9 Must-Visit Caribbean Islands

A fruity rum drink is calling your name from the deck of a catamaran. Consider this your step-by-step, island-by-island guide to fun on the high seas.

Mayreau to Tobago Cays
The setting for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the uninhabited Tobago Cays are about as idyllic as the Grenadines get. Longtime skipper and Sunsail manager Simon Carey recommends a picnic on Baradal Island's U-shaped beach, then swimming with the green turtles often seen at the nearby reserve.

Tobago Cays to Mopion to Petit St. Vincent
A solitary thatched umbrella stands at one end of the 50-foot-long curve of sand that is Mopion island. Stop for a snorkel then move on to Petit St. Vincent. There isn't much here—besides miles of palm-fringed beaches—so guidebook author Chris Doyle suggests radioing the nearby Palm Beach Restaurant & Bar; the staff will shuttle you from your yacht to a table on the beach.

Petit St. Vincent to Union Island
On your way into the harbor at Union, about two hours from PSV, stop for a rum punch at Happy Island, an artificial landmass created by one man—Janti—from a mountain of conch shells. Then continue on to Union. For dinner,
Doyle recommends the fresh conch and French-Creole fusion fare at West Indies Restaurant.

Union Island to Petit Nevis to Bequia
According to Carey, the waters off Petit Nevis, about five hours from Union Island, are one of the area's best-kept secret snorkeling destinations, rivaling even the Tobago Cays. Following a swim, sail north to Bequia, famous for its boat building, to sample a conch roti at a picnic table at the Green Boley Restaurant & Bar. Top it off with a cocktail at Jack's Bar, a tented open-air establishment on Princess Margaret Beach.

Return to St. Vincent
Most charters are due in port by noon—just in time to take in St. Vincent. If you can't make the trip up the island's still-active volcano, La Soufrière (about five hours round trip and worth it), then head over to Montreal Gardens (montrealestgdns.f9.co.uk), which are surrounded by banana plantations and rain forest, all cut with walkways and shaded by tree ferns.



Sailing the Caribbean

1. Don't stiff the captain or crew. Like waitresses, they get a large portion of their income from tips; leave 10 to 20 percent of the charter fee with the captain, who will divvy it up among any crew members.

2. Don't rush. Operate on island time-have a chat, ask the bartenders how they are before ordering-and you'll get better service.

3. Don't wear boat shoes. You'll look like a dork, because everyone in the Caribbean goes barefoot on the boat. Stick to the uniform of shorts, T-shirt, and Rainbow flip-flops and you'll fit in everywhere on land.

4. Don't leave the bathroom's holding-tank valve open, or you risk dumping on friends and family while they're swimming. Apparently this happens...a lot.

5. Don't order anything but a Hairoun if you're drinking beer-it's the pride of the islands.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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