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Jul 12

Explore the forgotten Caribbean islands

When people think of the Caribbean it’s the big islands that normally spring to mind, but there is much more to this area of the world than Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas.

Aruba is one of the farthest islands from the main cluster of the Caribbean and sits only 18 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Having passed from the Spanish to the English and on to the Dutch, Aruba is a real melting pot of cultures and the bright orange architecture of Oranjestad really reflects their Dutch heritage. This cultural mixture has also shaped the language of Papiamento, the most widely spoken language on the island, which is made up of bits and pieces of English, Dutch, French, a few African dialects, Portuguese and Spanish. Along with the wonderful cultural buildings and history, Aruba is also home to sumptuous beaches and year round warm temperatures. .

Another often overlooked island is the crescent shaped Bonaire. A tiny island surrounded by stunning, unspoilt coral filled with a wide array of marine life. A haven for those with a penchant for snorkelling and diving, Bonaire’s secret existence has saved it from the rigours of the busy tourist spot and helped maintain its spotless beaches and perfect coral formations.

You can also watch the bright pink flocks of flamingos in the National Park gather at the water’s edge to feed on shrimp, an explosion of colour against the bright blue sky.

If you enjoy being both on, and in the water, try the British Virgin Islands. There are more than 60 islands and the largest, Tortula, is a haven for sailors. Often hosting regattas, yachts are always coming and going or drifting lazily on the horizon. There are some fantastic diving opportunities available around the British Virgin Islands, with the RMS Rhone shipwreck a definite must see. You can swim through sections of the bow and get up close to the amazing 15ft propeller, or take a look at the moral eels, octopodes and turtles that live and swim in and around the ship. There are also plenty of islands with stunning coral reefs to dive so if you prefer marine life to ancient wrecks, you won’t be disappointed.

If you have a little cash to splash then St Barthlemy is the perfect place to visit. A favourite holiday destination of the rich and famous, it’s filled with stylish boutiques, chic bistros and surrounded by pristine white sands lapped by gentle turquoise waves. It’s an upmarket way to enjoy the laid back charm of the Caribbean.

So if you want to see the Caribbean from a different point of view, visit a lesser known island and enjoy Caribbean holidays off the beaten path.

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