The Caribbean and the Antilles

Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in the Caribbean and the Antilles.

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Relaxation, rum and reggae – Anguilla, Caribbean Island

Christopher Columbus had a rather unfortunate way with names. Known in Spain as Cristobal Colon, he went and landed on a Caribbean island while trying to find India and named it “Anguilla” “Eel” in Spanish. Little could he have imagined that 500 years later, “Eel Island” would take its place in the pantheon of finest Caribbean destinations. The island remains one of my all-time favourite places in the world, to the extent I’ve been seriously torn over letting the secret out. You’re welcome.

 See

Anguilla’s marine life and passion for sailing on a snorkeling trip aboard the beautiful Tradition. After a swim in the Bay (turtle sightings possible), deliciously warm waters of Little enjoy an equally divine lobster roll and rum punch lunch before sailing back.

 Do

Meads Bay

Meads Bay

Explore Anguilla’s 33 fabulous beaches. Best are: the two miles of fine white sand and hip beach bars at Shoal Bay; the gently curving sands full of pelicans at Meads Bay between the Four Seasons and Malliouhana; and the wilder Junk’s Hole on the (even) less busy east coast.

 SHOP

Albert’s Supermarket might be the least glamorous shop ever featured in these pages, but it’s one of the few places selling the top notch Pyrat XO rum. Blended from nine barrel-aged Caribbean rums, it used to be

bottled on the island but now comes in from Guyana* Snaffle a bottle to take home and sample on the rocks. Look for the Buddha icon on its neck. pyratrum.com

 LUNCH

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Garvey’s Sunshine Shack

There are over 100 restaurants on the island but inevitably there are standouts. Wander along the beach at Rendezvous Bay and try the fishermen’s catch at Garvey’s Sunshine Shack (and it is the dictionary definition of “beach shack”). Alternatively, stick to the speciality broiled snapper with copious Carib beers while, if you’re lucky, Garvey jams with some musical mates.

 STAY

There are several excellent places to stay but our vote’s for Malliouhana, a chic boutique bolthole on a dramatic bluff overlooking two beaches that has just been radically, and extremely tastefully, refurbished by the excellent US brand Auberge. Expect a slick, retro feel with glamorous, pastel art deco design, just 44 immaculate rooms and suites, and one of the Caribbean’s finest restaurants, overlooking the ocean, malliouhanaaubergeresorts.com

 DINE

Hibernia Restaurant and Art Gallery gets the nod for its Franco/Carib/Asian fusion (try Laotian seasoned seafood tart with Japanese pickles). In hurricane season, the owners close up and head to Asia for ingredients such as Japanese shirasu anchovies, and eastern artworks to sell in the gallery. hiberniarestaurant.com

 PARTY

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Bankie Bank’s Bar

At Dune Preserve, another ridiculously atmospheric driftwood beach bar, this one owned by Anguilla’s star reggae singer Bankie Banx. Friday nights come to a fun, fuzzy rum and music-fuelled end with Bankie or son Omari playing .See also: The Pumphouse in Sandy Ground, which has live local music on Thursdays. bankiebanx.net

 WHY NOW?

Started in1991, Bankie Banx’s famous reggae jam the Moonsplash Festival runs 9-12 March* Festival del Mar is celebrated over Easter weekend (14-17 April)- it’s a (healthily competitive) feast of things Anguillans love — music, food, rum, the sea, with some religion thrown in

 DRINK

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Sunset Lounge

The former Viceroy Hotel has reopened as a Four Seasons but its open-air Sunset Lounge remains the luxurious spot for a sundowner. While the shabby chic beach shacks have huge appeal, sometimes you want more sophistication. Order up lethal West Indian rums, fat Cuban cigars and watch the sunset as the DJ mixes reggae.

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5 Different Pieces or Paradise – British Virgin Island

If you’re looking to live out your castaway fantasies, the British Virgin Islands are the place to do it

NECKER ISLAND

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Richard Branson’s 74-acre speck remains a hideaway for stars like Harry Styles. Those who can’t cover the $80,000 nightly price tag for a full takeover (though this does include room and board for 33 of your closest friends) can drop in during a low-season “Celebration Week,” when the nine bedrooms in the Great House and eight Balinese-style villas are available individually.

EUSTATIA ISLAND

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The eco-minded will appreciate that this 35-acre island, which became avail­able for exclusive-use rental last year, is solar powered (even the golf carts have panels). But the main draws are the well-appointed villa, two beach houses, and hilltop estate, which sleep a total of 16 and come fully staffed.

GUANA ISLAND

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Already popular for its bare foot-on-the- beach vibe, this 18-room resort is upping its culinary game. Chef Xavier Arnau Gili’s farm-to-table menus are filled with ingredients from the new greenhouse and expanded organic orchard, where guests can now have dinner, too.

PETER ISLAND RESORTS SPA

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Only 300 of the 1,800 acres here have been developed, leaving visitors with plenty of room to roam. Options include parking it on one of five beaches, heading to the spa for a dosha diagnostic from an ayurvedic therapist; or hitting up Drake’s Lounge, where there are more than 25 types of rum on the menu.

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Five Delicious Spots Full of Caribbean Flavorous at St. Barth

1. French-Japanese fusion is done to perfection at Orega, a newcomer set in a tiny, historic house in the heart of Gustavia. Sit under the stars while sharing Wagyu gyoza and bigeye-tuna tataki with ponzu dressing and spring onion.

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A dish served at Ortega Restaurant

2. Just up the block is L’Iso la, an Italian restaurant beloved by both locals and visitors. Standout dishes include thick veal chops topped with sage and Roman-style grilled artichokes so good you might weep with happiness.

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L’Isola Italian Restaurant

3. Parisian chef Guy Martin’s outpost at Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa, Aux Amis, is worth it for the seaside setting alone. But the food—a mash-up of French, Caribbean, and Asian flavors— more than delivers: don’t miss the spiny lobster with Madras curry and local wahoo tartare flavored with nori.

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Dining at Aux Amis

4. What’s the best place to get a glass of rose? For our money, nothing beats O’Corail, a casual restaurant on Grand Cul de Sac beach. The picnic tables sit right on the sand.

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Restaurant O’ Corail

5. For some­thing more upscale, try the Rock Bar at the storied Eden Rock Hotel. The dramatic La Corne on the Rocks cocktail — a concoction of rum, Chambord, fresh raspberries, mint, and cranberry juice served in a cow’s horn — is a guaranteed hit.

Eden Rock Hotel - St. Barth

Eden Rock Hotel – St. Barth

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Caribbean Places Where You Can Have 2 Vacations in 1

Canouan + Barbados

For a destination off the typical tourist track, look no further than St. Vincent & the Grenadines, a haven for yachters, divers, and privacy seekers. On the island of Canouan, the secluded Pink Sands Club features 26 marble-clad suites and ameni­ties like two sheltered beaches and overwater spa-treatment bungalows.

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The pool area at the Pink Sands Club

The resort includes complimentary air transfers from Barbados with stays of four nights or longer — so why not spend a few nights on “Bim” for a nightlife and food fix? In St. Lawrence Gap, Cocktail Kitchen draws a stylish crowd with its small bites and drink pairings (have your pina colada with pappadums). And later this year, Nikki Beach will debut in the north-coast development of Port Ferdinand. Base yourself at the reimagined Waves Hotel & Spa, a sophisticated all-inclusive that offers as many as four spa treatments per stay.

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Cocktail Kitchen – St. Lawrence Gap

Grand Cayman + Cayman Brac

Most travelers to the Cayman lslands go straight to Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, and this year, the strip added its most contemporary property to date: the new Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa. Local art is incorporated into each of the 266 modem rooms, and guests can even become certified spearfishers and turn their catch into lunch.

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Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa

Those who are willing to go a bit farther (and when we say farther, we mean a 3S-minute flight) to the island of Cayman Brac will get a totally different but equally rewarding experience. In this community of fewer than 2,000 people, life proceeds at the same languor­ous pace it has for years, and you’ll spend your days diving, exploring caves, and hiking nature trails. Le Soleil d’Or, a boutique hotel with a bougainvillea- wrapped main house and four self-contained villas, is bringing farm-to-table to the forefront.

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Le Soleil d’Or Hotel

Le Soleil’s own 20-acre farm provides produce and eggs for dishes like vegetable curry with callaloo, cauliflower, and sweet peppers.

St. Kitts + Nevis

People often visit one and overlook the other. Here’s the case for doing both: these sister islands are just 4s minutes a part by ferry, and you’ll get two distinct slices of the Caribbean. St. Kitts was late to the tourism game, but is quickly gaining ground with upscale develop­ments like Banana Bay’s Christophe Harbour, which is home to a marina, chic restaurants like Salt Plage and, as of this spring, the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, a resort that offers a refreshing, contemporary take on colonial decor in its 126 rooms.

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Salt Plage Restaurant – St. Kitts

On Nevis, the past is shaping the present. Alexander Hamilton was born and raised here, and the destination is now reaping the benefits of the namesake Broadway musical’s success. Visitors can explore the ruins of Hamilton Estate, the sugar plantation once owned by the founding father’s family, on a 4×4 excursion with Funky Monkey Tours. The Hermitage resort plans to host historian Richard Brookhiser, who’ll discuss Hamilton during two events this spring.

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The Hermitage Plantation Inn – Nevis

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Get fit on your vacation without any efforts – St. Lucia

Hikes, cycling excursions, and all-out boot camps: St. Lucia is a place where you should give up your spot on the sand-at least temporarily

With their lush emerald slopes, the volcanic Piton mountains are the jewel in St. Lucia’s crown — and offer a killer work­out for those daring enough to make the climb. Gros Piton is the one to tackle—Petit Piton’s slopes are steep and best left to the pros.

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Caribbean Island Adventure & Sightseeing Tours in St. Lucia – Island Routes

Island Routes offers guided three-hour treks along rugged paths up to Gros’ 2,619-foot summit, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views that extend from the southern half of the island to Martinique and St. Vincent. An easier alternative is to hike the Tet Paul Nature Trail, which takes only an hour but ends with an lnstagrammable photo op between both peaks.

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Tet Paul Nature Trail

(Guides are avail­able at the entrance, but many hikers choose to go solo.) Visitors staying near the capital of Castries can head for Pigeon Island National Landmark, where they can reach the lookout at Fort Rodney for views of the white-sand sweep of Reduit Beach, St. Lucia’s longest stretch of shore.

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Gun battery at Pigeon Island National Landmark

Of course, there’s more to do than just go hiking. At Anse Mamin Plantation, part of the Anse Chastanet resort, the pro cyclist “Bike Tyson” of Bike St. Lucia leads groups on four levels of jungle trails that wind through the ruins of French-colonial sugar and cocoa estates. Anse Chastanet’s Scuba St Lucia runs snorkel trips and dives to the reef where octopuses, turtles, and sea horses live amid the thriving coral just IS yards from the beach. And if your fitness goals are even more ambitious, consider a stay at Body Holiday Saint Lucia, a destination spa that offers ayurvedic cuisine, yoga, spinning, weekly quadrathalons, and intensive, two-week-long “WellFit” boot camps led by former Olympians.

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Jungle Biking at Anse Chastanet Resort – St. Lucia

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The Urban Side of Santo Domingo – Dominican Republic

All eyes are on the Dominican Republic city of Santo Domingo — specifically the Zona Colonial, a historic quarter where new art spaces, shops, and restaurants are opening at a rapid clip.

  1. At Zona Bici Bike Rental you can rent a turquoise cruiser perfect for zipping around the narrow streets. zona-bici-bike-rental
  2. Mamey Libreria Café is the ideal spot for an afternoon coffee. This chic cafe-bookstore-gallery draws a stylish, local crowd to its contemporary art exhibits, author readings, and monthly craft market.mamey-libreria-café
  3. Four blocks away, Diseno Local Store sells edgy Dominican design objects, like Madame Blanco’s asymmetrical con­crete plant pots and artfully carved wooden spoons by father-daughter team Zagarella. The second floor houses clothing by local designers, including funky T-shirts by the uber-cool Modafoca. Stock up, and then grab a gin and tonic on the terrace.
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    Diseño Local Store

  4. Set in a 16th-century colonial mansion, Casa Quien is arguably the city’s best gallery, with a bar serving cocktails inspired by its exhibitions. For a recent reading by Guatemalan artist Regina Jose Galindo, the drinks incorporated flor de Jamaico and other ingredients native to her country.
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    Casa Quien

  5. Be sure to do a dinner at Buche Perico, which has an enormous glass-enclosed courtyard. Lush with plants and strung with lights, the restaurant serves traditional Dominican dishes with a twist; like miniature fried plantain cups stuffed with goat meat and topped with guacamole and pico de gallo.
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    Buche Perico

  6. The band at Lucia 203 aIways packs the dance floor on Saturday nights. Those who can’t squeeze in watch from the courtyard with cold Presidente beers or oversize sangrias in hand.
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    Lucia 203

  7. Once the residence of Oscar de la Renta, the Casa del Diseno is the latest addition to Casas del XVI, a collection of colonial homes turned into luxury guesthouses. The two-bedroom retreat comes with a private chef and swimming pool.
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    Poolside of Casas del XVI

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3 Unforgettable Days Spent In The Caribbean

It felt so emblematic of this place, sophisticated but casual, serious but fun-loving. I couldn’t have enjoyed myself more

These easy-to- reach islands – under two hours from Miami and a round three from New York – are your ticket to sun, stat. Here’s how to do it over three days.

FRIDAY

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An aerial view of the poolside of Shore Club

Touch down on the island of Providenciales and hightail it to the new Shore Club, the first resort on Long Bay Beach. Ten minutes’ drive away is the perennially pop­ular Grace Bay, but here on this three-mile stretch, there’s space and then some. The resort’s modern rooms have soaring ceilings and large terraces, and amenities include a sprawling spa and three cabana-lined pools. Call it a night after dinner at the Japanese-Peruvian restaurant.

SATURDAY

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Provo Ponies

Start the day with a horseback ride on the beach. Provo Ponies will pair you up with a horse (complete begin­ners are welcome) to take you for a short ride on the sand and into the sea. The guides are wonderful — a calming presence for anyone who gets skittish. In the afternoon, take a tour of the Caicos Conoh Farm and research facility before dinner at Seven), Provo’s best fine-dining restaurant. Come early fora drink and a chat with the gre­garious head bartender, Nicolo, then dig into Italianesque dishes like garden-pea risotto.

SUNDAY

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Da Conch Shack

Finish your weekend with some quality beach time. In addition to loungers with beachside service, the Shore Club has stand-up paddleboards and kayaks available so you can get out on the water. And for your last meal in para­dise, nothing beats Da Conch Shack. Here, you can try conch in a fresh, citrusy salad, lightly battered and fried, or in a flavorful curry. Wash it all down with one of the restaurant’s potent rum drinks or a locally brewed Turk’s Head beer.

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Discover the Caribbean’s Top 5 Romantic Routes

When it comes to planning a romantic getaway, every detail has to be perfect (and unforgettable!). But one thing’s for sure, setting is everything and no destination comes close to the Caribbean.

From glorious weather and tantalizing cuisine, to secluded beaches and luxury hotels, there is romance at every turn. So if you’re looking to create the ultimate experience, we have a few soul-stirring adventures that will take your dream Caribbean getaway to the next level.

  1. FLOAT AWAY IN JAMAICA

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Set in the majestic Trelawny forest, Bamboo River Rafting is a must! Sit back, relax and reconnect with the one you love as an expert raft “gondolier” steers you along the serene Martha Brae river, a place where time stands still. Take in the scenic sights of the bamboo-lined riverbank and the soothing sounds of tropical birds.

  1. GET LOST IN SAINT LUCIA

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Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of St. Lucia on a Private Soufriere Getaway. From the magnificent Pitons, to the therapeutic Sulphur Springs and the picturesque Toraille waterfall, there are endless memories to be made. With a private driver and the island at your disposal, make it the day of your dreams; whether it’s exploring the island’s exotic landscapes, relaxing on a secluded beach or roaming the quaint streets of Soufriere.

  1. INDULGE IN THE BEAUTY OF GRENADA

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Get ready to engage all of your senses on the Grenada Champagne and Seafood Cruise On this perfect adventure, you’ll cruise along the scenic south-west coast, snorkel beautiful reefs at an Underwater Sculpture Park, sip champagne and savor perfectly grilled lobster.

The best part: your decadent seafood lunch is set on a pristine, secluded beach, where you can sneak away together and explore the secrets of the rustic island.

  1. PLAY CASTAWAY FOR THE DAY IN EXUMA

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Secluded Castaway Getaway

Ever imagined having your own private island surrounded by the turquoise Caribbean Sea? Now’s your chance! On the Secluded Castaway Getaway your butler (yes, your butler!) will prepare a picnic with delicious food and wine before your captain takes you to an uninhabited island featuring a picture-perfect beach, where he’ll leave you until sunset. Alone together, who knows what you’ll discover on this secluded cay!

  1. SAIL INTO THE CARIBBEAN SUNSET

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Lover’s Rock Catamaran Cruise – Jamaica

With uninterrupted views, the sinking sun illuminating the horizon and your soulmate beside you, there are few things that can beat sunset at sea. Whether in Jamaica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua or the Bahamas, a Lover’s Rock Catamaran Cruise is a must on any romantic Caribbean getaway.

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Buccaneers, Junkanoo and Rum – Bahamas

On new year’s day 2013, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield tweeted from the International Space Station: “The beauty of the Bahamas is surreal; every blue that exists.”

With 700 islands and thousands of cays, the archipelago offers immense variety in eco- tourism, water sports and nature activities. While superb golf courses, glitzy resorts, lively marine life and state-of-the-art casinos are also major attractions, a number of Bahamian traditions add unique dimensions. These include the Native Fish Fry, Junkanoo and People-To-People Experience.

The Bahamas have long been popular with celebrities, many of whom own homes and islands there. These include Sean Connery, David Copperfield and Sir Sidney Poitier—the first Bahamian and African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Joy Jibrilu, director general, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, points out that the islands’ proximity to the Toronto and Montreal gateways has made Canada their second-largest market after the U.S. “We also work continuously on developing incentives and packages that will keep Canadians returning year after year.”

GOING NATIVE

The Native Fish Fry is a perennial favourite throughout the islands at eateries strung along the water. Visitors and locals alike devour grilled, fried, steamed or raw seafood straight from the ocean, as well as barbecued or jerk meat and other delicacies such as panny cake. A regular at Smith’s Point Fish Fry on Grand Bahama is a ponytailed expatriate Montreal kitesurfer who comes to socialize, listen to music, drink Sands beer — and dine on Terry Edden’s fresh conch salad. Every venue boasts conch-salad maestros whose loyal fans come for signature versions of this flavourful ceviche-like dish.

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At waterfront fish fry events, seafood goes from ocean to grill plate

Originally a random Bahamas-wide street festival, Junkanoo Camival is now an annual spring event that attracts thousands of participants and onlookers. It is noted for wildly artistic costumes crafted from colourful crepe paper — and yes, rain on parade days does pose a problem. Launched in the 18th century by slaves on their three days off a year, Junkanoo has become a celebration of everything Bahamian.

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Junkanoo, a national Bahamian festival of dancing and street parades, is famous for costumes made from crepe paper

Locals love reaching out to visitors on a personal level. The decades-old People-To-People Experience gives volunteers an opportunity to connect with guests by becoming island “ambassadors.” The free program pairs hundreds of ambassadors with tourists interested in exploring the culture and lifestyle beyond the hotels and resorts. My Nassau ambassador was Yvette Johnson, a banker who in the off hours hosts dinners at her home and takes guests on insider tours of local highlights. She reported that the program gives her and her husband an enjoyable social activity to do together, and that it has yielded many international friends.

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The Melia Nassau Beach Resort commands an impressive strech of Cable Beach

Each island also has a unique personality, and from my cushy home base on “The Level” at Melia Nassau Beach Resort, I took day trips to Grand Bahama Island and Harbour Island, located off the north-east coast of Eleuthera.

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND (GBI)

A 45-minute flight from Nassau, GBI offers everything from a 1,858-square-metre Las Vegas-style casino to one of the world’s longest systems of underwater limestone caves in Lucayan National Park, framed by the vast expanse of Gold Rock Beach. The popular filming and photography location provided backdrops for scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. After filming, Pirates star Johnny Depp bought the 18-hectare Little Hall’s Pond Cay.

On my drive along the sparsely populated “outlying settlements” on the eastern coast, I stopped in Mather Town for drinks and conversation at the beach front Margarita Villa Sand Bar. According to patrons perched on bar stools, the area was a hideout for rumrunners during Prohibition, and centuries ago a favourite spot for pirates who lured ships onto the nearby reef and plundered them.

A highlight of my GBI visit was a “dolphin encounter” at the UNESCO facility, which houses the adorable mammals and offers a range of experiences. Sitting on a dock splashing my feet in shallow water, I watched the dolphins cavort, kiss the kiddies and pose for pictures. This facility is within a credit card’s throw of Port Lucaya Marketplace, where shops and eateries entice cruisers and tourists.

HARBOUR ISLAND

A rustic and hilly spot off the coast of Eleuthera, Harbour Island is a 10-minute water taxi ride from North Eleuthera airport (a 20-minute flight from Nassau). Boasting an amiable blend of laid-back decadence in tony resorts and restaurants, pink-sand beaches, colourful British colonial architecture and charming Bahamian cottages, this spot is an ideal getaway for a day or a lifetime.

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Architectural reminders of the British colonial era dot the islands

My guide and I lunched at Sip Sip (Bahamian for “gossip”), where the crowd could have been sailors and cottagers from Nantucket and the New England coastline. Zooming around on our golf cart (the main mode of transportation), we rumbled past historical churches, homes and public buildings in Dunmore Town. And our tour of the luxury boutique Rock House Hotel, owned by Kingston, Ontario, native Don Purdy, sent pink sand-encrusted sugar plums dancing into my head.

NASSAU

Taking up most of New Providence Island, Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas and a popular cruise-ship port. A bustling, beautifully maintained city with exotic resorts, restaurants and history, Nassau has something for everyone. Once dubbed the “Republic of Pirates,” it had been commandeered by pirates including Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.

In the heart of downtown Nassau is the legendary Graycliff estate, built in 1740 by the dreaded pirate John Howard Graysmith. It comprises a hotel, five-star restaurant, cigar factory and chocolate factory. The main mansion’s extensive basement, where pirates once stored their plunder, now houses the world’s third- largest collection of wine and spirits, valued between US$15 and US$20 million according to our guide. Modern riches in a modern commonwealth.

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Relax in Opulence – Blanc Spa Resorts

Experience an unforgettable escape in Cancun complete with stellar service, magnificent amenities, and the finest cuisine.

Nestled between the Nichupte Lagoon and the shimmering Caribbean Sea in Cancun. Mexico, you’ll find the ultimate getaway—Le Blanc Spa Resort. The adults-only, all-inclusive retreat has received the AAA Five Diamond Award for six consecutive years and has made Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice list every year since 2012.

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During your stay at this serene sanctuary, you’ll discover the highest level of tranquil luxury. The amenity- filled guest rooms feature 24-hour butler service along with stunning sea vistas at the state-of-the-art Blanc Spa. Indulge in hydrotherapy treatments, enjoy the four-handed Kukulcan Mayan Massage, or use the CHI and BVLGARI bath products

Get moving with fitness classes ranging from yoga to water volleyball to aqua spinning. Afterwards, lounge in a cabana at Le Blanc’s Beach Club, or take a mixology or cooking class.

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When you’ve worked up an appetite, explore the delicious dining options at Le Blanc Spa Resort. At Lumiere, the property’s most exclusive restaurant, sample a tasting menu of French- fusion dishes prepared with seasonal ingredients and perfectly paired with the sommelier’s highly-rated wines.

An eclectic menu of modern Japanese Thai, and Chinese cuisine is served in a minimalist Zen-like setting at Blanc Asia Cap off your evening with music, an amazing view, and an expertly- mixed cocktail at the lively BlancStage lounge bar