Islands of the Caribbean

Think about the Caribbean and what comes to mind? Lazy days spent relaxing on stunning, deserted sandy beaches. Tiny desert islands like something out of a fairytale. Deliciously blue, balmy tropical waters studded with coral atolls, rich in rainbow-coloured fish. Friendly people, fabulous food and all the sunshine you could possibly want. If it sounds heavenly, it is! Here’s a look at some of the most desirable and unusual islands of the Caribbean, and what you’ll experience there.

About the Caribbean – More than 700 islands to fall in love with

The Caribbean region covers the Caribbean Sea itself, the countless islands in it, and the surrounding coastlines. It sits to the south east of the Gulf of Mexico and North American mainland, north of South America and east of Central America.

More than 700 islands form arcs marking the vast tectonic plates way below, with the lovely Greater Antilles to the north and the Lesser Antilles – including the Leeward Antilles – to the south and east. There’s the Lucayan Archipelago, which covers the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, and Bermuda sometimes falls into the Caribbean category too. If you’re looking at the region from a political or cultural perspective Belize, the Caribbean part of Colombia, Cozumel, the Yucatán Peninsula, Margarita Island and the Guyanas are sometimes included.

About Martinique – The island of flowers

Lovely Martinique is set like a jewel in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, in the eastern Caribbean Sea. A French-speaking island, it is home to delicious Boudin Creole and Boudin Blanc cuisine. Boudin Creole dishes major on pork, pig blood, onion and spices, and the Blanc version is actually a pale pork sausage without the blood, but with the occasional addition of prawns, crabs, conch and fish.

Martinique measures just over 430 square miles and is incredibly mountainous, hinting at its volcanic origins. In fact the famously violent Mount Pelée eruption in 1902 completely destroyed the capital city, Saint Pierre, since replaced by a new capital at Fort-de-France.

Nicknamed the Island of Flowers thanks to stunning displays of bougainvillea, porcelain roses, allamandas and a host more exotic wild flowers, Martinique is famous for offering a little bit of France in the Caribbean. It is known for excellent cuisine, sophisticated resorts and hotels, a vibrant fashion scene and art scene, plus lots of lovely West Indian warmth and a spicy feel to the music. This really is an island with style.

Temperatures average 79°F (about 26°C) and two winds, the Alizés, keep things cool. The difference in temperature between summer and winter is a mere five degrees, and you’ll find the best beaches to the south, known for its pristine beach coves called Anses. As a yacht owner you have the choice of several marinas, notably the biggest and best equipped, Portde Plaisance in Le Marin.

This is the rum capital of the world. It offers brilliant international shopping, plus legendary scuba diving. There are more than 25 museums on the island, as well as casinos and plenty of family attractions. Ecotourism is hot there, since it’s one of the Caribbean’s top eco-destinations, and if you love golf you won’t want to miss a round or two at the magnificent 18-hole Golf de l’Impératrice Joséphine in Trois Ilets.

About Grenada – Seven extraordinary islands to discover

Grenada is a tiny sovereign state in the south east Caribbean, made up of the island of Grenada itself plus six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines island chain. It lies northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, north east of Venezuela, and south west of Saint Vincent. At just 135 square miles, it’s known as the Island of Spice thanks to the fragrant mace, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cocoa and nutmeg widely grown there.

Cuisine-wise, Grenada is a real treat. The incredibly fertile volcanic soil and year-round sunshine mean the local organic fruit and vegetables are superb, especially served with a huge variety of freshly caught fish and seafood. The national dish is called Oil Down, a name that does a poor job of describing how delicious it is: a rich concoction of salted meat, chicken or fish served with local dumplings, breadfruit, green figs, sweet potatoes and more, all stewed in fresh coconut milk, herbs, and spices.

Best of all, this is the island where unspoiled beauty, warm-hearted locals and a wonderfully simple lifestyle meet. You’ll discover deserted stretches of pure white sandy beach, awe-inspiring coral reefs studded with colourful sea life, and gorgeous tropical landscapes without a tourist in sight.

The planet’s first underwater sculpture park awaits you, along with countless lovely walking trails through the incredibly green, lush natural forests and the gorgeous Grand Etang lake. Grand Anse beach is a hot favourite, as is the aptly-named Pink Gin Beach with its glorious sunset-coloured sand. There’s Palm Tree Gardens to visit, plus Seven Sisters Falls, the Art and Soul Gallery, the National Museum and a host of historical sites to discover.

About the Windward Islands – Visit the world’s first and only underwater sculpture park

The English-speaking Windward Islands got their name from the fact that they lie windward of ships headed for the New World, more so than the logically-named Leeward Islands, since the prevailing trade winds in the West Indies blow from east to west. The Windward Islands chain forms part of the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Sea itself, and the islands have a strong French Colonial influence, consisting of Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The origin of the Windwards is volcanic and the island are studded with craters, hot springs, and sulphuric vents. The climate delivers extreme tropical heat but the islands are cooled by the steady trade winds and welcome sea breezes. The easterly islands get more rainfall, generated by the prevailing north easterly trade winds, and you might encounter a hurricane between June and October.

Chicken in spicy jerk sauce is popular, and it can be very spicy indeed! Locals often serve vegetables and rice with delightful fruit sauces, but goat, lamb and beef are also available. As you can imagine, fresh fish is a staple food. If you’re there around Christmas, make it a point to try the local favourite, a bright red punch-like drink made with Sorrel flowers and fresh local spices.

Attractions include the stunning La Soufriere, an active volcano on the island of Saint Vincent where the walking trails will blow your mind. Difficult to reach, especially when the swells are heavy, the magical Falls of Baleine is an extraordinarily beautiful 60 foot waterfall plunging into a deep, deep pool. With massive mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, Owia Salt Pond is an extraordinary natural wonder. Rawacou Recreational park is perfect for relaxation, and on the remote northern end of Mayreau there’s Saltwhistle Bay, a double crescent of amazing beaches so beautiful they may as well be straight out of a movie.

All this magic is at your fingertips with a Princess yacht

And what’s the best way to experience all this exotic, tropical magic? From the luxurious comfort of a Princess yacht, of course, the ultimate ocean-going machine. If you have visited any of the above, we would love to know what you enjoyed most about the experience.

If you’d like to learn more about Princess yachts we’ll be delighted to oblige. Contact one of our team at Princess Motor Yacht Sales at sales@princess.co.uk or +44 (0)1489 557755.