Sometimes you want to flop on the beach. Sometimes you want to get fired up with adrenaline. But why choose one or the other? At these eight high-luxury resorts, it’s easy to find your flop and your fire.
Just to get here, you have to get wet. Little Corn Island, in the Caribbean Sea off Nicaragua’s east coast, has no cars, and Yemaya, on the far side of the island from the ferry dock, has no pier. When you arrive, your water taxi drops anchor and you hop out and wade up with your stuff. (Or if you wear the wrong shoes, as I did, the boatman might take pity and carry you to shore.)
Guided nature hikes from the resort lead guests up and down the forested hills and along the rugged coast for up to four hours, snorkeling boat trips are offered on demand, and the resort has a partnership with Ondeck Sailing, one of the premier sailing schools in the Caribbean. Should you have a like-minded travel companion, they’ve added couples sailing lessons, as well as a new adults-only jetty restaurant for after-adrenaline indulging.
Resort in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
COMO is the world leader in wellness resorts, whether wellness means serious unplugging and R&R, or it means diving deep into activities like yoga, private training, pilates, tennis and sea kayaking. Or going even deeper during Parrot Cay’s regular yoga retreats, in which renowned teachers like Rodney Yee and Elena Brower, lead five hours’ worth of yoga for five days in a row. Whichever route to wellness you take, it’s complemented by delectably healthy food and spa treatments.
There’s little question about the indolence quotient. Ever since it opened nearly 50 years ago, Peter Island has been popular among pleasure cruisers and others who want to emulate that lifestyle. And the private island resort’s five beaches provide plenty of places to sunbathe and nap. But it’s also home to one of the top dive shops in the Caribbean, Paradise Watersports, where owner Randy Keil has been taking guests down for 40 years.
The sportiest island in the Caribbean, St. Lucia has a satisfying volcano to climb (the gorgeous Gros Piton), zip lines to ride, hot springs to bathe in, reefs to dive over and its own water sport: “snuba,” a scuba-snorkel hybrid that gets you ten feet down, but with a long hose instead of an air tank and all that other gear (and certification requirements). It also has sugar-soft white beaches, but my favorite hotel here is high above one.
Jamaica is arguably the capital of the beach flop, but music impresario Chris Blackwell’s beguiling Island Outpost resorts buck that trend. Blackwell is an avid jet-skiier, and his idea of jet-skiing is so athletic that his rides at GoldenEye, Ian Fleming’s former estate, were featured in the Wall Street Journal’s “What’s Your Workout” column. Guests can follow suit, or spend time stand-up paddle boarding in the sea or in a beginner-friendly lagoon.
St. Barth’s beaches are renowned for being some of the most beautiful and pristine in the world, and a few of them are also known for their populations of avid windsurfers and kite surfers. A standout among those is Grand Cul-de-Sac, a reef-protected bay on the north side of the east end of the island, which people travel to from across St. Barth for the water sports. There’s reliable entertainment there, in the form of people dancing with kites across the smooth water.
At this barefoot luxury private island resort on Andros Island, the beach flop is awfully tempting, thanks to the powder-soft white sand, hammocks strewn around the property, romantic beach dinners for two and day trips (for two at a time) to nearby uninhabited islands. But the place got its start as a sport fishing, spearfishing and scuba diving playground for adventurous types, and the bonefishing remains some of the best in the world.