By Paul Rubio
Looking for an island vacation this winter but don’t want to be hassled by crowds? Escape the cold by straying off the beaten path for some fun in the sun in the Caribbean’s most spectacular—and underrated—islands.
The least known of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Croix is an unexpected delight of mystical rainforests, plantation ruins, world class diving and breathtaking lookout points, including the easternmost point of the U.S. You’ll find all this and more at the North Shore’s renovated Renaissance Carambola Beach Resort; but plan a detour to Christiansted for a dinner at the legendary Restaurant Bacchus.
Sleepy Anguilla has managed to embrace globalization without losing its true West Indian flavor. Understated elegance and a carefree vibe reign supreme at the visually stunning Viceroy Anguilla, while back-to-basics island eats—like fresh caught spiny lobster—dominate the scene at Smokey’s beach barbeque.
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Parrot Cay Island, Turks & Caicos
The private island of Parrot Cay in Turks & Caicos is the reality of your wildest Robinson Crusoe fantasies. A vast isle accommodating 100 guests at a time, Parrot Cay is all about the glorious art of doing nothing. Typical days consist of ambles on the beach, morning yoga, spa treatments, and reading by the pool.
The serene island of Virgin Gorda caters to outdoor enthusiasts and avid beach lovers, with ample opportunity for enjoying self-guided hikes and discovering deserted beaches. Take advantage of the "beach drop-off service" at Rosewood Little Dix Bay, where the houseboat whisks guests off to uncharted beaches. End the evening with local cuisine at Chez Bamboo in quaint Spanish Town.
Photo credit: Virgin Gorda, courtesy of mrsmack/Fodors.com member