in the middle
Synonymous the world over with golden beaches, turquoise seas, friendly locals and just generally being a total paradise, the Caribbean is one of the world's greatest holiday destinations. If you're after winter sun you can expect to pay peak prices, but visit away from this time and there are plenty of cheap holidays to be had in 2018 and 2019.
Antigua: From zip-line tours to island safaris, this is one Caribbean island that serves up a healthy dose of adventure. Antigua also has an impressive 365 beaches - one for every day of the year!
Barbados: Barbados boasts beaches that are so pristine, so blindingly white and a mix of pearly blues and ever-greens, that it looks as though as it's been transported from a brochure and planted right before your eyes. And that's not even us being dramatic. Incredible natural landscapes and some of the world's greatest beaches? All here.
St Lucia: The dramatic Pitons loom over aquamarine seas but the verdant rainforests, lively nightlife and sprawling cocoa plantations will pull you off sandy shores, further inland into a whirl of activity. And the tasty Creole cuisine? Take your fill.
Grenada: The 'Spice Isle' certainly tantalises the tastebuds. Jump feet first into crystal clear waters and discover an underwater world of flitting fish and multi-coloured coral. Rushing waterfalls in impossibly scenic enclaves and the Grand Etang Forest Reserve rival any natural beauty you've laid eyes on thus far.
Tobago: We would go as far as to say Tobago was an eco-destination, one where you just can't sit still - there's always something to see around the next corner. From Hawksbill turtles to the rejuvenating 'powers' of Nylon Pool lagoon, this is one holiday you're going to want to experience.
Jamaica: A lively gem of a Caribbean island, there is rum, jerk chicken and reggae aplenty. When you're not indulging, there's everything from Blue Mountains to the Dunn's River Falls to visit to burn some of those calories.
Bermuda: A mix of British sensibilities and bohemian island soul, Bermuda offers plenty of turquoise waters for paddle-boarding, kayaking, cliff-jumping and sailing sessions. And there's really nothing wrong with that.
There are numerous direct UK flights to the Caribbean, landing at destinations such as Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados. You will also find some of the smaller islands like Anguilla also reachable direct so don't think you have to stick to the big guns! There are also indirect services to all of the smaller Caribbean nations, so there is plenty of choice when planning your trip.
If, however, you would prefer to take a more leisurely approach to your journey, then there are numerous cruise companies that sail massive cruise ships directly from UK ports like Southampton to the Caribbean, over anything from 14 to 35 days. This is definitely the scenic route, and you'll get to see several stunning islands in one trip.
Although the Caribbean contains some of the world's swankiest resorts it is possible to holiday in paradise on a budget. Consider staying in hostels or simple self catering apartments, rather than hotels. For instance, many of the hotels in Jamaica can get quite pricey particularly during the peak summer months, but if you book early, hostels around Kingston, like The Reggae Hostel on Burlington Avenue can be just as comfortable and a fraction of the price. It is worth keeping an eye out for some last minute offers, as well as checking for all inclusive deals, to help you save the pennies since flights, accommodation, food and drink are included into the price.
Whichever island you choose for your holiday, you should definitely eat what the locals eat, as the more touristy restaurants are often very expensive and don't offer so much authentic Caribbean fare. Plus, what could be better than tucking into a freshly-barbecued fish by the beach with your shoes off?
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