Best of the Caribbean 2006

From spas to golf to resorts and snorkeling sites, here's your Caribbean crib sheet

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By Chris Caswell Like a one-of-kind meal whipped up from the freshest local produce and foodstuffs, every season in the Caribbean is uniquely worth savoring because of the quality of the ingredients. The elements may seem familiar—same old sand, water, spa, resort, hotel, restaurants—until you actually indulge. Then you remember how wonderful the familiar can be. For this year's Caribbean recommendations, the problem was the dozens of great contenders (perhaps hundreds in some categories). In the end, we saved the Bahamas for future celebration and only touched on the Western Caribbean for its golf. We also added a new wrinkle: We'd like you to send us your favorites or nominations, in these categories or something new. Send your votes to editor@yachtingmagazine.com for inclusion on this site and possible future stories.

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10 Great Caribbean Rums Here's a Caribbean rhyming (well, sort of) recipe for great rum punch: One of sour (lime), two of sweet (grenadine), three of strong (rum), four of weak (7-Up or ginger ale). Or just ask for a Bentley, the non-alcoholic version with club soda, grenadine, bitters and lime. Bacardi, Puerto Rico Mt. Gay, Barbados Myer's, Jamaica Pusser's, BVI Don Q, Puerto Rico Cruzan, St. Croix Callwood's, Arundel Appleton's, Jamaica Cockspur, Barbados Westerhall, GrenadaEddie Berman

Ladera Resort

15 Hotels and Resorts to Pamper You Here's the crème de la crème: properties that manage to combine a casual lifestyle with four-star amenities. The two most expensive Caribbean resorts* are on the list, while La Samanna brings Orient Express élan to the islands, and Anse Chastenet has a view to die for, no matter how many times you see it. La Samanna, St. Martin (www.lasamanna.com) Hotel Le Toiny, St. Barts (www.hotelletoiny.com)* Sandy Lane, Barbados (www.sandylane.com)* Biras Creek, BVI (www.biras.com) Malliouhana, Anguilla (www.malliouhana.com) Anse Chastenet, St. Lucia (www.ansechastenet.com) Cap Juluca, Anguilla (www.capjuluca.com) Eden Rock Hotel, St. Barts (www.edenrockhotel.com) Four Seasons, Nevis (www.fourseasons.com/nevis) Hotel St.-Barth Isle de France, St. Barts(www.isle-de-france.com) Ladera Resort, St. Lucia (www.ladera.com) Curtain Bluff, Antigua (www.curtainbluff.com) Horned Dorset, Puerto Rico (www.horneddorset.com) Kura Hulanda, Curaçao (www.kurahulanda.com) Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada(www.spiceislandbeachresort.com)

Young Island, St. Vincent

5 Best Private Islands By private, we mean you get the whole thing to yourself. No sharing with anyone else, unless you invite them. Necker Island, BVI (owned by Sir Richard Branson, at $45,000 per day; www.necker.com) Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent (www.psvresort.com) Guana Island, BVI (www.guana.com) Palm Island, Grenadines (www.eliteislandresorts.com) Young Island, St. Vincent (www.youngisland.com)

Elysee at La Semana, St. Martin

Five Great Spas Each of these luxe spas has local treatments, ranging from sea-salt exfoliation to mango facials. Treat yourself to a new you. Cuisinart, Anguilla Elysee at La Samanna, St. Martin Four Seasons, Nevis Malliouhana, Anguilla Sandy Lane, Barbados

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10 Best Snorkeling Sites Several of our top picks are protected parks*, which make the fish a lot friendlier. Buccoo Reef, Tobago The Indians, BVI* Buck Island Reef National Park, USVI Bonaire Marine Park* Princess Alexandra National Park, Turks and Caicos* Grand Anse, Grenada Bloody Bay Wall, Cayman Islands Curaçao Underwater Park, Curaçao* Norman Island Caves, BVI Trunk Bay, USVI*

Punta Espada, Cap Cana

5 Challenging Golf Courses (on one island) Teeth of the Dog, Casa de Campo - Pete Dye's Top 50 masterpiece, renovated in 2005 Dye Fore, Casa de Campo - Dye's latest has giddy heights and wide fairways Punta Espada, Cap Cana - Opening this month, Jack Nicklaus-designed course blends jungle, beach and bluff Guavaberry, near Santo Domingo - Gary Player-designed, opened in 2002, with top golf academy Playa Grande, near Sousa - Robert Trent Jones' last course, with 10 holes along Atlantic cliffs

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6 Gourmet Restaurants St. Martin is called the "Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean, while St. Barts boasts 100 restaurants and even tiny Anguilla has more than 70 that claim gourmet status. It's a tough call, but here are our picks. The Cliff, Barbados Le Sapotillier, St. Barts Le Bartolomeo, St. Barts Chez Mathilde, Aruba Blanchard's, Anguilla Temptation, St. Maarten 5 Tuneful Gatherings The Caribbean is all about music, whether it's reggae, jazz or blues. Here's a sampling of music fests. St. Barts Music Fest, January Mustique Blues Festival, January Curaçao Jazz Festival, October Bonaire Heineken Jazz Fest, May Pan Jazz Festival, Trinidad, November