Best Caribbean Islands - Vacations Destination Guide
Caribbean islands are so different and so alluring! Here we selected the best islands for your next Caribbean vacation. Some are tranquil and picturesque, others are upbeat and action-packed, but they all have their own charm. Read on to find out which activities and attractions each island offers and what makes them a great vacation destination.
Antigua & Barbuda
A twin-island country, Antigua and Barbuda are two Caribbean islands that entice tourists with the abundance of all-inclusive resorts, hundreds white-sand beaches and cobalt blue waters, great sailing and boating opportunities between multiple tiny islets. Antigua and Barbuda are a diving paradise with the great number of shipwrecks, natural underwater caves and corals reefs. Most tourists select Caribbean vacations in Antigua, as it's sister island Barbuda is very small and offers less activities. For a more tranquil Caribbean experience, take a day trip to Barbuda on a boat.
The smallest, but most popular of the three Dutch Caribbean islands known as ABC (the others being Bonaire and Curacao), Aruba offers fun and active Caribbean vacations. Gorgeous white-sand beaches, azure water, diving and snorkeling sites, casinos and bustling nightlife exist on the Western side of Aruba. The desert-like, Eastern part of the island is covered in cacti of various shapes and sizes, and calls for an exploration by off road vehicles or on a horseback. Aruba's capital Oranjestad is a bustling city and a popular shopping destination for cruise boats patrons.
Bahamas is an archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, consisting of over 700 islands of various sizes, but only a few of them are popular Caribbean vacations spots - all with a different flavor. The most popular action-packed destinations in Bahamas are Freeport on Grand Bahama Island and Nassau located on New Providence Island, along with a tiny and Paradise Island located nearby. For a more quiet, relaxed vacation select Eleuthera island, Great Exuma - the largest cay of Exuma region consisting of multiple cays and famous for the swimming pigs living here, or a small quiet Harbour Island. Snorkeling and diving are among the most popular activities in Bahamas with plenty of coral reefs and scuba diving sites. James Bond fans love visiting Bahamas because it was a filming location of Thunderball, Licence to Kill and Casino Royale movies.
A small pear shaped island, Barbados stands to the west from other Caribbean islands. Barbados is a little gem, offering a mix of unique Caribbean culture with British influence, such as driving on the left side of the road. Beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, great food, never-ending water and land activities and Bajan hospitality are what make Barbados a desired Caribbean vacation spot. Harrison's Cave is the most popular natural attraction in Barbados. The island also boasts duty-free shopping at low prices.
Bermuda is a British overseas territory, located in the North Atlantic Ocean to the north from other Caribbean islands. It's considered Caribbean only politically, and not geographically. Bermudan culture is a blend of British charm and modern American conveniences. Bermuda offers plenty of things to do during a Caribbean vacation - from shopping to water sports, diving and snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and an aquarium. Another attraction of note in Bermuda is Crystal & Fantasy Caves. The Bermuda island is mostly famous for it's pink-sand beaches.
British Virgin Islands
With more than 60 big and tiny islands to explore, British Virgin Islands is a sailor's playground. Most of the islands are volcanic in origin, and are remarkably picturesque and different. While most of the islands are uninhabited, the main islands that are visited by tourists most often are Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke. Caribbean vacations in BVI are quiet, low-key and revolve around sailing, snorkeling and diving among the vivid coral reefs.
Cayman Islands is a British colony, consisting of three islands - Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Grand Cayman is the most popular destination among all Cayman Islands for Caribbean vacations, with most tourists living and playing on the Seven Mile Beach. The island is also a popular offshore banking destination and is a blend of picturesque beaches, multiple modern conveniences, great restaurants and multiple snorkeling and diving sites. The two little islands - Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are popular among fishing and wild life aficionados.
Curaçao is the largest of the three Dutch Caribbean Islands known as ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao). The island is easily recognizable on pictures thanks to the beautiful houses in the Dutch style, but more colorful. Caribbean vacations lovers will find plenty of activities in Curaçao - thirty-eight clean beaches, great snorkeling and diving sites, rugged terrains for ATV and other off road rides, as well as beautiful colonial buildings in the island's capital Willemstad, that can be explored by foot or by funny-looking Tuk Tuk cars.
Dominica is one of the less-explored by tourists (and hence less expensive) Caribbean islands. Dominica's black sand beaches are of volcanic origin, but don't let the color of the beaches fool you. Dominica island offers plenty of diving and snorkeling opportunities, as well as many natural attractions to explore - Boiling Lake with volcanic hot springs, tropical rainforests, mangrove rivers, gorgeous Emerald Pool in the middle of a rainforest, and multiple hiking trails. Dominica's Wacky Rollers Adventure Park offers plenty of activities for daredevils looking for fun-filled Caribbean vacations.
Dominican Republic is located on the second-largest Caribbean island (after Cuba), that it shares with another country - Haiti. Dominican Republic is, perhaps the first place that jumps to mind when people think about Caribbean vacations. And deservedly so - with multiple affordable all-inclusive resorts catering to your every need, white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and palm trees, Dominican Republic has it all a tourist may look for, and then some. The country offers an incredible number of activities - from water sports, to adventure excursions such as zip lines, to nature and wildlife and cultural explorations of the country's capital Santo Domingo. The most popular destinations in the Dominican Republic are Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and Samana.
If you are a fan of unique spicy cuisine, diving and snorkeling among marine life, ship wrecks and colorful reefs, you will have memorable Caribbean vacations in Grenada. What distinguishes Grenada from other Caribbean islands is the ever-present spicy aroma that permeates the air and food. After all, Grenada is famous for production of exotic spices such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and ginger. Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique are the three main islands of the country, framed with gorgeous beaches. The most famous beach in Grenada is Grand Anse beach, offering many resorts and activities.
Jamaica is a perfect spot for Caribbean vacations for the entire family - after all, all-inclusive resorts were invented here! Catering to your every whim, these resorts are sprawled over two most popular Jamaican vacation spots - Montego Bay and Negril, as well as around the less-visited Ocho Rios, Fallmouth and Runaway Bay. The third largest Caribbean island (after Cuba and the island shared by Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica offers a multitude of diverse experiences - beautiful beaches, water activities, adventurous tours, ziplines, horseback riding, dolphin swims. You will also get a taste of African, Asian, Arawak-Taino, Middle Eastern and European cultures that found their expression in Jamaican music, crafts and cuisine.
In Martinique, you will experience French influence everywhere - from language to fashion, to cuisine to architecture. Abundance of gourmet restaurants and a picturesque setting make Martinique perfect for romantic Caribbean vacations.This small French Caribbean island is charming and sensual, with stylish hotels and lush hills, scenery of sugarcane and banana plants, plenty of ruins and historical monuments. Martinique's beaches range in color from white-sand south of the island's capital Fort-de-France, to almost black volcanic sand to the north.
Puerto Rico is a US territory and a unique Caribbean island that has it all you are looking for in fun-filled a Caribbean vacation. The island is famous for its great food that combines Cuban, Brazilian, Dominican and other Caribbean cuisines. White-sand beaches are great for surfing, swimming and snorkeling. Nightlife is active, with trendy nightclubs, bars and disco clubs. Puerto Rico island boasts an abundance of historic sites, rich culture, Spanish colonial architecture. Nature lovers will find plenty of sites to see - Puerto Rico is home to El Yunque Rainforest, Rio Camuy Cave Park, and the famous Bioluminescent Bay - Puerto Mosquito.
St. Kitts And Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis is a dual island nation in the Caribbean, immersed in rich history. The islands boast a large number of historic sites, including 17th century estates, which used to be sugar plantations that took advantage of the slave labor. These estates were transformed into beautiful inns that could make a luxurious resort blush. The western part of St. Kitts island is dominated by the Mount Liamuiga volcano; Nevis island has Nevis Peak volcano in the middle. While both Caribbean islands have great beaches and many water and land activities and eco-tours, Nevis is the more relaxed and less developed than St. Kitts. Choose either island if you are looking for less crowded Caribbean vacations.
St. Lucia is a Caribbean island with a distinguishing landmark - twin mountains known as The Pitons (The Peaks in French). Another popular attraction in St. Lucia is a drive-in dormant volcano - Soufriere Volcano, also known as Sulphur Springs, which currently emits sulphur and where you can get your mud bath and come out rejuvenated, despite the peculiar smell. St. Lucia's beaches range in color from white to black. The abundance of coral reefs call for great diving and snorkeling. The beautiful landscape of the mountainous St. Lucia invite honeymooners and romantic couples from all over the world, making the island one of the most romantic Caribbean vacation spots.
St. Maarten/ St. Martin
Sint Maarten/Saint Martin is a lively Caribbean island with two distinct unique flavors: on the one side, it's Dutch, on the other - French. While there are no restrictions visiting both sides, they use different currencies and have different ambiance. The Dutch Sint Marrten is more urban and bustling, while the French Saint Martin is more quaint and picturesque. Shopping in the Dutch part of the island should definitely be on your to-do list during Sint Maarten/Saint Martin Caribbean vacations! This unique island features 37 white-sand beaches with cobalt-blue water, multiple water sports activities, snorkeling and diving, casinos and florishing nightlife.
St. Vincent And The Grenadines
St. Vincent And The Grenadines is a chain of 32 islands of volcanic origin, with St. Vincent being the biggest of them. Less touched by civilization than the majority of other Caribbean islands, St. Vincent and The Grenadines entice tourists looking for a tranquil Caribbean vacation. Many of the islands are untouched by civilization and create a beautiful setting for sailing enthusiasts. St. Vincent And the Grenadine islands boat many uncrowded white-sand beaches, snorkeling, many eco-tours and natural places. You can find here luxurious resorts located not only in St. Vincet, but also on the many smaller islands such as Palm Island, Petit St. Vincent, Canouan.
Trinidad And Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a nation located on two southernmost Caribbean islands near Venezuela - the bigger Trinidad, and the smaller Tobago. Trinidad is mostly famous around the world for its Trinidad and Tobago Carnival (falling on Monday and Tuesday in either February or March), plenty of other festivals throughout the year. Trinidad is the most colorful and the liveliest of the two islands, with the most activities, a banging nightlife in the islands' capital Port-of-Spain, and steelpan music that you may hear all over the island. Come here for the culture, loud music, party, food and fun. Those looking for more calm Caribbean vacations will be find them on Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago beaches are of pale pink color, and snorkeling is better on the smaller of the islands - Tobago, because Trinidad beaches are not as pristine as one wishes. Both islands make excellent bird-watching spots, with multiple bird species living on the islands.
Turks And Caicos
Beach lovers, don't miss Turks and Caicos - the chain of 40 Caribbean islands in the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the Dominican Republic, boasting some of the best wild beaches in the Caribbean. While only 8 of the Turks and Caicos 40 islands are inhabited, the most tourists choose either Providenciales or Grand Turk for their Caribbean vacations. Just outside of Grace Bay on Grand Turk you will find The Wall - one of the best diving sports in the world - the most picturesque coral reef. Other outdoor activities in Turks and Caicos center around sun-tanning, fishing and water sports. If you are a beach enthusiast, you can't wish for better deserted beaches were you can get away from it all.
US Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands consists of three main Caribbean islands - St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John, and many little islets. St. Thomas and St. John are the most popular destinations among U.S. Virgin islands, with plenty of things to do. The atmosphere here is laid back and relaxing. St. Thomas, surrounded by multiple cays and islets, is a popular sailing destination. Most part of St. John is covered by the Virgin Islands National Park, that you can explore by foot. You'll find here many beautiful beaches with glimmering waters - Caneel Bay, Hawksnest Bay, Coral Bay. The main attractions on St. Thomas are Mangrove Lagoon, Hassel Island, Sapphire Beach. All three islands are perfect for relaxing Caribbean vacations for those looking to indulge in snorkeling, sun-tanning, sailing and fine dining.