A lush, green paradise
Grenada is one of the Caribbean’s “quietest islands,” said Taylor Bruce in Coastal Living. All but overlooked by travelers in search of the latest hot spot, this lush paradise doesn’t have “flashy casinos or high-rise resorts.” Its townships all move at a sleepy pace, though the fishing village of Gouyave on the western coast “jumps to life on Fish Fridays.” Beginning in the late afternoon, vendors set up seafood-filled tables along the narrow streets, selling everything from lobster to jerked marlin to deep-fried fish cakes. Street musicians add to the party atmosphere. Grenada provides a third of the world’s supply of nutmeg, and—not surprisingly—the spice has been incorporated into many of the island’s signature dishes. One of Grenada’s smartest resorts is Laluna on Portici Bay. Its 16 hillside cottages overlook a private cove and beach. Chic touches include Italian linens, daybeds on cottage verandas, and open-air showers. Dinner fare ranges from octopus salad with potatoes to pappardelle with a nutmeg cream sauce. Visitors can also hire guides “to lead them through terraced banana farms” and tropical forests full of wild orchids and teak. At Grand Etang National Park—a rain forest in the island’s center—Grenada’s lush flora overflow. “From a mountain peak, 90 percent of the island is visible, vivid green after a midday rain.”
If you’re looking for Caribbean heaven, here’s what you do, said Bruce Barcott in Outside’s Go. Fly into Cancún, Mexico. Then immediately rent a car and escape, heading south. “Don’t stop until your headlights hit a sign that says Tulum.” The next morning, after you wake up at a cabana resort called Amansala, sprint into the warm water, “tuck into a roller, and bodysurf to shore.” Waiting for you at a bar will be hot coffee and huevos. Though Tulum is “nobody’s secret anymore,” the town suggests that “it’s time to expand the definition of Caribbean.” It’s more than islands and reggae; it’s also Mexico. Tulum sits on a 75-mile stretch called the Riviera Maya. Famous for its Mayan ruins—“spectacular temples perched on headland cliffs”—the region also remains blessedly free of all-night tequila bars and T-shirt shops. Just off the coast is one of the world’s longest coral reefs. Though the reef is “murder on ships”—as countless wrecks attest—it does make for “tasty snorkeling.” Further south lies the 1.3-million-acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve—62 miles of mangrove swamps and tropical forests, without a single steel drum to disturb the silence.
England’s ‘tropical offspring’
Bask in a onetime colonial playground while enjoying a drink at the Coral Reef Club in Barbados, said Tom Austin in Travel + Leisure. This old hotel on the Platinum Coast—along the island’s western edge—harkens back to an era when cultured visitors turned Barbados into an international watering hole. Besides Somerset Maugham, you might have seen Greta Garbo or T.S. Eliot, or Maria Callas “sashaying about with her pet marmoset.” Today the Platinum Coast endures as “a tropical offspring of England.” St. Nicholas Abbey, dating to about 1650, is “one of three remaining Jacobean plantation great houses in the Western Hemisphere.” Bright English things still play polo at Holders Hill, and the Queen Mary 2—“ablaze in lights, pomp, and symbolism”—sometimes glides by the beach. Bajan green monkeys “scamper in the lush gardens,” but it’s possible to go for days without encountering an American. These days, the island’s “true celebrities” are the great estates and gingerbread cottages that are “debated and judged as if they were Hollywood stars.”
Ian Fleming’s Jamaica
Jamaica was the adopted home of Ian Fleming, creator of the world’s most famous secret agent, said David G. Allan in The New York Times. Born 100 years ago, Fleming “spent winters on his Caribbean getaway for almost two decades.” Here he wrote more than a dozen novels and short stories featuring Agent 007. Fleming used the island’s “exoticism, history, and potential for danger” as a backdrop for many of James Bond’s adventures, including those narrated in Dr. No, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, and Octopussy. Fleming and his wife, Ann, were married in the town hall of Port Maria. Their 100-acre retreat, Goldeneye, was situated in the small town of Oracabessa, a former banana port. Noel Coward, Fleming’s best man, “was equally smitten with the place” and lived on the island full time. Goldeneye now has been turned into one of Jamaica’s most exclusive resorts. The three guest villas and the three-bedroom main house remain, though a restaurant stands at the site of a gazebo where Fleming often took notes. Staying the night where Fleming actually wrote his novels can cost up to $3,400.