Caribbean holidays

Caribbean holidays, so much more than cliche`d white sand and tropical cocktails

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The weather here is so ephemerally perfect, the water so warm, the sounds of birdsong so pure and delightful, that sighs of sensual pleasure escape visitors within minutes of arrival. This is the Caribbean.

Picture Halcyon Beach. The very name conjures mystery. An elegant Caribbean beach resort, it is constructed in traditional island style and nestled into the natural curves, outcroppings, and hidden coves of St. Lucia. This ultimate setting for many luxury Caribbean holidays features miles of perfect Caribbean beaches and cradles guests in a luxury born of tropical splendor. Magic is also found at the Sandals Regency spa and resort, where lush beauty and fresh, breezy serenity embody this Caribbean honeymoon paradise. Two hundred and ten acres of beaches, forests, and romantic lagoons invite lovers and families alike to rejoice. Meanwhile, the Sandals Grande resort, built in the style of a majestic British palace, features guest rooms with swim-up access perfect those for dreamed-of Caribbean holidays.

These are only a few of the breathtaking resorts on St. Lucia, and St. Lucia is just one of the 7000 Caribbean islands, reefs, and cays that visitors can explore on their Caribbean vacations. Consisting of the Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos islands, The Caribbean is a collection of sovereign states, each with its own distinct personality, each offering the ultimate island hospitality as well as virgin forests, rare birds, invigorating music, and breathtaking vistas in every direction.

The history of this diverse land includes Spanish and French conquest all over the Caribbean map. The region has served as a battleground for renegade pirate ships, while Britain, the Netherlands, and Denmark have also claimed some of the Caribbean regions as their own, for who could ever resist the incredible draw of these storybook islands? But more than any other place, the friendly people here descend from West Africa. The embattled history of The Caribbean islands includes a long tradition of foreign-run sugar and coffee plantations whose slave-based lifestyle is now, thankfully, long gone. In its place, a multi-ethnic community now exists where English, Spanish, French, Dutch, Haitian Creole, and Papiamento languages form a cacophony of sound in open-air markets, lively dance clubs, and throughout the area’s colorful and historic villages and towns. Representing beliefs as diverse as Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Rastafari, and Voodoo, the people of the Caribbean thrive within a tolerant, peaceful potpourri that is nothing less than an ongoing Caribbean carnival.

The region’s fascinating cultural mix and history of conquest, revolution, and redemption has resulted in a unique musicality and a cultural tendency to celebrate each moment as it comes—gloriously and with feeling. Different musical strains emanate from every Caribbean island. Jamaica is famous for its unique, rhythmic reggae sound. The nation of Cuba—known for producing the inimitable “Buena Vista Social Club”—has long been famed for its profusion of styles including jazz, salsa, Argentine tango, Ghanaian high-life, West African Afrobeat, and Spanish Nuevo flamenco. From Puerto Rico to Santo Domingo, Caribbean music is known for its infectious, percussive style that emanates from guitar, trumpet, steel drum, gourd rattle, conga drum, and cowbell. Some of the region’s musical and dance styles are devotional, while others are political, emotional, or purely for the celebration of life. These toe-tapping rhythms and unrestrained dance forms touch every visitor deeply and differently whether they are on the islands to enjoy Caribbean weddings, holidays in the Caribbean, or to explore historic Caribbean destinations.

Local foods, served at every Caribbean resort, reflect the same diversity as the music. With rice as a staple, tropical fruits often find their way into recipes, as do goat meat, breadfruit, paw paw, and dumplings. Seafood such as Barbados’ flying fish, Trinidad and Tobago’s luscious crab meat,  and The Bahamas’ delicious fried conch stand in contrast to Jamaica’s spicy jerk chicken recipe and Cuba’s famous Cuban sandwiches, packed with ham, cheese, and pickles. Visitors can surely find food to suit any palate in a delightful beachside cafe or trendy upscale Caribbean restaurant.

Fly into San Juan or St. Thomas for your Caribbean holidays, then island-hop by small airliner in order to try different Caribbean resorts. Stay beside a sandy beach one night, in a leafy jungle the next. Another popular way to enjoy the Caribbean sea is by cruise. There are so many cruise lines in the region, that you can decide if you prefer a family-based Disney liner, a lavish luxury liner, or a romantic “Love Boat” style cruise for couples. Intrepid adventurers can even charter their own private “bareboat” or yacht to sail the cobalt waters just like an explorer of old.

There are so many ways to do your Caribbean travel and see this delightful part of the world, and so many worlds within worlds to explore on these fascinating Caribbean islands, that it is comforting to know an opulent villa always awaits to restore you to perfect bliss and comfort. After every day spent on refreshing Caribbean sailing, diving near coral reefs, horseback riding along pristine beaches, or bird-watching amid verdant jungles, this region’s famous hospitality never fails to delight and pamper the senses with the extravagant attention that makes all your Caribbean holidays uniquely relaxing.