Adventure to the Southern Caribbean Islands

Distant and remote, the southern Caribbean offers tropical tranquility with breathtakingly beautiful islands and deserted paradises.


Dubbed the “sailing capital of the Caribbean” for its favorable winds, Tortola (the largest of the British Virgin Islands) delights even landlubbers with its low humidity and mild temperatures. Sport fishing, too, is excellent in these waters, with blue marlin and other big ’uns all but leaping onto the line.

A couple hundred miles to the southeast, Antigua boasts a reported 365 beaches, one for each day of the year. If that’s not idyllic enough, a score of uninhabited offshore islets makes it easy for visitors to paddle to their own private hideaways. Meanwhile, Barbados soothes the senses with emerald sugar cane fields, the perfume of orchids and the lilt of the local dialect, Bajan. Equally calming are the quizzical faces of the island’s sea turtles, who are delighted to swim with anyone who keeps a respectful distance.

Candy-colored colonial-style houses dot the town of Willemstad in Dutch-settled Curacao, as bright as the flamingos that flock to the saltpans elsewhere on the island. A relaxing stroll through Willemstad’s streets is best ended with a stop at a seafood cafe, where diners can dip their feet in warm Caribbean waters after their meal.

A mere 18 miles north of Venezuela, another Dutch island, Aruba, boasts what might be the most calming claim ever: It hasn’t seen a serious hurricane since 1954. Not only that, but Aruba’s dry, sunny days combine with cooling winds to ensure comfy weather for outdoor adventures. Stay too long in the sun, though, and you’ll have a chance to use one of the island’s products—aloe.

In the southern Caribbean, shore excursions combine a bit of serenity with a lot of adventure. Just a few miles north of Tortola lies the isle said to have inspired Treasure Island; a boat ride lets visitors explore its abandoned shores and underwater caves. Meanwhile, adventurers on Antigua take to the air for a helicopter flight to see an active volcano sizzle and smoke on nearby Montserrat. Those who prefer to spice things up on terra firma head to Barbados for a beachside culinary demonstration, while Curacao invites snorkelers to check out a sunken tugboat encrusted with coral and festooned with brightly colored fish. And what better way to end the perfect day on Aruba than with a barefoot sail on a sunset cruise?

Insider tip: Cruising to one of these more remote getaways requires more than a long weekend; plan on a trip of seven days or more.

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