We’ve unearthed 5 Caribbean island getaways that sneak under the radar. Each destination is tucked away from tourist hot spots – but which should you choose?
1 Our latest discovery: Bequia
Nine miles south of St Vincent is the reclining S-shaped island of Bequia (pronounced ‘Bek-way’). With only 5000 people calling the island home, it’s a pint-sized pot of cultural harmony between locals, expats and visitors alike. Bequia has a gentle buzz – yachts come and go, but it’s definitely off the beaten track for the Caribbean. No traffic jams, glaring lights, hotel chains or golf courses: just an abundance of bare feet and seafaring history.
Where to stay
Well, you’re never too far from anything on Bequia (it’s only 7 square miles). But this hotel is right on the beach, meaning you can watch boats moor up in Admiralty Bay. Port Elizabeth, the island’s village-esque capital, is only a waterside path away. But in true low-key Caribbean style, there’s no rush to leave your hammock.
2 Jamaica’s southern coast
The northern shores of Jamaica see the towns of Ocho Rios, Falmouth and Montego Bay awash with cruise ships and bustling tourist attractions. So, head south where development has been a ‘likkle’ slower. Wander along quieter, powdery white beaches – you might even discover your very own shipwreck in the southern azure waters. The San José galleon was recently discovered in the Caribbean Sea with a treasure value of £13bn – so don’t give up on the hope of finding your hoard. Visit YS Falls, reaching the serene water by a tractor through fields. The whole experience is much more tranquil than Jamaica’s famous Dunn’s River Falls. Or, simply sip a rum cocktail and watch the sunset with the locals from Floyd’s Pelican Bar, which is propped up on stilts a mile out into the Caribbean ocean.
Where to stay
Find peace for the whole family at this private villa in Culloden. It has a cove so the kids can search for pirates’ long-lost troves. Hummingbirds flutter around the wooden trellis that covers the terracotta-tiled alfresco dining area. Lawns give way to the infinity pool, a shady gazebo with hammocks and sofas, the private beach and the real treasure of crystal-clear waters beyond.
Jakes is located at Treasure Beach on Jamaica’s rugged south coast and is immersed in the local fishing community. You’ll feel a million miles from cookie-cutter tourist destinations (plus, it boasts a super affordable price tag). There wasn’t a high-rise in sight on our last visit. The bohemian, vibrant buildings dot the garden and seafront, so get settled in a cushion and crack open a can of Red Stripe.
Nevis is one of the Caribbean’s sleepiest islands. It’s a must for those who seek a haven without cruise ships stopping by or the bustle of all-inclusive resorts. Hike the heights of Nevis Peak or wander the streets of its capital Charlestown, soaking up its alluring echoes of the old world. The island’s tropical flora is famous for its abundance and diversity – look closer to find little gems within the foliage, such as the Botanical Gardens of Nevis.
Where to stay
This hotel rests on the slopes of the mountain and was built around one of the island’s 18th-century sugar plantations. Think English country manor doused in tropical juices, blending genuine hospitality with traditional charm and luxurious accents. The welcoming atmosphere opens its arms to all who seek rest, recuperation and romance.
4 St Lucia
St Lucia may have a drive-in volcano, but there are plenty of other places to visit on the island that are spectacularly out of this world. The southwestern corner is home to the Pitons – majestic volcanic peaks defining the iconic landscape. If you can tear yourself away from the views, take a dive beneath the indigo ocean to explore a wreckage, or wander over to a cocoa plantation. The people you’ll meet along the way will be remembered for their charm and warm hospitality.
Where to stay
On the west coast is a collection of rustic-chic cottages peering down from a luscious hillside onto a remote beach between Soufriere and Castries. This adults-only retreat is all about unplugging and unwinding. Submerse yourself into the relaxing symphony of crashing waves, wind chimes and balmy breezes (best enjoyed with a potent rum cocktail at sunset).
La Haut resort is a working cocoa and citrus plantation – a genuine insight into real life and working the land of St Lucia. It’s hiding in the hills, looking over sleepy Soufriere. It will be difficult to tear yourself away from its 2 infinity pools, which have unspoilt views of the Pitons, to take a guided tour of the estate.
5 Blue Mountains, Jamaica
Imagine being able to see from Haiti to Cuba on a clear day? The highest point in Jamaica is the Blue Mountain, peaking at 7400ft, so there’s no better place to drink up the calm of the Caribbean than here. Plus, the single origin coffee plantations you pass along the way will help stimulate your senses. The buzz and bass of nearby Kingston’s reggae sound systems will feel a distant memory while you wander through the conserved forest of the Blue Mountains National Park.
Where to stay
Where better to enjoy breathtaking views from the Blue Mountains down to the sea than perched 3100ft above Kingston at Strawberry Hill? This is a hilltop hideaway from sultry weather in the city, so pull up a chair and sip traditional Sunday tea. The instructions are simple: unwind, eat, chill and sleep.
How to get there
From the UK
Try British Airways, Delta or Virgin Atlantic. You may need to change if you’re heading to Jamaica. If you’re heading to Nevis, fly to Antigua. From there, Liat should provide your connecting flight, or try CaribJet. You can fly direct to St Lucia from the UK with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and CaribJet. Bequia can be reached via St Lucia and Barbados, where you can jump on a shared charter flight. Daytime private charter flights also run from any neighbouring island with SVG Air.
There are no direct flights to Jamaica or St Lucia from France, Austria, Italy or Sweden. Try Condor from Germany, or Air Caraïbes. For Nevis, Air France flies direct to Paris to St Maarten or Guadeloupe. Pick up a connection with Liat, Winair or by ferry. KLM flies from Amsterdam to St Maarten direct.