Best Caribbean beaches for a winter escape

Church Valley Beach, Antigua, (photo by Dan Convey)
Church Valley Beach, Antigua


After enjoying a cruise to the Caribbean, travel writer Esme Fox weighed in on the most spectacular beaches the region has to offer.

 

I've just returned from a two-week cruise aboard P&O Cruises’ Ventura, which enabled me to visit nine unique Caribbean islands (and get away from the freezing winter weather for a while), each with their own culture, people, landscapes and, of course, beaches. Here’s my pick of some of the best beaches across the Caribbean; from classics with powder white sand to those that are a little bit different, with giant boulder formations and even wild monkeys.

 

Church Valley Beach, Antigua

The first sight that greets you when approaching Church Valley Beach is the intense milky blue tone of the sea – like an ice-blue glacier that has melted under the Caribbean sun. Popular with local Antiguans and tourists alike, Church Valley has a relaxed feel with just one beach bar, a fresh coconut stall and a few sun loungers. There are no flashy resorts here; it’s back to basics and all about hanging with the locals.

Discover more places to see in shimmering Antigua...

 

Reduit Beach, Saint Lucia

One of the most popular and stunning beaches on Saint Lucia, with flour-like sand, sapphire-blue waves and paradisiacal views out to Pigeon Island, Reduit Beach has something to suit everyone. Whether you’re after deluxe sun loungers and beach umbrellas, a slice of shade under the frangipani trees, inflatable banana boat rides, sailing lessons or a laid back beach bar, you’ll find it all here. The beach may get busy, but it’s big enough to find your own stretch of sand.

If you’re after some refreshments, my top tip is to wait in the sea for the fruit boat man to come along. He’ll sell you an array of exotic wares from his fruit-laden vessel, including rum punch-filled coconuts that you can drink while floating in the water.

 

Batts Rock Beach, Barbados

Perhaps not the most classically beautiful Caribbean beach on Barbados, Batts Rock may lack in powder-white sand and whispering palms, but it makes up for it in local charm and peaceful surroundings.  Surrounded by a swathe of golden sand, leafy forests and the ruins of a couple of old stone houses, this beach doesn't see many tourists and rarely gets crowded. It’s likely to just be you, a couple of locals practising yoga, and a few monkeys watching you from the treetops above.

 

Batts Rock Beach, Barbados

 

Gibbs Cay – Grand Turk

The whole island of Grand Turk feels like one long beach – you can even see right over to the other side of the island. If arriving by cruise ship, you’ll pull up almost on the beach itself. If this has you thinking that it’s a grotty and oily beach, then think again – the beach is covered in talcum powder-like sand and fringed by exotic palms. The water is as clear as glass, filled with dainty tropical fish. The beach can get crowded though, so if you’re after a little slice of paradise to yourself, then take a boat out to Gibbs Cay – an idyllic sandbar island where the waters close to shore are a favourite hangout for stingrays.

 

The absolutely stunning Gibbs Cay.

 

Devil’s Bay – Virgin Gorda

Possibly my favourite beach out of the many I visited on the cruise is Devil’s Bay, located on the British Virgin Island of Virgin Gorda. The beach is situated in Virgin Gorda’s Baths National Park – a geological wonder and a maze of giant granite boulders at the water’s edge. Walk down a narrow sandy path framed by tropical plants, and wind your way in and out of boulders to reach the shore of sandy bays and rocky coves.

A sign at one end of the beach leads you on a magical adventure trail through caves, up ropes, down ladders and around boulders – crawling, climbing and swimming. After about half an hour you’ll come out onto the gorgeous sandy sweep of Devil’s Bay – a heavenly enclave perfect for sunbathing and swimming, and well worth the journey.

Read more about the laidback British Virgin Islands...

 

Baths National Park on Virgin Gorda.

 

Cockleshell Beach – Saint Kitts

Located on the southeastern tip of Saint Kitts along a peninsula, Cockleshell Beach reflects its pretty-sounding name, being framed by verdant green hills and with spectacular views across to its sister island – Nevis. It’s a favourite with locals who come to hangout at the various beach bars and enjoy the good nightlife. I recommend the Spice Mill restaurant located right along the sand, which serves up an array of classic Caribbean dishes such as conch fritters and Jamaican jerk chicken, as well as Mexican fusion food like fish tacos and nachos.

See more highlights of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the "real" Caribbean...

 

Esme Fox is a travel writer who has lived in five different countries on five different continents. She wrote and researched part of the Time Out’s guide, Argentina and Uruguay: Perfect Places to Stay, Eat and Explore and fell in love with both countries. She likes exploring the quirkier and unique side of travel (find out more at www.stayquirky.com) and currently lives in Granada, Spain.

 

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