Image credit: Aruba Tourism Authority
The Beaches of the West Indies can be anything you want them to be, writes Jo Cooke…
If God’s aim was to create the perfect escape for work-weary, weather-worn Brits, then he almost got it right with those swaying palms, white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
The West Indians filled in the gaps, adding rum punches and a soundtrack of reggae, soca and calypso beats. Each beach also comes with its own added-value extras and these are certain to please different client groups, so help yours find their bespoke spot with our suggestions below.
KIDS IN TOW?
Grand for games: Grand Anse beach in Grenada must have been designed with families in mind. A crescent of soft sand curves around a sheltered bay where the turquoise waters almost always remain calm. Tots can paddle in the shallows, bury parents or sculpt sandcastles.
At nearly two miles long, Grand Anse is great for beach cricket, Frisbee and running games, too. Stay on a hillside overlooking the beach at the three-star Flamboyant Hotel.
Book it: Cosmos offers seven nights’ room only from £1,162 based on a March 31 departure.
Finding Nevis-land: Another long, gently-shelving stretch of sand can be found at Pinney’s Beach in Nevis. It’s backed by the upscale, 196-room Four Seasons Resort where the kids’ club takes youngsters along the water’s edge on scavenger hunts.
When they’re done, watersports include tubing and banana boat rides. Clients with cash to splash will find the resort’s lavish beach house-style cabanas a great base to grab some shade. They boast butler service, complimentary mini bar, chaises longues, a flatscreen TV, books, board games and toys.
Book it: Elegant Resorts offers seven nights’ room only from £4,925 for a family of four sharing a room between August 17 and November 14.
WISHING FOR WATERSPORTS?
Cayman scuba: Grand Cayman guards its marine environment as fervently as a bartender his rum punch recipe.
The result? Reef, wall and wreck dives with some of the best visibility in the Caribbean, not to mention an overwhelming abundance of tropical fish. Scuba sites are within easy reach of the glorious Seven Mile beach.
This expanse of sand, as soft and white as icing sugar, is met by baby-blue waters. Facing west, Seven Mile makes for a romantic walk at sunset. For a further underwater fix, book clients on a snorkelling trip to Stingray City, a sandbank where hosts of rays loaf around.
Book it: Kuoni offers seven nights with breakfast at the 130-room Sunshine Suites, across the street from Seven Mile Beach, from £1,629 in March.
High as a kite: Kitesurfing is the in-vogue watersport, and Sandy Beach on the southern tip of Saint Lucia is one of the best places in the Caribbean to try it.
This rugged, seagrape-backed stretch of sand curves into the cross-shore trade winds. It’s also protected by an off-shore reef giving it calm, safe waters and enough breeze to perform daring, airborne tricks.
A beach bar and kitesurf school with top-notch kit and professional instructors sits right on the sand. While there are no hotels on this virgin beach, the 331-room Sandals Regency La Toc Golf Resort & Spa makes a great base with a ream of other watersports included.
Book it: Virgin Holidays offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £2,221 based on a March 10 departure.
DESIRE THE DESERTED?
Pretty in pink: Travel by ferry boat from Nassau, Bahamas, to Harbour Island and you’ll find a beach reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe’s.
A three-mile long, seashell-strewn swathe of dazzling, baby-pink sand lines the entire length of one side of the island. All clients will find along it are a handful of low-key resorts partially hidden by tropical foliage.
Beyond them there’s just a scattering of bars, restaurants, galleries and boutiques.
Book it: Bahamas Flavour offers six nights at the 39-room Coral Sands Hotel, Harbour Island, and one at A Stone’s Throw Away, Nassau, from £1,500 for travel until December 17.
Palm pilot: When only a private island will do, suggest clients make for Palm Island in the Grenadines. Measuring about the size of 76 football pitches, it has five white-sand virgin beaches, innumerable palm trees and one 43-room boutique resort of guests with which to share it.
It’s so remote that you have to take a flight from Barbados to Union Island, then a short boat trip to reach it. With no TV, phone or internet in the rooms, Palm Island really gets clients away from it all.
Book it: ITC Classics offers seven nights’ all-inclusive from £2,545 based on a March 11 departure booked by January 31.
WANT TO PARTY?
Negril night owls: At Long Bay, Negril, clients can experience reggae nights and laid-back days. This Jamaican beach stretches for almost seven miles, the water is still as a mill pond and waist deep, perfect for floating around on a Lilo, cocktail in hand.
Once the sun has set local acts – and sometimes big names such as Shaggy and Ziggy Marley – grace the pint-sized concert venues of Negril. Catch a show on the sand, then head across the street to The Jungle, a pulsating nightclub where you can dance until dawn.
Book it: Hayes & Jarvis offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 312-room Couples Swept Away, which occupies a prime slice of Long Bay, from £1,799 based on a March 14 departure.
24-hour party people: You don’t need to leave Palm Beach in Aruba to party – it’s where the party’s at. Broad, long and fringed by palms, it’s one of the most action-packed bays in the West Indies.
Impromptu beach tennis and volleyball games start during the day, then it’s time to hit the beach bars, which serve cocktails from morning until the last person leaves. Nikky and Moomba are among the best, offering happy hours, live music and dancing on the sand. Then there’s Bugaloe, set on a pier offering salsa lessons and karaoke.
Book it: Kuoni offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 380-room Occidental Grand Aruba on Palm Beach from £1,956.
Flipper out: You’ll always see dolphins offshore when you stay at Half Moon, Montego Bay. Edging up to the resort’s two-mile stretch of private, white-sand beach is a natural lagoon where Toni and Pepe live.
Formerly residents of an aquarium in Cuba, the duo often leap out of their seawater home or swim along the waterfront to check out what guests are doing.
If clients want to get even closer, sign them up for a private dolphin swim, which includes a dorsal fin tow. All interactions are exclusive to hotel residents.
Book it: Caribtours offers seven nights’ room only at the 197-room Half Moon from £2,039.
At loggerheads: Turtle-spotting cruises are one of Barbados’ biggest draws. The catamarans often anchor off the quintessential Caribbean strand of Porter’s Beach. It’s a favourite haunt of the turtles.
Swimming with them is magical, even if you share the experience with a boatload of others. Attraction World offers a Barbados by Sea catamaran cruise that includes a turtle swim from £69 per adult and £40 per child.
But your clients don’t have to share if they stay at the 72-room Fairmont Royal Pavilion. It’s set on Porter’s Beach and the hotel offers guests complimentary turtle swims with a guide every day.
Book it: Caribtours offers seven nights with breakfast from £2,795 for stays between March 1 and 26, if booked by 15 February.
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