11 Underrated Caribbean Destinations to Visit This Winter

Thaw out in these alluring warm-weather locales.

U.S. News & World Report

11 Underrated Caribbean Destinations to Visit This Winter

Tranquil beach at the east coast of Barbados. Some clothing drying in the sun. More BARBADOS:

Whether you want to lounge along sugary sands, swim in coral-filled waters or hike along a dormant volcano, there's an under-the-radar retreat awaiting discovery.(Getty Images).

When you picture vacationing in a warm-weather destination, you may think of popular places such as Jamaica and Aruba. While these isles offer plenty of direct flights, making them convenient for a quick winter getaway, there are plenty of other places across the Caribbean offering care-free vibes, pleasant temperatures and beautiful surroundings. Here are 11 underrated tropical hot spots to visit this winter.

Nevis

Encompassing only 36 square miles, Nevis tends to fly under the radar. But what Nevis lacks in space it makes up for in charm. And though you can't fly directly into Nevis (you need to fly into neighboring St. Kitts first), reaching the isle requires just a short ferry ride. During your visit, you can explore a dormant volcano, check out old sugar mills and even visit the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton – a pastime that has become increasingly popular since the craze over the award-winning Broadway show "Hamilton" began. If you're looking to splurge, check into the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, which boasts a "Hamilton"-inspired package well-suited for history buffs.

Grenada

Grenada is picturesque and inviting, yet it's often overshadowed by other tropical destinations. As one of the most beautiful and unspoiled islands in the West Indies, Grenada is teeming with culture, beautiful beaches, old colonial charm and a laid-back atmosphere. Book a room at the luxury boutique Mount Cinnamon Resort & Beach Club on the island's southern edge for plenty of privacy and breathtaking sea views.

Saba

Often called "The Unspoiled Queen," Saba is the smallest of the Dutch-Caribbean islands and one of the most beautiful. The island houses only 1,800 residents, but includes four main villages. Without heavy crowds, Saba is an ideal choice for those looking to get off the grid. And with excellent diving sites and hiking trails, Saba is a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts. What's more, Saba offers superlative accommodations. Queen's Gardens Resort & Spa in Troy Hill, Saba, sits at a 1,200 foot elevation and offers superlative sea views and spacious suites.

Barbados

Barbados may be harder to reach than other islands on the list, but the trek is worthwhile, particularly for nature lovers. On the island's Platinum Coast, the water is calm, making it ideal for swimming or snorkeling. And if it's culture that you seek, visit the coastal fishing town of Oistons and try your hand at fry fishing with locals. What's more, temperatures hover in the mid-70s and mid-80s throughout the year, making Barbados an ideal winter getaway. For a stay to remember, retreat to Waves Hotel and Spa, one of the newest all-inclusive properties on the island's west coast where you can enjoy unlimited food, drinks and water sports.

Anguilla

Anguilla sits off the coast of St. Maarten, yet the isle offers a distinct culture and landscape. Mostly flat, Anguilla is known for its soft, white-sand beaches and striking scenery. Only 16 miles long and 3 miles wide, Anguilla offers little kitsch and lots of authenticity. Plus, a visit to Anguilla affords plenty of serenity and the chance to explore coral-rich waters. As for lodging, Malliouhana, an Auberge Resort is a top-rated resort on the island, with a former Michelin-starred chef, an award-winning wine cellar and access to a private beach.

Cayman Brac and Little Cayman

Most visitors access the Cayman Islands through Grand Cayman. However, there's much more to see beyond this central area. The smaller islands off the coast – Cayman Brac and Little Cayman – are sparsely populated and offer access to breathtaking beaches. Little Cayman tends to be a favorite among divers, while Cayman Brac offers more lodging options and attractions. Speaking of lodging, Cayman Brac Beach Resort offers big-resort amenities in a small crowd-free setting with 40 beachfront rooms. And on Little Cayman, check into Little Cayman Beach Resort for special packages and benefits for scuba divers.

Dominica

Dominica is slowly gaining momentum as a top vacation destination, particularly among divers discovering all of the splendors this island nation has to offer. One of the top diving destinations in the world, with a steep drop-off that makes deep-water diving easier, Dominica is an adventurer's playground. For those looking to embrace the great outdoors, Secret Bay Dominica, which is nestled in the rainforest, affords the chance to easily explore natural treasures tucked away near private luxury suites.

Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Situated just 8 miles east of Puerto Rico, Vieques offers a small and quiet paradise, filled with mangroves, forests and beaches, along with lavish resorts. Check out the brightest bioluminescent bay in the area, or enjoy the Vieques Wildlife National Refuge and its captivating inhabitants. Then, unwind with a mojito in hand at the W Retreat & Spa, Vieques Island, which offers a prime location, an amazing beach and an awesome on-site restaurant featuring ocean views and traditional dishes.

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

When you think of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana likely comes to mind, but the Caribbean nation has much more to offer. In the southeastern resort town of Bayahibe, for example, you can enjoy authentic experiences in a picturesque village. Relax on secluded sands, enjoy locally prepared seafood dishes and take advantage of abundant scuba diving opportunities. Plus, there are a variety of daily flights to Punta Cana and La Romana, making this trip affordable and convenient. When you need a place to hang your hat, consider retreating to Iberostar Hacienda Dominicus, which offers plenty of dining options, bars and all-inclusive pricing options.

Curaçao

Curaçao boasts 35 beaches, plus a rich heritage, untouched reefs and diverse cultures. With amazing beachfronts, crystal-clear waters and top-notch resorts, this island has something for everyone. Plus, a variety of U.S-based airlines are offering new routes to Curaçao each year. And the island is removed from the hurricane belt, making it an ideal year-round getaway. What's more, there are a variety of hotels to pique your interest. One standout is the Sonesta Kura Hulanda Village & Spa, which sits in the middle of downtown Willemstad and boasts two pools, multiple restaurants and world-class shopping.

Jost Van Dyke

A small isle near Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, Van Dyke is known for its idyllic scenery, immaculate beaches and world-famous Soggy Dollar Bar. Only 300 people live on the island, making it perfect for visitors looking to get away from it all. Even better, Jost Van Dyke is great for island hopping, hiking and relaxing along picturesque beaches. As for accommodations, White Bay Villas of Jost Van Dyke offers a home-away-from-home feel, along with pristine beaches and lush greenery.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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