The dream summer holiday islands you hadn’t thought to try

Most holidaymakers don’t think of the Caribbean for a summer break, as hurricane season looms. The Atlantic storm season officially runs from 1 June to 30 November – but over the past 30 years the risk has been lower outside the period of mid-August to the end of September.

So is it time for a rethink – especially since, for many islands, July, August and October half-term are outside the November to April high-season price rises?

In spring’s Post Office Holiday Money Report, Jamaica’s Montego Bay resort hit the top 15 good-value destinations in the world for the first time. Two new direct flights launch to pocket-friendly Cuba’s golden beaches next month and St Lucia, less affected by hurricane season, is served by a daily BA flight year-round, with a promising summer price tag.

Montego Bay draws holidaymakers to its beautiful beaches embraced by gentle hills. In the lush green hinterland, find birding sites, rivers to raft and springs and waterfalls to soak in. According to the Post Office report, value for money is found in the price of a Coke/Pepsi at just under £1, a half-litre of beer at £1.81 and a budget meal at a tad more than a fiver.

Tropical paradise: idyllic caribbean beach with palm trees, Montego Bay, Jamaica
Jamaica’s idyllic Montego Bay (Photo: agustavop/Getty)

Down the coast between Cousins Cove and Green Island is new Princess Grand Jamaica Resort. Cute boat-styled bunk beds in family rooms. Tick! A kids’ pool with a climbing frame and a pool with four water chutes. Tick! And a fancy gym for those health-conscious teens. Tick! All-inclusive prices start at £580 a night for a family of four this summer. The same room is £636 a night at Christmas.

At the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, all-inclusive rooms for a family of four are from £481 in the summer, and £418 in October half-term while peak Christmas rates begin at £757 a night.

Go one better than rum drinks on the sand here, too. This summer it’s all about tastes and tipples on 18 July at the Jamaica Rum Festival and then tunes at the Reggae Sumfest between 14 and 20 July, a huge musical party drawing big soulful names. Kids enjoy free rides on the festival’s family day.

Family adventures in Jamaica include bamboo rafting down the teal-green Martha Brae river from £50 for two adults and a child. Heading to Kingston? Pull in at the Bob Marley Museum for the One Love tour and soak up the buzz around this year’s One Love, the singer’s recent biopic (£32; £19 child).

Tourists enjoy the idyllic setting while rafting down the Martha Brae River
Bamboo rafting down the Martha Brae River (Photo: Douglas Pearson/Getty)

Virgin Atlantic increased flights to Montego Bay to daily year-round this spring. For the summer season, flights are available from £754.

New charter flights leave Manchester for Holguín in eastern Cuba on 10 May. Flights from Gatwick to Cuba’s Cayo Coco begin on 12 May.

Holguín is one hour south of the dazzling sands and palm trees of Guardalavaca, a collection of beaches and pretty coves on the north coast. Snorkel the offshore reef, sail the deep blue sea and explore waterfalls.

Holguín is the gateway to eastern Cuba and from here, you can easily day-trip to fishing villages such as charming Gibara (host to an international cinema festival from 6-10 August), archaeology museums, mountain trails, Fidel Castro’s birthplace, and a safari in search of ­African animals on a remote island with a Robinson Crusoe vibe of a beach. Beyond, reach city of rum and rebellion Santiago de Cuba, where carnival is celebrated for a week either side of 26 July.

Bay in old colonial cuban city of Gibara, with old port buildings. Traditional Cuban fisherman village.
The traditional fishing town of Gibara in Cuba (Photo: merc67/Getty)

Melia’s Sol Río de Lunas y Mares in ­Holguín sits in a gorgeous cove shared with one other hotel. Going ­independently? Melia offers all-inclusive rooms in the hotel in July for £81 a night and £176 for two adults and two children.

Cayo Coco on the central north coast is for pure fly-and-flop. Amid a necklace of offshore coral islands fringed with gorgeous white sands is neighbouring Cayo Guillermo, the kitesurf capital of Cuba, and world-class destination for the sport.

Iron Travel offers a one-week all-inclusive package with transfers this summer and autumn half-term for two adults and two children in the same room at Guardalavaca’s family friendly Sol Río de Luna y Mares for £1,469 per adult, £1,339 per child. Two-week packages are just £230 and £220 more, respectively. A peak -season one-week package in January is £100 more for adults but cheaper for kids, at £1,279 per child. Return flight-only deals to Holguín are £1,190, £1,079 for children.

Cubans have embraced Airbnb, too. You will find wonderful homestays and independent apartments close to beaches, in the mountains, and in historic towns from a very budget-friendly £20 per room per night. Beers and mojitos in Cuba can be as cheap as €1; a meal with a beer less than €5.

Ringed by beaches with a rainforest heart, St Lucia is connected to the UK by a daily BA flight with prices from £631 this summer. Don’t miss Carnival shaking things up from 1-17 July this year.

Windjamer Landing Montego Bay Jamaica Image supplied by Isabelle Thomas
St Lucia’s Windjammer Landing overlooks a peaceful beach (Photo: Isabelle Thomas/Windjammer Landing)

New family fun experiences on St Lucia include a female-led organic farm tour “In the Eyes of a FarmHer” with a chance to make jam with non-profit ­Helen’s Daughters, £20pp; bamboo rafting on the ­Roseau River through rainforest, sampling fruits and coconut water along the way, from £52pp; and a Castries food tour (from £45) with City Walkers.

At Windjammer Landing, which curves around idyllic Labrellote Bay and where you won’t see the children all holiday for the pizza parties, dance lessons and coconut bowling, rooms start at £219 compared with £327 in January and £575 over the festive period.

BA Holidays packages work out even cheaper. At Coconut Bay, the October half-term is your best bet, with rooms from £370 a night (two adults and first child aged three to 11 free) compared with a summer-season room from £484.

For self-catering, La Mer has its own pool and sea views and is £347 for four in August and October half-term compared with £765 in December.