Which Island Should I Visit?
by Pippa O’Keefe
Family holidays: an intriguing blend of excitement in venturing to pastures new, the stress of getting the whole entourage organised and the (sometimes) probable dilemmas of where’s good for tiny tots or troubled teens—is the weather warm? Are there enough activities? And more importantly, is there parent-pampering?
The weather has been taking a slightly colder turn of late, meaning warmer pastures beckon: it’s time to start planning a getaway. With this in mind, we here at Original Travel would like to recommend the Caribbean as your destination of elopement (well, holiday). White sandy beaches? Tick. Gin-clear waters? Tick. Tropical paradise? Tick. Islands to suit all family types? Tick, tick, tick!
So when should you go? The answer is, pretty much year round other than the heart of hurricane season in September and October. However, here’s a bit of inside information: from November up until December is shoulder season, so you may find a tempting special offer to counter any hesitations you may have.
For whenever you go, here are some island profiles to assist your decision on which will make the perfect fit for your family holiday. Happy sailing.
Best for Watersports
Antigua and its little sister Barbuda both have wild Atlantic coastlines to the east and the calm Caribbean Sea to the west, with sandy beaches aplenty, sheltered coves and coral reefs for fantastic snorkelling. Families will take a shine to the endless activities on offer, from kayaking and kite-surfing to rare-bird sanctuaries and rainforest canopy tours. We recommend staying at Nonsuch Bay, a family-friendly resort made up of beach cottages, hilltop villas and fully serviced apartments. The best bit about Nonsuch, however, is the sailing. Although this may only appeal to families with slightly older children (aged 8 and up), it is ideal for anyone who wants to learn from an experienced and energetic sail team. The steady onshore winds and bath-like temperatures won’t disappoint either. And as for toddlers, there is excellent childcare available too.
Best for Teenagers
Teens will be teens, and no doubt will be glued to their iPads or any other digital device of the moment. Barbados, in which case, is the place to tempt them into a digital detox, for a short time at least. Barbados is a natural playground begging for exploration, and it packs a lot into a pretty small area, with two contrasting coasts: the wild and woolly east and the sheltered and glitzy west. These are separated by a charming and mountainous interior dotted with former colonial estates turned into elegant hotels—or retreating back into the jungle. Little Good Harbour is great for families with teenagers as you can get large connecting rooms, as though you have hired a property exclusively. The vibe is buzzing, but it isn’t a bling-fest, so you can hang out as a family; wining (for the adults), dining and spending evenings playing cards under the moonlight. Sound ideal? We think so. As far as activities go there is golf, tennis, sailing, kite surfing, deep-sea fishing, snorkelling and various island tours which the hotel can arrange.
Best for Diving
Petit St Vincent Private Island is the ultimate luxury antidote to the hectic pace of modern life. It is the place to don a snorkel and mask and explore the amazing marine life of the turquoise waters and beautiful coral reefs. For those with a penchant for diving, this Caribbean island is the one for you, especially as they will soon be unveiling a new Jacques Cousteau dive centre. Little ones can spend their days happy as clams on supervised snorkelling trips for rare fish and shells, or painting, playing tennis and participating in scavenger hunts. Children have their own designated (no parents allowed) fun zone in the Tree House, where the kids’ programme is quite superb. Parents with toddlers can enjoy having meals in their cottage with a children’s menu, followed by a babysitting service, allowing you to enjoy a beach sundowner and some exquisite cuisine artfully created by Belgian chef Frederic Cougnon.
Best for Culture
Jamaica is a popular choice for many, and we don’t blame them. Stunning scenery abounds, from the rugged Blue Mountains to the toothpaste-blue waters that surround the island, and let’s face it, it was home to one of the greatest music legends of all time, Bob Marley. Jamaica has a melting pot of cultures, which differentiates it from other Caribbean islands. What’s more, there is a wide selection of child-friendly hotels; for younger families, Round Hill has the perfect children’s programme promoting fun and education. The little critters can be entertained with nature walks, reggae lessons, water sports and creating talent shows (Simon Cowell, watch out). If you have teens in tow, Strawberry Hill is an excellent option, providing kids the opportunity to tap into the culture club with music-themed tours. Whether in Kingston or further afield, they give great insight into this island’s reggae culture and heritage. Plus, the hotel’s wood-lined bar is the perfect place for parents to enjoy a rum cocktail surrounded by photos of the family and friends of owner Chris Blackwell, producer and founder of legendary Island Records.
Best for Foodies
Anguilla remains relatively unknown and therefore, gratefully, it retains a considerable sophistication and authentic charm. It exudes a laid-back atmosphere so strong it’s impossible not to unwind here. Anguilla has, without a doubt, some of the best food in the Caribbean. Be it the more refined hotel restaurants or the relaxed beach shacks, the ingredients are incredibly fresh, and tough to beat. The Viceroy Anguilla, other than being a first-class accommodation choice, includes fine eateries such as Coba, the signature restaurant which serves delicious seafood, while Aleta and the Bamboo Bar & Grill serve lighter meals and lunches, bringing excellent Caribbean food and flavours to the fore. The evening sees the Bamboo grill become a beachside steak house and barbecue venue, with tiki torches and steel drums to set the scene, and local crayfish and lobster on offer.
Other than being a foodie’s heaven this place is all about the kids, with special family-only excursions such as a custom-made boat trip or beach picnic. There is a Young Guest’s Programme packed with arts and crafts, beach Olympics, cupcake decorating classes, nature walks and much, much more. For teens who may be a bit ‘cool for school’ there is a media centre, teens-only trips, cooking classes, sailing, tennis and party nights.
Best for Relaxing
St Lucia seduces with its incredibly pristine beaches, miles of unspoiled rainforest, dramatic mountain ranges, rugged coastline and blend of English and French heritage. Sugar Beach has to be one of our favourites. As a Viceroy resort, it does not fall short when it comes to food, accommodation and, more importantly, their kids’ club. Children are whisked off by the friendly staff to snorkel, learn all about the sea life, go on a glass-bottomed boat excursion, enjoy fish feeding and arts and crafts, whilst you kick back and relax on the beachfront. Take note mum and dad, the spa is set in the rainforest and the treatment rooms are in treehouse-style structures accessible through a leaf-lined tunnel. The cascading waterfalls and sound of the birds outside make for a truly tranquil experience, for peace of mind, whilst you spa. Dreamy.
About the author:
Pippa O’Keefe is a writer at Original Travel, a creative travel company which takes a thoughtful approach to creating tailor-made luxury holidays to perfectly fulfil your needs. The team use personal insights and exceptional knowledge of destinations worldwide to craft trips. For inspiration please visit www.originaltravel.co.uk or contact us on 020 7978 7333 / email@example.com.