Some of the Caribbean's smallest islands really let you get away from crowds.

Just getting to them can be an adventure. Hundred-foot cliffs line Saba's quarter-mile-long airstrip, for example, making for a white-knuckle landing. Ferries are the main and sometimes only way to islands, including St. John, and you generally don't need a reservation. From unspoiled beaches to ruins of sugar plantations, here's what five of the smallest islands offer:

Saba

Size:

5 square miles

Population:

1,700

Getting there:

Fly to St. Martin, then either fly (12 minutes) or take a ferry (80 minutes). The only airline that goes to Saba is Winair (

» READ MORE: www.fly-Winair.com

, from $186 round trip); ferries are the Edge (

, $100 round trip) and the Dawn (

» READ MORE: www.sabactransport.com

, $90 round trip).

Best for:

Divers, who can explore Saba National Marine Park, and hikers.

Things to do:

Shop for Saba lace, made locally since the 1870s, and Saba Spice rum-and-herb liqueur. Visit the Harry L. Johnson Museum, a former sea captain's cottage with Victorian furnishings and artifacts from archaeological sites. Cut loose at Carnival, the last week of July. Choose from 15 eateries, ranging from Pop's Place Snack Bar to the elegant Willard's.

Lodging:

About 120 rooms are available in eight small hotels, several villas, and 14 cottages. Options include Scout's Place and Hotel (

» READ MORE: www.sabadivers.com

; double rooms from $109). Daphne's Cottage (

; $130), built in 1850, is in a Windwardside neighborhood. The House on the Path (

» READ MORE: www.houseonthepath.com

; $175) is 1,500 feet above the sea and a five-minute hike from neighbors and vehicles.

Information:

» READ MORE: www.sabatourism.com

; 011-599-416-2231.

Anguilla

Size:

35 square miles

Population:

12,000

Getting there:

Fly to San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Antigua or St. Martin, then catch a smaller carrier. For example, from Antigua it's a one-hour flight on LIAT (

» READ MORE: www.liat.com

, $207 round trip). Or take a 20-minute ferry (

, $40 round trip) from Marigot, St. Martin, to Blowing Point, Anguilla.

Best for:

Sunbathers, who can choose from 33 uncrowded white-sand beaches.

Things to do:

Snorkel and sail. Hike to KoalKeel, a former sugar and cotton plantation, and Sandy Ground, an old salt factory. Ride horses on deserted beaches. Attend the annual Moonsplash music festival (March 26 to 29). Meet the locals, including fishermen, boatbuilders and sailors.

Lodging:

Choose from 21 hotels, guesthouses and mini-resorts, plus about 30 villas and condos. A low-end option is the Sea View Apartments (

» READ MORE: www.inns.ai/seaview

, $60 year-round). Villa Bellamare on Shoal Bay Beach (

» READ MORE: www.bellamare.ai

, from $400) and Eden House Villa (

» READ MORE: www.edenhousevilla.com

, from $1,810 a week) are two midrange choices.

Information:

, 1-877-426-4845.

St. Barthélemy

Size:

8 square miles

Population:

8,450

Getting there:

Fly to San Juan, Guadeloupe or St. Martin, then catch a smaller carrier. From St. Martin, it's a 15-minute flight on Saint Barth Commuter (

» READ MORE: www.stbarthcommuter.com

, about $165 round trip) or Winair ($289-$323 round trip). From St. Martin, ferries include the 45-minute Rapid Explorer (

, $108 round trip) or the Edge (

, $90 round trip).

Best for:

Fans of seashell-covered beaches (rare in the Caribbean), a French vibe, nightclubbing and celebrity-spotting.

Things to do:

Windsurf, water-ski, sail. Fish for barracuda and blue marlin. Play on 14 white-sand beaches, many secluded. Stop in Corossol, where women in Breton sunbonnets weave palms, and see the Inter-oceans Museum's 7,000-seashell collection. Shop duty-free for Hermes and Cartier in Gustavia. Eat crepes at sidewalk cafes. Enjoy smoke-free air: Since Jan. 1, smoking is prohibited in enclosed public spaces.

Lodging:

About half the beds are in houses and apartments, including Villa Casa Coco (

» READ MORE: www.casacoco.fr

, from $1,600 a week) near Gustavia, and Salines Garden beach cottages (

» READ MORE: www.salinesgarden.com

, $114-$177 a night). Family-run hotels include the 21-room Tropical Hotel (

, from $163) and Le Village St. Jean (

, from $164), where cottages and rooms are in a tropical garden.

Information:

» READ MORE: www.st-barths.com

, 011-590-590-278-727.

Nevis

Size:

36 square miles

Population:

10,000

Getting there:

Fly to St. Martin, San Juan, Antigua or St. Kitts, then take a smaller plane or ferry. American Eagle (

» READ MORE: www.aa.com

) flies from San Juan to Nevis (about $541 round trip next month). From St. Martin, catch a 10-minute flight on LIAT (

» READ MORE: www.liat.com

, from $93.50 each way) or Winair (from $253 round trip). From the St. Kitts airport, take a taxi to the ferry (

), which costs $20 round trip.

Best for:

Beach and water-sports lovers and nature, history and archaeology enthusiasts.

Things to do:

Hike to the top of a 3,300-foot extinct volcano. Listen to monkeys chatter on a rain-forest hike. Visit Charlestown, the sleepy Victorian capital. Smell orchids at the Botanical Garden. Scuba around shipwrecks. Tour Herbert Heights Village's thatched-roof cottages. Ride horses along the 9-mile Upper Round Road Trail. Visit refurbished plantation houses and see ruins of sugar plantations. Check out the Culturama festival July 24 to Aug 4.

Lodging:

With 416 hotel rooms and suites and more than 100 villas, options range from apartments and guesthouses to historic plantation inns and a five-star resort. There's the Hermitage Plantation Inn (

» READ MORE: www.hermitagenevis.com

, from $170), the cut-stone buildings of Old Manor Hotel (

» READ MORE: www.oldmanornevis.com

, $290-$380), and the Banyan Tree B&B (

» READ MORE: www.banyantreeBandB.com

, from $135), a working farm with Barbados Blackbelly sheep.

Information:

» READ MORE: www.nevisnaturally.com

, 1-866-556-3847.

St. John

U.S. Virgin Islands

Size:

28 square miles

Population:

about 5,000

Getting there:

Fly to St. Thomas, then taxi over to the Charlotte Amalie waterfront (about $7) or Red Hook (about $14) to catch a ferry to Cruz Bay. From Red Hook, passenger ferries (

) take 20 minutes ($10 round trip; luggage, $2 per piece); from Charlotte Amalie, 40 to 45 minutes ($22; $3 per bag). Or take a car ferry ($42-$50 round trip, including passengers). Ferry info:

.

Best for:

Nature lovers and families.

Things to do:

Hike the Reef Bay Trail in Virgin Islands National Park. Explore more than 35 beaches, including Trunk Bay, renowned for its snorkeling trail. Go birding - there are 140 species, including an abundance of hummingbirds. Dodge wild goats while trekking from Salt Pond Bay to Ram Head Point. See the Annaberg Plantation sugar-mill ruins. Snorkel, dive, sail, kayak and windsurf; ride horses and donkeys.

Lodging:

St. John has everything from park camping to exclusive resorts. B&Bs include Garden by the Sea (

» READ MORE: www.gardenbythesea.com

, from $160) and Hillcrest Guesthouse (

» READ MORE: www.hillcreststjohn.com

, from $155), where a tropical garden includes an Amish gazebo. The Caneel Bay resort (

» READ MORE: www.caneelbay.com

, from $395) has 166 luxe rooms, without phones or TVs. Camping at Cinnamon Bay (

» READ MORE: www.cinnamonbay.com

) costs $30 for a bare tent site, or $64 to $88 including tent; cottages start at $77.

Information:

» READ MORE: www.usvitourism.vi

, 1-800-372-8784.