The Very Best of the Caribbean
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The Very Best of the Caribbean
Best of the Best

This short roundup first appeared in Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine after a brainstorming session with the editors. Here's what we all came up with, and what I wrote.

 

Best View: The Pitons, St. Lucia

 

  Almost a half-mile high, Gros Piton and Petit Piton on St. Lucia's southeast coast near Soufriere are unmistakable reminders of the island's volcanic origins. They were formed by eruptions some 30 to 40 million years ago. The most asked question about the cones: Can you climb them? A definite yes, though Gros Piton is easier because its sides aren't as sheer. Plan on 3-4 grueling hours in hot sun to reach the summit. Take a guide who knows the trail. Not a good place to get lost.

 

Best Undiscovered Island: Anguilla

  Still mostly undeveloped and unspoiled, tiny Anguilla has 30 knockout beaches, particularly 2-mile long Shoal Bay Beach (click for photo). Snorkel there in solitude, then wrap up in a beach towel for a lunch of barbecue chicken or crayfish at Uncle Ernie's beach bar located just yards from the surf. At night, be pampered in outstanding resorts like Cap Juluca and Malliouhana.

Best All-around Island: St. John

  Because most of it is still natural and intact. With two-thirds of it safeguarded by the National Park Service, St. John is a mountain of green forest surrounded by legendary beaches at Trunk, Cinnamon and Maho Bays. Almost two-dozen designated hiking trails explore the highlands and seashores, while the Trunk Bay snorkel trail provides a self-guided tour of the marine world. Because of its largely protected status, St. John feels like it's caught in a 1960s time warp. It's a feeling visitors delight in.

 

Best Eco-Resort: Cinnamon Bay, St. John

At Cinnamon Bay, the heavily foliaged tents and cottages are all within a 2-minute walk of the beach, St. John's longest. It is administered by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, which also operates posh Caneel Bay Resort nearby. Cinnamon Bay is like a small village, providing a message center, safe deposit boxes, a general store, a snack bar and T'Ree Lizards Restaurant, a good spot for barbecue. The watersports center rents windsurfing boards, sea kayaks and sailboats. In season, the National Park Service offers evening programs.

 

Best Small Resort: Little Dix Bay,
Virgin Gorda, BVI

 

Surrounding a stunning crescent-shaped beach on Virgin Gorda, Little Dix Bay has won more accolades than Steven Spielberg. Service, dining and accommodations are first-rate, yet the atmosphere stays casual and unpretentious, even at afternoon tea. Tennis and racquetball clinics and round-robin tournaments are held weekly. A mandatory day trip is to the nearby Baths, famed for the huge granite rocks strewn about its shoreline.

 

Best Family Resort: Atlantis, Paradise Island Bahamas

 

Atlantis, the world's largest island resort as well as home to the Caribbean largest casino, is a fantasy resort for adults and children. All the attractions in the hotel's 14-acre water-oriented theme park are free. Your room key supplies admission to everything including water thrill rides, a shark encounter and “The Dig,” a lengthy self-guided walk through the imaginative ruins of the ancient Antlantean civilization. Nothing in the resort is on a small scale, especially the giant sandwiches in the Atlas Bar and Grill.

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