The Best New Caribbean Deals for 2011!
From swish $80 suites in the Grenadines to Jamaica's own gondola rides, the Caribbean is full of surprises this season. The biggest shock? What you'll end up paying.
Anacaona Boutique Hotel
Effortlessly casual rooms within reach
Anguilla is best known for jet-setters and exclusive resorts—and that's what makes the new Anacaona Boutique Hotel such a pleasant surprise. Created by Robin and Sue Ricketts (the pros behind the development of luxe properties like the $400-plus-a-night Cap Juluca), the Mediterranean-style resort is Anguilla as you want it: chic but attainable. The 27 rooms all come with balconies, the poolside restaurant specializes in traditional Anguillan food (large portions of grilled fish and goat), and the white sand of Meads Bay is only a four-minute walk north—before setting off, be sure to borrow some free snorkel gear at the front desk. 877/647-4736, anacaonahotel.com, from $150.
Siboney Beach Club
Five-star service right on the beach
This 108-square-mile island claims more than 300 beaches, and you can bet that Siboney Beach Club owner Tony Johnson knows just about all of them. Johnson arrived on Antigua more than 50 years ago and managed the construction of a handful of hotels before starting his own, a 13-room inn with an immaculately tended garden on Dickenson Bay. The design of the rooms is fairly basic, but Johnson's attention to detail will knock your socks off. He looks after guests like a doting uncle, often greeting visitors at check-in, sharing his favorite sights, and acting as de facto concierge, trip planner, and local guide all at once. 800/533-0234, siboneybeachclub.com, from $150.
Wreck of the Antilla
A marine-life megaplex
In 1940, the captain of the German freighter Antilla, a supply craft for Nazi U-boats, scuttled his ship off the coast of Aruba rather than surrender it to Dutch soldiers. Seventy years later, the wreck has evolved into a marine-life megaplex. Silversides, angelfish, and groupers swarm the steel carcass, its walls adorned with brain coral, tube sponges, and fan worms. Because the Antilla lounges in just 60 feet of water, portions of the vessel rise to within kissing distance of the surface. Red Sail Sports, the biggest outfit around, operates snorkel and dive trips by catamaran daily, except Sundays. 305/454-2538, redsailaruba.com, half-day trips from $45.
GET THERE FAST
Port Antonio, Jamaica
Because no one should spend a vacation messing with connections.
Over the past two years, Jamaica has seen a furious building spree, adding some 3,000 rooms to the island's inventory. In response, airlines are catching up; seven new direct flights were added this year, connecting Jamaica to more U.S. cities (16) than any other Caribbean island. Carriers have even made concessions for Western states: A new US Airways route from Phoenix means you can depart in the morning and be on the beach by sunset.
While 76 percent of Jamaica's flights descend into the tourist hub of Montego Bay, nothing says you have to stay there. The northern coast is scattered with other resort areas, from Negril's mom-and-pop inns and colossal all-inclusives to the cruise port of Ocho Rios, best known for the postcard-perfect Dunn's River Falls. But for a real adventure, visitors should consider heading east to Port Antonio. The laid-back colonial-era town—sandwiched between quiet beaches like Winifred and Long Bay—recalls Jamaica before the tourist boom.
There are plenty of places to stay, but Goblin Hill is a standout. The collection of one- and two-bedroom villas overlooks the gin-clear water of San San Bay, and each one comes with a personal gal Friday, who handles both the housekeeping and food shopping. Down the road in Boston Bay, you'll find the island's best jerk cooking—chicken, ribs, and fish bathed in fiery, Scotch-bonnet-pepper marinade and slow-grilled over pimento wood—doled out from makeshift huts. Finally, if you need a break from the coast, it's worth taking the one-hour drive to Moore Town in the Blue Mountains. The settlement is home to the Windward Maroons, a semiautonomous community founded by escaped slaves that offers a unique window into Jamaica's past. Goblin Hill, 800/472-1148, goblinhillvillas.com, from $135.
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