The Caribbean sustained an unprecedented amount of hurricane damage in 2017, and while the vast majority of islands came through relatively unscathed, others weren’t so lucky. The Virgin Islands were hit particularly hard, a territory that includes St. Thomas, St. Barts, St. John, and St. Croix. How are these islands faring today? Here’s our rundown of what to expect on some of the Caribbean’s most popular islands:
This much-loved island took direct hits from both Irma and Maria, but is well on its way to recovery. Cruise ship visits have returned to pre-hurricane levels, and while some hotels are still rebuilding, many resorts have recently reopened, and there are plenty of villas and condos for rent.
Also hit with a tough one-two punch, the largest of the island’s hotels and resorts aren’t slated to reopen until later in the year, but smaller hotels and most of the restaurants and shops on the island are open and welcoming visitors with open arms.
The spectacular Virgins Islands National Park makes up two-thirds of this picturesque island, and we’re happy to report the park has officially reopened. In addition, a handful of hotels, including the Westin St. John, bed and breakfast properties and luxury rentals are available.
Spared by Irma, St. Croix took a direct hit from Maria and the effects were devastating. You’d be hard-pressed to tell today, however, as the recovery has been swift and impressive. Although some hotels won’t reopen until later in the year, the popular Buccaneer Hotel is open, as is a new hotel, The Fred, that has quickly won over visitors.
Still unsure? Contact our agency! We know which hotels are in the best shape, and where to get the best value for your vacation dollars.
Many of my clients prefer it when our travel agency takes care of every detail of a trip—from flights and transportation to accommodations and activities. They love that “total package” feel about professional travel planning.
But did you know that you can use our services for just a part of that package too? For example, if you travel often like we do, you have probably racked up enough frequent flier miles to fly to the moon and back. But when it comes time to cash in those miles to book your air travel, don’t forget about turning to us to help with the rest of the journey!
Thanks to our affiliation with Travel Leaders Network, we are able to secure exclusive deals and bonus amenities at hotels around the world, along with great discounts on car rentals and tours. For example, book one of our Select Hotels & Resorts properties, and we can set you up with complimentary breakfast, room upgrades (upon availability), and possible credits, gifts and more.
So let’s work together! Use your connections to book your free flights, then turn to us to make the rest of your journey absolutely perfect.
Chances are you’ve visited at least one of the 1,073 World Heritage sites on UNESCO’s ever-growing list of historically and culturally significant destinations. Bucket list all stars include the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and Serengeti National Park, but not all the sites are as well-known as these storied icons. Here are six under-the-radar gems that might not be on your list — yet.
Semmering Railway — Austria
Spectacular mountain views will almost make you forget that you’re riding on one of the world’s greatest feats of civil engineering. Built between 1848 and 1854, this dramatic railway utilizes 14 tunnels, 16 major viaducts, 118 stone bridges and 11 iron bridges to pass through some of the highest mountains in the Alps.
Tsodilo — Botswana
Known as the “Louvre of the Desert,” this historic section of the Kalahari Desert is home to the highest concentration of rock art in the world. More than 4,500 paintings are preserved on massive rock formations that rise dramatically from the desert floor making for a remarkable archaeological record that traces human activity from the Stone Age through to the 19th century.
Longmen Grottoes — China
Here you will find the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese stone carving from the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). Located alongside the Yi River in the Henan province, the grottoes’ caves and niches represent the high point of Chinese stone carving and contain almost 110,000 Buddhist statues, more than 60 stupas and 2,800 inscriptions.
Paphos — Cyprus
Inhabited since the Neolithic period, the city of Paphos still holds the remains of villas, palaces, theaters, fortresses and tombs dedicated to the cult of Aphrodite. Legend says the Greek goddess was born on the island and the buildings constructed in her honor contain some of the world’s most magnificent mosaics.
Old Rauma — Finland
Situated on one of the oldest harbors in Finland, Old Rauma is an outstanding example of a medieval Nordic city. Built around a Franciscan monastery, the city is composed of some 600 wooden buildings that preserve the region’s spectacular architectural heritage.
Aldabra Atoll — Seychelles
The world’s second largest coral atoll, isolated Aldabra is home to the largest population of giant tortoises. Tourism is strictly limited, but the lucky few who get to make the trip experience a marine ecosystem like no other.
Half the battle of a successful family getaway is picking the right location. What does it take for an island to meet the mark? First, the basics: abundant sunshine, pristine beaches and a safe atmosphere. After that comes plenty of family-friendly activities and opportunities for adult relaxation. The right destination also needs to be easy to get to and get around. That’s a tall order, but luckily there are plenty of viable options. Here are our personal favorites guaranteed to make everyone happy.
Note: Many of our clients think they should avoid the Caribbean due to recent hurricane damage. We can assure you that the islands listed below, as well as 70% of the Caribbean islands, are definitely open for business and would gladly welcome your visit.
Whether you choose a spacious resort like Atlantis or prefer the laid-back charm of Harbour Island, the Bahamas offer something for everyone. Family-oriented adventures abound — think snorkeling, exploring Lucayan National Park by kayak and swimming with dolphins — and there are enough golf courses, spas and high-end shopping to keep parents happy.
A quick trip from the East Coast, Grand Cayman is a tropical paradise with plenty to see and do for your entire brood. Along with the requisite white sand beaches and turquoise water, the island features family-friendly activities like pirate ship and sea turtle farm tours and submarine trips.
With a seven-mile stretch of beach lined with hotels, dining and recreational options, the opportunities for family fun are practically endless on this Dutch island. In addition, the desert landscape offers an excellent beach alternative with natural attractions such as Arikok National Park, where cacti grow to unexpected heights and fantastically shaped divi-divi trees make for a fun hike.
For those looking to stay stateside, Amelia Island, off Florida’s northeastern coast, is a pristine paradise complete with dune-filled beaches, championship golf courses, historical charm and boutique shopping.
Get back to nature on Maui, where your family can go hiking in Haleakala National Park, spot sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, take a ride on the Sugar Cane Train or simply enjoy some of the best beaches in Hawaii. Click here for my guide to Maui.
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