The Meridian Club is one of those old-fashioned places that eschews TV, phones, and radio. Yes, you can bring your cellphone, but it's off-limits in public areas and discouraged in your own room. Going off the grid is the point on this 800-acre island paradise. Developed with a forward-thinking conservationist message, the Meridian Club all-inclusive resort was established in 1973 on the private island of Pine Cay, which handily came with its own freshwater pond, a real rarity in these parts. It has long been a beacon for barefoot luxury, with prices to match. Air-conditioning was only introduced to the resort in 2018, available in the beachfront rooms and the two new Sand Dollar and Sea Biscuit cottages. The island has a tiny airstrip but no cars: To get around, you simply unplug one of the electric golf carts and go ($20/hr.). Head to the Aquarium, on the island's eastern tip, to snorkel or hobnob with iguanas, or dip into Reef Balls beach, where some 200 reef balls were dropped in 2012 to stem erosion and build a fish-magnet reef. Or take a swim in the gin-clear seas along the lovely crescent of beach at the resort's front door. Each room is outfitted with big, comfortable beds, a separate sitting area and dressing room, a large bathroom, a screened-in porch, and a patio with an outdoor shower. One of the biggest attractions here is the food. The home-cooked meals are unbelievably tasty, nutritious, and plentiful, prepared by a staff of longtime employees. The breakfast buffet alone is a wonder of fresh fruit and juices, Pine Cay burritos, and West Indies omelets, filled, with spicy sausage, grilled peppers, avocado, and tomato salsa. Sunset cocktails are served in the bar above the restaurant, and an old bell rings when dinner is served.
The hands-on managers are happy to arrange snorkeling, diving, or fishing excursions (good coral gardens lie just minutes offshore). Pine Cay is reached via 30-minute boat ride from Provo or charter plane. Note that children 12 and over are always accepted; children 6 and over are only allowed as guests in June and July and during the Christmas/New Year's holidays. A handful of the island's 38 homes can also be rented by the week.