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    Five island escapes for 2019

    19 February 2019

    St Lucia

    Crowned by the towering twin volcanic peaks of the Pitons, St Lucia boasts unspoilt rainforests, idyllic bays, small fishing villages, reefs, waterfalls and geothermal springs. The colourful fishing village of Soufriere affords one of the best vistas of the twin peaks. The Diamond Falls section of the Soufrière Estate offers three popular attractions: well-conceived gardens, a beautiful waterfall coloured by mineral deposits and hot spring baths. The harbour is so deep and sheltered that the British fleet supposedly hid here from the French by covering their masts with palm fronds. Marigot Bay was also the setting for the 1967 film Doctor Doolittle. Water shuttles ferry people across the bay to hotels on the opposite side.

    Places to stay

    Viceroy Sugar Beach 

    Marigot Bay Resort & Marina

    Cap Maison

    Fiji

    An archipelago of over 300 islands (of which 100 are populated) the mountain ranges are green-topped, the waters crystalline and the sand truly white. Most popular (coming from Nadi) are the Yasawa Island group which are properly remote, accessible only by a handful of options and miraculously unspoilt. These islands look out over Bligh Water, named after William Bligh, Captain Cook’s first mate. These islands combine well with the Mamanuca island group, which includes Modriki Island, the setting for Tom Hanks’ Castaway. Small local cruise companies from Denarau are the best way to get around. Blissful beaches but you’ll need ten days to get over the jetlag and enjoy it to the full.

    Places to stay

    Matamanoa Island Resort 

    Likuliku Lagoon Resort

    Antigua

    Former British colony in the eastern Caribbean, Antigua boasts some truly beautiful beaches, indeed ‘a beach for everyday of the year’. The island was historically a strategic naval port and worth visiting is Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, in English Harbour, St John’s is the capital city and cruise ship port for both Antigua and Barbuda and is good for shopping. The neo-Baroque Cathedral is a major attraction. The Museum of Antigua and Barbuda traces the history of both islands from their geological origins to their political independence in 1981. In the far north of Antigua, Dickenson Bay is very popular as is Half Moon Bay in the South East. It has a long stretch of white sand beach along with lined with resorts and alfresco restaurants. It is excellent for swimming and water sports such as diving, swimming, fishing, sailing, and windsurfing.

    Places to stay

    Carlisle Bay 

    Nonsuch Bay Resort 

    Cuba

    Cuba is an extremely long, narrow island, dominated by plains with four mountain ranges, and the diversity of deserts and tropical rain forests. Discovered in1492 by Christopher Columbus, it endured Spanish domination for four centuries before the establishment of the current republic in 1959, and since then the place seems to have been frozen in time. The two pillars of the Cuban economy are tourism and sugar. The country has amazing original rhythms such as the danzón, son, bolero, mambo, and cha-cha-cha. Cuba combines beautiful beaches with colonial cities, in particular Havana and Trinidad with their impressive colonial architecture. Walk through the streets of Old Havana, and you sense the days of old, not to mention the multi-coloured cars. The best resort areas are Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria.

    Places to stay

    Hotel Melia Jardines del Rey 

    Hotel Nacional 

    Mauritius

    Now accessible directly from London, Mauritius is a beautiful, fertile island with everything seemingly growing at will. Rows of pineapple and lychee fields mingle with mango trees and coffee plants. Tourism now trumps her impressive textile and sugar cane industries as the major boon to her economy. The summer months (Nov-Apr) are warm and dry at 23-33 degrees while the winter months (May-Oct) are cooler, at 17-23 degrees, with the wettest months being December to March. Housed under a vast vaulted roof is the massive fruit and vegetable market at Flacq: a must. The east coast is the best for the climate, hotels and water.

    Places to stay

    Four Seasons 

    Lux Le Morne

    Cenizano Le Residence