6 Caribbean Islands That’ll Make You Want to Ditch Home This Holiday Season
There’s no denying the magic of Christmastime on this idyllic little island: the food, the rum, the parades, the food, the charming decorations…did we mention the food? It’s no wonder the celebrations here stretch for weeks, from mid-December right on through Three Kings’ Day on January 6. While the American territory—reminder: no passport required—was badly bruised following the 2017 hurricanes, the island is happily rebuilt, revived, and just as bright and colorful as ever. And judging by the uptick in holiday bookings (by more than 1,000 percent!) on Airbnb, everyone wants a chance to celebrate Christmas the Puerto Rican way.
Rent it: Beautiful Hilltop Studio With a Pool, from $90 per night
Located in the hills of Rincon, this colorful third floor studio suite enjoys breathtaking sea views and close proximity to the area’s famous beaches.
Escape for the holidays in family-friendly fashion to these laid-back islands, where Santa sports shorts and flip flops and Christmas carols ring with a reggae beat. Aside from savoring the warm-weather and stellar views, visitors can also enjoy a variety of holiday festivities, from lights tours and movies under the stars to caroling and fireworks shows. Join the pack that’s flocking here for Christmas (Airbnb bookings are up 71 percent over last year) and, you never know, you might find yourself with a new Christmastime tradition.
Rent it: Cheerful Suite in a Charming B&B, from $148 per night
Relax away from the city crowds in this tranquil B&B, located on a calm lake just minutes from the beach and the bustle of George Town. Stays include access to bikes, beach chairs, a barbecue, and daily homemade breakfasts.
Turks and Caicos
Dreaming of a white-sand Christmas? The beaches on this string of gorgeous Caribbean islands are arguably the best, thanks to a large reef system offshore that keeps the blue water calm and clear. Winter is understandably a heavenly time to visit, and this year, Airbnb is seeing an increase in travelers for Christmas and New Year’s by 128 and 79 percent, respectively. Aside from enjoying the beaches and breezy 80-degree weather, visitors can also indulge in moonlit meals by the sea, bonfire parties, and the day-after-Christmas Maskanoo Festival, an extravaganza featuring live music, local food, arts, and entertainment.
Rent it: Villa Karana Beachfront Studio, from $243 per night
On the main island of Providenciales, this gorgeous plantation-style villa hosts three separate suites with access to a pool, Jacuzzi, kayaks, paddleboards, hammocks, and tiki huts along the pristine shoreline.
With a short non-stop flight separating you from this pristine chain of islands, the Bahamas are perfect for those looking to make a quick break before or after the holidays. Once you’re here, you’ll find that Bahamians do holidays right, with food- and drink- fueled celebrations that build up to the famous Junkanoo Festival (December 26), a tradition steeped in history that’s today one of the most anticipated events in the country. Celebrations typically continue through New Year’s Eve, where street parades lead to informal beach gatherings and fireworks shows.
Rent it: Elegant Nassau Studio, from $198 per night
Sleep soundly in a garden-like atmosphere in this chic studio suite, which boasts peaceful ocean views and easy access to shopping, restaurants, and the stunning beaches of New Providence.
Ring in the new year with bare feet in the sand at one of the many beachfront parties hosted in this Caribbean paradise. Here, holiday celebrations take on a distinctly Caribbean vibe, from the food served to the music played. And, if you’re there for Christmas, be prepared for a non-stop three-day party, from Christmas Eve’s Gran Market—an annual shopping extravaganza—to the day-after-Christmas festivities of Boxing Day.
Rent it: Cozy Clifftop Retreat, from $145 per night
Find solitude in this 15-room resort located on the north side of the island, close to natural attractions such as Reach Falls. With a bar and award-winning restaurant on site, you won’t need to venture far for delectable Jamaican-inspired holiday meals.
Stash your visions of spiced mulled wine and peppermint schnapps ‘til next year—in Martinique, it’s all about the locally made rhum agricole. Aside from sipping boozy libations, the French-owned territory offers plenty of outdoor activity, from swimming and snorkeling to hiking the mountainous terrain. And come the holidays, the island is alight with celebrations, carolers, and a distinct holiday menu reflecting its French-Creole culture.
Rent it: Island Chalet, from $85 per night
Live like a local in this charming small town bungalow, just a quick drive to beaches, museums, restaurants, and shops.