Think you've seen everything the Caribbean has to offer? Thankfully, 2014 is shaping up to be an exciting (and change-filled) year for this blockbuster destination. We already told you about what's new in Nassau. Here's more of what's on the horizon...
1. At the all-inclusive (or, as they like to call it, "super-inclusive") Bahamas resort Breezes – which happens to be running a "4th Night Free" promotion for travel through December – there's a new attraction for hungry hotel guests. Banana Boat is a nautical-themed restaurant with indoor-outdoor seating and a 120-foot long buffet station serving sushi, roasted meats, fancy cheeses, and more. (Even better, Breezes recently debuted resort-wide free Wifi, so you can Instagram pics of your meal, naturally.)
2. The distance between Puerto Rico and St. Kitts is 259 miles, but until now, there wasn't an easy way to fly between the islands. Luckily, a new route from San Juan-based Seaborne Airlines has deepened the connection between these two eastern Caribbean gems. Once a day, a 34-seat plane will shuttle between San Juan and St. Kitts and Nevis; travel time is under two hours.
3. Travelers responded so well to American Airlines' nonstop Miami-to-Martinique service (which debuted in April) that the airline has added a second weekly flight between the two destinations. With rates starting at around $700, the three-hour flight is spendy but convenient. As the only nonstop service on this route, it makes getting to the rum-lover's haven easier than ever. And don't forget that as of this month, US Airways loyalty members can benefit from shared miles between the newly-merged airlines.
4. Later this year, a brand new airport is set to debut on the eastern coast of St. Vincent, which until now has been accessed by the relatively small (and mostly locally-serviced) E.T. Joshua Airport. Now, with a $240 million investment, the Argyle International Airport (including a 9,000-foot paved runway wide enough to handle a Boeing 747) is set to put the destination on a more prominent map. It's capable of handling five times more passengers than its predecessor.
5. Feel like getting away from your resort for the day and tackling St. Maarten by car? Your road trip will surely benefit from the opening of a new causeway linking the island's French and Dutch sides. Spanning from Simpson Bay to Marigot (about five miles on land), the half-mile causeway, which contains a swing bridge and two bike lanes, should relieve road congestion and give travelers new places to explore.
6. Speaking of cars, the world's most successful auto-themed TV show is heading to one of the world's most beautiful islands. We're talking about the Top Gear Festival, which is set to open in Barbados on May 17. Over the course of two days, car fanatics from around the world will flock to the newly-renovated Bushy Park Circuit to take in jaw-dropping "motor theater" stunts in a show that's hosted, of course, by Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson.
7. Tiny St. John in the US Virgin Islands has never lacked pristine natural beauty, but a new park will show paradise-seeking visitors a whole new side to the island. The New York Times reports that a 74-acre strip of land, surrounding gorgeous Maho Bay, has been sold to the National Park Service, making it the most substantial national parks expansion since 1956.
8. As new Caribbean hotels go, there are too many to count among the region's 35 territories and islands. However, two in particular have caught our eye: the 122-room Capella Marigot Bay (from $239 per night) is a new feather in Saint Lucia's tourism cap. It debuted last month and boasts direct marina views, 30 acres of manicured gardens, and the exquisite Lapli Spa. Over in Punta Cana, an adults-only resort debuted in November that offers all guests free Wifi and international calling, plenty of nighttime activities, and 13 restaurants to choose from. Breathless Punta Cana (from $511 per night) joins fellow brand properties Zoetry, Secrets, Dreams, Now, and Sunscape.
9. When vacationing in tropical locales, nothing quite beats a massage on the beach. And we love that GoldenEye, one of Jamaica's top resorts, recently converted two of its cottages into the brand new Field Spa, consisting of three treatment rooms and products made with organic ingredients from owner Chris Blackwell's farm.