Runs, rum and sunshine

As Twenty20 fans turn their attention to the West Indies, David Whitley declares it's not just cricket.

The Australian cricket team is heading to the West Indies for the World Twenty20 tournament between April 30 and May 16. This, of course, gives cricket fans the perfect opportunity to head to the Caribbean for a spot of island-hopping. But which islands are best to go to? Well, it all depends on what kind of holiday you want ...

Best for beaches


In recent years, the eel-shaped British territory of Anguilla has acquired a reputation as a celebrity hot spot. The tiny island has more than its fair share of luxury resorts and butler-serviced villas but what drew travellers in originally was Anguilla's world-class selection of beaches.

Strips of dazzling white sand ring the island. Shoal Bay East is the best known and is where most day trippers from St Martin will come to. But venture further afield and you've got equally attractive beaches with far fewer sun worshippers competing for the squeaky sand and clear sea. Rendezvous Bay in the south-west is particularly appealing.

Best for music


Cuba has the salsa, the Dominican Republic has the merengue and Jamaica is the home of reggae. But while the region punches way above its weight in the musical stakes, it's Trinidad where the beat is at its most thrilling.


Trinidad is the home of calypso, soca and the steel band (the latter is known as "pan" locally) and there's barely any respite from the soundtrack. Bars, shops and taxis blare out music all day, while pan competitions are treated like sporting finals by the 20 or 30 members of each band.

Then, of course, there's the Trinidad Carnival, held in February or March, which can make Rio's version look rather tame.

Best for food

St Martin

St Martin has a split personality. The southern, Dutch half is very Americanised; more burgers and fries than gourmet. But the northern, French half takes food very seriously.

The jewel in the foodie crown is Grand Case. For those wanting to play it simple, the beach shacks (known as lolos) serve up excellent fare at affordable prices.

But it's the restaurants, which take up seemingly every building in the village, that really get the taste buds going. Most hark back to the mother country, presenting French food with various degrees of formality. There are some excellent establishments specialising in local Creole food, too.

Best for walking


Dominica is known as the Caribbean's nature island and for very good reason. Tourism has had less of an impact here - largely due to a lack of golden-sand beaches - and travellers who do come tend to want to explore the interior.

The heart of Dominica is a steep, jagged, volcanic affair, covered with lush rainforest. It is also criss-crossed by a series of walking tracks, most of which fit into the "hard work but unquestionably worth it" category.

Arguably the most brutal - but also the most rewarding - is the six-hour return hike to the Boiling Lake. The trek comes with a guarantee of calves feeling on fire but the rainforest and coastal views, plus the incredible volcanic landscape, make every bead of sweat a perfectly acceptable trade-off.

Best for diving

The Bahamas

Whenever the producers of the Bond films need to put together an elaborate underwater sequence, they head to the Bahamas. Many of the best sites are easily accessible from the Bahamian capital, Nassau. Shallow reefs, well-preserved shipwrecks and pockets of water full of sharks and rays are among the highlights available to those who prefer life with a tank on their back.

Nassau and New Providence island don't hold all the cards, though - anyone prepared to make the ferry ride can experience awesome dive sites with fewer crowds off the coast of Andros. The biggest island in the archipelago, Andros boasts a tiny human population but the world's third-largest barrier reef.

Best for cricket tragics


The famous Kensington Oval will host the World Twenty20 final and most of the second-round Super 8 games but there's more to Barbadian cricket culture than having a major stadium.

Of all the Caribbean islands, Barbados is the most English. It's more reserved, occasionally stiff-collared and utterly obsessed with leather on willow.

Just walk into any of the bars or shack-like rum shops and there's a high chance that cricket will be the chief topic of conversation. It's the island that produced Sir Garfield Sobers, Malcolm Marshall, Everton Weekes and many more - and the present state of the West Indies team is a never-ending source of frustration.

Leave the bars and head out into the villages one weekend and you'll discover the true cricketing heartbeat - local matches take place across seemingly every available strip of green.

Best all-rounder

St Lucia

St Lucia has a bit of everything - plush resorts lining top-quality beaches, twisting roads surrounded by banana plantations and a forested, hilly interior traversed by hiking trails.

The highlights are the World Heritage-listed Pitons - two triangular peaks that jut out above the coast near Soufriere - and a caldera that is billed as the world's only drive-through volcano.

St Lucia knows how to party, too. The Jump Up street party on Friday nights in the village of Gros Islet can get frenetic and while tourists are welcomed into the fray, it's very much a local celebration.

And for the cricket fans, St Lucia's Beausejour Stadium hosts many of the games in the forthcoming World Twenty20 - including the semi-finals.