The Caribbean islands make for an incredible destination for a luxury holiday, whether you’re off on your honeymoon, a family escape or simply just a place to relax and take in the view.
Having been one of the most popular destinations for luxury travellers for decades, you might well think, what’s new? But Caribbean tourism boards and resorts are constantly looking at innovative ways to improve guest experiences, as well as updating and promoting those authentic experiences which have ensured its draw for so many years.
Here at ITC we’ve been sending our valued clients to the Caribbean since 1974, and with so much experience on the islands, as well as two destination offices, we’ve got our finger on the pulse of life there.
But what we so often find, on our own travels there as well as from the feedback we have from our clients, is that what makes the islands so special is there ability to hold true to their roots; not losing sight of what has made them so special for centuries, and what will continue to do so in years to come.
With that in mind, we’ve collated five of our top authentic experiences to enjoy in the Caribbean. We hope they provide you with some inspiration for your next holiday there:
1. Rescue a turtle
Antigua’s Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort has long been championing its Hawksbill Project. This research and conservation programme monitors the hawksbill sea turtle nesting colony on Long Island, and was set up back in 1987. Today many of the turtles first tagged back then are still crawling up Jumby Bay’s beaches for nesting! From June to November guests at the hotel can join the researchers to see the turtles lay their eggs. It’s a magical experience you’ll never forget.
2. Fish for your dinner
At Cobblers Cove in Barbados you can join the resident fisherman to bring in the day’s catch before lunch. Guests who have experienced this say the fish tastes all the better when you’ve worked for it!
There are also insightful cooking demonstrations from award-winning Executive Chef Michael Harrison and foodies will also love the Chefs in Residence which regularly take place at Cobblers Cove; seeing those top in their field cook up a storm with a series of recipes. This year one of the demonstrations will be hosted by British Masterchef 2010 winner Dhruv Baker.
3. Sample the local rum
You can’t visit the Caribbean, and particularly Barbados, without trying a rum punch or two! But did you know that the island’s signature rum, Mount Gay, was the first rum ever made?! One of the finest settings to enjoy a cocktail or two is Panorama at Ocean Two. This rooftop patio with pool and bar has superb views of Oistins Bay and is a prime spot from which to watch the sun set while supping a rum cocktail! True enthusiasts of the spirit should head to the Mount Gay Visitor Centre for a behind the scenes tour and tasting.
4. Feel the local vibe
Carlisle Bay on Antigua is a resort which has a great sense of place; ensuring guests feel the authenticity of the Caribbean in every element of their stay. A great way to get a sense of the local culture is to take a tour with a Carlisle Bay guide, who will wow you with their deep understanding of the region. You’ll discover - all over the Caribbean - that there is a real love of life and heritage, so whether you’re learning the origins of the Patois dialect or the healing power of the locally grown aloe, it’s an eye-opening experience.
5. Learn about local produce
Knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced can be an incredibly insightful experience, and so the folk at Hermitage Bay on Antigua have provided the opportunity for their guests to learn more about local fare by organising Farm Tours. The tour takes place at a fruit and vegetable supplier for the resort; a family-run farm which grows tropical produce. Dependent upon when you’re visiting the farm, your guide – the farmer – will talk you through how he nurtures the plants, and give you the opportunity to taste produce such as cashew, mango, sugar apple and guava.