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Our Island-Hopping, Insider’s Guide to the Caribbean by Elena Borrero, Travel Consultant



Rum bars and seafood shacks, music and megayachts and boutique resorts galore. This time of year, we’re ready to drop it all for a splash of sun – and the Caribbean’s top of mind. But in a sea of tempting sands, how to choose between Saint Lucia and Anguilla, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (while steering clear of tourist traps)? We asked nine high-profile locals what their Caribbean islands mean to them, where they take friends, and how travelers can make the most of their next beach break.


Editor's Note: While we’ve included current information on travel restrictions for each of these islands, we always recommend you reach out to your travel advisor for the latest.


Our Island-Hopping, Insider’s Guide to the Caribbean by Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, Bergen County Moms

Saint Bart’s | Live the Good Life


The Insider: Hervé Brin, founder, Ligne St Barth Skin Care

As soon as you reach Saint Bart’s you are immediately immersed in good vibrations. No one will try to sell you anything or impose a tempo on you. It’s a nice feeling of freedom amid the beauty of the landscapes, the brightness, the cleanliness, the absence of car horns. Maybe that’s why, at one point, the oldest person on earth was an inhabitant of Saint Bart’s (nun Eugenie Blanchard, who lived nearly 115 years). I like the small market in Lorient for its fruits and vegetables from the neighboring islands. The intense smell of freshly picked tropical fruit combined with the market’s spices is like no other and inspires my fragrances. Fishermen sell their catches at the market on Gustavia, where you’re likely to run into anyone from Jimmy Buffett to Roman Abramovich to a local nurse. One of the biggest spectacles of the year is the St Barths Bucket Regatta, held in March. This megayacht race is breathtaking and as formidable as the America’s Cup.


Where to Stay on Saint Bart’s:

On January 31, 2021, France closed the borders for leisure travel on all of its overseas territories, including Saint Bart’s. The Saint Bart’s government hope to share a reopening date soon. Check with your Virtuoso travel advisor for the latest updates.


Our Island-Hopping, Insider’s Guide to the Caribbean by Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, Bergen County Moms

Saint Lucia | Connect with Nature


The Insider: Shala Monroque, creative director, fashion and art consultant

Saint Lucia is an island where nature’s wonders never cease: While driving, you turn a corner and right there is a brilliant rainbow arching over an aptly named flamboyant tree (also known as royal poinciana). For divers, Soufrière Bay at the base of Petit Piton, is spectacular: On a calm day, there’s a mirror reflection of the piton rising straight up from the ocean. Coral juts out at you like trees in the water below. When I lived in New York, I kept returning home to Saint Lucia because it felt more human to me. I’d buy coconuts from the same vendor and he’d bring me gifts of food. At Latille Falls, Selai, a Rastaman, has tended a garden around the waterfall for more than 20 years; he offers a fish pedicure that’s more like fish tickling your feet – which translates into forgetting all your worries. You have no choice but to laugh. And I love Gros Islet’s Irie Bar, a remarkably chill and unpretentious spot where Andy, the owner, serves cold beers and rum with fish from his daily catch – with soothing reggae or film screenings in the background.

A tip when flying out: Check in three hours prior to departure as suggested– which is totally not necessary, as the airport is never that busy – then head back out to Island Breeze Bar & Grill on Vieux Fort’s Sandy Beach, across from the airport. I like to think of it as the coolest airport lounge, and will sit there and have a Piton beer or two. You can even go for a swim; the terminal is literally a two-minute drive away.


Where to Stay on Saint Lucia:

Travelers visiting Saint Lucia must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than five days prior to their arrival.

Our Island-Hopping, Insider’s Guide to the Caribbean by Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, Bergen County Moms

U.S. Virgin Islands | A Diver’s Dream


The Insider: Arnoldo Falcoff, owner, Patagon Dive Center

Even if the typical marine life is quite similar across the Caribbean, the diversity of diving sites around Saint Thomas is remarkable. From ancient coral reefs that grew steadily for centuries to giant granite boulders and from tunnel and canyon formations to the numerous shipwrecks, the visual impact is amazing. Boating and cruising past some of Saint Thomas’ neighboring islands provides constant visual pleasure. Large schools of silversides blanket the coastlines of Thatch, Congo, and Carval keys during the summer. Jacks, bonitos, tarpon, and other predators feast incessantly on these tiny fish, and are one of my favorite underwater sights.


Saint Thomas’ sheltered deep-water harbor made it a big colonial trading center. Main Street’s fancy shops are partitioned from the old days’ large warehouses – their original walls still show the many coral chunks used as bricks. The capital, Charlotte Amalie, is an extended relic of Danish colonial architecture with much to explore: the original house of impressionist Camille Pissarro; the old Danish fort, which was renovated years ago and turned into a museum; and the Pirates Treasure Museum’s antiques, shipwreck artifacts, and exhibits. After seeing the town, take the gondola to Paradise Point, at the top of a high hill, for the best view of the city and the harbor.


Where to Stay in the U.S. Virgin Islands:

Travelers visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than five days prior to their arrival, or they can present a positive antibody result received within the past four months. Because the islands are a U.S. territory, U.S. travelers do not have to present a negative Covid-19 test to return to the mainland U.S.



Our Island-Hopping, Insider’s Guide to the Caribbean by Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, Bergen County Moms

Turks and Caicos | Make a Splash


The Insider: Karel Rodney, manager, Da Conch Shack

It feels like everyone knows everyone in the Turks and Caicos, even if they’re not related. Providenciales – “Provo,” as it’s called – is my favorite island and is the most developed. Da Conch Shack, located in beautiful Blue Hills, is Provo’s most established beach restaurant and rum bar; locals head there to dine with their toes in the sand beneath palm trees, listening to the waves while drinking the “Jan” rum punch. Of course, we’re world-famous for our beaches: Everybody goes to Grace Bay Beach for its shopping, restaurants, bars, and pristine beach – I run 10K there every morning; quieter Long Bay Beach is windy and popular with kite surfers; Sapodilla Beach, on the Caribbean side, has powdery white sand and calm waters ideal for Jet Skiing. If you love water sports, as I do, you can do everything here from parasailing to deep-sea fishing, diving, or chartering a yacht to island-hop. On days off, I often take a boat to North Caicos. It’s more popular with locals because it’s way less busy than Provo – it’s our quiet getaway, relaxing on the beach or visiting the caves. “Gontanort,” you say, with an island flair.


Where to Stay in the Turks and Caicos:

Travelers visiting the Turks and Caicos must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than five days prior to their arrival.


Our Island-Hopping, Insider’s Guide to the Caribbean by Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, Bergen County Moms