Welcome to Paradise: St. Lucia
Bitter End, Virgin Gorda
The Bitter End, on the remote northeastern tip of Virgin Gorda, is a sprawling community of people with one thing on their minds: boating. In addition to the club's 77 rooms, swimming pool, and teakwood Clubhouse restaurant, there's a marina, a dive shop, a pub, a market, and 70 boat moorings. This is no mellow-rum-drinks-on-your-private-beach kind of resort: It's a playground for Type A's in topsiders.
THE GOOD LIFE: The best rooms are 48 hillside cottages with expansive decks and Eustacia Reef views.
SPORTS ON-SITE: Thanks to warm Virgin Islands water and 10- to 25-knot winds, North Sound is the perfect place to hone your tacks and jibes.
BEYOND THE SAND: The 45-minute hike to the top of 1,370-foot Gorda Peak offers a commanding view.
THE FINE PRINT: Round-trip airfare on American Airlines (800-433-7300, www.aa.com) from New York to Tortola starts at $390. From January 7 to April 30, a seven-night Admiral's Package includes three meals a day ($4,410$5,320 for two people; 800-872-2392, www.beyc.com).Grant Davia
Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia
With its louvered doors and green heartwood furniture, Anse Chastanet resembles a series of tree houses built by Swiss castaways. Very rich Swiss castaways, who didn't mind being stranded on St. Luciaa big teardrop in the Lesser Antilles.
THE GOOD LIFE: This 600-acre resort on the southwestern shore has five-star activities to match the cuisine (spiced carrot-and-coconut soup, grilled dorado) and pleasantly esoteric options at the Kai Belté Spa. (Try a wosh cho hot-stone massage.)
SPORTS ON-SITE: Twelve miles of mountain-bike trails wind through the ruins of a 19th-century sugarcane-and-cocoa plantation on the property.
BEYOND THE SAND: The climbs up 2,619-foot Gros Piton and 2,461-foot Petit Piton are legendary.
THE FINE PRINT: US Airways (800-622-1015, www.usairways.com) flies to St. Lucia from New York for about $600. From December 20 to April 6, a double in one of 49 villas at Anse Chastanet (758-459-7000, www.ansechastanet.com) is $465 a night, including breakfast and dinner.Randy Wayne White
Concordia Eco-Tents, St. John
The island of St. John is all about green. Thanks to the pioneering conservation efforts of Laurance Rockefeller, who bought up half the island in the 1950s and gave it to the National Park Service, St. John is a pristine, verdant volcanic blob a mere six miles from the cruise-ship-clogged harbor of Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas. It's a moneyed island, with huge trophy villas going up on the scant amount of land that isn't part of the park. And it's an eco-showcasethis is where you come inwith a number of green lodging options started by another visionary, Stanley Selengut, who built the tent-cottage community of Maho Bay Camps nearly 30 years ago and has added Concordia Eco-Tents to his stable.
THE GOOD LIFE: Situated on a hill overlooking Ram's Head, the Salt Pond, and Drunk Bay on the southeastern shore, Concordia Eco-Tents is the next generation of eco-living. The 11 stark-white canvas tents are completely self-sufficient, with solar panels, water-collecting cisterns, and composting toilets. Each has a deck, private bath, and kitchenette and sleeps six.
SPORTS ON-SITE: A short distance down the road, Salt Pond Bay has a pretty beach and good snorkeling. From there you can access short hiking trails to the tip of Ram's Head and the wacky, found-object art constructions at Drunk Bay.
BEYOND THE SAND: Of the 22 hiking trails in Virgin Islands National Park, the Reef Bay Trail is the premier hike, with bay rum trees, golden orb spiders, and sugar-mill ruins. Do the 4.4-mile out-and-back on your own, or go with the Park Service to be picked up by boat. (Reserve in advance at 340-776-6201.)
THE FINE PRINT: Most major U.S. airlines fly direct to St. Thomas from various East Coast cities (round-trip from New York, about $550). From there, hop a ferry to St. John. From December through April, rates at Concordia Eco-Tents (800-392-9004, www.maho.org) are $125$135 per night.Leslie Weeden