Playa Caracas, also known as Red Beach, was inaccessible to locals and visitors during the decades when Vieques was a US Navy base. Photograph ©ISTOCK.COM/JRROMAN

Vieques: playing Crusoe

For decades, the tiny island of Vieques, off Puerto Rico’s east coast, was known to outsiders — if at all — as a controversial US Navy base. But since the withdrawl of the military eleven years ago, Vieques’s gorgeous beaches and tranquil pace have attracted visitors in search of the “unspoiled.” Philip Sander finds out why.

The view from Pigeon Island across the causeway to Becune Point — current home of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott. Photograph ©ARGALIS/ISTOCK.COM

St. Lucia: an island made of words

The natural beauty of St Lucia won the island its old nickname, “Helen of the West Indies” — and has inspired generations of poets and artists, including Derek Walcott, Nobel laureate and St Lucia’s most famous son. Walcott’s poetry lives in the landscape, writes Vladimir Lucien, and vice versa, offering visitors a lyrical portrait of praise.

Photograph by Elspeth Duncan

Buccoo tales

Not all travels require you to stray far from home, Elspeth Duncan discovers. Sometimes, with open eyes and the right company, the pleasures of wandering are right under your nose. Plus a concise guide to some of Tobago’s best adventures.

Looking over Port-au-Prince from L’Observatoire du Boutilliers. Photograph by Danielle Dreis

The other side of Haiti

In the aftermath of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake, reconstruction is still a work in progress. Even so, writes Shannon J. Effinger, the country’s rich culture makes Haiti a life-changing destination for the right kind of traveller.

For centuries, the vast plaza known as the Zócalo has been the heart of Mexico City. Photograph by Papa Bravo/shutterstock.com

Finding the centre in Mexico City

Nicholas Laughlin arrives in Mexico City, and realises his whole notion of geography is wrong. The Aztecs thought this was the centre of the universe — maybe they were right.

Andromeda Gardens, Bathsheba, Barbados. Photograph by John Webster

Earthy delights

The Caribbean’s public gardens are places to enjoy the pleasures of nature — and centres for research and conservation as well.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro. Photograph by  Colin D. Young/Shutterstock.com

Back and fort

The Caribbean’s history of wars and colonisation has left an extraordinary legacy of military architecture, some of it nearly five centuries old. Recognised today as historic sites, these forts and naval bases are a reminder of the often bloody past that shaped our present.

Snorkelling over one of the 110 ocean holes around Andros. Photograph by Brian O'Keefe

Andros: deepest blue

Largest of the Bahamas islands, Andros is known to intrepid adventure travellers for its spectacular natural attractions. Here you’ll find the world’s highest concentration of mysterious blue holes, writes Noelle Nicolls, plus the breathtaking Tongue of the Ocean, an enormous barrier reef, and the placid flats of Great Bahama Bank.

The buildings of St George’s climb the hill above the harbour. Photograph by PHB.CZ (Richard Semik)/Shutterstock.com

Clockwise Grenada: touring sunrise to sunset

Its quiet charms are well-suited to lingering, but Grenada is also small enough to explore in a single day, if time is of the essence. Caroline Taylor suggests a sunrise-to-sunset itinerary to introduce you to the best of the island — and ensure you want to return.

Sunset on the jetty at Rosewood Jumby Bay, with the Antigua “mainland” in the distance. Photograph courtesy Rosewood Jumby Bay

Resort to bliss

Bridget van Dongen isn’t usually the five-star-resort type. But when a new survey determined that four of the Caribbean’s most expensive holiday resorts are in Antigua and Barbuda, she decided it was time for some research into life on the edge of the infinity pool.