Crystal clear seas, lush rainforests, sophisticated five-star dining... or a rum shack on a white sand beach — the Caribbean offers lifestyles to suit every taste, with property for every budget.
With 23 million visitors a year rental demand is strong, while a weakened US dollar and prices well reduced from their 2007 peak provide opportunities at all price points.
As the high season hits its stride, which of these islands — all with direct flights from London — would you choose?
Best for yachting and opportunity
The relaxed spice island of Grenada, home of F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, is a friendly, low-crime spot, though it did suffer a little local difficulty with a quickly resolved revolution in 1983 and Hurricane Ivan in 2004 — both of which delayed development.
Today Grenada is a stable democracy and part of the Commonwealth with a legal system based on English law. And Hurricane Ivan was unusual for this southerly island, considered by insurers to lie outside the main Caribbean hurricane belt. Many sailors choose to berth their boats here for winter. Beautiful Port Louis in the south-west operated by Camper Nicholson is the largest of Grenada's four marinas, berthing super-yachts.
"Grenada is the gateway to the Grenadines with the best sailing in the Caribbean," says James Burdess of Savills. "It's more affordable and less crowded than Barbados, with more opportunity for uplift in prices." Apartments and villas on Grenada start from £287,770 for a one-bedroom home at Prickly Bay Waterside through Savills (020 7016 3740). Port Louis apartments start from £400,000 with plans for 300 homes, a dive centre and five-star hotel.
La Luna is an award-winning 16-room hotel where owners Bernardo and Wendy Bertucci are completing seven open-plan five-bedroom villas on an elevated site with coastal views.
"These homes combine Italian style and Caribbean living," says Bernardo. "La Luna is secluded on two wonderful beaches yet 10 minutes from the airport and capital." The villas will be completed this year and two are sold. Prices start from £1.69 million for 6,000 sq ft.
Best for lifestyle
Barbados is the Caribbean's established property choice, the safe island that attracts most British tourists thanks to prime golf courses and a good infrastructure. Known as "Little England", part of its charm is its familiarity to British buyers, whether enjoying a casual Sunday brunch at The Fish Pot or rubbing shoulders with celebrities at The Cliff restaurant.
A three-bedroom semi-detached house in a cluster of six directly on beautiful Gibbs Beach is reduced from £1.34 million to £1.02 million (through Savills) and seems excellent value, when stand-alone houses on this west coast start at £3.19 million. Owners Elaine and Robert Bache, from Worcestershire, let it for five months of the year for up to £640 a night.
Best for beaches
With 365 beaches, celebrity homeowners including Eric Clapton and Giorgio Armani and two of the Caribbean's most stylish hotels (Carlisle Bay and Jumby Bay), plus its Annual Regatta, Antigua is a favourite with sunlovers and sailors, with the yachties hanging out around Nelson's Dockyard.
"The most popular property locations are English Harbour in the south, Jolly Harbour in the west and Hodges Bay in the north," says Nadia Malla of Luxury Locations (020 7016 3740). "All three provide easy access to shops and sports clubs."
Two-bedroom townhouses at Jolly Harbour, the east Caribbean's largest man-made marina, have come down from £255,800 in 2007 to £159,870 now. Developments that have survived the economic downturn include Nonsuch Bay, a sailing resort on the less-developed east coast where one- to three-bedroom apartments, townhouses and villa plots start from £223,800.
On one of the finest south-west beaches, the first of 62 planned apartments, townhouses and villas at Tamarind Hills are completed, priced from £367,700 for two bedrooms.
Best for natural beauty
Winding roads and tortuous journeys are the price to pay for the mountainous raw beauty of St Lucia, where prices are 60 per cent of those in Barbados. Most second homes are around Rodney Bay in the north, a busy area of restaurants, clubs and now a casino.
The Landings apartments overlook a sweeping beach, from £326,100 with a beach club, spa and restaurants. In the quieter south-west, in the shadow of the towering Pitons, Sugar Beach (0844 921 0126) is a 112-room, five-star hotel on 130 acres where pretty one- and two-bedroom villas cost from £390,000.
Nearby Freedom Bay (020 7718 5573) is a new five-star hotel where off-plan flats and villas on a 77-acre site start from £50,000 for an eighth share.