Top five off-peak destinations for summer

Also, getting to St. Maarten has become cheaper in recent years due to low-fare carriers JetBlue's and Spirit's introductions to the market. Be sure to price flights on both airlines before you book to ensure you get the best price, and remember to check Spirit's website for rock-bottom fare specials as low as a few dollars.

The first place to look when planning a trip is St. Maarten's Offical Web Portal, filled with details about where to stay, what to do, and more.

Antigua

Like the rest of the Caribbean islands, Antigua experiences its low season from June to September. Though visiting the Caribbean during summer inherently comes with risk of hurricanes, Antigua has largely been spared the devastation other islands have experienced in recent years. Trade winds cool the island's hot temperatures, making 80-degree days quite pleasant.

Antigua's biggest summer event, Carnival, runs from July 24 through August 5 this year. Festivities include live calypso and steel drum music, colorful costumes, food fairs, and the annual Parade of Bands and Miss Antigua beauty pageant. Though hotel prices may jump a bit during Carnival, it's worth paying more to experience the celebration.

If you'd prefer a peaceful beach escape, however, Antigua has 365 white- and pink-sand beaches —one for every day of the year, and plenty for a summer getaway. Besides playing on the beach, sailing and diving are popular pursuits, and adventurous types can even swim with stingrays at Stingray City. Barbuda, Antigua's sister island, is a mere 15-minute flight or 90 minute ferry ride away, making a day trip easy.

Travelocity is currently offering up to $300 off Antigua air-and-hotel packages when you stay at least six days at an Elite Island Resorts property. Several resorts and hotels are also offering summer specials, including free nights and kids-stay-and-eat-free packages.

Offseason hotel rates in Antigua are much cheaper than peak-season prices, and I found savings of $414 in summer.

Hotel:Blue WatersRoom type:Superior HillsideOff-peak rate:$349 (April 24 to December 18)Peak rate:$763 (December 19 to January 6)

Hotel:Carlisle BayRoom type:Ocean suiteOff-peak rate:$840 (May 31 to August 29)Peak rate: $1,050 (March 29 to May 30)

Hotel:Siboney Beach ClubRoom type:Standard room Off-peak rate:$150 (April 15 to December 19)Peak rate:$190 (December 20 to April 14)

Hotel:Trade Winds HotelRoom type:Deluxe room - ocean viewOff-peak rate:$217 (May 7 to October 11)Peak rate:$353 (December 19 to January 2)

Prices are per night based on double occupancy and were found on each hotel's website.

Delta will introduce service to Antigua from New York (JFK) on June 12.

The Antigua and Barbuda Department of Tourism website are good resources for planning a trip.

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SmarterTravel.com features expert travel advice and unbiased coverage of travel deals.

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