20 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit
Welcome to the Caribbean, a breathtaking blend of islands for anyone in search of paradise, an explosion of colors and beautiful beaches. From shining reefs to high-mountain peaks, sensual sounds of reggae to spicy salsa and secret hideouts, the Caribbean is incredibly diverse. And, if a visit to these alluring islands is on your bucket list, these 20 destinations will indeed tickle your fancy.
1. The Dominican Republic
Arguably the most geographically diverse country in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic boasts dramatic mountain scenes, picturesque colonial buildings, desert scrublands, and beaches galore. A visit to Santo Domingo, the capital city, allows you to enjoy the views of Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest fortress in the Americas and the Cathedral Santa Maria la Menor, a sixteenth-century cathedral.
Meanwhile, the resort town of Bayahibe offers the best scuba diving experience in the entire Dominican Republic, with more than twenty dive sites. Of course, your visit here isn’t complete without touring the world-famous Punta Cana. A popular beach destination, Punta Cana gives you a perfect mix of everything from racing speedboats to swimming with sharks, zip lining, sea fishing, and catamaran sailing not to mention whale watching.
2. Puerto Rico
Perfumed by sea breezes and slow-roasted pork, Puerto Rico is an adventure seeker’s pleasure dome. This sun-kissed medley strikes a perfect balance of American and Spanish influences, complete with a rich history. Be sure to tour the El Yunque National Forest to experience Puerto Rico’s nature at its best and the Vieques to sample local cuisine in high-end hotels.
Rincon, also known as “Pueblo del Surfing” is the place to be if surfing is your thing. Luquillo beach provides a quiet escape from the hustle and bustles of the city life, with gorgeous palm trees lining the stretch. And then there is the Rio Camuy Cave Park, an expansive area that covers up to 268 acres thought to be the 3rd most extensive cave system on the planet.
More than 1.5 million visitors throng Aruba every year – and for some good reasons. Top on the list of places to visit is De Palm Island. Here, you can opt to embark on a full or half-day adventure and take part in activities such as banana boat rides or salsa lessons.
The Bushiribana gold mill is a must see. Located near Ceru Plat hills, this site was once home to more than three million pounds of gold. The California lighthouse is Aruba’s most recognizable landmark. This 100-foot tall structure offers one best view of the island’s serrated coastline. Awesome!
4. U.S Virgin Islands
You’ve got to love the U.S Virgin Islands. Famous for verdant hills, reefs and white-sand beaches, these isles are among the best places to visit in the Caribbean. The Virgin Islands National park draws more than one million tourists annually, making it the single most toured attraction in the archipelago.
On top of that, the Trunk Bay is the most photographed beach on St. John Island, thanks to its gorgeous, sugar-sand beach surrounded by turquoise water. Charlotte Amalie, the U.S Virgin Islands capital, is amazingly beautiful, with a background of green hills and red-roofed homes. It also has a collection of entertainment joints and restaurants as well as jewelry shops.
Jamaica is peculiar and powerfully striking. The only Caribbean country with its soundtrack, it has a unique culture, tucked somewhere between the Old and New Worlds. A tour to Jamaica takes you to Negri beach one of the most fascinating beaches in the Caribbean. Be sure to check it out if you love rafting as you glide down the scenic river on a bamboo raft.
Dunn’s, a 180-meter stretch of terrace waterfalls is a grand attraction you must see while in Jamaica. Or, you can travel to Port Antonio, a laid-back, somewhat sleepy village for a fishing expedition. In the meantime, Kingston, the country’s capital, offers the first-hand encounter with the island’s musical roots.
Home to sparkling white sand beaches lined with sea-grape trees and coconut palms, Anguilla is the Caribbean’s dream come true. Its dramatic reefs and crystal clear water offer fun-filled snorkeling, kayaking, and sailing experiences that any visitor will cherish.
Top attractions include Shoal Bay East, a bright white beach with a couple of world-class resorts and restaurants ready to serve your favorite dish. The Dolphin Discovery, a secluded area of the Blowing Point beach, gives you the best chance to kiss a dolphin while the Fountain Cavern National Park is undoubtedly one of the top archeological sites in the Caribbean. Other notable places of interest include the Heritage Collection museum and the Wallblake house.
Dominica flouts the Caribbean cliché in more than one ways. Sure, there are no white powdery beaches, pool parties or millions of tourists booking flights to this island. But, there’s a reason Dominica goes by the nickname “nature island.” It is the destination to visit if you’re an eco-adventurer in search of long hiking trails, hot springs, and pleasurable diving.
The Boiling Lake is perhaps the most popular attraction on the island. The second largest hot spring on the planet, it generates hot steam with temperature ranges of anywhere between 82 to 92 degrees Celsius. The Cabrits National Park conserves delightful coral reefs, black sand beaches, a rainforest, and a swampland. And if you visit in April through to June, you’ll love taking part in DOMFESTA, Dominica’s festival of arts.
8. St. Lucia
St. Lucia is rich culturally and geographically despite its small size. A down-to-earth island, St. Lucia is breathtakingly magnificent with hidden beaches and old plantations. Don’t miss to see the Pitons, St. Lucia’s towering mountains and part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Plus, you may want to explore them under the water if you’re a diver.
The Marigot Bay offers a brilliant view of yachts bristling across the waters while the Tet Paul nature trail takes you to St. Vincent and Martinique where you can enjoy spectacular views of the island below. The Morne Coubaril Estate preserves a vast plantation of manioc, coconut, and cocoa. You can even take a horseback tour around the estate. How about that!
9. St. Bart’s
Spend your day enjoying the untouched beauty of St. Bart’s white sandy beaches and remarkable snorkeling area. See the sights and sounds of the island at your leisure, breathing in the clean air in a calm and relaxed ambiance. Indeed, St. Bart’s isn’t the largest of the Caribbean islands, but it has a lot to offer.
Nestled in the heart of St. Bart’s is St. Jean, a tiny village with divine restaurants, boutiques, and shopping malls. Flamands Beach is not only vast but also one of its mesmerizing attractions. Here, you can surf or swim if the weather is right. And the beauty of it is that the beaches have enough shade, so you don’t have to bring your umbrella. Nice!
Barbados has it all – in every sense of the word. Known for its winning beaches, it offers a smashing nightlife too. You should consider visiting this island if you’re a party animal out to have a good time during your next vacation outing. With a UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital, Barbados has a warm and welcoming populace to make you feel at home from day one.
Some of the places to visit here include the Carlisle Bay, a popular scuba diving and swimming spot. The Barbados Garrison allows you to view captivating ancient attractions including 17th-century cannons and the George Washington house built in 1705. And then there is the Nidhe Israel synagogue, dating 1654!
11. The Bahamas
The Bahamas offers one of the best backdrops to relax in the Caribbean. Indeed, there much more to this chain of subtropical islands than a cruise ship stopover. A popular holiday destination for sun-starved Americans, the Bahamas is a collection of 700 magnificent islands and up to 2,400 cays.
Be sure to visit the Atlantis Paradise Island for some swimming or shopping in the many shops lining the streets. Nassau, a cruise ship port gives you the chance to take part in catamaran rides while Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park provide a snorkeling experience like no other with up to 30 meters of visibility under the luminous water.
12. Turks and Caicos
Buried at the southern end of the Bahamian archipelago, the Turks and Caicos Islands escape most adventure seekers attention. Still, these low sand cays are home to some of the most artistic coral reefs you’ll ever see anywhere on the planet.
Beyond the long stretches of beaches and stellar resorts is the Chalk Sound National park, a lovely lagoon with tons of limestone deposits cut away from the ocean by a thin layer of sand. The Sapodilla Bay is secluded and peaceful, making it a perfect place if you want some time alone. Don’t forget to swim with stingrays at the comely Gibbs Cay.
13. The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands is the place to be if you want to hang around as you hoist a jib in one of the 50 graceful isles. With a steady flow of calm currents, trade winds, pirate ship bar, and protected bays, British Virgin Islands is one of the most preferred sailing destinations in the world.
Tortola, the main island is famous for its thriving nightlife and diving prowess. Head over to Virgin Gorda to sample what it is like to live like a billionaire as you view super expensive yachts. And if you have the time, visit Jost Van Dyke, popularly known as the “barefoot island.”
14. Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands host more than 2 million visitors annually. These isles are a hot spot if you’re a cruise ship passenger who wants to spend a couple of hours swimming, sunbathing and shopping before pulling out of the port.
The Stingray City is without a doubt one of the most-sought-after shallow dives and water snorkel sites in the entire Caribbean. George Town, Cayman Island’s charming capital, allows you pop into duty-free shops and grab some art galleries at a price that won’t burn through your wallet. And then there is the AtlanAtlanis submarine for an unforgettable underwater world experience. Brilliant!
15. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
There’s more to St. Vincent and the Grenadines than being the playground of the rich and famous. A visit here will bring you face to face with idyllic, exotic island life, complete with powdery beaches and crystal clear water moving from side to side on the shores.
Some of the places to see include Petit St. Vincent, a privately owned island, sprinkled with top-notch resorts. The Palm Island is a little paradise and an excellent place to snorkel. Don’t conclude your holiday without touring the Salt Whistle Bay for a sunbathing experience you’ll live to remember for a long time.
There are many reasons Curacao is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. For starters, its commercial capital is a beehive of activities, giving you a chance to interact with the locals and buy some of their wares. You will love the Dutch colonial architecture and ancient museums.
But, that’s not all there is to Curacao. The Floating Market, a thoughtful network of boats is not only impressive but also a place to purchase fresh fruits, veggies, and seafood. The Curacao Ostrich Farm offers an exciting safari where you get to learn about the Emu and of course, the African Ostrich. Oh and, Christoffelpark is the largest national park on the island.
17. St Kitts and Nevis
St Kitts and Nevis are near perfect islands. With mystical forests, mind-bending views and breathtaking scenery, this two-island nation boasts beauteous beaches and mountains, to provide activities that allow you to engage both your mind and body while on vacation.
St Kitts is relatively larger with a host of attractions ranging from the Brimstone Hill Fortress to Basseterre and the stretch of welcoming hotels at Frigate Bay. Nevis, on the other hand, is home to a volcanic mountain and colonial buildings. Here, you can enjoy nature walks or take a stroll along the handful but glittering beaches.
Guadeloupe combines dozens of islands and a wealth of places to visit including private beaches and soaring peaks. The two main islands mimic butterfly wings joined together by a mangrove swamp and a few bridges. Grande-Terre, the eastern island has a couple of beach towns with pink sand to lie on as you sip your favorite drink.
Basse-Tree is mountainous, and home to the awe-inspiring Parc National de la Guadeloupe. Even then, the highlight of this western island is the gorgeous La Soufriere volcano. Guadeloupe’s “mainland” hosts a few other isles including La Desirade, Marie Galante and Les Saintes to give you a mix of everything you’d expect from a top Caribbean destination.
The first impression of Havana is that of a crowded place, overly contradictory, too daring, withered down by half a century of neglect. However, a closer look reveals an alluring island with all you’d need for a fun-filled vacation.
Top attractions include Habana Vieja, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Castillo de Los Tres Reyes Del Morro a 17th-century fort built to counter pirate attacks. The National Capital Building, also known as El Capitolio towers above other structures to bring memories of the Capitol building in the United States. What’s more? Make a point of walking along Paseo del Prado, one of the most beautiful streets on the island.
20. St-Martin & Sint Maarten
Okay. St-Martin & Sint Maarten is the planet’s smallest parcel of land divided into two nations. What does that tell you? Well, it implies a place of diversity and incredible cultural mix that blend up to 120 different nationalities speaking over 80 languages! With such a variety, St-Martin & Sint Maarten had to feature in our best places to visit in the Caribbean list.
Despite the lack of size, St-Martin & Sint Maarten has 37 white sand beaches and stretches of coves and bays. Here, you can enjoy water sports including diving, snorkeling, and Jet Skiing. There are zip lining and hiking adventures too. It doesn’t get better than that!
The Caribbean has some of the most attractive holiday destinations you can get anywhere in the world. You only need to choose, pack your bag, and head over there for some moments of fun and pleasure.