When winter is coldest and darkest, it’s easy to fantasize about sinking your toes into the sand. But that’s hardly the only window for an island getaway. Late April and early May are vastly underrated times to visit the Caribbean.
Temperatures are reliably in the mid-80s, there’s little risk of tropical storms this early in the year, and most of the peak spring break crowds have already left. And it’s not as if every island is the same – there are myriad cultures and lifestyles to explore depending on what type of getaway suits you best.
Here are six of the best tropical island vacations you might consider:
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
We love Providenciales for a week of laying on the beach and doing not a whole lot else. Grace Bay Beach is one of the finest in the world – a gentle three-mile crescent of white sand protected by one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. You can even take a rescue puppy out for a fun day on the sand. Book a snorkel tour between the island and Middle Caicos to see the reef in all its splendor, eat conch fritters (at, where else, Da Conch Shack), and stop for a pint of lager at the Turk’s Head Brewery.
You don’t need a passport to travel to the US Virgin Islands, so head to St. Thomas for a hasslefree getaway. St. Thomas is a great place to take a kayak tour through coastal mangrove forests. Or you can rent a catamaran and sail between St. Thomas and St. John, where you’re sure to snorkel near some giant sea turtles. Later, take the ferry from Crown Bay Marina to Water Island to relax on Honeymoon Beach. Magan’s Bay may be the most famous beach on the island, but this might be the best.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
If you’re looking for an upscale hideaway, St. Vincent and the Grenadines offer luxury seclusion at its finest. Fly into the main island and then charter a yacht to sail around the smaller cays in the Grenadines. Bequia has gorgeous, calm beaches. Mustique was made famous by Princess Margaret – and A-listers have been flocking to its resort ever since.
For a cultural experience in the Caribbean, it’s hard to do better than Puerto Rico. The island is not known as much for its beaches (although there are some good ones.) But its natural beauty is remarkable, and its grab-life-by-the-horns attitude is infectious. While you’re in Old San Juan, grab a cocktail at La Factoria, get brunch at La Carreta and tour two old Spanish forts. Then rent a car and explore the rest of the island. Hike in El Yunque National Forest and drive up the pork highway for some incredible lechon asado.
This island might have the most dramatic landscape in the Lesser Antilles. If you’re up for hiking or ziplining through a rainforest, discovering waterfalls and stunning vistas, you’ll want to spend time exploring the Pitons. Situated between the towns of Soufrière and Choiseul, these volcanic plugs are covered in greenery and offer unforgettable views of the island and its beaches.
Many people head to St. Bart’s when they tour the French West Indies, but there might be even more to do and see on St. Martin. The island is split between French and Dutch settlements, so there are two distinct cultures to explore. On the Dutch side, you’ll find luxury shopping on Front Street in Phillipsburg, over 20 casinos and lots of guavaberry rhum. On the French side, relax in a cabana at Loterie Farm and explore the incredible restaurants in Grand Case.
Consider taking advantage of the best tropical island vacations this spring.