The Caribbean and Bahamas were once called The Isles of Perpetual June, and indeed June, July and August are an often under-estimated time to visit. It’s a time when the region is still reliably hot and hotel prices are lower than in its high season, during our winter months.
Now that Covid entry regulations have loosened, the islands are again welcoming holidaymakers to join in with their flamboyant festivals and carnivals. And there are excellent deals with meal-plan offers, free places for children and great discounts of up to 50 per cent.
For the Caribbean speciality of fly and flop, look no further than Antigua. You’ll find good air connections so it’s easily accessible and ringed with superb beaches.
Above is Blue Waters in Antigua, one of the island’s stand-out hotels. Seven nights’ all-inclusive in a deluxe beachfront room costs from £2,870pp
Sandals offers seven nights at Ochi Beach Resort in Jamaica (pictured) from £2,175pp, including Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow and transfers, for departure on August 31 (sandals.co.uk)
For most activities – snorkelling, kayaks, dinghy-sailing – you need not leave your resort. If you do go out, take in a superb sunset from the rickety beach bars of the south-west, especially OJ’s and Turner’s (visitantiguabarbuda.com).
Antigua specialises in all-inclusive hotels, and two that stand out are Curtain Bluff and Blue Waters.
The latter, in its own coves on the north coast, has interconnecting rooms, suites for families and a kids’ club open year-round.
Seven nights’ all-inclusive in a deluxe beachfront room costs from £2,870pp, with economy flights from Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic and private transfers (tropicbreeze.co.uk).
Curtain Bluff has an elegant ambience, with huge rooms ascending the bluff of its name and fine food and wine included. Save ten per cent on seven-night stays this month through Inspiring Travel Company. Prices are from £3,845pp with economy flights and private transfers until July 31 (inspiringtravelcompany.co.uk).
If the beach is your top priority, Anguilla’s are among the best in the Caribbean for a walk at dawn, the coolest and loveliest time of day, so expect to spend your time hovering between the bright blue sea and blinding white sand.
Deals: Seven nights’ B&B at the ‘small and friendly’ Zemi Beach House Resort in Anguilla (pictured) costs from £2,999pp
HOT, HOT, HOT
Caribbean temperatures in July and August are in the high 80s (about 30C). But it’s not relentless heat like on the Continent, as there’s usually a sea breeze to take the edge off. The Caribbean gets muggy only in September and October, which is hurricane season when hotels often close for refurbishment anyway.
But the atmosphere is set by its easy-going people, excellent independent hotels and serious restaurants. Look out for delicious menus and sensational views at Blanchards, Veya, Jacala Beach and Straw Hat.
Seven nights’ B&B at the small and friendly Zemi Beach House Resort costs from £2,999pp and includes flights from London to St Maarten, ferry and road transfers (tropicalsky.co.uk). Or live the independent life on superb Meads Bay. Seven nights’ room-only in a beach view apartment at Carimar Beach Club costs from £1,940pp, including BA flights and transfers (tropicbreeze.co.uk).
The normally low-key Anguillians are liveliest at their Summer Festival from August 1-7. Around-the-island sailing races and the street parade culminate at Sandy Ground, where beach bars stand shoulder to shoulder and the fun lasts long into the night (ivisitanguilla.com).
Jamaica celebrates the 60th anniversary of its independence this year, with a week of parades and gospel concerts and a street parade in Kingston running up to a Grand Gala in the National Stadium on August 6 (visitjamaica.com). Jamaica has a huge range of hotels, from inexpensive family resorts to retreats offering butler service and private dining. Sandals offers seven nights at Ochi Beach Resort from £2,175pp, including Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow and transfers, for departure on August 31 (sandals.co.uk).
Reggae fans will enjoy Sumfest, an extravaganza held around Montego Bay from July 18-23. DJs and singers host beach parties and street dances before the main stage events at Catherine Hall just outside the town.
Tui offers seven-night all-inclusive holidays to Montego Bay at Hotel Riu Reggae from £1,476pp, with transfers and flights from Birmingham on August 10 (tui.co.uk).
Garden lovers visiting Cades Bay on lovely Nevis should book on to the Around The Garden tour, a 45-minute exploration of a five-acre garden explaining the medicinal and other properties of soursop, sugar apple, dragon fruit and mangos (nevisisland.com).
Many islands hold their carnivals around this time of year, celebrating the end of the sugar-cane harvest in late July.
Seven nights’ room-only in a beach view apartment at Carimar Beach Club (above) costs from £1,940pp, including BA flights and transfers (tropicbreeze.co.uk)
Tui offers seven-night all-inclusive holidays to Montego Bay at Hotel Riu Reggae (above) from £1,476pp, with transfers and flights from Birmingham on August 10
Above is a beach bar at Sandals Barbados. Seven nights in a Caribbean Deluxe room, from July 28, costs from £2,669pp
Late July and early August are key in the Caribbean calendar as many former slave colonies hold national celebrations around Emancipation Day on August 1. And many West Indians also take their holidays at this time of year – as the sea is a bit colder in the winter months – so there are plenty of jamborees to join. Pictured is Sandals Barbados
Seven nights room-only at Blue Horizons Garden Resort (above) from July 16-23 costs from £2,058pp, including flights, based on two adults and two children (britishairways.com )
Grenada has ‘Spicemas’ winding through the streets and over the hills of its exceptionally pretty capital St George’s. Its main parade culminates on August 8-9 – look out for steel bands on the flatbeds, their vibrations filling the air to bursting.
Seven nights room-only at Blue Horizons Garden Resort from July 16-23 costs from £2,058pp, including flights, based on two adults and two children (britishairways.com).
Barbados has been attracting visitors through its Summer Savings campaign (barbadossummersavings.com). Discounts of up to 50 per cent are available on all sorts of accommodation and activities, from spa days to culinary trips and adventure tours for kids.
Sandals Barbados is offering seven nights in a Caribbean Deluxe room, from July 28, from £2,669pp, with flights from Heathrow on Virgin Atlantic and transfers.
The big news in Barbados this year is the return of its Crop Over festival after its Covid hiatus. Expect the Mighty Grynner Highway (recently renamed after a famous Bajan calypso musician) to be heaving with costumed dancers and crowds of spectators.
- All prices are based on two adults sharing.
JOIN THE FUN AT CARNIVAL TIME
July and August are the best time to experience the Caribbean’s flamboyant festivals and carnivals
Late July and early August are key in the Caribbean calendar as many former slave colonies hold national celebrations around Emancipation Day on August 1.
And many West Indians also take their holidays at this time of year – as the sea is a bit colder in the winter months – so there are plenty of jamborees to join.
Unlike in Rio, holidaymakers can take part in most Caribbean carnival street parades. Simply contact a carnival band and reserve a costume in a dance troupe.
A drinks trolleys will usually be supplied, with rum for energy and water to keep you hydrated, on a truck stacked 25ft high with speakers and a band on top. Most of the islands include a Kiddies’ Carnival day.
St Lucia holds its carnival early, from July 7-16, with parades through the streets of the capital, Castries – which is built on reclaimed land, so you might literally feel the earth move beneath your feet.
Save 30 per cent – up to £1,555 per couple – on a seven-night all-inclusive stay in a Superior Cottage at the refined and delightful East Winds resort by booking before July 31 for departures until September 23. Costs from £3,125pp and includes economy flights, transfers and UK airport lounge passes (elegantresorts.co.uk).