Islands You've Never Heard Of

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996

Islands You've Never Heard Of
By Jonathan Runge

Culebra Just 17 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, Culebra has been bypassed by the tourists crowding its parent island. This 11-square-mile, wishbone-shaped islet is defined as much by what it doesn't have--tennis courts, golf courses, discos--as by what it does: spectacular beaches, unspoiled coral reefs, giant lizards and sea turtles. Some say Playa Flamenco's mile of white sand is the loveliest beach; others favor Playa Soni, an undeveloped strand on the northeast coast. Stay at Bayview Villas (two-bedroom, two-bath units with fully-equipped kitchens for up to six people, $1,400 per week; 809-742-3392) on a hill overlooking a yacht harbor.

Mayreau Mayreau is so tiny that the most excitement it sees is the thrice-weekly arrival of the mail boat from St. Vincent. This hilly, dry, one-and-a-half-square-mile island in the Grenadines supports fewer than two hundred people and no roads--it's an unhurried place to swim, dive, boardsail, and bodysurf.

Surprisingly for an island this size, there are two good places to stay. Salt Whistle Bay Club (doubles, $350-$490, including breakfast and dinner; 800-263-2780 or 809-458-8444) has ten deluxe stone cottages on beautiful Salt Whistle Beach. Dennis' Hideaway (doubles, $50-$70; 809-458-8594) is a small guest house close to the beach with two simple rooms and a famous Creole restaurant.

Barbuda Antigua's sister island, Barbuda, is lined by so much glorious sand that it actually exports it to its less-endowed neighbors. It's a flat, arid, 62-square-mile coral island 30 miles north of Antigua with only 1,200 people and four hotels. The appeal is miles of deserted pink- and white-sand beaches, the largest of which extends 17 miles. Barbuda also has some great diving, with more than 73 charted wrecks scattered offshore (two-tank dive with Dive Antigua, $60; 809-462-3483). The best place to stay is the Coco Point Lodge (doubles, $300-$550, all-inclusive; 212-986-1416) on a secluded 164-acre peninsula. Less pricey is the Sunset View Hotel (doubles, $50; 809-460-0266), a slightly funky 11-room hostelry near the village of Codrington.

Terre-de-Haut One of the Iles des Saintes off the south coast of Guadeloupe, Terre-de-Haut is what St. Bart's was like before it became the Caribbean's answer to the French Riviera. Frequented primarily by weekenders from Guadeloupe, this hilly little island, not quite six square miles, is known for great beaches, biking, diving, and boardsailing. The other claim to fame is fine French food; it's impossible to get a bad meal at any of the dozen or so small restaurants lining the streets of the red-roofed port. Stay at the Bois Joli (doubles, $150-$192, with breakfast; 011-590-99-50-38), which has a dive shop and boardsailing rentals.

Filed To: Water Activities

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