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Forgotten Caribbean: Five Lesser-Known Tropical Escapes

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With the long, cold months of winter on the horizon, we've already begun thinking about the sunny escapes to break the winter blues. Instead of hitting tourist favorites like Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and St. Bart's, we've decided to focus on the unknown, forgotten, and otherwise overlooked islands in the Caribbean. Just because they're lesser known doesn't mean they haven't seen their fair share of celebrity attention, as this villa on the volcanic isle of Montserrat can attest. Beatles producer George Martin opened a branch of his AIR Studios on the island in the late '70s, welcoming the likes of The Police, Elton John, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and The Rolling Stones. Paul McCartney and his family stayed in this villa, known as the Providence Estate, during a recording session in the early '80s. It's not the most glamorous island estate we've ever seen, but it might be the cheapest bit of Beatles-connected property, on the market at $895K.

? Far south, just off the Venezuelan coast, the island of Bonaire pales in popularity to its neighbors Aruba and Curacao, but remains popular with scuba divers for its easily accessible reefs. This oceanfront villa ensures that the owners will never be far from those dive spots, as it sits perched on the very edge of the island. The three-bedroom, red-roofed villa is asking $2.75M.

? Like Bonaire, Sint Eustatius is a former Dutch colony, now officially part of the Netherlands. The classic stone architecture of the island is charming, particularly when a place like this runs $350K. Built in 1798, the two-bedroom cottage measures just 1,000 square feet, but sits on a quarter acre not far from the island's historic fort.

? There are plenty of similar deals on the island of Saba, but buyers on this small isle had better be prepared to go without a Caribbean staple: beaches. There is only one beach on the island, a small black sand strip, but the rocky cliffs give most villas a spectacular view of the sea. This rustic cottage could use an overhaul, but, for $285K, is quite a steal for the sand-averse.

? Like its slightly better known neighbor, Vieques, the Puerto Rican island of Culebra has been experiencing a period of rapid growth lately. The latest residential crown jewel is this six-bedroom villa on 5.5 acres with luxe features like a helipad and racquetball court. The sprawling tropical estate is asking $5.5M.

· AIR Monserrat [AIR Studios]
· Providence Estate [Tradewinds Real Estate]
· Bonaire [Sun Belt Realty]
· Sint Eustatius [Vivun]
· Rock Cottage [Century 21]
· Casa de la Loma [Culebra Island Realty]