February 1, 2023

Destinations of the week

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The active Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat seen from helicopter.

The active Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat seen from helicopter.

7 Under-the-Radar Caribbean Islands

By Kate Traverson from The Knot

Find the road (or beach) less traveled with one of these tropical hidden gems.

Your honeymoon is the perfect opportunity to get away from it all with the one you love. But at some of the more popular destinations out there, that means sharing your romantic rendezvous with scores of other tourists. If the idea of sunshine and sea spray in the Caribbean floats your boat but fighting with crowds for a spot on the sand doesn’t, consider one of these secluded islands instead.

Willemstad Curacao
A mix of technicolor Dutch architecture, dazzling blue waters and a melting pot of cultures, Curaçao has a little bit of something for everyone. Located just north of Venezuela and east of Aruba, Curaçao’s sandy shores have 35 beaches that vary wildly from the popular hot spot of Playa Knip to the more secluded cove of Playa Lagun. The vivid streets in downtown Willemstad, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, are home to a floating market, charming restaurants and vibrant street art. And even more colorful than Willemstad’s buildings are the fish in Curaçao’s many dive sites and snorkeling reefs, many of which are easily accessible right from the beach. As an added bonus, the island is outside the hurricane belt, making it a relatively safe choice any time of year

How to get there: Direct flights are available to Curaçao International Airport.

Anguilla
With more restaurants per acre than New York City, Anguilla is truly a tropical foodie paradise. Culinary must-eats range from barefoot-friendly seaside shacks selling local favorites like conch soup to upscale cuisine by some of the Caribbean’s most revered chefs. Wander the island’s capital, The Valley, on the weekend to graze among the various food trucks and pop-up snack stands as well as peruse stalls at The People’s Market. At night, the beachside bars in Sandy Ground village come alive for a laidback spin on nightlife.

How to get there: A 6-minute flight or 20-minute ferry ride from St. Martin.

Soufriere Hills volcano Montserrat
This volcanic island began erupting in 1995, virtually wiping out its original capital city of Plymouth. But don’t worry—nowadays this destination is widely regarded as safe, especially the northern end of the island where its new capital of Little Bay is on the rise. In fact, the craggy slopes of the Soufriere Hills volcano are now the star of the show, attracting visitors to the Observatory on the slopes of Centre Hills. Outside of the volcano zone, the north of the island gives off a welcoming small town feel and is surrounded by scenic hikes to hidden black sand beaches.

How to get there: After the old airport was buried by lava flow, a new one opened in 2005, served by flights from Antigua. There’s also a ferry from Antigua three days a week.

St. Martin St. Maarten Caribbean
If you’re looking for a destination with 24-hour energy, St. Martin/St. Maarten is the island that never sleeps. Half Dutch and half French, this lively port offers a taste of two different cultures. The north side, governed by the French, is home to gourmet restaurants and beaches known for their party atmosphere. The Dutch side is its cosmopolitan counterpart with swanky casinos, nightclubs and excellent shopping. For thrill seekers, Maho Beach’s proximity to the airport makes for a hair-raising experience (literally). Time it right to be sunbathing as an airplane swoops in a mere 100 feet above your head—just hold onto your hat!

How to get there: Direct flights are available to Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch side.

Dominica
Known as the Nature Island, Dominica is the perfect spot for adventurers. The lush, green landscape is full of unspoilt rainforest, waterfalls and hot springs, all with a significant lack of commercial development and the tourists that come with it. Hiking is a must here—it’s the only way to access most of the island’s hidden treasures including the world’s second largest “boiling lake.” This hole in the Earth’s crust is filled with bubbling water too hot to take a dip, but is a stunning sight nonetheless. For bubbles you can swim in, Dominica’s “champagne” dive sight is fed by a geothermal vent creating a warm, effervescent underwater world.

How to get there: Travel via connecting flight from many major Caribbean islands or by ferry from St. Lucia, Martinique or Guadeloupe.

Cat Island Bahamas
Thanks to its proximity to the US, the Bahamas are one of the most popular spots in the Caribbean. But not all of the 700-plus islands and cays have been overrun just yet. Cat Island, just southeast of Nassau, is one of the few to remain relatively undeveloped, which means you can enjoy the Bahamas’ iconic pink sand beaches and turquoise waters without the crowds. It’s also a favorite spot for divers who frequent legendary sites like the Blue Hole or the Santa Maria Teresa shipwreck. There’s plenty of history to explore as well, from abandoned cotton plantations to Arawak Indian caves.

How to get there: Grab a flight or a ferry from Nassau.

Grenada Caribbean
If you love pumpkin spice anything, you can thank Grenada. The Spice Isle grows one-third of the world’s supply of nutmeg as well as plenty of other holiday essentials like cinnamon, ginger, mace and cocoa. It’s also home to pristine beaches like Grand Anse and the charming, colorful town of St. George’s where Fort George presides over the harbor with commanding views. However, one of Grenada’s biggest draws is its underwater sculpture park at Moliniere Bay. You can view the submerged art gallery and its marine life via diving, snorkeling or even glass-bottomed boat.

How to get there: Direct flights from the US arrive at Maurice Bishop International Airport.

For more on this story go to: https://www.theknot.com/content/less-crowded-caribbean-islands

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