Best of the Caribbean: Resorts, Restaurants, and Shops

Explore all the Caribbean has to offer on your next vacation with this list of some of the best resorts, restaurants, and shops.

Four Seasons, Nevis

Four Seasons, Nevis

You may never want to leave ...
For some travelers, the grand luxury resorts of the Caribbean, with their sophisticated décor and cuisine and service to A-list guests, epitomize the region. Where can you find a resort for your getaway?

  • Clubby Sandy Lane in Barbados may be the gold standard.
  • The Four Seasons, Nevis is also splendid.
  • Amanyara on Providenciales (Turks and Caicos) is a paradise.
  • And don't forget La Sammana, a classic on St. Martin with true savoir-vivre and a stunning white soft-sand beach.

Select, small all-inclusive resorts offer luxury experiences with handsome guest rooms, outstanding cuisine, well-run recreational facilities and crackerjack service. Two worth considering: 

  • Curtain Bluff in Antigua (72 rooms and suites) has all the finest features, plus a world-class wine list.
  • The more formal 64-room/suite Spice Island Beach Resort on Grenada nails every luxurious detail, from the whirlpool tubs in the baths to the expertise of the concierge.

For just the two of you
The Caribbean has many romance-stoking hotels, but when there are only two of you traveling, think small — a hideaway with seductive rooms, glorious food and a discreet ambience. 

  • Nisbet Plantation Beach Club in Nevis is, as its name implies, a former colonial estate, now with a swell spa, watersports and 36 accommodations.
  • Hotel Le Toiny, a jewel on ineffably chic St. Barts, features 15 suites and 15 DO NOT DISTURB signs.
  • Ladera Resort on St. Lucia is truly the top: Perched 1,100 feet above the sea, its huge, breeze-cooled rooms have artful handmade furnishings, plunge pools and no fourth wall, so guests can stare out at the spectacular Pitons. There’s a fine spa, an infinity edge pool and an award-winning restaurant as well as shuttles to a lovely beach, but why ever leave the room?

Bringing the kids along?
Wanted: trained and reliable nannies for the little ones, a really good kids' program with both recreational and learning opportunities and peaceful, tasteful surroundings for the grownups.

  • The Provo Beaches family resort actually looks and feels like a hotel for adults. Provo is short for Providenciales.
  • Caneel Bay on St. John offers a thoughtful children’s program and a chance for families to really connect with each other: Rooms have Wi-Fi, but no televisions or phones.

Three resorts for sports

  1. LeSport on St. Lucia hooks guests on new pursuits — scuba diving, archery, yoga, aerobics, fencing and wind-surfing to name a few — and on healthy living in general. 
  2. The Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, is arguably the best watersports resort on earth: sailboats of all sizes, kayaks, kiteboarding, motorized skiffs and more — terrific instructors, too.
  3. For variety, consider the Dominican Republic’s Casa de Campo, with its three Pete Dye golf courses(!), tennis, watersports, shooting, fishing, horseback riding and even polo.

Five splendid historic sites

  1. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico: Its blue cobblestone streets lined with pastel houses are still protected by two immense, intact stone fortresses from the 1500s.
  2. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Here, colonial houses, a fort from 1540 and the New World’s oldest cathedral and monastery take you into the past.
  3. Willemstad, Curacao: This Caribbean capital is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with hundreds of 17th-century Dutch merchants’ houses. Imagine Amsterdam with tropical colors.
  4. Petite Paris, Martinique: This village was wiped out by a volcano in 1902. This Caribbean Pompeii resonates with history, as does another city on Martinique, Les Trois-Îlets, where Josephine Bonaparte was born and raised.
  5. Barbados: Historic stops are around every rocky bend on Barbados, it seems. You can tour sugar barons’ mansions from the 1640s, see the world’s best collection of 17th-century English cannons and marvel at a lovely pink — yes, pink — Sephardic synagogue.

One wild island
Guana Island, in the British Virgin Islands, is all eco. The entire island is a nature sanctuary — home to flamingos, nesting tortoises, flowering bromeliads, the ruins of a sugar plantation, colorful reef fish and one little ecolodge offering good food, nature guides and peaceful evenings. Guana’s motto: “As far as we know, we’re the only wildlife sanctuary in the world with a cocktail hour.”

What is it with St. Barts?
This small hill of an isle attracts more models than Fashion Week in Paris. Why?

  • It's the most French of French Caribbean islands.
  • The dining reflects that. There's not a bad (or an inexpensive) meal on the island.
  • From Le Nikki Beach — a club, not just a beach — to Supper Club The Strand, St. Barthelemy rocks in the musical sense.
  • Your choices of where to stay are only in villas and at stylish hideaways like Hotel Le Toiny.
  • The shopping is très sophistiqué: Hermès, designer outfits and Cartier baubles that outshine the tropical sun.

Island Buys
Not everything for sale is worthy of a space in your suitcase, so here are some fun ideas:

  • Tasteful, colorful dinnerware (and it’s safe for microwaves and dishwashers) and other pottery at Earthworks in Barbados
  • Sculpture, jewelry and paintings at the Native Arts & Crafts Cooperative in St. Thomas  
  • Vivid, evocative paintings by Haitian and Cuban as well as Jamaican artists at the Gallery of West Indian Art in Montego Bay, Jamaica

Six Taste Sensations

  1. Exceptionally fresh tuna — both the appetizer (yellowfin sashimi with foie gras) and the entrée with Picholine olive puree — at Eric Ripert's Blue at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. 
  2. Solomon's Boston jerk brochette (jerk pork, chicken, fish, sausage and beef flamed with rum jerk) at the Caribbean fusion Sugar Mill Restaurant in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
  3. Grilled swordfish with yellow curry sauce, jasmine rice and grilled pineapple relish at The Cliff, near Sandy Lane on Barbados.
  4. The fisherman's platter in a lobster sauce, bouillabaisse style, at Le Bistrot Caraibes on Grand Case, St. Martin's restaurant row.
  5. Pinchos de pollo con mofongo (chicken in a cilantro-parsley sauce with plantains) at the music-filled, Latin-fusion Parrot Club in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  6. Shrimp Dasheene, “St. Lucia mojo steak” – anything at Dasheene at Ladera Resort on St. Lucia. The view of the Pitons is delicious, too.

Ed Wetschler, Executive Editor at Tripatini.com, has contributed to The New York Times and other major publications.

Photography courtesy of the Four Seasons, Nevis; La Sammana; Joe Vaughn; Aman Resorts

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