4 Outdoorsy Caribbean Retreats — From a Cozy Airstream to a Seaside Glampsite

New ways to get your toes in the sand this season.

An Airstream trailer set up for camping in Aruba
The two-bedroom Aruba Airstream is set in the island’s rugged interior. Photo:

Courtesy of Aruba Airstream

The Caribbean is synonymous with plush resorts and swank villas, but those aren’t the only choices when it comes to places to stay. Here are four outdoorsy offerings that will bring you closer to nature — without sacrificing creature comforts.

A Cozy Trailer in Aruba

One of the most inviting roosts on this diminutive Dutch Caribbean island isn’t on popular Palm or Eagle beaches; in fact, it isn’t on the beach at all. The first of its kind in the region, Aruba Airstream is an oasis for travelers in search of seclusion, hitched in the midst of the cacti-studded cunucu (“desert” or “outback”). Up to four guests can settle into the gleaming (and blissfully air-conditioned) 30-foot Flying Cloud model, which sits next to its own saltwater pool, hot tub, and outdoor shower. The owners go the extra mile by providing restaurant and day-trip recommendations, and have stocked the space with exercise equipment and a telescope for stargazing. You’ll probably want to rent a car to experience Aruba’s island attractions and beaches — all of which are within a 20-minute drive — but swinging in the hammock as iridescent lizards skitter across the breezy pool deck is an equally appealing proposition. 

Wildlife Watching in the Bahamas

Tents set up at night for beachside camping the Bahamas
Kayaking around Dolphin Cay at the Bahamas’ Atlantis Paradise Island.

Courtesy of Atlantis Paradise Island

Last summer, Atlantis Paradise Island — a destination known for its luxe suites, sprawling casino, and mammoth water park — made an unexpected addition to its high-energy scene. The new Marine Life Camping Adventure, available exclusively to hotel guests, is a dusk-to-dawn experience in the Dolphin Cay area of the resort. Campers check in to air-conditioned tents furnished with sofas, rugs, and cushioned cots. (Also included: mini fridges, snack baskets, and wine and beer on request — this is Atlantis, after all.) Activities include exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of the property’s marine habitats and Royal Towers Fish Hospital, as well as sunset snorkeling and after-dark encounters with turtles, dolphins, and sea lions.

A Seaside Camp in Antigua

Interior of a clamping tent in the Caribbean
A Couples Deluxe Tent at Wild Lotus in Antigua.

Courtesy of Wild Lotus

From November through May, six tents pop up on Antigua's Valley Church Beach, looking like giant white-chocolate Hershey’s kisses and offering a Caribbean camping experience that’s just as sweet. The surprisingly spacious accommodations at Wild Lotus Glamping feature wrought-iron beds and other reproduction antique furniture, plus outdoor showers surrounded by tropical greenery (toilets are located in the neighboring restaurant). Solar-powered fairy lights make evenings feel magical — as does the passion-fruit rum punch poured at the tiny beachfront bar. Order barbecue fixings for DIY dinners cooked over your personal grill, and in the morning, enjoy the sublime pleasure of sipping your coffee while walking the resort’s mile-long beach. 

A Rustic Retreat in the British Virgin Islands

Thatched roof beachfront suites in the Caribbean
Thatched-roof suites at Anegada Beach Club.

Courtesy of Anegada Beach Club

Visitors usually discover Anegada — a pancake-flat island famous for deserted beaches, flamingos, and the best lobster in the BVI — on a not-long-enough day trip from Tortola, an hour’s boat ride away. Now, Anegada Beach Club allows those smitten with the island’s unspoiled beauty to overnight in a one- or two-bedroom beachfront palapa on stilts, with canvas walls, canopy beds, en suite bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and hammocks on broad balconies raised over the dunes. The on-site spa makes the experience feel as elevated as the accommodations. 

A version of this story first appeared in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Toes in the Sand."

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