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.
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:
Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France has breezy Jacques Grange-designed interiors.
Don’t miss the see-and-be-seen vibe at Oetker Collection’s Eden Rock - St Barths.
Hotel Le Toiny’s standalone villa suites have their own private heated pools.
Treat yourself to La Mer spa services at Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa.
Le Sereno’s rebuild introduced waterfront suites and an expanded spa.
The island’s best kids’ club is at Rosewood Le Guanahani St. Barth.
St. Barth Properties’ 265 villas dot prime hillsides, providing complete privacy.
Cuvée’s four Saint Bart’s villas feature infinity pools and sleep 10 to 12 guests.
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.
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:
Stay at BodyHoliday for an all-inclusive wellness escape.
For access to a secluded beach, check into Cap Maison Resort & Spa.
Jade Mountain has suites without a fourth wall, bringing you closer to the lush landscape.
Settle in at a prime perch between the two Pitons at Ladera Resort.
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort tempts guests with indulgent treatments in its treehouse spa.
Travelers visiting Saint Lucia must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than five days prior to their arrival.
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