The West Indies is one of most beautiful areas of the world, providing a wonderful mix of stunning scenery, outstanding weather and fantastic food.

With a refreshingly laid-back way of life and plenty of culture to explore, it’s easy to see why travellers keep returning to these blissful islands. Whether you want to relax on a stunning beach, or explore the diverse culture of the region, there are a lot of options.

Currency: The Barbadian dollar is the legal tender for Barbados, while the East Caribbean Dollar is the currency for Antigua and Grenada.

Climate: The Caribbean islands enjoy warm and sunny winters that average around 29 degrees, though thundery showers can be expected in the evenings.

Customs and etiquette: The locals here are extremely hospitable and you can expect first-class customer service throughout your stay. While a majority of people are Christian, expect individuals from several different religions across the islands, with Spanish, French, Anglo-Saxon and African beliefs creating a wonderfully diverse society.

Barbados

Barbados really is like a summer paradise. Visitors can look forward to extraordinary weather, stunning scenery and incredible nightlife.

Whether you choose to take a wander through the jaw-dropping Harrison’s Cave and the Andromeda Gardens, or put your feet up on the glorious Carlisle Bay, the island is full of natural beauty.

Foodies will have plenty to look forward to, including the magnificent Champers restaurant on the south coast, where some of the top seafood dishes in the region are served. Once you’ve enjoyed the delicious dishes available, visit the incredible Harbour Lights nightclub to let your hair down and soak up the island’s amazing party atmosphere.

Must-see: When relaxing on the beach, the Caribbean Sea is truly irresistible. Even if you’re not a confident swimmer, perhaps take a boat trip to enjoy some truly unforgettable views.

Shopping: Sheraton Mall in the Parish of Christ Church is the top retail centre on the island, offering a vast selection of high street brands and local products at great prices.

Getting around: Public transport in the island is provided by the Barbados Transport Board, with buses available across all of the tourist areas.

Antigua

With an even more laid-back feel than many of the other destinations in the West Indies, Antigua is the perfect place for a tranquil break away from it all.

Expect beautifully serene surroundings, gorgeous weather and fantastic hospitality in this majestic resort. Perhaps take a stroll down the Valley Church or Galley Bay beaches, where you can enjoy peaceful walks along the magical Caribbean shoreline.

If you are looking for more of an adrenaline rush, Antigua offers plenty of extraordinary watersports across its beaches, including scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing.  

Must see: Stingray City is a top attraction for visitors, allowing them to get up close to the incredible fish. Don’t worry about being stung either, as the officials make sure all participants are safe and prepared.

Shopping: Redcliffe Quay is the place to be for shoppers, offering an amazing variety of boutique stores and delightful cafes and restaurants.

Getting around: Buses are the main mode of transport in Antigua, with all services starting in either the east or west stations. Unfortunately, not all tourist areas are covered, so it is advisable to use licensed taxis if coaches are unavailable in your location.

St Lucia

Barmy Army members looking forward to some new experiences on tour this winter can enjoy one in St Lucia, as England will play their first ever Test at the Darren Sammy Oval in Gros Islet.

The Test will take place from February 9th-13th, with England returning to the island for a one-day international on March 2nd and a T20 game on March 5th.

England did play there three times in the 2007 World Cup, when Freddie Flintoff demonstrated what superb bars Gros Islet had - and what great fun could be enjoyed on the beach - with his famous pedalo incident.

It is a good idea to pace yourself a bit better than that and enjoy a great party atmosphere with some great local drinks to try. Indeed, St Lucia is famous for its rum, but there is also plenty of seafood to get stuck into as well. It's impossible not to eat well there.

Must-sees on St Lucia include the Pitons, two incredibly steep volcanic mountains rising sheer out of the sea. The Sulphur Springs offer boiling mud belching out plenty of smoke, while the beaches are superb. Nature is always close at hand whether snorkelling or exploring the jungle.

Add to that the ruined military installations on Pigeon Island, and St Lucia offers loads of great things to enjoy apart from the cricket itself.