British Virgin Islands
With countless beaches and waters so clear you can see every grain of sand on the sea floor, these sunny, welcoming enclaves are without question an idyllic setting. But to gain VIP access to a whole world of hidden coves and uninhabited islets (like Sandy Spit, above), charter a boat.
Contact The Moorings, a renowned yacht and sailboat rental company, and they'll set you up with a private sleep-aboard vessel, complete with a skipper at the helm. He knows all the secret spots and will ferry you from awesome snorkeling reefs to empty islands dotted with nodding palm trees (five-day charter, including skipper and some provisions, from $3,800, moorings.com).
Where to Eat
The BVIs are brimming with lively little restaurants, so plan to disembark for most meals. On Anegada island, feast on grilled lobster at the open-air Big Bamboo. For good-natured mayhem, get yourself to the Willy-T, a bar on a 98-foot schooner anchored off Norman Island (williamthornton.com). After a plate of conch fritters, earn your bar cred by taking a shot from the "shotski" (glasses attached to an old water ski). And spend a candlelit evening on Tortola at The Sugar Mill hotel's restaurant in -- yep -- a 370-year-old stone sugar mill (sugarmillhotel.com).
What Else to Do
Balance the splurge of living the glamorous yachting life, and shack up at Cooper Island Beach Club for the remainder of your trip (from $200, cooperislandbeachclub.com). It's spread across a lush, sand-ringed island off Tortola. While there, book the resort-organized excursion to The Baths, a touristy but worth-it site on Virgin Gorda where huge boulders have created natural tide pools, caves, archways, and grottos (from $300).
When to Go
High season is from December to March, but you'll get the same splendid weather in April and May, when hotel and boat prices are almost 50 percent less.
How to Get There
Connect through San Juan, Puerto Rico. Or fly into St. Thomas, take a ferry or Fly BVI Air Charter flight to Tortola (bviaircharters.com), and catch a taxi to The Moorings.