Caribbean's Best: 10 Favorite Moments

Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Escape the cold this winter with a memorable Caribbean beach vacation.

From dancing in Anguilla's beach bars to sailing around the British Virgin Islands, be sure to add these 10 unforgettable Caribbean experiences to your travel wish list.

Photo Caption: Grace Bay Beach, Providenciales. Photo by beachdreaming/Frommers.com Community.
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Barbuda, the Pink Pearl. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Antigua likes to boast that it has a beach for every day of the year, and what's fun is actually tracing the shoreline by boat to find the one that's right for you. Look for sea turtles gliding by in the bottle-green waters.

If you really crave seclusion and untouched beaches, take the ferry to the tiny isle of Barbuda, which has miles of pearly-pink sand.

Photo Caption: Barbuda, the Pink Pearl. Photo by Rob788/Frommers.com Community
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Plane ascending from St. Barts small airport. Photo by Frommers.com Community
It's only a 10-minute flight on a little puddle jumper from St. Maarten to St. Barts, but landing on the tiny airstrip is a doozy. The pilot is required to dive-bomb between two mountains and brake mere feet from sunbathers on St-Jean beach. It's been compared to touching down on an aircraft carrier -- and everyone on board has a pilot's eye view. Once you've hit the ground, get ready for your next challenge: driving the island's rollercoaster two-lane roads.

Photo Caption: Plane ascending from St. Bart's small airport. Photo by John DePrisco/Frommers.com Community
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A rum punch at SandBar in Sandy Ground, Anguilla. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Get out and sample Anguilla's ultra-casual beach bars and grills, which serve great food and feature kicking music at least one day a week. Head to Sandy Ground for some of the island's most venerable joints. Or drive to Nat Richardson's Palm Grove Bar & Grill (tel. 264/497-4224), which lies at the end of a bumpy road at Junk's Hole. Bring your swimming gear and snorkel until your lobster comes off the grill.

Photo Caption: A rum punch at SandBar in Sandy Ground, Anguilla. Photo by lee/Frommers.com Community
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Diving near man o' war shoals in Saba. Photo by hankplank
Saba calls itself "the Unspoiled Queen" -- not least because of the pristine condition of its protected marine park. This volcanic island is as interesting geologically underwater as it is above. Marine life throngs around the steep peaks and pinnacles of the undersea terrain. A number of operators operate dive trips from Saba and nearby islands like St. Maarten. Try Sea Saba (www.seasaba.com) on island or Scoobidoo (www.scoobidoo.com), which offers dive trips to Saba out of Simpson Bay, St. Maarten.

Photo Caption: Diving near man o' war shoals in Saba. Photo by hankplank/Flickr.com
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Tobago Cays, the Grenadines. Photo by Frommers.com Community
This marine preserve in the Grenadines lies deep in the southwestern Caribbean, but dedicated snorkelers manage to find their way here. The glittering necklace of coral reef in the Tobago Cays Marine Park may be dotted with tour boats and a flotilla of yachts, but it's still roomy enough for a lone snorkeler to find utter solitude in the coral gardens below.

Photo Caption: Tobago Cays, the Grenadines. Photo by Karl Weatherly/Frommers.com Community
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Sailboats in Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola Island in the British Virgin Islands Photo by Anne Ackermann
A "bareboat" vacation -- in which you and your pals charter a sailboat for a week or so, load it with provisions, and head wherever the winds take you -- is a splendid way to explore any island chain. And there are few better places to launch your own sailing adventure than in the bareboat capital of the world: Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

The 60-plus islands and cays of BVI are tailor-made for the do-it-yourself island hopper. Road Town, on Tortola's mountainous southern coast, has dozens of charter companies.

Photo Caption: Sailboats in Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola Island in the British Virgin Islands
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The Sands at Grace Bay resort in the Turks and Caicos. Courtesy Sands at Grace Bay Photo by Sands at Grace Bay
As light and shadow play on the seas along Grace Bay, the color changes faster than a Pantone flip book. Yes, the Turks & Caicos are officially on the Atlantic, not the Caribbean, and no, it matters not when you gaze at these sparkling swells, which go from cerulean to teal to azure to turquoise in the life span of a gnat. But don't just look, dive in: The jewel-like waters are gentle, warm, and clear.

Photo Caption: The Sands at Grace Bay resort in the Turks and Caicos. Courtesy Sands at Grace Bay
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Dellis Cay, part of the Caicos Cays, has prime grounds for hunting sand dollars. Photo by Frommers.com Community
Spending a day on an idyllic uninhabited cay is both exhilarating and liberating. Here you can snorkel in gin-clear waters, hunt for shells, and generally putter about on your personal spit of sand in the castaway spirit.

On Anguilla, a handful of offshore cays even have ramshackle beach shacks, where fresh lobster and fish are always smoking on the grill and cocktails are shaken in solar-powered blenders.

On the Turks & Caicos, head out on a beach cruise to the Caicos Cays, and search for sand dollars buried along the shoreline.

Photo Caption: Dellis Cay, part of the Caicos Cays, has pristine beaches for hunting sand dollars. Photo by northern/Frommers.com Community
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Beautiful crystal waters on the shores of Slagbaai National Park on Bonaire in the Antilles Photo by Anne Ackermann
With an entire coastline designated as protected marine parkland, Bonaire is one of the Caribbean's best islands for scuba divers. But it's the shore diving that makes it special. Shore diving is scuba diving right off the beach, no boat necessary -- diving freedom, they call it.

Bonaire has more than 50 shore-diving sites, and those who have gone before you have handily signposted these sites, some with yellow stones. Many of these sites are also great for snorkeling; download a map of the island's shore-diving sites from Bonaire for Dive Pros (www.bonairedivingpro.com).

Photo Caption: Crystal waters on the shores of Slagbaai National Park on Bonaire in the Antilles
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A small boat floats in the waters off Coconut Grove, St. Maarten Photo by John Lander
When it comes to picking the best restaurants on St. Maarten/St. Martin, it's a dead heat. The two countries keep raising the culinary bar, and you are the beneficiary. St. Maarten has an international bent, but French seems to be the prevailing cuisine on both sides. Every evening, shuttle vans descend on the tiny French enclave of Grand Case, wall to wall with bistros and restaurants, many with wooden porches overlooking the beach. Bargain hunters can look for lolos (open-air grills) in Grand Case and Marigot for great deals on grilled chicken, ribs, and sides like rice, peas, and fried plantains.

Photo Caption: A small boat floats in the waters off Coconut Grove, St. Maarten
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