Shimmering waters that dance in rich shades of emerald, to the deepest sapphire blue. Pristine beaches ranging in color from powder white to jet black sand. Sunsets that explode in a riot of fiery oranges and petulant pinks. In the Caribbean, dreams of the good life come in technicolor hues so vibrant they defy the imagination.
An earthly Eden stretched out among some 28 island nations (spanning about 7000 individual islands), each one has the ability to take your breath away. They each have their own unique charm and robust flavor. Of course, paradise has its sexier side, so if you’re looking to get away from your troubles, or if trouble is your middle name, we can tell you where to go to save your soul or indulge in all manner of hedonistic pleasures.
We are OCEAN Style Magazine, and the islands of the Caribbean are our playground…
So we set out to do something very ambitious. Months of deliberation, swapping stories and sharing experiences went into the decision making process, but after painstaking and rigorous debate, the result is the definitive guide on the places and experiences that simply represent the finest the Caribbean has to offer. We are proud to present our premiere Best of the Caribbean List.
Best Place to Practice Your Tiger Woods Stroke
The Tryall Club, Jamaica
The newly renovated 18 hole, championship golf course at The Tryall Club is one of the finest, not just in the Caribbean, but in the world. Today, Tryall offers everything you could want from a 21st century course. The design uses natural hazards unique to the location, such as the trade winds – with the addition of an ocean-side fourth hole to create a new challenges for every golfer.
Best Island Keepsake
Haiti boasts some of the most richly crafted and beautiful folk art in the world. Often eclipsed by its reputation as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, perhaps nowhere is the pride, character and resilience of the Haitian people more evident than in their magnificent works of art.
Best Place to START a Family
Rockhouse Hotel, Negril, Jamaica
Don’t let the prehistoric name fool you, the amenities here are sleek and ultra-modern even if the actual villas are constructed of roughly hewn stone. All that earthy architecture and the primal, raw surroundings will get you in the mood for all kinds of carnal delights. And the four poster beds with mosquito netting are hella sexy.
Best Dive Spot
Translucent waters, abundant marine life, swimming with the Stingrays and undersea shipwrecks to explore, the waters surrounding the Cayman Islands are a diver’s fantasyland.
Best Place to Party like a Rock Star (or with Them)
Nikki Beach, St. Barths
You never know who might be dancing on the banquette next to you at the St. Barths outpost of Nikki Beach, especially during the high season between Christmas and New Year. Whether you want to party with a rock star, like one, or both, no place in the Caribbean will give you more access to the celeb set than St. Barths. After all, just making it there during high season makes you something of a VIP.
Best Place to Hang 10
Make like US surfing champ Kelly Slater and head to Barbados, long known as one of the premiere surfing meccas in the Caribbean. Its Eastern Coast gets the break waves from the Atlantic Ocean, causing magnificent swells.
Best Caribbean Flavor Spa Treatment
Tropical Fruit Smoother at the Six Senses Spa, DR
The Six Senses Spa’s ‘Tropical Fruit Smoother’ treatment Punta Cana, DR sounds good enough to eat. This mouthwatering blend of papaya, pineapple, watermelon and grains of rice is designed to buff your body to perfection. And we just adore anything that makes us feel downright edible.
Best Spa Experience
Curtain Bluff Spa, Antigua
Surroundings so serene that time seems to stand still. Wide expansive ocean views that will take your breath away. Curtain Bluff is a serenade for the senses with a list of services that are sublime in their ability to pamper and rejuvenate the soul.
Best Place for Retail Therapy
Yacht Haven Grande, US Virgin Islands
Last we checked, diamonds were still a girl’s best friend, so taking advantage of all the jewelry bargains to be found in USVI is as essential as breathing. Visit the shops at the Yacht Haven Grande where you’ll find David Yurman, John Hardy and Lagos, in addition to discounted Cartier, Rolex and other premium brands.
Best Place to Compare Whose Yacht is Bigger
Ok, no need to really compare. Russian businessman and art impresario Roman Abramovich owns the Eclipse – the largest privately owned yacht on the planet. This floating city makes every other mega yacht that has come before it look like a dinghy (sorry, Paul Allen). Still, there is no place to spy a more impressive fleet of luxury vessels anywhere in the Caribbean. And during high season, from atop the lookout point leaving Gustavia on the way to St. Jean, the yachts outside the harbor look like a scene from the movie Troy.
Best Place to Take the Family
Beaches Resort, Turks & Caicos
Attractions including a 45,000 square foot water park, the lovable characters from Sesame Street, a teen disco and XBox 360s in every room make a stay here a dream vacation for kids of all ages.
Best Place for a Quickie (Vacay)
With a multitude of flight options from NYC, it’s possible to leave work early on a Friday afternoon, get on a 6 o’clock flight and arrive in San Juan by 10, airport, hotel, salsa club, sleep, wake up, breakfast, beach, hotel, casino, sleep, breakfast, last minute shopping/sight-seeing, check out, airport, home…all within 48 hours. Got a three day weekend? JetBlue has just added regional connecting service making it possible for you to squeeze in an overnight trip to St. Thomas or other neighbouring islands.
Best Place to Pretend You Don’t Want to Be Photographed by Paparazzi
Anguilla is the place the celebrities visit when they get tired of being photographed in St. Barths. Go there if you’re totally unfazed by the rich and famous (and then remember to DISCREETLY sneak a peek).
Best Place to Nurse a Post-Carnival Hangover
If the days leading up to Carnival in Trinidad are considered the Caribbean’s biggest rum fest, then it’s only natural that serene Tobago is the best spot to nurse a hangover.
Best Place to Forget Your Ex
With one of the highest and most diverse multi-culti populations in the Caribbean, the men and women of Trinidad come in all kinds of delicious flavors guaranteed to appeal to any man or woman’s sweet tooth.
Best Place to Pop the Question
Sandals Royal Plantation
The refined and sophisticated old world elegance of Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios provides the perfect setting for asking one of the most important questions you will ever ask in your adult life.
Best Hotel To Make Music
Eden Rock, St. Barths
This one was really close. Both Eden Rock in St. Barth and Gee Jam in Jamaica are perched atop rock promontories offering stunning ocean vistas and feature luxury accommodations, exquisite dining, service par excellence and state-of-the-art recording facilities. And although Gee Jam is tucked away in secluded Port Antonio surrounded by lush, dense foliage, making it the perfect place to relax, unwind and ignite a creative spark, the steady influx of the celeb set in tony St. Barth frolicking along its paparazzi-ready beaches in St. Jean ensure that this is the perfect place to make a Pop chart hit should you feel a sudden collabo coming on (Ahoy, is that Rihanna over there?). Besides, it’s nothing short of amazing that you can actually record on THE same console that John Lennon used to make his masterpiece “Imagine.” How’s that for channeling genius?
Best place to “Let It Ride”
We prefer the more intimate feel of Aruba’s casinos to the Vegas Style Casinos you might find elsewhere in the Caribbean. Plus, Arubans are super friendly, so it helps to take the sting off of blowing your kids’ tuition at the Blackjack table.
Best Unspoilt Beach
With crystalline waters and untainted shores, Anguilla boasts some of the most breathtaking beaches in the world. Motorized watersports are forbidden in an attempt to keep them that way.
Best Place to Kick Back and Do Nothing at All
Have you ever even heard of Bequia (pronounced Bekway)? No? Nuff said.
Best Isle for a Trip Down the Aisle
Round Hill Resort & Spa, Jamaica
Immaculate attention to detail, award-winning service, gorgeous panoramic views of the sea, well-manicured grounds, luxury accommodations, accessibility and genuine Caribbean hospitality, plus a multitude of options to make your special day one you’ll treasure forever catapults Round Hill in Montego Bay to the top of our list for the ultimate destination wedding.
Best Place to Go Topless
While all of the islands of the French West Indies have a very European (read: nonplussed) attitude toward nudity, fewer Americans visit Guadeloupe, which means that you’ll be met with fewer gawkers as you bathe au naturale on their absolutely captivating beaches.
Best Place to Dance on the Table Top
Le-Ti St. Barth, St. Barths
What this storied hot spot lacks in convenience (It’s located a bit of a distance from the bustling port city of Gustavia in the more quiet section of Pointe Milou.) it more than makes up for in personality. Enjoy the decadent cabaret inspired vibe, where the host could pass for Captain Jack Sparrow’s younger brother, and the wait staff wear different themed costumes depending on what’s going on. Just be warned, while dancing on the table tops in designer minidresses is de rigueur, underwear, however, is optional.
Most Titillating Island
For better or for worse, St. Maarten boasts the highest concentration of strip clubs per capita in the Caribbean.
Best Place to ‘Light Up’
Despite the mass exodus of Cuban cigar makers after the revolution of 1959, Cuba sets the standard for the world’s best cigars — no surprise there. What you might not know is where to smoke said cigar if you ever happen to be in Cuba. We like La Bodeguita del Medio for its quaint, authentic feel. Locals still patronize this long-standing establishment, which has been graced by the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Nat King Cole. So light up a stogie and take it all in. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better than stashing a few cigars as contraband in your checked luggage…
Best Place to Go Back in Time
While all the islands have their beautiful histories to tell, Havana is, quite literally, a living, breathing testament to yesteryear. Tough as nails old American autos and art deco architecture transport you to the past better than any time capsule ever could.
Sexiest Hotel Bar
Cane Bar – Jalousie Resort, St. Lucia
Sultry and sleek, sexy and chic. With its dramatically colored asymmetric furniture, stark white daybeds and seductive low lighting juxtaposed against slate grey walls, The Cane at the Jalousie Hotel in Soufriere might be the perfect place to stage a seduction or make an indecent proposal.