Deciding where to go in the Caribbean can be quite the task, as there are so many paradise islands too choose from.
Everyone will have their own opinion and advise you to go to one over the over.
In this article, I will take you through 12 amazing islands to visit in the Caribbean, giving you real insights into their unique appeal, experiences, and attractions.
Ranging from the British Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico, there is undoubtedly a Caribbean destination that will suit your preferences and interests.
Hopefully, I can make the decision process a little easier for you.
- The Caribbean offers a diverse range of islands, each with its unique appeal, attractions, and experiences.
- Some popular destinations include the British Virgin Islands, Aruba, and Saint Lucia, while others like Anguilla and Turks and Caicos provide more tranquil getaways.
- When choosing a Caribbean vacation, consider factors like natural beauty, tourist crowd, and local culture, as well as activities such as sailing, snorkeling, and exploring historic sites.
1. British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, or BVI for short, is an archipelago that consists of four main islands: Virgin Gorda, Tortola, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke.
Apart from these, there are nearly 60 smaller isles in the region. Known for its reliably mild climate and gentle winds throughout the year, these islands have an interesting history.
In the 1600s, British planters took over from the original Dutch settlers and established the islands as a British colony. Today, the BVI remains a territory under the British crown.
I must say, island hopping by boat is a popular way to make the most of your vacation when visiting the British Virgin Islands.
Each island has something to brag about, and the weather is near perfect year-round. The dry season here spans from December through April, making it an ideal time to visit.
However, it’s best to avoid the hurricane season, which occurs from June to November.
These islands are renowned for their excellent sailing and yachting opportunities, as well as their many dive sites, beautiful beaches, and other tropical attractions. Moreover, the dazzling beaches and clear waters draw visitors from around the world.
When you visit the British Virgin Islands, do take note of the different characteristics of each island. For instance, Virgin Gorda is known for its picturesque beaches, Tortola for its charming towns, Anegada for its coral reefs and unique wildlife, and Jost Van Dyke for its vibrant nightlife and beach bars.
The British Virgin Islands offer a serene and delightful Caribbean experience that allows you to explore multiple islands, indulge in water sports, and create unforgettable memories. I highly recommend adding the British Virgin Islands to your list of must-see destinations.
In the 1950s, Aruba was one of the first Caribbean islands to really exploit its tourist potential. Early cruise ship advertising cashed in on the Calypso craze among Americans at the time.
The crystal clear waters of Aruba make it ideal for that perfect island getaway.
Some people say it’s not as popular as some of the other Caribbean islands, but that makes it one of the best places to go because you can enjoy the island’s beaches and attractions at their best without the masses of large crowds.
Two of the best beaches on Aruba are Eagle Beach and Palm Beach.
These spots offer pristine white sands and gentle waves where you can relax and swim in the lukewarm water. These beaches are perfect for snorkeling.
When I visit Aruba, I find it’s not overrun with tourists like some other Caribbean destinations.
The natural beauty and a variety of activities make Aruba an attractive choice for those seeking a less crowded island experience.
Its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and friendly atmosphere make every trip to this island truly memorable. Learn more here
So if you’re looking for a Caribbean escape with fewer tourists and more authentic island charm, Aruba might be just what you’re searching for.
3. Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is a Caribbean island that boasts a friendly and peaceful atmosphere.
It was fought over by European powers for centuries, seven times British and seven times French. Today, it is one of the Caribbean’s independent nations and is known for its diverse landscape.
Unlike other islands with sandy coastlines, Saint Lucia appeals to travelers for its varied terrain.
One minute, you could be in a tropical rainforest, and the next, you could be exploring the belly of a volcano.
This makes it perfect for soft adventure, whether you’re looking to hike the mountains or go zip-lining through dense jungle.
The majority of the island’s resorts, attractions, and golf courses are set along the west coast, as are two of the main cities.
If you want to experience the wild jungle scenery, head to the east coast for a picturesque drive. Saint Lucia offers something unique for everyone, including hiking, zip-lining, and exploring volcano sites.
Beaches are not the primary focus on Saint Lucia since its terrain is vast and diverse. However, there are still gorgeous coastlines available for tourists to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation that offers more than just beaches, Saint Lucia is worth considering.
With its diverse landscape, friendly people, and unique attractions, this island offers a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers.
Barbados, a small island 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, offers a treasure trove of experiences for visitors.
With beautiful botanic gardens and rum distilleries, it provides the perfect setting for a quiet Caribbean vacation. The laid-back vibe on this island is one of its greatest appeals.
Beaches like the picturesque Carlisle Bay and Dover boast pristine white sands; ideal for beach lovers to spend their days relaxing and swimming in the warm waters. During your trip, take some time to explore Bridgetown.
The charming city is filled with stunning old architecture reminiscent of Victorian England, a testament to its colonial past. It’s worth noting that even after gaining independence from Great Britain in 1966, Barbados still holds tight to British traditions like afternoon tea, cricket, and horse racing.
Peak travel months to Barbados are December and January, so be prepared for higher costs during these times. I encourage you to take advantage of the island’s diverse offerings – from its stunning natural landscapes to the fascinating history and architecture.
Don’t forget to visit the renowned rum distilleries, where you can learn about the island’s favorite spirit and even sample some for yourself.
During your stay on this marvelous island, you’ll surely appreciate its authentic Caribbean charm, while making memories that last a lifetime.
Anguilla offers one of the most authentic Caribbean experiences because cruise ships are not allowed on the island.
This makes it a little bit less touristy, with no casinos or crazy noise, just pure tranquility.
Instead of large hotels, Anguilla has small villas on the beach, providing a more intimate and relaxing atmosphere.
The island is also home to some wonderful luxury resorts, especially for those looking for additional pampering.
With over 30 unspoiled beaches, it’s tough to miss out on the opportunity to explore the pristine shores of Anguilla.
The less crowded tourist scene makes it a more enjoyable and laid-back experience compared to some of the other Caribbean islands.
I can’t stress enough how much I love the tranquility of this island.
The absence of overcrowded beaches and the relaxing atmosphere make it a perfect destination for those who truly want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The crystal-clear waters surrounding Anguilla provide excellent opportunities for water-based activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and even just swimming in the warm Caribbean Sea.
The surrounding coral reefs support a diverse array of colorful marine life, making it a fantastic spot for underwater exploration.
In addition to its breathtaking beaches and inviting waters, Anguilla also offers a rich cultural experience.
The local people are incredibly friendly, creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Moreover, the island has managed to maintain its authenticity, providing a truly genuine Caribbean experience.
One thing I particularly love about Anguilla is its laid-back vibe and the fact that it’s not as commercialized as some of the other islands. This means you can truly experience the unique charm of the Caribbean without having to deal with the masses of tourists commonly found on other islands.
As someone who has visited many of the Caribbean islands, I can confidently say that Anguilla is a unique gem that should not be overlooked.
From the quaint, intimate accommodations to the numerous unspoiled beaches, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this peaceful island paradise.
6. Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is a small tropical archipelago located south of the Bahamas.
This destination offers the spectacular Grace Bay Beach, where most luxury and all-inclusive hotels and resorts are situated.
It’s the perfect destination for those seeking maximum comfort in a tropical setting.
One of the things that sets Turks and Caicos apart from other Caribbean destinations is its home to one of the largest Barrier Reef systems in the world.
This collection of coral islands provides unforgettable experiences for snorkeling and scuba diving enthusiasts.
With so much to explore underwater or on land, you won’t be disappointed in choosing Turks and Caicos for your vacation.
The appeal of Turks and Caicos doesn’t stop there, though. While it’s true that hotel prices may be higher than those found in other Caribbean islands, this destination can boast an average of 350 days of sunshine per year. With such an impressive amount of sunny days, it’s difficult to go wrong in choosing Turks and Caicos as your ideal vacation spot.
On top of its beautiful beaches and underwater experiences, this destination offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy an island getaway without the usual overcrowding and loud noise that comes with more touristy areas.
In Turks and Caicos, you can spend your relaxing vacation exploring the islands without being disturbed by masses of large crowds.
Overall, whether you’re looking to spend your days soaking up the sun on its beautiful beaches, diving deep into the ocean to explore the Barrier Reef, or simply enjoying the tranquility of this less touristy destination, Turks and Caicos is an excellent choice for your Caribbean vacation.
7. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a fantastic destination that offers a mix of beautiful landscapes and rich culture.
The island is home to the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system, making it a unique and exciting vacation destination.
Many people don’t realize that Puerto Rico is actually an island, which means your island vacation could be closer than you think if you’re traveling from the U.S.
One of the key attractions in Puerto Rico is its architecture, especially in Old San Juan.
This city is one of the best-preserved examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the Caribbean, featuring beautifully bright painted buildings and cobblestone streets on every corner. Exploring Old San Juan is a must for anyone interested in architecture and history.
Being an island, Puerto Rico also offers diverse ecosystems, from dry forests to incredible beaches. There is no shortage of beautiful spots for you to relax and enjoy your time on the island.
8. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of the most visited territories in the Caribbean, and it’s easy to see why.
Located near North America, the island is only a two and a half hour flight from Miami, making it the perfect Caribbean destination for US travelers who want to take advantage of great deals on vacations.
With incredible white-sand beaches, luxurious resorts, and a variety of entertainment options, the Dominican Republic has something to offer everyone.
One of the major attractions of the Dominican Republic is its coastline. Stretching for over 30 miles, the stunning beaches are perfect for lounging in the sun or swimming in the warm, crystal-clear ocean waters.
This island has made the most of its beautiful scenery, providing both luxurious and more affordable options for every kind of traveler.
In addition to the beautiful beaches, the Dominican Republic is home to the 16th century colonial city of Santo Domingo which is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. This stunning location has an authentic charm that makes it perfect for a Caribbean vacation.
As one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities, you can enjoy a walk through the historic streets, admiring the well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture that makes this island so unique.
But the Dominican Republic offers more than just stunning sandy shores and charming city streets. If you’re an adventure seeker, you’ll find plenty of activities here to satisfy your cravings. From exploring picturesque hiking trails to snorkeling and scuba diving alongside vibrant marine life, there’s never a dull moment in this amazing Caribbean destination.
I also recommend taking some time to explore the local culture and partake in traditional Dominican cuisine, which is sure to delight your taste buds while providing a unique Caribbean experience.
Visiting the Dominican Republic is a great way to immerse yourself in the Caribbean’s diverse natural beauty, incredible marine life, and rich historical charm.
Regardless of whether you’re there to simply relax on the white-sand beaches or delve into the island’s cultural and historical sites, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.
So next time you’re planning a Caribbean getaway, make sure to keep the Dominican Republic high on your list of destinations to explore.
Antigua is the larger of the two islands that make up the country of Antigua and Barbuda.
Over the years, I’ve observed that it has managed to offer an incredible Caribbean experience that doesn’t take away from the island’s authenticity but rather enhances it.
The highlight of Antigua is, of course, its beaches. With 365 beaches on the beautiful little island, there’s one for every day of the year, and they’re all unique.
During my time on Antigua, I took in the wonderful panoramic views of Shirley Heights and had the opportunity to explore its sister island, Barbuda, which is just as popular with visitors.
Don’t miss the chance to see Nelson’s Dockyard, a historical site on the island and another worthy contender for your travel itinerary.
In Antigua, I also enjoyed visiting Falmouth and English Harbor, which are popular destinations for yachts and sailing enthusiasts.
These harbors have a rich history, and many still have remnants of the British colonial era, such as forts and cannons. As you stroll through these areas, don’t forget to appreciate both the natural beauty of the island and the historic significance.
Notably, Antiguans have a deep appreciation for their culture and traditions, which is evident in their food and music. While on the island, I indulged in delicious local dishes like roti, ducana, and fish and fungi.
Traditional Antiguan music is heavily influenced by African rhythms, making for a lively atmosphere, especially during the annual Carnival which is a must-experience event for travelers.
A trip to Antigua wouldn’t be complete without a visit to St. John’s, the capital city. This bustling destination combines Caribbean charm with a vibrant urban atmosphere.
The city is home to numerous galleries, historical sites, and iconic architecture like the St. John’s Cathedral.
One of my favorite things to do in St. John’s was exploring the local markets where I found colorful crafts, fresh fruits, and mouth-watering street food.
One of the main reasons people visit Antigua is for its water sports, particularly sailing. As an island surrounded by reefs, Antigua offers some of the best opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving in the region. I discovered a vast array of marine life, including colorful fish, corals, and even turtles during my underwater adventures there.
Another unique feature of Antigua is its thriving art scene.
During my stay on the island, I encountered numerous art galleries and studios showcasing works by local and international artists.
Art lovers should definitely consider visiting the island’s Harmony Hall Art Centre, which hosts several exhibitions and events throughout the year.
Overall, my experience in Antigua was unforgettable, and I highly recommend adding this island to your list of Caribbean destinations.
Its blend of natural beauty, historical significance, and vibrant culture offers a unique and fulfilling vacation experience unlike any other.
On my journey through the Caribbean, I discovered the enchanting island of Martinique, nestled between Saint Lucia and Dominica.
This island won me over with its natural beauty and diverse landscape.
Roughly 30% of Martinique consists of rainforests, offering an abundance of opportunities for hiking and exploration.
The north side of Martinique is more mountainous and focuses on ecotourism, while the south caters to visitors, boasting the majority of hotels and beaches.
Found between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the best beaches in Martinique typically reside on the Caribbean side.
However, there’s more to this gem than just the sandy shores and adventure activities; its cuisine stands out as one of the main attractions for food lovers.
During my time in Martinique, I noticed that the vibrant island is a French-speaking territory, and this Francophone influence clearly extends to the culinary scene. As I ventured through the north and south of Martinique, I encountered delightful dishes and intriguing ingredients that had a charming French flair.
Beyond the stunning beaches, rich history, and thrilling adventures, Martinique presents a unique, culinary experience that left a lasting impression on me.
Trust me; your taste buds will thank you for giving them a chance to savor the mouthwatering wonders of Martinique’s diverse fare.
One can’t help but feel captivated by Martinique, an island that seamlessly blends its natural beauty with a rich cultural heritage, fascinating history, and delectable cuisine.
As part of my unforgettable journey through the Caribbean, this incredible destination will forever hold a special place in my heart and mind.
11. The Bahamas
The Bahamas is a beautiful destination made up of some 700 islands, located just off the coast of Florida.
I remember that it used to be mainly known for Atlantis, the Lost World-themed hotel and water park where even Michael Jackson once lived.
However, it’s a shame because the other 699 islands beyond New Providence offer vast differences and unique attractions.
In these parts of the Bahamas, you can find a variety of activities to fill your vacation days. National parks, scuba diving, shark diving, and exploring the underwater caves are some exciting activities available. The islands boast six distinct ecosystems, providing unique scenery and opportunities for exploration.
A great choice for visitors would be Grand Bahama, which continues to grow in popularity. This island allows you to feel liberated while experiencing everything the Bahamas has to offer. And don’t forget to explore the other islands as well, as each one has something different to offer.
While visiting the Bahamas, you can also enjoy the island’s incredible cuisine. With a mix of flavors and culinary traditions, there’s something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
So, indulge in the local dishes and experience the unique flavors this tropical paradise has to offer.
Another must-see recommendation when you’re in the Bahamas is checking out what they call Stingray City. Here, numerous stingrays swim around you inside the turquoise sea, providing a truly unforgettable experience.
In conclusion, the Bahamas is an excellent Caribbean destination with its stunning islands, beautiful scenery, thrilling activities, and mouth-watering cuisine. So, visit this tropical paradise that offers something for everyone and makes for an unforgettable vacation.
12. Grand Caymans
Grand Cayman is the largest island in the Cayman Islands and offers an incredible experience for travelers.
It’s known as a major world offshore financial haven for many wealthy individuals, but it also boasts amazing resorts and interesting restaurants.
In fact, it’s known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean.
When you visit Grand Cayman, you can take a Flavor Tour to experience the island’s diverse and delicious cuisine for yourself.
Additionally, from Grand Cayman, you can easily explore some of the other isles, such as Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
This gives you the opportunity to experience not just beach life, but also everything that the surrounding islands have to offer.
One must-see attraction on Grand Cayman is Stingray City. Here, you can interact with lots of stingrays swimming around you in the turquoise sea. This unique experience is something that you should not miss while visiting the Caribbean.
On top of all the amazing experiences available on Grand Cayman, you can also enjoy its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s an incredible destination to consider while planning your Caribbean vacation.
Let’s wrap this up
In conclusion, the Caribbean is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world. From the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas to the lush rainforests of Dominica, there is something for everyone in this tropical paradise.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a little bit of both, the Caribbean islands have it all.
So pack your bags, grab your sunscreen, and get ready to experience the beauty and wonder of these 12 stunning islands. You won’t be disappointed!