Cultural Escapes - Caribbean Resorts
If exploration and local lore are as important as rest and rejuvenation when you travel, consider the following resorts: each offers unusual and inspiring opportunities to experience the unique cultural and natural riches of the destination.
Words by Natasha Were
Only 12 miles from the pulsating beach resorts of Negril a very different experience of Jamaica awaits: a serene, family-run hideaway, life at Zimbali Retreats is all about simplicity and a love of nature.
Located in a fertile mountain valley, with accommodation for a maximum of 14 in cosy wooden cabins, it’s a haven of relaxation and a foodie’s paradise. The seven-acre organic farm supplies the restaurant – one of the island’s top-rated – with fresh produce, and guests can tour the farm, help with the day’s harvest, then join the chefs for a cooking demonstration.
Beyond nourishing meals, fresh mountain air and the soundest of sleeps, Zimbali Retreats offer a rare insight into authentic Rastafarian culture. Visitors can join local Rasta Fire for a hike through the hills and an Ital meal cooked over an open fire; or they can take a tour and consultation with renowned herbalist Bongo Roache, who will share his healing wisdom with guests. www.zimbaliretreats.com
Few places compel one to kick off one’s shoes and sink into stillness the way Little Cayman does, and the casually elegant Southern Cross Club embraces that sense of absolute calm. The 14 beach cottages are intentionally free of wifi, phones and TVs, and the verandas are perfectly positioned to gaze out and muse upon the ocean’s many shades of blue.
The pristine waters that surround the island are indeed the star attraction, and this easy-going, low-key dive resort offers umpteen ways to enjoy them. Guests have complimentary use of kayaks, snorkel gear and paddleboards, and flats fishing opportunities are found right in front of the resort.
Meals are a delicious mix of international and Caribbean cuisine, while the Tiki bar is a great place to swap stories with other guests and enjoy a sundowner.
If you can rouse yourself from your state of blissed out relaxation, you need only walk to the end of the dock and the dive boat will whisk you off to explore the underwater jewel of the Cayman Islands: the world-famous walls of Bloody Bay Marine Park. www.southerncrossclub.com
Situated on the former estate of philanthropist and environmentalist Laurance Rockefeller, Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, enhances the original eco-friendly design and philosophy of this slice of paradise, creating an elegant nature-inspired sanctuary on Puerto Rico’s Caribbean coast.
A beach resort as well as an eco-retreat, the water sports are as varied as the dining options, but for guests wanting to experience some of the natural wonders of this part of Puerto Rico, the Ambassadors of the Environment programme is the perfect introduction to the island’s marvels on both land and sea. Likewise, the 11-mile Rockefeller Nature Trail is ideal for appreciating the island’s lush tropical forests, alive with the sounds of coqui frogs and exotic birds.
Offering a taste of the island’s best assets, high adrenaline excursions range from zip-lining through the treetops, to touring vast cave networks and body rafting on underground rivers while lower-octane tours allow guests to learn about the coffees, rums and cuisines of the island.
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