Moving between the Caribbean’s diverse islands and countries, sprinkled across the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, is simpler than you think
Flights from the UK to the Caribbean usually depart in the morning, which means you may well arrive in time for a swim and a sundowner at your hotel before enjoying dinner under the stars. If you’re travelling via popular hubs such as Barbados and Antigua, many sameday connections are available to smaller airports in destinations such as the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Anguilla and St. Vincent.
Regional airlines like Intercaribbean Airways and Liat provide extensive links between many islands – the latter, along with Fly Jamaica Airways, also serves Guyana. Puerto Rico and Belize can be reached via Miami. St. Maarten is another excellent gateway, easily accessed on direct flights from Paris or Amsterdam – from here, Winair’s destinations include St. Eustatius, Haiti and Curaçao.
Other islands with ‘direct’ flights from the UK are The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.
On the ocean wave
Taking to the water is a smart idea in the Caribbean, whether you travel by ferry, high-speed catamaran, private speedboat or yacht. Some highly scenic ferry routes are those linking Bequia with St. Vincent, in St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and Antigua with Montserrat. Such services are also ideal for travelling within and between the British Virgin Islands, around The Bahamas, and between Saint-martin and Anguilla. Saint Lucia, Martinique and Dominica are linked by the Express Des Iles ferry service. Two catamarans each seat 300 passengers.
Some hotels use their own boats for airport transfers, such as the Four Seasons Resort Nevis which connects guests travelling to Nevis with long-haul flights into St. Kitts. If you prefer to travel at your own pace, sailing from island to island by yacht is a favourite way to hop around the limpid waters of Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and St. Vincent and The Grenadines. Expert companies such as Sunsail and The Moorings offer yachts for charter with or without crew, and their options range from a bareboat voyage around the tranquil cayes of Belize to a week sailing north from Saint Lucia to Martinique that wraps up with a tipsy tour of the French island’s rum distilleries.
Cruising is an immensely popular way to explore the Caribbean and invariably good value. It’s the best way to see a little of everything in comfort – for example the 929-passenger ship Braemar, operated by Fred. Olsen Cruises, offers voyages that drop
anchor at ten islands over a fortnight. Sailing a circular route from Barbados, passengers get a taste of Dutch, French and Spanish cultures as well as stops at scenic favourites such as Jamaica, Grenada and Saint Lucia.
Viking Cruises has a similar ‘West Indies Explorer’ round tour from Puerto Rico while Martinique, Tobago and St. Vincent and The Grenadines are included in Seabourn’s cruise programme. Other cruise lines sailing the Caribbean include Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Celebrity.
Shore excursions are an important part of such holidays – ‘destination immersion’ is a key theme for the ships of Azmara Club Cruises which tend to linger longer in port and offer experiences ranging from stargazing in Antigua to tackling the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line – the world’s longest flight line over open water – in Haiti.
Love the romance of sail? Then join one of Star Clippers’s hi-tech tall ships from St. Maarten and Barbados. Weeklong cruises can include Anguilla, St. Kitts and the British Virgin Islands.
Double the fun
The geography of the Caribbean makes it particularly easy to visit two or more islands in one trip and the sister isles of St. Kitts and Nevis are a classic example and just two miles (3.2km) apart. The first is a long, mountainous island with a unique scenic train ride, while the second has characterful plantation-style hotels and the stunning Nevis Peak.
On Grenada, it’s fun to slip away – as many locals do – to the smaller and much quieter Carriacou to the north-east. There’s a similar sense of escape if you pair the Puerto Rico mainland with low-key, beach-fringed Culebra, or take a speedboat from the coast of Belize to a tiny, pancakeflat, one-hotel islet such as St George’s Caye or South Water Caye. For a longer island-hopping journey, head to St. Vincent and The Grenadines, where you can work your way south down the idyllic chain of 32 islands including Bequia, Mayreau, Canouan and Union Island, using the local ferry and cargo boats. •
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