Puerto Rico now sits at the 1st position in the race to being voted as the best Caribbean Island in the USA Today’s Readers Choice contest. Puerto Rico is followed by Curacao, St Martin, Grenada, and Dominica. The islands were chosen from among twenty Caribbean destinations chosen by experts and the winner will be named Best Caribbean. Voting is live until January 6 and the winner will be revealed on January 8. Here are the USA Today’s descriptions of the top five:
Puerto Rico is a party Mecca, celebrating more than 500 festivals a year. Does this qualify it as the happiest island? It is perhaps the easiest island to visit, with San Juan one of the Caribbean’s busiest air hubs. Large hotels may line San Juan beaches but the old city and its landmark El Morro fortress retain the charm and feel of a colonial Spanish settlement. Most of the residents speak English, however. Out on the island, the Caribbean National Forest (better known as “El Yunque”) is not only the only tropical forest in the U.S. forest system but is the most popular day trip from San Juan.
In Curacao, the picture-postcard port of Willemstad offers extensive shopping but many small beaches dot the island. Curacao’s cosmopolitan population (more than 70 different nationalities) is best reflected in its dining establishments, with widely varying menus that often include numerous Dutch and Indonesian dishes. Curacao has several plantation houses with strikingly different colors and styles, some dating to the 17th century and some of which have been turned into restaurants. Photographers love Curacao.
A small island shared by the Dutch and French, St. Maarten/St. Martin makes it easy to sample two distinct cultures, especially the excellent dining on the French side. There’s an outstanding selection of beaches where topless sunbathers don’t raise an eyebrow. This island is an affordable version of upscale St. Barts.
Known as the Spice Island and the land of nutmeg, Grenada assures some of the region’s best dining — its flavorful dishes featuring local seafood, vegetables and spices. Located off the beaten path, Grenada hotels still tend to be small and highly individualized. The main port city of St. George is one of the Caribbean’s most photogenic, second only to Curacao’s Willemstad. Grenada is known for its excellent rainforest hiking trails and two dive sites in particular: the one-of-a-kind Underwater Sculpture Park and the Bianca C, a large deep-water wreck sometimes called the “Titanic of the Caribbean.”
Mountainous Dominica is covered by almost two-thirds of its original rainforest. It offers superb short and long hikes, including a trek to one of the world’s largest boiling lakes. Visitors to Dominica discover the Caribbean’s principal surviving group of Carib Indians. Resident sperm whales add surprise to the offshore scenery while divers explore the steep walls and volcanic vents that make Dominica diving unique.
For original articles, see http://www.usatoday.com/story/experience/caribbean/best-of-caribbean/2013/12/11/best-caribbean-island-nominees-10best-readers-choice-contest/3986291/ and http://dominicanewsonline.com/news/homepage/news/dominica-half-way-towards-voted-best-caribbean-island/