Looking for a unique Caribbean destination that is not over developed, and crowded during the peak tourist season? There are a few islands that have maintained much of their original natural beauty, charm, and offer an out of the ordinary experience.
1) Curacao has a unique European charm with an exotic, tropical backdrop. The capital city Willemstad is one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean, and recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A walking tour of Willemstad will convince you this is one of the prettiest cities in the Caribbean.
The capital city’s famous landmarks is the Queen Emma Bridge, also called the “Swinging Old Lady”. It is the world’s largest floating pedestrian bridge, and opens on a regular basis to enable cruise ships and other sailing vessels to enter and exit the harbor. At night the bridge is illuminated with thousands of tiny fairy lights.
Curacao is home to over 50 different nationalities, which brings a unique flavor to the language, culture and cuisine. The islands sugar white beaches are flanked by massive limestone bluffs rising above the Caribbean Sea, and you’ll find pink flamingos in the lagoons. Curacao offers 70 fine diving sites, and the Christoffel National Park covers 4,500 acres and provides excellent hiking tours.
Unlike other islands, Curacao offers consistent accommodation pricing throughout the year – even at the traditional peak Caribbean tourist seasons.
Curacao is outside the hurricane belt, and often described as one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets.
2) The tiny island of Dominica can best be described by one word – Green! This is the premier destination for eco-tourists.
Whether you’re into exotic birds, plants, dolphin/whale watching, diving or snorkeling, Dominica is the true nature island of the Caribbean. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the island has 365 rivers on land – one for every day of the year.
The island is home to 10 active volcanoes that have been dormant over 1000 years. The world’s second largest boiling lake is located at Morne Trois Piton National Park, a World Heritage Site. A few miles from the boiling lake, you come upon the Valley of Desolation, another unique, hot geothermal spot. Trafalgar Falls and Soufriere Sulfur Springs are both popular visitor spots to experience the soothing therapeutic water.
And don’t think the volcanic activity is limited to land, it can also be found beneath the sea. The locals named the place “Champagne” due to the hot water vents creating a fizzle sound on the coral rocks. Once you are in the water, it does feel as though you have dived into warm, bubbly champagne.
3) St Vincent & The Grenadines provides visitors with travel to one destination, and the opportunity to experience over 30 pristine islands.
Upon my first visit to The Grenadines, I experienced the ultimate pristine paradise. The waters are truly crystal clear, with hundreds of colorful tropical fish in easy view just a few feet from shore. On some islands, your footprints will be the only ones found in the sand.
St Vincent is the largest island in the chain, and the location of the capital city of Kingstown. This is a rather lively place with a colonial backdrop amid cobblestone streets. St Vincent is the ideal spot to set sail to the Grenadines. Among the island chain, Bequia, Mayrou, Tabago Cays, Palm Island, Mustique, Petit St. Vincent are the most popular.
Bequia, a small, picturesque seafaring town, is the largest in the chain. For such a small island, visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the choice of accommodations to fit any budget. We stayed at the SugarApple Inn on Friendship Bay beach, which I highly recommend. Another surprise is the variety of fine cuisine, and you can even find a few lively local nightspots.
Mayrou is home to only 200 residents who live high up in the hillside. One of the unique places to visit is Salt Whistle Bay where the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea is separated by just 50 yards. This is a great island hopping spot to reach Tobago Cays, Palm Island, or Petit St. Vincent by boat or charter yacht.
The Tobago Cays are a small group of 5 deserted islands offering a unique, pristine wildlife reserve protected by a reef shaped in the form of a horseshoe. Swim with the turtles, and experience nature at its finest.
Three of the islands in The Grenadines chain cater to the rich and famous. Petit St Vincent is famous for those who desire luxury and privacy. The island offers no airport, telephone, or TV. Visitors use a small colored flagpoles outside the cottages to communicate with the staff. Palm Island is an expensive, all-inclusive private-island resort offering just 43 luxury accommodations. Mustique, another private island offers seclusion in 72 luxury villas.