Travel Weekly Readers Choice 2015


Destinations: Caribbean

Aruba

Aruba, known as “One Happy Island,” has dazzling beaches, luxury hotels and a variety of attractions and activities. Visitors can drop in at the Caribbean Festival, a family-friendly street party taking place every Thursday evening in San Nicolas. Spain-based Grupo Pinero will debut its brand with an all-suite resort in 2016. U.S. travelers to Aruba are precleared by customs at Queen Beatrix Airport.

Barbados

Barbados has retained much of its British flavor, with cricket a national pastime and high tea a daily event. Known for its pink sand and aqua waters, Barbados attracts more than 550,000 people every year. This year JetBlue began offering its Mint business-class service on flights from New York to Barbados.

Dominican Republic

New hotels range from luxury resorts to family-friendly, all-inclusive properties and boutique getaways. Visitor activities include whale-watching tours, horseback riding and ziplining over tree canopies. This year the Renaissance Santo Domingo Jaragua Hotel & Casino reopened following a $40 million renovation.

Jamaica

Blessed with beautiful beaches, soaring mountains, fun all-inclusive resorts and a rich culture that gave the world reggae, Rastafarians and Red Stripe — not to mention spicy jerk chicken — Jamaica continues to top many Americans’ sun-and-fun vacation wish lists. This month saw the reopening of the five-acre Cliff Hotel & Spa (formerly Moon Dance Cliffs) on Negril’s west end, following a six-month closure for renovations. 

St. Lucia

St. Lucia’s palm-fringed beaches, miles of unspoiled rain forest and majestic Piton Mountains make it a favorite for those seeking romance, rejuvenation or adventure. Hotels throughout St. Lucia offer kid-friendly menus and activities and adjoining rooms, making the island an appealing choice for a family getaway. This month United Airlines will launch weekly nonstop service from Chicago to Hewanorra Airport in St. Lucia.

Boasting some of the clearest water and whitest sand in the Caribbean, Turk & Caicos is the picture-perfect Caribbean destination. Its most famous stretch of sand is the 12-mile Grace Bay Beach, lined with luxe hotels and resorts, but the destination consists of 40 beautiful islands and cays, only eight of which are inhabited, offering excellent boating and snorkeling. Turks & Caicos also is home to the third-largest coral reef in the world, giving it some of the planet’s best diving sites. 

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