7 little-known Caribbean destinations you should discover — before others do

Jan 16, 2020

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When you’re in desperate need a Caribbean getaway but just can’t with crowded beaches and spring break partiers, it pays to think beyond the typical warm-weather destinations.

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While popular islands are touristed with good reason (think: daily, nonstop flights; international hospitality brands; well-maintained infrastructure), the convenience often comes with crowds. So, for those travelers in search of a sun-and-sand hideout, that extra step typically affords greater privacy — and novelty. But thanks to a number of recent flight and hotel upgrades to less-traveled Caribbean islands, three-stop itineraries are no longer the prerequisite for a secluded beach vacation. From Canouan to Curaçao, Guadeloupe to Grenada, read on to find your secret Caribbean escape.

Visit TPG’s Caribbean destination hub for more stories about traveling to the region on points and miles, where to stay and what to do while you’re there.

The Grenadines

St Vincent in The Grenadines. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)
St Vincent in The Grenadines. (Photo by Westend61/Getty Images)

Bequia, Canouan, Petit St. Vincent — chic, secluded isles are a dime a dozen in this southern Caribbean island chain. And easier to get to than ever following the expansion of St. Vincent’s international airport (SVD) and new direct flights from New York-JFK on Caribbean Airlines and Miami (MIA) on American Airlines, which now sees twice-weekly service. Take a page straight out of “The Crown” and swim in the aquamarine waters off Bequia’s Princess Margaret Beach before indulging in rosé and mango chutney-fried chicken at Jack’s Beach Bar.

For a totally remote retreat, check into the barefoot-chic Petit St. Vincent, a private-island resort ringed with white-sand beaches and vibrant coral reefs. Or, hang with the billionaires at the exclusive Mandarin Oriental, Canouan, which has its own private jet service, golf course and kids’ club (for just 39 suites and villas). You can even use your World Of Hyatt points at The Liming Bequia, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property, for 40,000 points per night.

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

The Baths at the southern end of Virgin Gorda. (Photo by Danita Delimont/Getty Images)
The Baths at the southern end of Virgin Gorda. (Photo by Danita Delimont/Getty Images)

It’s been nearly three years since Hurricane Irma derailed the much-anticipated reopening of Rosewood Little Dix Bay. But Virgin Gorda’s crown jewel finally welcomed well-heeled (and deep-pocketed) guests this month. The 500-acre retreat, originally imagined by American business tycoon and conservationist Laurance Rockefeller, is peppered with 80 whitewashed rooms, including tree house suites inspired by the resort’s original stilt homes. Couples will love romantic hideouts like the clifftop spa suite, while parents will no doubt take advantage of the Rosewood Explorers program, which guides kids through fun yet valuable pursuits like landscape painting, nature walks, West Indian music lessons, sand castle contests and more.

Travelers can also explore Virgin Gorda as a day trip from a points-friendly hotel on its own private island in the British Virgin Islands: Scrub Island, a Marriott Autograph Collection property that reopened in 2018 after also undergoing repairs from Irma. You’ll need at least 70,000 points per night to stay here on off-peak dates.

Dominica

Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica. (Photo by Reinhard Dirscheri/Getty Images)
Trois Pitons National Park in Dominica. (Photo by Reinhard Dirscheri/Getty Images)

The similarly hard-hit “Nature Island” is bouncing back with buzzed-about luxury resort reopenings and debuts: The 151-room Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica was recently unveiled on a secluded northern peninsula near Cabrits National Park, replete with rivers, waterfalls and natural hot springs. You can even get elite-like perks here when booking through Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection (LHRC). Think: Lunch for two and a private rum tasting at the Beach Bar and Grill, plus daily breakfast for two, a room upgrade if available and early check-in and late checkout, when available. Pay with your Chase card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card for 3x on your stay (on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary for the Ink Business Preferred).

At Morne Acouma’s Jungle Bay Eco Villas offers 60 rustic-luxe accommodations, marine reserve views, plus regular fitness and yoga retreats. Secret Bay remains a Relais & Châteaux foodie paradise with dedicated butler service. Despite the upgrades, Dominica maintains a considered balance between tourism development and rich biodiversity, making it an ideal destination for eco-adventurers. 

Guadeloupe

St Martin Beach in Guadeloupe. (Photo by ©thierrydehove.com/Getty Images)
St Martin Beach in Guadeloupe. (Photo by ©thierrydehove.com/Getty Images)

This traditionally hard-to-reach island will soon pique more travelers’ interests, thanks to JetBlue’s thrice-weekly nonstop flights from New York-JFK to Pointe-à-Pitre International (PTP), starting Feb. 1, 2020. It’s a much-needed update, since Norwegian Air ended its service to the French overseas territory last year. Upon touchdown, hop in a rental car and make for Tendacayou Ecolodge & Spa. At the bungalow-style retreat — tucked within the Morne Bois d’Inde — you can trade the stresses of connectivity for the tranquility of nature. Beach bums, meanwhile, can seek out the sparkling shores of Grande-Anse, where the five-star La Toubana Hôtel Spa was recently renovated. Spend your days hiking tropical forests, beach hopping on the eight Les Saintes islands and snorkeling the Jean Cousteau marine reserve.

Grenada

St. George
St. George’s, the capital of Grenada. (Photo by Flavio Vallenari/Getty Images)

Head to Grenada (GND) in a lie-flat seat with JetBlue Mint from New York-JFK on Saturdays until April 25, or on American’s just-launched Saturday flights from Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT). The latter is just one more reason to explore the “Spice Island,” which caught news for the splashy Silversands Grenada debut late 2018. The luxe Grand Anse resort has just 43 suites and five villas, each with calming, minimalist vibes and spacious terraces or balconies. Book a room on the ground floor for walkability to the 300-foot-long infinity pool and rum bar, which serves more than 180 varieties — relaxation is guaranteed.

Curaçao

Willemstad, Curacao. (Photo by elvirkin/Getty Images)
Willemstad, Curacao. (Photo by elvirkin/Getty Images)

The Dutch Caribbean island — famed for its picturesque coves, diverse coral reefs and ideal positioning outside the Atlantic Hurricane Belt — is arguably more popular among Europeans than Americans. But that may change with United’s recently added seasonal nonstop route from Newark (EWR) and Aruba Airlines’ first-ever nonstop service from Miami, operating four times per week. Marriott Bonvoy members will want to check into the just-debuted Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort, which boasts 336 rooms and eight restaurants within five minutes of the capital of Willemstad. (If you’re looking to cash in points, take advantage of the Category 5 resort’s off-peak and PointSavers deals.)

South Caicos, Turks & Caicos

Ambergris Cay. (Photo courtesy of AmbergrisCay.com)
Ambergris Cay. (Photo courtesy of AmbergrisCay.com)

Southwest is set to launch seasonal Saturday service from Baltimore/Washington (BWI) to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS) on March 7, 2020, adding to its existing route from Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Sure, you could park it on Provo, but if you want extra seclusion, board the 18-minute flight to Ambergris Cay, a three-mile-long, private-island resort. Each of the 10 designer-decorated beachfront suites features its own plunge pool and dedicated butler service — because no one says “secluded” has to mean “rustic.”

For an even more secret side of Turks and Caicos, head to Sailrock Resort — a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property you can book with Hyatt points — on South Caicos. In 2019, the resort added round-trip, interisland flights from Providenciales to South Caicos International Airport (XSC) along with round-trip transfers from the airport to the resort as built-in components of stays at the property — including those booked with points. Expect to drop at least 30,000 points per night for a stay here.

Featured photo by Andrew Rowat/Getty Images.

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