With loads of Caribbean destination options available, you need only decide what kind of holiday you're in the mood for: do you want romantic seclusion, or adrenaline-fueled adventure? Or are you looking for an all-inclusive mash-up of the best the Caribbean has to offer?
We've got you covered. Here are The Afropolitan's favourite Caribbean Island escapes, and what you can look forward to when you visit them:
Jamaica Me Crazy
What can a traveller look forward to in the land of Bob Marley, Rihanna, Usain Bolt and Cool Runnings? If you're looking for the ultimate escape, the islands of the Caribbean offer unique culture, endless sandy beaches, adventure activities and gorgeous weather - not to mention copious amounts of rum.
The grand-daddy of the Caribbean islands, Jamaica is famous for being the birthplace of musical legend Bob Marley, and offers culture in spades. The island's musical tradition digs its roots back to the folk songs of West Africa, and today, pumps out 21st century rhythms (or "riddums") in the electronic beats of contemporary Dancehall. Music is Jamaica's soul, and wherever you go, you'll find yourself swaying to it - be it blasting from a street corner sound system, gospel choirs from one of the islands many churches, or reflected in the lyricism of the language.
For a snapshot view of Jamaica's raw energy, head to Kingston. Here you'll experience riotous street parties in between cosmopolitan galleries and world-class eateries. Don't miss a chance to visit the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road, where the musical legend lived and recorded (and played plenty of soccer) from 1975 until his death in 1981. In the north-east corner of the island, Montego Bay will give you the perfect launchpad from which to explore the verdant jungles of Lethe and the rugged adventure terrain of Cockpit Country.
Besides the beaches (which are amazing) and the resorts (which range from dodgy to deluxe), think of Jamaica as Jah's Garden, a massive tropical paradise that's begging to be explored. Hike into the rainforests to discover hidden waterfalls, summit Blue Mountain Peak for sunrise views of surrounding coffee plantations, dive or snorkel the coral reefs beneath crystalline waters, swim at the Blue Lagoon (named after the Brooke Shields film), go rafting down the Rio Grande River, or ride a bicycle through the streets. Take it slow, though. There's always time to spare in Jamaica.
Sumptuous Saint Lucia
Luxury seekers, make a beeline to the island of Saint Lucia for powder-white beaches, lush forests, and cultural flair. Famous for its all-inclusive resorts, Saint Lucia is a great choice for honeymooners looking for a romantic getaway that's dripping with comfort (but which is kinder to your wallet than Saint Barth's).
While you might want to spend your days lazing on the sands of Anse Chastanet beach, there's plenty to do to keep you entertained. Walk the jungle-shrouded Des Cartiers Rainforest Trail to spot the colourful Saint Lucia Parrot, kite-surf at Anse des Sables (sandy beach), climb the volcanic Pitons, or visit the pirate ruins at Pigeon Island. For foodies, Saint Lucia's capital city Castries is a gastronomic destination. In fact, put it on your bucket list. Here you'll find Caribbean creole cuisine with a twist (think lionfish ceviche and guava cheesecake).
Rodney Bay in the north offers modern seaside comforts, while Soufrière in the south will give you access to old plantations, hidden beaches and the chance to pimp your Instagram with the photogenic Pitons.
Barbados is an island that can truly boast it has it all. In between its colonial plantation houses and sugar-cane fields, Barbados offers incredible beach resorts and pumping nightlife. The party never ends here, which, considering that Barbados is the birthplace of Rihanna, makes a whole lot of sense. Expect to drink plenty of rum.
In between all the revelry, take some time to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Bridgetown, or, if you're a surfer, brave the waters on the Atlantic-battered east coast. For history buffs, a visit to St Nicholas Abbey - one of the oldest plantation houses in the Caribbean - is a must do. Wherever you go in Barbados, you'll get a warm welcome.
Despite the island's party reputation, Barbados is considered the best family destination among its Caribbean cousins, mostly due to the massive selection of family-friendly resorts that offer kid-centric activities. If you're looking for an exotic family holiday to give you bragging rights among the other moms on the school run, Barbados is it.
With a scattering of some 700 islands, you could spend a year exploring the Bahamas and never get tired of the Caribbean's offerings. It's like getting lost in a micro-galaxy of far-flung hideaways and glossy mega-resorts.
From sailing around the Abacos’ history-filled Loyalist Cays, to diving the Andros or kayaking the Exuma Cays, to partying until the sun comes up at Paradise Island’s Atlantis resort or lounging on Eleuthera’s pink-sand beaches, there's a Bahamian island to match whatever mood you're in.
If you're still unsure of where to spend your Caribbean escape, we've put together this cheatsheet:
Best for Romance: Martinique
Combining the romantic sensibilities of the French with the sumptuous natural beauty of the Caribbean, Martinique's secluded white sandy beaches and luxury resorts offer just enough privacy for lovers and honeymooners who want to feel like they're castaways, while at the same time enjoy access to luxurious comforts.
Best for Sun Worshippers: St. Maarten/St. Martin
If you're looking for a beach holiday, this island, which is divided equally into two countries, St. Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French), has 39 gorgeous white sandy beaches and nearly 60 kilometers of coastline. You're pretty much guaranteed to find a piece of paradise all to yourself.
Best For Millionaires: Saint Barthélemy
Oozing sex, money and beauty, the small French island of St. Barth's is the chosen destination of the super-rich and famous. If you've got cash to burn, this is where it's at. You might even rub shoulders with Beyonce and Jay-Z, Alessandra Ambrosio, or Gwen Stefanie, who spend their vacations here.
The good news: for Barbados, The Bahamas, and Saint Lucia, you won't need a Visa if you're travelling on your South African passport.
The (semi) bad news: there are no direct flights between South Africa and the Caribbean. If you're travelling with the kids in tow, this might be a deal breaker. Alternatively, you could make the most of your stop-over and spend the night (or two). Not only will it give you a chance to get your jet lag in check before you hit the beach, you can add yet another city to your travel log.
So where will you be spending your Caribbean escape?