For great Caribbean deals shop around on websites such as caribbeanwarehouse.co.uk, holidaypirates.com and virginholidays.co.uk
The Caribbean is by far and away the most popular sunny destination for Britons seeking some respite from winter. And the good news is that these gorgeous islands are firmly back on the holiday map after two stop-start years of Covid-induced travel restrictions.
Airlines are laying on extra flights; hotels are sprucing themselves up; there are new attractions and — hurrah! — all that wearisome form-filling and pre-departure testing has gone.
As a result, many of us can’t wait to jump into that warm, turquoise sea and sip a rum punch under the palms — although there is a caveat. Package holidays to some popular destinations have become eye-wateringly pricey, with a week in a top beach resort in Barbados in late January coming in at more than £7,000 for two.
‘This is due to a combination of factors,’ says Katie Hill from the specialist tour operator Tropic Breeze. ‘January to March is always the most expensive time in the Caribbean (excluding the festive period). There’s also increased demand, air fares are higher than pre-pandemic and the poor exchange rate with the U.S. dollar is having an impact.’
Fortunately, attractive deals can still be found. We have picked out 12 holidays to our favourite Caribbean destinations for this winter that cost less than £2,000 per person for a week, including direct flights from Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester. Our advice is to shop around on websites such as caribbeanwarehouse.co.uk, holidaypirates.com and virginholidays.co.uk.
Prices will be better if you can travel before mid-December, when high-season rates kick in. This probably isn’t the winter to get fussy about which hideaway island or super-cool resort you check in to. Everywhere in the Caribbean is blissfully warm and sunny with sandy beaches and charismatic people, so dive in at the dates and price that work for you.
RELAX IN ANTIGUA
Bright and beautiful: Antigua is one of the best places for a late deal. Pictured is the island’s Long Bay Beach
Easy-going Antigua is the definitive fly-and-flop Caribbean escape and one of the best places for a late deal. Look for hotels in the lively Dickenson Bay and Jolly Harbour areas. Nowhere on this friendly isle is more than 45 minutes’ drive away so it’s easy to explore, with Half Moon Bay a good spot to escape the crowds (visitantiguabarbuda.com).
WAYS TO SAVE: Cricket is a national obsession and at weekends you can watch matches for free once the season starts in January. Head to the Rising Sun ground in the capital, St John’s, or Liberta Sports Club near Falmouth Harbour (cricket268.com).
WHAT’S NEW: Weatherills is a new, seven-bedroom boutique hotel in Marble Hill set in a restored colonial mansion with 40 acres of gardens (weatherillshotel.com). Antilles Stillhouse near Falmouth Harbour has introduced tours to learn about its backyard gins flavoured with sorrel and lemongrass (antillesdistilling.com).
BOOK IT: Seven nights at St James’s Club, Antigua, departing on December 9, from £1,770 pp all-inclusive including British Airways flights from Gatwick and transfers (tropicbreeze.co.uk). Seven nights at Siboney Beach Club, departing on December 5, from £1,995 pp B&B including British Airways flights from Gatwick and transfers (justantigua.co.uk).
Sail from Barbados (pictured) to five Caribbean islands aboard Marella Discovery, departing January 12, 2023, from £1,283pp
COMING YOUR WAY IN 2023…
- With celebrity chefs and expert mixologists, the five-day Cayman Cookout in the Cayman Islands is a high point in the Caribbean’s culinary calendar. Dinners, wine tastings and cooking demos are centred on the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, starting on January 12, 2023 (caymancookout.com, visitcaymanislands.com).
- Sail from Grenada to Martinique on Chronos, a 26-berth ketch. The eight-day voyage calls into Bequia and Tobago Cays in the Grenadines, from £2,670 pp all-inclusive departing on March 5, 2023. Flights extra (venturesailholidays.com).
- British Airways will introduce flights from Gatwick to Aruba on March 26, 2023, from £598 return. Popular with North American sun-seekers, this arid Dutch island lies 15 miles north of Venezuela and has golf courses, casinos and six miles of white-sand beaches. There’s also good diving and the desert landscapes of the Arikok National Park (ba.com, aruba.com/uk).
- Indulge yourself at the Grenada Chocolate Festival, now in its tenth year, from May 17 to 21, 2023. Island-wide activities include sailing trips, plantation visits and a chance to make cocoa-infused rum (grenadachocolatefest.com).
On the posh west coast of Barbados, restaurant prices can be as hefty as in London; a night at the legendary Sandy Lane Hotel starts at £1,863. But stay south of Bridgetown, the capital, and holidays are much better priced, with many hotels owned by cheerful Bajan families who offer a warm welcome.
This is the best area for nightlife with the long-running Friday night Fish Fry at Oistins and dancing under the stars at clubs and karaoke bars around St Lawrence Gap (visitbarbados.org).
WAYS TO SAVE: Jump on the blue-and-yellow government buses that cover the entire island and have a flat fare of £1.55 (transportboard.com). Join the free, three-hour Sunday afternoon hikes organised by the Barbados National Trust (facebook.com/groups/hikebarbados).
WHAT’S NEW: eBike Island Adventures is a new company offering tours by electric bike. There’s a choice of eight rides from a half-day whizz around the scenic east coast to an adventurous six-hour circuit of the entire island (barbadosebiketours.com).
BOOK IT: Sail from Barbados to five Caribbean islands aboard Marella Discovery, departing January 12, 2023, from £1,283 pp all-inclusive for seven nights including TUI Airways flights from Gatwick, transfers and tips (tui.co.uk/cruise). Seven nights at adults-only The Club Barbados, departing on December 11, from £1,579 all-inclusive including flights from Manchester (onthebeach.co.uk).
Jamaica invented the all-inclusive resort, and this lush and mountainous island is ideal for an all-paid-for beach holiday in the sun.
It’s not all about eating and drinking; options include adults-only properties and sporty ones that throw in golf fees, tennis lessons, dance classes and water-skiing. Montego Bay, on the north coast, is the gateway (visitjamaica.com).
WAYS TO SAVE: If the budget’s tight, stay in Negril. Enjoy its seven-mile beach, sunsets, cheap eats and free entertainment watching the brave jump off the cliffs at Rick’s Cafe.
In Kingston, entrance is free to Devon House, the former home of Jamaica’s first black millionaire, George Stiebel, and now a heritage site with smart shops, restaurants and the much celebrated I-Scream ice cream (devonhouseja.com).
WHAT’S NEW: Ocean Eden Bay is a new adults-only all-inclusive near Montego Bay with a spa and dive centre (oceanhotels.net). Sandals has three new resorts in the pipeline, with the Sandals Dunn’s River opening on May 24, 2023, with the largest pool on the island (sandals.co.uk).
BOOK IT: Seven nights at Royalton Negril, departing on January 31, 2023, from £1,664 pp all-inclusive including TUI Airways flights from Gatwick and transfers (firstchoice.co.uk). Seven nights at SeaGarden Beach Resort in Montego Bay, departing on January 21, 2023, from £1,530 pp all-inclusive, including Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow (lastminute.com).
SAVOUR ST LUCIA
Book a stay in St Lucia’s Rodney Bay and you can do day trips to the island’s iconic twin peaks, the Pitons (pictured)
Most package holiday hotels are in Rodney Bay and the fine sands of Reduit Beach. From here you can do day trips by boat or minibus to admire St Lucia’s iconic twin peaks, the Pitons, with stops at waterfalls, hot springs and the bountiful market in the capital, Castries (stlucia.org).
WAYS TO SAVE: A taxi from the airport to Rodney Bay takes 90 minutes and costs around £105 so always book a package that includes transfers. Minibuses cost from 60p to £3 for short journeys.
WHAT’S NEW: Kawabé Krawl is a new collection of 19 authentic St Lucian bars dotted around the island that sport names like Tipsy’s, Cool Joint and Hardest Hard. A three-hour escorted tour of a handful costs from £235 for four (serenitytvl.com).
And set beside a two-mile beach near Castries, StolenTime by Rendezvous is a new adults-only all-inclusive resort that specialises in experiences to enrich your relationship — think massage lessons, salsa classes, sporty adventures and date nights (stolentime.com).
BOOK IT: Seven nights at Soco House, departing on November 23, from £1,300 pp all-inclusive including Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow and transfers (tropicalsky.co.uk). Seven nights at Fond Doux Eco Resort, departing on March 7, 2023, from £1,930 pp B&B including BA flights and transfers (juststlucia.co.uk).
Tropical colours: Choose Grenada if you’re not into all-inclusive resorts. Pictured above is the island’s Grand Anse beach, which has plenty of bars and small restaurants
If you’re not into all-inclusive resorts, choose Grenada, where there’s a thriving foodie scene reflected in its spicy cuisine, potent rums and artisan chocolate. The mile-and-a-half-long sands at Grand Anse have plenty of bars and small restaurants (puregrenada.com).
WAYS TO SAVE: At weekends, vendors set up roadside barbecues serving grilled pork, chicken and fish dishes that are cheap, tasty and filling. There’s also abundant tropical fruits on sale at the market in the capital, St George’s.
WHAT’S NEW: Simple Stays is a new collection of small, government-approved hotels, cottages and apartments. Options range from Allamanda Beach Resort, right beside Grand Anse, to historic Mount Edgecombe (simplestays.puregrenada.com).
BOOK IT: Double rooms at Allamanda Beach Resort from £104, room only (allamandaresort.com). British Airways has flights from Gatwick, from £659 return (ba.com). Seven nights at Blue Horizons Garden Resort, departing on November 28, from £1,620 pp room-only including Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow and transfers (justgrenada.co.uk).
For a cheap night out in Tobago, head to Castara (pictured) for the Thursday night bonfire party on the beach where a beer costs £1.50 and a plate of street food is a fiver
Only 26 miles by seven, Tobago is easily explored with good hiking, birdwatching and snorkelling. For the widest choice of flights travel before January 9, 2023, when Virgin Atlantic will drop this route to leave British Airways as the sole direct service (visittobago.gov.tt).
WAYS TO SAVE: Head to Castara for the Thursday night bonfire party on the beach where a beer costs £1.50 and a plate of street food is a fiver. Entry to the Main Ridge Forest Reserve, which has been protected since 1776 and has superb trails, is free.
WHAT’S NEW: Night safaris to kayak or paddleboard through bioluminescent waters have restarted. This dreamy experience results from thousands of microscopic organisms that emit a blue glow when disturbed (radicalsportstobago.com).
BOOK IT: Seven nights at Starfish Tobago Resort, departing on January 16, 2023, from £1,229 pp all-inclusive including British Airways flights from Gatwick. Book by November 20 (ba.com/tobago). Seven nights at Coco Reef, departing on December 2, from £1,669 pp B&B including British Airways flights from Gatwick and transfers (caribtours.co.uk).