If there are horses for courses, then there are certainly styles for isles.
After visiting 20 beautiful Caribbean islands (such a chore), we have identified six locations worthy of the paradise label and each has a personality of its own.
Whatever your flavour – whether it is nature, history, leisure, boats, beaches or romance – there is something for everyone, as this tour reveals.
Coral island: A diver hovers above a coral reef in Little Tobago whose waters are teeming with marine life
BEST FOR: Getting close to nature.
WHY: Tobago’s one of the more relaxed and affordable Caribbean islands, home to 200 bird species with excellent diving (above) in waters rich with marine life. There’s also superb walking in the Main Ridge Forest Reserve where the rainforest has been protected since 1776. Most resorts are in the southwest around Crown Point – if you prefer a quieter life, stay in the villages of Castara or Speyside.
HEAVENLY MOMENT: Paddleboard or kayak at night through the phosphorescent waters of Bon Accord Lagoon, where bioluminescent organisms glow like a galaxy of stars (
ON A BUDGET: Hayes & Jarvis (
BLOW THE BUDGET: Just Tobago (
Brits abroad: St Nicholas Abbey (above) in Barbados where Brits feel at home surrounded by cricket pitches, horse racing and parish churches
BEST FOR: A sense of history.
WHY: With its cricket pitches, horse racing and parish churches, green and hilly Barbados is the Caribbean island where Brits feel most at home. Many of its hotels have been going for years and are well maintained with joyful, long-serving staff. When it’s time to stretch the legs, join the excellent free Sunday hikes organised by the Barbados National Trust (
HEAVENLY MOMENT: Taste the superb artisan rums made at St Nicholas Abbey (below), a splendid Jacobean mansion that has just launched a heritage railway (
ON A BUDGET: Tropical Sky (
BLOW THE BUDGET: Carrier (
Chill: The pool at Montpelier Plantation in Nevis typifies the island’s laid-back charm
BEST FOR: Slowing down.
WHY: Six months ago actor John Cleese announced he was abandoning the UK for this beautiful, sombrero-shaped island, and it’s easy to see why. Nevis has only one large resort, gets no mega-cruise ships, is astonishingly lush with a tranquil three-mile beach, and takes just 45 minutes to drive around. If you enjoy old-school charm, characterful plantation hotels and definitive rum punches, this is the place.
HEAVENLY MOMENT: Settle down with a book beside the elegant pool at Montpelier Plantation, which has a splendid view of the 3,232ft Nevis Peak.
ON A BUDGET: Just St Kitts & Nevis (
BLOW THE BUDGET: Scott Dunn (
British Virgin Islands
Spoilt for choice: The beach at Peter Island, British Virgin Islands (above), is just one of many visitors can enjoy as there is a dizzying array of options on the 60 islands in the archipelago
BEST FOR: Sailing away from it all.
WHY: Like to sail, snorkel or dive? The BVIs (above) are one of the best places in the Caribbean to do this and a great way to explore their 60 islands is on a shared and professionally crewed catamaran – you can book an en suite cabin in the same way as you would a hotel room. Alternatively, check into a beachfront resort on the largest island, Tortola, where you can hike, paddle board and take on the notorious Painkiller cocktails at Pussers Road Town Pub.
HEAVENLY MOMENT: Spot turtles and eagle rays on a glass-bottom boat tour in North Sound, or admire the lemurs, tortoises and flamingos on Richard Branson’s Necker Island.
ON A BUDGET: British Virgin Islands Holidays (
BLOW THE BUDGET: Turquoise Holidays
Life’s a beach: The triangular, bijou and aptly named Sandy Island in Anguilla (above) is testament to why this is a spot that is renowned for its beaches. Dining options also abound
BEST FOR: Beach bliss.
WHY: This tiny British Overseas Territory doesn’t only have red post boxes and our smiling monarch on its banknotes – it also boasts the finest beaches (right) in the Caribbean, including sweeps of sugary sand such as the mile-long Meads Bay. Cuisine is a big draw too – Anguilla has more than 100 restaurants offering treats from fresh tuna with mango to roasted banana ice cream.
HEAVENLY MOMENT: Sail to Prickly Pear Cays on Tradition, a classic West Indian sloop, to enjoy a slap-up lobster lunch on the beach (
ON A BUDGET: Tropic Breeze (
BLOW THE BUDGET: Elegant Resorts (
Sweet spot: A pool and outcrop of rock at Sugar Beach in St Lucia (above) shows off the island’s romantic credentials to their utmost. St Lucia is a hit with honeymooners and couples
BEST FOR: Romance.
WHY: Could it be the soaring volcanic peaks? The spiced rum and luscious chocolate? The molten sunsets followed by dinner on the beach under the stars? St Lucia has long hit the spot for honeymooners and loved-up couples, thanks to its small and intimate hotels, rich mix of French and British heritage, and memorable activities ranging from lazing in the hot springs at Soufrière to biking through the coconut groves of Anse Mamin Plantation.
HEAVENLY MOMENT: The view after climbing to the 2,619-ft summit of Gros Piton (a four-hour round trip) is almost as good as the celebratory beers that this amazing feat entitles you to.
ON A BUDGET: Just St Lucia (
BLOW THE BUDGET: Abercrombie & Kent (
At sea: The Palm Court Lounge at Sugar Beach, St Lucia, offers perfect seclusion