There are no fewer than 16 Caribbean islands still shining bright on the Government’s ‘good to go’ list — and while not all of them are currently accessible we can — hurrah! — still fly off to many of the great favourites such as Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia.
While the pandemic has inevitably made its mark — face masks, social distancing and temperature checks are the norm — the good news is the number of flights from the UK to this sunny region is set to increase dramatically in the coming months. Many hotels, from luxury hideaways to family-loving all-inclusives, are opening their doors, air fares are attractive, and the absence of cruise ships and hordes of tourists means island life is blissfully relaxed.
You’ll need to fill in some online forms and have proof of a negative Covid-19 test, but with so much of the world still off-limits, the chance to line up some winter warmth should not be missed. And when you’re bobbing around in that glistening turquoise sea, enjoying rainforest adventures and reggae beats under the stars, six months of semi-lockdown might not seem so bad.
ST LUCIA IS DIVINE
Winter sun: Most family-friendly package resorts in St Lucia are in the north around Rodney Bay while the small upmarket hotels gathered beside the dramatic twin peaks of the Pitons will suit loved-up couples
Served by flights with British Airways and TUI (from November 3), St Lucia’s winning mix of lush rainforest, pocket-sized beaches and an authentic Caribbean welcome guarantees a memorable sunshine break.
Most family-friendly package resorts are in the north around Rodney Bay while the small upmarket hotels gathered beside the dramatic twin peaks of the Pitons will suit loved-up couples.
GOOD TO KNOW: A negative Covid-19 test taken up to seven days before arrival is required. Car hire is not permitted but you can book a limited range of excursions including horseriding and rainforest walks (stlucia.org).
SPLURGE: Seven nights’ B&B at Sugar Beach, set dramatically between the Pitons, costs from £2,826 pp in January, with flights, transfers and £80 spa credit (abercrombiekent.co.uk).
ON A BUDGET: Seven nights all-inclusive at the three-star Starfish St Lucia costs from £1,141 pp in February, with flights and transfers (tui.co.uk).
Spoilt for choice: Antigua is famous for its 365 beaches – one for each day of the year – offering white sand and turquoise waters
Choose Antigua if you love sailing, beach bar-hopping or have offspring who need exercising daily. The island trades on having 365 beaches and is a doddle to explore.
Some resorts are quite isolated so check the map before you book — English Harbour, home to super yachts and the World Heritage-listed Nelson’s Dockyard (the admiral lived there for three years) is the most inviting corner.
GOOD TO KNOW: A negative Covid-19 test taken up to seven days before travel is required and arriving passengers can only use authorised transport to reach their accommodation (visitantiguabarbuda.com).
SPLURGE: Seven nights all-inclusive at the 373-room Sandals Grande Antigua costs from £2,085 pp in January, with flights and transfers — book before October 1 (sandals.co.uk).
ON A BUDGET: Seven nights all-inclusive at Hawksbill by Rex Resorts costs from £929 pp in November with flights and transfers (tropicalsky.co.uk).
CHIC ST BARTHS
Fun fact: Unbelievably, land tortoises have right of way on the roads in dreamy St Barths
Tiny St Barths is the quintessential dream holiday isle and comes with a promise of top-class French cuisine, superlatively designed hotels and unspoilt beaches where everyone is well-dressed and well-behaved. There are plenty of quirks (tortoises have right of way on the roads) and arty characters to make it interesting.
GOOD TO KNOW: Make sure you fly via Antigua rather than Paris to avoid having to quarantine on your return. Visitors must have a negative Covid-19 test taken 72 hours prior to arrival (uk.france.fr/en/holiday-prep).
SPLURGE: Seven nights’ B&B at island icon Eden Rock St Barths costs from £5,000 pp in November, with flights and transfers (scottdunn.com).
ON A BUDGET: British Airways flies from Gatwick to Antigua from £380 return and Tradewind Aviation has flights on to St Barths (ba.com, flytradewind.com). Le P’tit Morne is a tranquil three-star hotel with doubles from £110 until December 15 (timorne.com).
Lively: With its rich history, love of sport and friendly style, it’s no surprise Barbados is a firm favourite with British travellers
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are increasing the frequency of their flights from London to Barbados, and the latter will add a direct service from Manchester on October 26. With its rich history, love of sport and friendly style, it’s no surprise this lively island is a firm favourite with British travellers — stay on the west coast if you like things refined, or head south for beach fun and nightlife.
GOOD TO KNOW: A negative Covid-19 test taken 72 hours prior to arrival is required and, from October 1, UK visitors must quarantine at a designated hotel or villa for seven days (visitbarbados.org).
SPLURGE: Seven nights’ B&B at Coral Reef Club Barbados, which has been welcoming winter sun-seekers since 1952, costs from £3,875 pp in January, with flights, transfers and UK lounge passes (elegantresorts.co.uk).
ON A BUDGET: Seven nights all-inclusive at The Sands Barbados costs from £1,581 pp in January, with flights and transfers (firstchoice.co.uk).
Grenada, also known as ‘Spice Isle’, is heaven for foodies, boasting four rum distilleries and five artisan chocolate-makers
It takes a little longer to fly to this benign ‘Spice Isle’ — around ten hours with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic from London — but it’s well worth it.
Grenada is heaven for foodies, boasting four rum distilleries and five artisan chocolate-makers, while the well-kept, mile-and-a-half-long sands of Grande Anse beach are a highlight — pick a resort close by.
GOOD TO KNOW: UK travellers are considered ‘medium’ risk and must submit a negative Covid-19 test taken up to seven days before arrival. The government has listed more than 50 Pure Safe hotels and resorts where guests are permitted to stay (puregrenada.com).
SPLURGE: Seven nights’ B&B at five-star Silversands Grenada costs from £3,190pp in December, with flights and transfers (turquoiseholidays.co.uk).
ON A BUDGET: Seven nights’ B&B at Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, at the centre of Grande Anse, costs from £1,370 pp in November, with flights and transfers (justgrenada.co.uk).
BLISS ON BEQUIA
Be sure to book a sailing trip to Tobago Cays in Bequia to swim with the turtles, says the Daily Mail’s Nigel Tisdall
Old-school vibes (Bob Dylan once had a boat built here) with a splash of class (there are some fabulous villas tucked away in the hills) make this topsy-turvy isle in St Vincent and the Grenadines a smart choice if you like to mix the usual lazing in the sun with a spot of nosing around.
Stay in the centre of the island and be sure to book a sailing trip to Tobago Cays to swim with the turtles.
GOOD TO KNOW: Connections are via Barbados or St Lucia and you’ll need to meet the Covid-19 requirements of both your transit island and those of St Vincent & The Grenadines, where UK travellers are considered ‘medium’ risk (health.gov.vc).
SPLURGE: Seven nights’ B&B at four-star Bequia Beach Hotel costs from £2,200 pp in December, with VIP charter flights from Barbados and transfers (carrier.co.uk).
ON A BUDGET: Seven nights at the self-catering Village Apartments costs from £1,545 pp in November, with flights via Barbados and transfers (justbequia.co.uk).
Luscious: Dominica is a good pick if you like diving, birdwatching and scenic drives along empty roads
Wild mountains, superb walking trails and no crowds or commercialism are the chief attractions of this ‘Nature Island’.
January to March is the best time for whale-watching and the island is a good pick if you like diving, birdwatching and scenic drives along empty roads.
GOOD TO KNOW: Flights are via Barbados or Antigua and you’ll need to meet the Covid-19 requirements of both your transit island and those of Dominica, where UK travellers are considered ‘high’ risk (discoverdominica.com).
SPLURGE: Seven nights room-only at super-private Secret Bay costs from £4,019 pp in January, with flights, transfers and one breakfast and dinner (caribtours.co.uk).
ON A BUDGET: Seven nights’ B&B at eco-friendly Pagua Bay House costs from £1,849 pp in March, with flights and transfers (tropicbreeze.co.uk).