satiny pink sands caressed by diamond-clear seas. Savour freshly caught fish, prepared in local creole sauce, or hot-as-fire jerk chicken, washed down with icy bottles of Antigua’s home-brewed beer or chilled glasses of rum and coconut water. Try your hand at batting or bowling, as you take part in a cricket match with local Antiguans, who are always ready with a smile and never short of some friendly chatter and a laugh or two.
Guadeloupe offers five islands, splashed artfully in the midst of the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Navigate through luxuriant tropical vegetation in the Guadeloupe National Park. Climb up the slopes of the La Soufrière volcano. Check out La Désirade, a place that time seems to have utterly forgotten, where huge iguanas rule the roost. Laze endlessly on white sands as soft as talcum powder, sipping spicy local rum that’s as warming and golden as the sunshine.
So crystal-clear are the waters that surround the 365 islands that make up the Bahamian chain of the Exumas, that you’ll swear that you’re suspended in liquid light when you swim through the bathtub-warm sea. Once a favourite hideout of pirates and buccaneers, such as the likes of Blackbeard and Calico Jack Rackham, today these isles attract those seeking a different type of adventure and craving a new sort of pleasure. In 2018, this can’t-miss Caribbean destination – which appeals mightily to those who have their hearts set on a Bahamas yacht charter – is one of the spots to be in the West Indies.
Burrow your feet into warm, satiny sands on an unblemished beach that sprawls entrancingly for seven untouched miles on Great Guana Cay. Kiteboard across the glass-calm surface of the electric-blue sea at dizzying speeds. Gaze in disbelief at solo seaplanes left to bob at anchor off of tranquil cays.
Laugh aloud, as you observe the graceful water-ballet-like antics of a troupe of wild pigs, whose every pirouette is clearly revealed in the translucent water. Eat homemade conch salad as fresh as can be. Sip an ice-cold Bahamian beer or expertly prepared rumrunner on the waterfront veranda of a colourful island bar.
Deep-sea dive on a coral reef off of an uninhabited cay, and marvel at the sheer variety of multi-coloured marine residents that live there. Enjoy endless hours spent swimming and sunbathing in a sublime cove that, at least for today, belongs to no one else but you.