Today marks the Sapphire Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, who has been reigning monarch for 65 years now. So, to mark the occassion, we thought we'd do what we do best here at the Inspiring Travel Company: talk about the Caribbean! Did you know that the Queen is still head of state of eight Caribbean nations? Not to mention the overseas territories such the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla. So which islands have Her Majesty's face on their money? And what are like to visit? Here's our lowdown!
With its safe harbours, beautiful reefs, protected bays and glorious palm-fringed beaches, the peaceful island of Antigua is renowned for its chic style and contented culture. Much of the laid-back vibe is centred on the blue waters which surround its shores and surely its most well-known attraction is its offering for keen sailors. Taking place annually, Antigua Sailing Week draws crowds from the world over! But you can also enjoy life on the water inland too; with a kayaking trip among Antigua’s mangroves or a cultural visit to Nelson's Dockyard National Park - the only Georgian-era dockyard still in use in the world.
Sailers and beach-lovers
Located off the tip of Florida's 'pan handle', The Bahamas has always been a well-loved destination for American holidaymakers, but these islands are increasingly attracting more international visitors, including us Brits, and it's not hard to see why!
A hotspot for scuba diving, the sea beds that surround these islands are renowned for breathtaking reefs and grand shipwrecks. That's not to mention the incredible 'blue holes': natural circular formations on the ocean floor, that experienced divers can delve into and explore - it's like another world!
Keen divers and party-goers
Barbados is the jewel in the crown of the Caribbean; not only the place to see, but undoubtedly the place to be seen. The island's West Coast especially is a destination favourite for the rich and famous, offering a vibrant culture that pursues life at a pace of its own - relaxed and effortlessly easy going. It’s a place where the refined luxury of internationally acclaimed cuisine and exceptional hotels mingles effortlessly with lush vegetation and white sandy beaches.
Barbados may have celebrated its 50th year as an independent nation back in November 2016 (which Prince Harry attended), but there's still a lot of love for Queen Elizabeth II in this dazzling island nation.
Jet-setters and gastronomes
The Caribbean island of Grenada is a place that will enchant your senses. Known as ‘The Spice Island’, its rich tapestry of history, culture and landscape creates a very special kind of luxury holiday. Retaining much of its traditional West Indian feel, you’ll be guaranteed a warm welcome from the locals. There’s plenty for the islanders to be proud of too, especially the lovingly preserved natural landscape from rainforests dotted with waterfalls to secluded coves. Prince Harry visited the island on his recent Caribbean tour, staying at Spice Island Beach Resort.
Divers will find the underwater world here just as enchanting as that above sea level, with the famed Underwater Sculpture Park a favourite amongst visitors to the region. And if you'd like to taste the local tipple, there are an abundance of distilleries to visit on the island.
Divers and rum-lovers
The vibrant island nation of Jamaica is simply iconic, with its instantly recognisable flag and renowned super stars, from Bob Marley to Usain Bolt. Famously regarded as a vibrant party nation, there are also plenty of secluded, quiet beaches, breathtaking mountain ranges and, of course, a wealth of fascinating history to learn about. Tucked away amongst these stunning landscapes and breath-taking beaches are some stunning luxury resorts, too.
One particular Jamaican resort that has garnered royal favour is Half Moon. Prince Harry stayed there 15 years ago on his first offical Royal Tour, which marked the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Prior to that the Queen herself had also stayed in the Royal Villa, back in 2002, and Prince Charles was a frequent visitor too.
Active holiday-makers and nature-lovers
The twin islands of St. Kitts and Nevis both boast a truly tranquil atmosphere and slower pace of life than some of their larger neighbours. In fact, Nevis is often dubbed the Queen of the Caribbean, and we don't think Her Majesty would mind sharing the crown with such a gorgeous place as this!
These islands boast a magnificent blend of lush rainforest, exotic wildlife, long stretches of golden sand and old-world charm. Time does stand still here, but it does stroll forward at a much more gradual pace, yet the addition of luxury amenities in the midst of all this has kept discerning holidaymakers returning to these shores year upon year.
Indeed, this was another island Prince Harry visited on his recent Caribbean tour representing the Queen. His Royal Highness stayed at Nisbet Plantation Beach Club on this occassion, but had holidayed on the island previously in 1992 with his mother, Princess Diana, and Prince William, staying at Montpelier Plantation & Beach.
Fly-and-floppers and nature lovers.
Rising from the Caribbean Sea and covered in rainforest, the UNESCO World Heritage protected Pitons are the first sight to greet you on your flight into Saint Lucia. It’s the diverse nature of the island which makes it such an exciting holiday destination, from zip-lining through the trees to diving in underwater volcanic reefs.
An island so idyllic it’s repeatedly named the world’s best honeymoon destination, Saint Lucia is perfect for a romantic holiday. Yet with so much to see and do, it’s an incredible diverse holiday option. Next month the St Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival with draw countless visitors to its shores. There's even a chocolate heritage month to celebrate the abundance of cocoa plantations and their history on the islands. Yum!
Romantics and chocoholics
Providing a true 'away from it all' experience for discerning lovers of the Caribbean, St Vincent and the Grenadines is a glistening Caribbean archipelago made up of 32 islands and cays. Exclusive island hideaways such as Mustique and Bequia are counted amongst this number, and have long been royal favourites.
The late Princess Margaret had her own private villa on the island of Mustique, Les Jolies Eaux, which was specially built for her in 1971 and is now available to rent as a luxury holiday bolthole. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also holidayed on the island before Prince George was born, and the Duchess returned with her son for his first foreign holiday.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is great place to take to the waters and 'island hop' too, whether as a day trip or on a multi-centre escape. There are plenty of 'Robinson Crusoe' islands to explore and enjoy!
Wherever you'll go, you'll find a warm and refreshingly laid-back way of life that helps you sink into an ease that is rarely found in the mile-a-minute day to day!
Island-hoppers and fly-and-floppers
This article was brought to you by the Inspiring Travel Company. We hope you’ve enjoyed the read and are inspired by these amazing Caribbean islands! Have you visited any or all of these places? Let us know in the comment section or find us on Twitter and Facebook. For more information on these luxury holidays or any other destinations, feel free to get in touch – we’re more than happy to help!