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Destinations: The Caribbean

ALREADY SICK OF THE COLD? FIND WARMER CLIMES BY FLYING FURTHER SOUTH.


By Christopher Krupl

If just hearing the words Anguilla, Barbados, Martinique and Saint Croix mentally transports you to a place where toasty white sand tickles your toes and paper umbrellas adorn your cocktails, then maybe you’re ready to book a trip to the Caribbean this winter to indulge in its more than one million square miles of sun and surf, palm trees and turquoise waters, lavish resorts and balmy, tropical weather.

The Caribbean, located between North and South America, is home to The Lucayan Archipelago, the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao), and its inlets, reefs, coasts and cays comprise more than 30 countries and territories ripe for island hopping and exciting exploration.

LOCAL Life knows it can get nippy in the Lowcountry this time of year, so here’s your one-way ticket to paradise, colorful culture, fabulous food and exotic marine life.


CONNECTING FLIGHTS
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ)
Duration: 5 hours, 14 minutes
Airlines: United, American, Delta Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) to Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
Duration: 5 hours, 8 minutes
Airlines: United, American, Delta Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) to Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ)
Duration: 5 hours, 49 minutes
Airlines: United, American, Delta

Where to stay

Dominican Republic: Casa de Campo Resort & Villas

Casa de Campo embodies luxury in the Dominican Republic and is considered to be the best golf resort in the Caribbean. This 7,000-acre private gated community resort, with hotel suite and individual villa options, also offers an equestrian center, a Real Madrid Foundation soccer school, a shooting center, sport fishing, donkey polo and night golf. Reserve a table at La Caña Bar & Restaurant that takes its name from the sugar cane crops that surround the town of La Romana and have been the driving force of the local economy since the 1900s. The restaurant features local ingredients and French-inspired fare, live music, hand-rolled cigars and an extensive selection of Dominican rums.


Bahamas: The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort
This Bahamian beauty presides over a pristine white sand beach, five miles long, on Paradise Island’s north shore. Choose to stay in an ocean suite, a plunge-pool villa or a beachfront villa residence and arrange for personal butler service, private chef dining and a coconut-poultice massage at one of eight Balinese-inspired spa villas. The resort also offers a lagoon-style family pool with a waterfall, an Ocean pool, an adult-only Versailles pool and an expansive Versailles Terraced Gardens showcasing statuary and white marble cloisters overlooking Nassau Harbor. No trip to The Ocean Club is complete without a stop at the Martini Bar and Lounge to sample its signature drink – a James Bond Martini with three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of vodka and half a measure of Lillet Blanc. A vacation at The Ocean Club serves as a reminder that no one retires up north.

Jamaica: Secrets St. James Montego Bay Resort

Wake up to a sweeping azure ocean or lush tropical garden view at Secrets’ all-inclusive adult resort in St. James, Montego Bay, Jamaica. With 350 luxurious guest suites decked out in British colonial décor, Secrets has nine restaurants that serve up a variety of cuisines from French to Pan-Asian, including authentic Jamaican-Caribbean delicacies at Blue Mountain, and 10 unique bars and lounges. Daily and nightly entertainment includes live music, theme nights, beach parties and shows. Guests also can enjoy bicycle tours, catamarans, cooking and dance classes, jogging trails, non-motorized water sports, scuba diving, snorkeling, tennis and windsurfing.


What to do
Dominican Republic: Altos De Chavón
Take a day trip to Altos De Chavón, a replica 16th-century Mediterranean village located in the heart of the Dominican countryside. It’s a cultural center for residents, tourists and working artists from all over the world. In its village center lies an awe-inspiring 5,000-seat amphitheater that boasts a rich roster of performances, spanning from Sinatra to Sting. The neighboring St. Stanislaus Church is a beautiful landmark and sought-after wedding destination that hosts Catholic masses every week. As the sun goes down, live music fills the restaurants and bars, and Mediterranean romanticism fills the air.

Bahamas: Aquaventure
This 141-acre, 20-million-gallon, all-ages aquatic playground features 20 swimming areas with magnificent Atlantean-themed towers housing high-speed water slides and a mile-long river ride with rolling rapids and wave surges. Water-slide roller coasters include the Abyss, a 200-foot body-slide that sends you plunging 50 feet into a lagoon, The Surge, which starts at the top level of the 120-foot Power Tower and takes twists and turns downwards into the white-water rapids, and The Leap of Faith that takes adventurers on an almost vertical drop from the top of the iconic Mayan Temple by way of a 60-foot body-slide that propels riders through a clear tunnel submerged in a lagoon filled with amazing marine life. For the little ones, there’s Splashers, a Mayan-themed kids pool and water playground with three tube slides, a side-by-side slide, water cannons, cargo nets and rope bridges for climbing.

Jamaica: Dunns River Falls
If you’re looking to experience unfiltered Jamaican nature, book a private adventure to Dunns River Falls. This full-day excursion includes hotel pick-ups and drop-offs and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to climb part of the 600-foot-tall iconic falls that continuously renews itself from deposits of travertine rock – the result of calcium carbonate from the river flowing over the falls. With its abundance of natural pools and views of Jamaica’s jungle greenery at every turn, Dunns River Falls is considered to be one of Jamaica’s natural treasures and a Caribbean gem.