by Nick Trend, The Telegraph, November 11, 2019
Looking to do more than laze on the sands? Here are ten active takes on the Caribbean.
Quiet rural lanes make Cuba an excellent cycling destination for those who want to get under the skin of this intriguing country. Imaginative Traveller offers a circular, small group tour departing from capital Havana. Heading west, the route takes in the lakeside biosphere reserve of Comunidad Las Terrazas, the Unesco-listed town of Vinales and the white beaches of Cayo Jutias. There’s a chance to visit a tobacco farm, tour orchid gardens and learn more about the island’s turbulent history at Havana’s Museum of the Revolution.
Cycle Cuba from £810 for six nights B&B including bicycle hire and transfer on arrival. Flights not included. Imaginative Traveller (imaginative-traveller.com).
Bajans love sport and are especially keen on horse racing. The winter season starts on Nov 21 at the Garrison Savannah track (tickets and information: barbadosturfclub.org). There are no top Test matches at the Kensington Oval (kensingtonoval.org) this winter, but Ireland is playing two one-day internationals against the West Indies there in January and there are plenty of other entertaining matches.
Little Seascape in St Peter, a cottage-style apartment sleeping two, from £1,092 for seven nights, self-catering. Excludes flights and transfers. CV Villas (cvvillas.com).
Swimming in the BVIs
With four main islands plus myriad islets and cays, the BVI archipelago is great for long-distance swims. SwimTrek leads an island-to-island expedition for strong swimmers from a base at Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda. It takes in Ginger Island, Cooper Island, Peter Island and Norman Island, with a final last swim across the US border to Flanagan Island. The itinerary also includes a hike in the Gorda Peak National Park.
British Virgin Islands from £1,890 for six nights half-board including swim guides and safety escort. Excludes flights and transfers. Departs March 22 and March 29 2020. SwimTrek (swimtrek.com).
Anguilla is fringed some of the most idyllic beaches in the Caribbean. There are over 30 to choose from and many of the island’s high-end spa hotels open on to these stretches of powdery white sand lapped by emerald water. One of the best is the five-star CuisinArt Golf Resort which has an 18-hole championship course designed by Greg Norman with views of St Maarten and the Caribbean Sea, plus a spa with 16 treatment rooms and a mineralised saltwater pool.
CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa from £2,169 for seven nights B&B including flights and transfers. Tropical Sky (tropicalsky.co.uk).
Antigua under Sail
Warm, steady winds, turquoise seas, beautiful beaches and safe anchorages make Antigua a great destination for a relaxed sailing holiday. Sunsail operates bareboat or skippered charters from Nelson’s Dockyard at English Harbour for flexible, one-week itineraries which can incorporate a trip to neighbouring Barbuda or focus on the nearby beaches of Galleon at Freeman Bay and Half Moon Bay on Green Island, to reach Dickenson Bay in the far north-west of the island.
Sunsail yacht charter from £3,733 for six nights based on a vessel sleeping up to eight including fuel and outboard dinghy. Excludes flights and transfers. Skipper hire, £165 per day. Sunsail (sunsail.co.uk).
The Caribbean boasts some excellent walking territory. Ramblers Holidays offers an interesting island-hopping itinerary which includes coastal hikes, boat excursions, beach picnics and visits to botanical gardens. Starting in St Lucia, walks take in Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island and the Old Brigend Trail, before travelling by ferry to Martinique for a four-night stay, then on to Dominica where highlights include the Waitakabuli Trail and the Morne Trois Pitons National Park.
Caribbean Explorer from £3,995 for 14 nights including flights, transfers and all meals. Departs Jan 1, Feb 27 and Nov 19 2020. Ramblers Holidays (ramblersholidays.co.uk).
With high-end levels of service and a peaceful, low-key atmosphere, Petit St Vincent is a private 115-acre resort island in the south of the Grenadine archipelago with a collection of 22 one or two-bedroom cottages which overlook pristine beaches. There are two restaurants and a Balinese-inspired spa, and onsite activities include yoga, island walks, diving, picnic excursions to nearby sandy atolls and snorkelling around the five uninhabited islands of Tobago Cays Marine Park.
Petit St Vincent from £4,429 for seven nights including flights, transfers and all meals. Caribtours (caribtours.co.uk).
Herons and hummingbirds
The Asa Wright Nature Centre and Lodge is one of the best birdwatching bases in the Caribbean. On a site of 270 acres in the Arima Valley of Trinidad, more than 150 bird species have been recorded here. The Travelling Naturalist offers a small-group tour which explores the network of trails that weave through the rainforest. Accompanied by expert wildlife guide and author John Muddeman, the itinerary also allows time in Tobago to spot a variety of species from herons to hummingbirds.
The Asa Wright Experience from £5,925 for 11 nights full-board, including flights and transfers. Departs Jan 16 2020. The Travelling Naturalist (thetravellingnaturalist.com).
The Grenadines and beyond
January and February are the driest months in the Grenadines with temperatures reaching 27C and cool evenings. Kudu Travel has chosen this time of year for its escorted tour which includes visits to Grenada’s spice plantations and the fort, museum and food market of capital St George’s. Continuing to nearby Carriacou, the itinerary includes two nights on Union island before travelling north to Bequia on a privately chartered boat.
Bequia, Grenada and Island-hopping in the Grenadines from £6,620 for 13 nights including transfers and all meals. Excludes flights. Departs January 29, 2020. Kudu Travel (kudutravel.com).
Clear warm waters, coral walls, intriguing shipwrecks and a wide variety of sea life make the Cayman Islands one of the Caribbean’s best diving spots. A two-week trip from Dive Worldwide combines Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, suiting all abilities and with snorkellers well catered for too. The drier months from November to April are best for diving and also a good time to spot hawksbill turtles, eagle rays and Caribbean reef sharks.
Discover the Caymans from £3,495 for 12 nights including flights, transfers and some meals. Dive Worldwide (diveworldwide.com).
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