For people trying to pack more into limited vacation time, island hopping in the Caribbean is one way to do it — and you don’t need your own yacht or private jet.
Using St. Maarten/St. Martin as a home base and making day trips to diverse islands works particularly well. St. Martin itself (vacationstmaarten.com) provides a Dutch and French experience on one island. Via a short trip by ferry or small plane, the smaller islands that can be easily visited from St. Martin are all slightly different, offering a multifaceted slice of the Caribbean.
For some of the most beautiful beaches in the West Indies, there’s Anguilla, a narrow limestone island that likely got its name from its shape (anguille is French for eel). Saba, a volcanic island thrusting straight from the sea, is known as the “Unspoiled Queen” and wonderful for travelers seeking to visit the Caribbean of yesteryear.
St. Eustatius, whose governor was the first authority in the world to recognize U.S. independence in 1776, offers a taste of the 18th century with various historic sites. And last but not least, for those seeking the “scene” and high-end shopping, there’s St. Barthélemy. Here’s a quick guide.