This winter has been brutal. Not only are the temperatures in the single digits, every state in the nation (except Florida) has reported snow. It’s no surprise that weather experts predict this January to be the coldest its been in 26 years. But fear not, dear commuter, as hope lies in these Caribbean isles. Their sunny days, balmy nights and bounty of beaches beckon — big time.
The island of Barbados has long been known as a glamorous celebrity getaway. Screen legend Claudette Colbert entertained Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow at her 18th-century plantation house there. The island and its pink-and-white sand beaches made from finely ground coral still appeals to royalty (Prince Harry hosts a polo tournament there) and modern-day celebrities like Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Rihanna — the Barbados native has been spotted near her St. Michaels family home.
Aruba is a four-hour flight from New York, but the lush 20-mile-long isle feels about a million miles away. Maybe that’s because the famous wind-blown Divi Divi trees, which grow at forty-five degree angles, seem straight from a Dr. Seuss book? Imagine gold-colored pristine stretches of beach to the west, with rugged cliffs and crashing waves to the east. Combine that with colorfully restored Dutch colonial architecture and casinos galore. The year-round trade winds keep the island at a comfortable 82 degrees.
The world’s newest country, Curaçao, was just voted the hottest vacation spot for 2011 by Smartertravel.com. And now you have easy access to this up-and-coming island — Newark Liberty International Airport is now offering twice-weekly non-stop service on Continental Airlines to Curaçao International Airport. When you book a flight before Feb. 15, you can get your fourth night free at one of nation’s 22 hotels.
This chain of 700 islands (many of which are uninhabited) is spread over 100,000 square-miles of ocean and contains one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. Water visibility is so clear, it’s said to reach 200 feet. Nassau and Paradise Island offer laid-back, tropical charm with a sizzling-hot nightlife. Grand Bahama Island is an ecological paradise with rare flowers and limestone caves. And the Out Islands — like Harbour Island, Bimini and the Exumas — are secluded getaways with no high-rise hotels or cruise ships.