For a heady mixture of glistening white beaches, tropical sunshine and colourful wildlife, there are few places in the world that conjure up the same excitement as the Caribbean. Throw in some lively markets, delectable cuisine and sultry dance moves, and you have somewhere that celebrates life to the full. Here are seven of the top destinations.

Caribbean, Mexico

The home of margaritas and marimbas, Mexico is a rich and vibrant country steeped in history and tradition. The popular island of Cozumel is a small but vibrant port, with outstanding beaches and a vivacious nightlife. It is also rich in wildlife, and whether exploring the beautiful botanical garden at Chankanaab National Park, swimming with dolphins, snorkelling in turquoise waters or horse-riding through lush forests, there is plenty of the natural world to appreciate.

Neighbouring Belize has the largest barrier reef in the region and is renowned for its superb diving. On the land there is also the rich Mayan culture to discover, with numerous well preserved temples and ceremonial centres.

Caribbean, Belize

Step out further into the Caribbean Sea and you come to Jamaica. The island that gave birth to reggae, Jamaica has attitude and plenty of it. If you want to watch the sunset sipping rum and dance the night away at a beach party there are plenty of options. But there is more to this island, from colonial mansions and sugar plantation tours to cable rides and river tubing. Popular resorts include Montego Bay and Ocho Rios with its beautiful waterfalls.

Caribbean, Jamaica

For casual sophistication and charm, Barbados outshines many competitors. Affectionately called Little England, Barbados offers the kind of unique Caribbean experience where afternoon tea can be sipped amongst the palms to the sound of gospel. For the adventurous, there are shipwrecks to dive and forests to zip wire through. The Barbados Golf Club course is exceptional. Click here for more information.

The Caribbean is filled with spectacular beaches and lush tropical vegetation, but even in this area of stunning natural beauty there are some places that leave you speechless. Scenic Grenada is one of those places. From the verdant mountains and tumbling waterfalls to the volcanic craters, never ending white beaches and exquisite horseshoe shaped harbour, Grenada does not disappoint.

To the north, St Lucia gives even Grenada a run for its money. With the mountainous peaks of Les Pitons, the magnificent volcano of Soufriére and the sulphurous Qualibou caldera, the geology is both dramatic and glorious. St Lucia also has impressive botanical gardens, filled with the colours of hibiscus and bougainvillea and the sounds of cascading waterfalls. Sleepy fishing villages throng the coasts while shops offer the chance to purchase local crafts such as woven baskets and coconut carvings.

Caribbean, Jamaica

For those wanting to get off the beaten track, there are many less explored Caribbean destinations. The Dominican Republic is one of the lesser visited spots, offering the visitor deserted beaches and crystal clear diving with an abundance of colourful sea life. Tropical Catalina Island has a rich and diverse ecosystem with coral reefs and mangroves to explore. Cayo Levantado, known as the Bacardi Island, has picturesque palms and lush green rainforests.

From bustling ports to serene stretches of white sand offering ultimate escapism, the Caribbean has something to suit all tastes. A luxurious cruise with P&O Cruises offers the chance to experience the region at its best, and it doesn’t get much better than these destinations.

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