The Caribbean is a vast collection of countries, islands and reefs; warm almost year-round it is a paradise for those who enjoy boating, diving, snorkeling and all manner of outdoor activities as well as those who are simply in need of a place to relax. Drawing tourists from around the world, Caribbean islands are often found on “bucket lists” made my eager travelers. I don’t have a written bucket list but if I did, these are the experiences that would find prominent placement on mine.
Hire a guide with a boat in Nassau, preferably High Seas, to take you to Rose Island and despite the rather short ride from resorts such as Atlantis – when you are deposited on the glaringly white sand beach of Rose Island, Bahamas– you will feel like you have landed in another country. The privacy and simple beauty of this small island make it the kind of place I dream about when I think of getting lost for the purposes of relaxation. The water hits the beach in shades of turquoise and blue, clear as glass to a depth that covered my head. I swam away from our boat and the shore, with a cold Kalik beer in my hand, floated on the gentle current, let the sun warm my face and felt more at peace than I had in my thirty years of. The chance to return, this time with the love of my life, is at the top of my travel To Do list.
It might have been opened in 1956, but as the only resort within the boundaries of Virgin Islands National Park, Caneel Bay is on my Caribbean bucket list because in just one resort that is 170 acres there are seven white sand beaches for guests to enjoy. Whether you do so by sunfish sailboat, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, Hobie cat or simply some fins and a mask, there is no need to go anywhere else for adventurous yet relaxing fun in paradise. Of course it also has four on-site restaurants, so you will not go hungry either. Because of the ecotourism focus, there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, making it the sort of destination where you can really unplug and get away from the stress of daily life.
Kids under 15 are not allowed at this resort with sweeping views of St. Lucia’s UNESCO-protected twin Pitons where every sanctuary (as the boutique suites are known) comes with a personal concierge. Private infinity pools anchor an open-air layout that is designed to frame the stunning views, rather than detract, and bathrooms feature whirlpool tubs. "Jade Cuisine" created by James Beard award winning Chef Allen Susser, can be enjoyed poolside or in-room. Kai en Ciel Spa offers a hot stone massage and guests of Jade Mountain also have full access to the 600-acre Anse Chastanet estate plus two white sand beaches and an abundance of coral life for snorkeling. This would top my bucket list for views and amenities as well as the guarantee of a romantic, adults-only experience.
Recently awarded “Best Luxury Villa” by Condé Nast Johansens for 2014, these 10,000 square foot villas on top of a cliff in already-exclusive Anguilla are the amongst the most luxurious of hideaways in the Caribbean. Each villa is an all-inclusive experience, fully staffed with an entire team that is dedicated to satisfying your every whim. Maids, a butler, a chef and even spa personnel are at your disposal as are bikes, kayaks and a luxury car. Balconies enlarge the living space of every bedroom and the villas share a gym, tennis court and expansive lounge decks for private sunbathing away from more crowded beaches. Architect Lee Skolnick and designer Bonnie Bloom combined their talents to create one of the most spectacular private vacation experiences on the planet but to take it one step further managers are available to craft a bespoke itinerary that will make your stay at Ani Villas truly unforgettable. If that’s not top of the bucket list material, I don’t know what is!
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Kirsten is a photographer, writer and conference speaker who wanders the globe in search of people to help, stories to tell and ways to inspire others as to how important travel is. When home in New York City, she enjoys discovering the concrete jungle with her boyfriend and sometimes-travel-partner. She has been on camera for CNN, Expedia and AMC and was the first host of the web series: Bites of the Big Apple. Her favorite travel magazine is AFAR and she’s proud to be one of their Ambassadors. Visit Kirsten's blog, Aviators and a Camera, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.
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