An oasis of civility – St Kitts
The family-run Ottley’s Plantation Inn (www.ottleys.com) prides itself on being a real home away from home. A long-standing favourite with Princess Margaret, croquet and cocktails are the order of the day. The hotel has an English-colonial-style veranda, and is set at the foot of Mount Liamuiga in 35 acres of grounds that shade into rainforest. An oasis of old-fashioned civility.
The best beach – St Barts
Grand Cul de Sac has unbelievably still waters, and is regularly voted one of the best beaches in the world. The island’s French-provincial origins are most evident in Corossol, a two-street fishing village.
There, Ingenu Magras’s Inter- Oceans Museum is a must, with more than 9,000 seashells and an intriguing collection of sand samples from around the world.
For sons of the sea – British Virgin Islands
In the yachting capital of the area, the first-ever Caribbean Superyacht Regatta & Rendezvous will be held this year at YCCS Virgin Gorda, hosted by Boat International Media, from March 16 to 20. The BVI Spring Regatta takes place on Tortola from March 28 to April 3.
This is followed by a music festival (with reggae, gospel, blues and salsa), held in Cane Garden Bay (May 27-30).
The need for speed – The Cayman Islands
On April 25, the Million Dollar Run, a speedboat racing competition with local and international teams, is held in the island’s natural harbour, the North Sound, with onshore festivities at Kaibo Yacht Club (www. mdr.ky). This is followed in May by Batabano, the Cayman Islands’ own carnival, which bops and boogies down West Bay Road beside Seven Mile Beach (www.caymancarnival.com).
World-class polo – Barbados
Holders Season (March 19- April 2) has opera, music and theatre at the 300-year-old Holders House, St James (www.holders.net).
The polo season runs from January to May each year, and is hosted by the four world-class polo grounds on the island, where both international and local teams compete (www. barbados.org/evnpolo.htm).
Take to the water – Cruise the Caribbean
For getting the best out of the Caribbean without any transfers, try the Yachts of Seabourn, on a range of cruises from a week to 14 days. The on-board service is unrivalled, and the food and accommodation impeccable (www.seabourn.com).
Garden delights – St Lucia
The green valleys and blue coves of the north-west of the island are renowned for their beauty, but the rugged volcanic landscapes in the south, dominated by the twin peaks of the Pitons, are even more breathtaking. The last remaining visible volcanic activity can be found at the Sulphur Springs near Soufrière -the best views of the bubbling mud cauldrons are from the main viewing platform.
The Diamond Botanical Gardens (www.diamondstlucia.com), originally built in 1784 for the troops of Louis XVI of France, are beautifully maintained, with a waterfall and mineral baths fed by hot springs. Tour groups arrive at about 11am-get there at 10am or after 2pm for a more peaceful guided tour, which can be privately arranged. Open daily, 10am-5pm.
Race around the island – Antigua
Antigua is revered as one of the best sailing destinations in the world (www.ondeckoceanracing.com/antigua/antigua-yacht-race.htm), and the award-winning Carlisle Bay Hotel can arrange for guests to take the helm of a professional racing yacht (www.carlisle-bay.com).
Antigua, £5 million August Hill, Half Moon Bay
This dramatic contemporary house is set on the south-east coast of the island above a pink-sand, crescent-shaped bay. Each of the bedrooms is hexagonal, in an artistic design that allows the magnificent views to be seen from every angle. The house is surrounded by winding walkways, and has private dining and lounging areas. Six bedrooms, swimming pool, two acres Savills (020-7016 3740)
* This article appears in the spring edition of COUNTRY LIFE INTERNATIONAL, out with COUNTRY LIFE magazine on March 2