Travel time: You’re pretty much consigned to flying out of or connecting in Miami, where a direct flight to UVF is going to run you in the $700s and but take just 3.5 hours. You can find cheaper but slower flights into the island’s smaller airport, SLU.
Why you'll love it: Maybe you can find another drive-in, active volcano, but chances are you won’t find one as gorgeous as the bubbling pits found on this island, which would just be a scrub of an island in the Caribbean Sea if not for the slopes of the Piton Mountains and the rich green rainforest covering every inch of land that isn’t pure beach. Besides eye candy, the mountain peaks are also your sign of quality on the label of any locally distilled bottle of rum.
At only 238 square miles around, St. Lucia is easy enough to cover in only a few days. The most festive time of year is the May jazz festival, when contemporary giants of the form and international tourists dance across every city on the isle to drink rum, eat banana sandwiches and fresh lobsters, and Calypso until their legs turn to jelly. Flights are cheaper during the summer and autumn months -- admittedly hurricane season -- but presuming you avoid the storms, the tropical atmosphere will make the rains a welcome, likely brief, refresher as you walk from your hotel room to the nearest beach. And if you do decide to spend your entire trip doing nothing more than lying on the sand, you’ll loaf before a landscape that native son and Nobel-winning poet Derek Walcott described as so full of beauty “the sigh of History dissolves.” -- Peter Rugg