Discover the best Caribbean islands to visit, from the white sand beaches of Turks & Caicos to the snorkeling paradise of the British Virgin Islands 🛳
The Caribbean is home to over 7,000 islands, each with its own unique landscape, culture, and charm. With so many islands to choose from, deciding on the best Caribbean islands to visit can be overwhelming. Whether you’re looking for a caribbean vacation with luxurious beaches, thrilling water sports, lush rainforests, rich culture and history, or delicious cuisine, these are some of the top Caribbean islands not to miss.
Known for its gorgeous white and pink sand beaches, Barbados is a popular Caribbean destination amongst travelers. On the west coast, crescent-shaped Payne’s Bay and Sandy Lane beaches offer calm azure waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. To the south lies Bottom Bay, an expansive beach framed by palm trees perfect for relaxing. On the lively south coast, Accra Beach provides opportunities for boogie boarding in the gentle waves.
Inland, explore Harrison’s Cave, an intricate limestone cavern with stalactites, stalagmites, and crystal-clear underground pools. Or embark on a guided tour of one of the 17th-century plantation houses like St. Nicholas Abbey to experience Barbados’ storied rum and sugar trade history.
No trip to Barbados is complete without taking in a local horseracing meet at the historic Garrison Savannah or tasting Barbadian delicacies like cou cou (cornmeal and okra porridge), flying fish, and rum cake. With high-end luxury resorts, family-friendly hotels, great beaches within reach, Barbados has cemented itself as one of the best Caribbean islands.
Best beaches in Barbados: Payne’s Bay Beach, Bottom Bay Beach, Accra Beach
Best resorts in Barbados: Coral Reef Club, Colony Club at Elegant Hotels, Discovery Bay by Rex Resorts
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, located to the east of Puerto Rico, is renowned for having some of the region’s most beautiful beaches. Virgin Gorda is home to The Baths National Park, a unique collection of gigantic granite boulders melding with the brilliant azure waters to form sea pools and grottoes that visitors frequent. The iconic Spring Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke island is dotted with casual beach bars like the iconic Soggy Dollar.
Anegada island charms with its liberal sprinkling of reefs and 50 wrecks that make for legendary diving and snorkeling. These protected areas also draw sea turtles, dolphins and even the occasional whale shark. Island hopping via charter boat or ferry is the quintessential way to experience “the BVI.” Visitors can wile away hours on the epically long White Bay Beach on Jost Van Dyke or relax on the pink sands at Biras Creek Resort on Virgin Gorda. With yacht-laden harbors and luxury resorts but few high-rise hotels, the British Virgin Islands exude an air of exclusivity.
Best Beaches in the BVI: The Baths National Park, Spring Bay Beach, White Bay Beach
Best Resorts in BVI: Oil Nut Bay on Virgin Gorda, Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda, Scrub Island Resort
Turks & Caicos
Often heralded as having the best beaches in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos promises miles of powder soft sand and calm turquoise waters. The gem is Grace Bay beach, located on the island of Providenciales. Backed by lush tropical vegetation, the 12-mile strand draws for its striking beauty. Islands like Salt Cay and Grand Turk have remained relatively undeveloped, retaining their pristine shorelines and small populations.
Turks & Caicos is also regarded as one of the world’s best diving and snorkeling destinations. A reef system sits a mere 500 feet offshore parallel to the islands. These fertile grounds foster coral walls, canyons, wrecks and even humpback whales in the winter months. Other popular spots for divers and snorkelers include Gibbs Cay, French Cay, Northwest Point Marine National Park. and the Columbus Passage separating South Caicos and Grand Turk island. Given its enviable natural landscape, Turks & Caicos has become a top Caribbean destination for beachside vacations. Grace Bay sets the benchmark for Caribbean beaches while the string of secluded cays scattered across the islands reinforce Turks & Caicos as an unspoiled tropical paradise.
Best Beaches in Turks & Caicos: Grace Bay Beach, Sapodilla Bay Beach, Long Bay Beach
Best Resorts in Turks & Caicos : Seven Stars Resort & Spa, The Palms Turks and Caicos, The Somerset on Grace Bay
Puerto Rico pulses with an infectious energy, blending Caribbean paradise with Latin culture. Beyond the pastel-hued colonial buildings and lively nightlife of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico stuns with a myriad of natural wonders. Trek along the lush forest pathways that slice through El Yunque, the Caribbean’s only rainforest. At the Cabezas de San Juan Nature Reserve on the northeast coast, a mangrove lagoon and bioluminescent bay dazzle visitors. The unique bioluminescent Mosquito Bay’s micro-organisms produce an ethereal glow when disturbed. For beach bliss, head west to Rincón or Isabela, home to palm tree-fringed beaches like Jobos Beach, Shacks Beach or Sandy Beach that come buzzing to life at sunset. With limitless beaches, rich rainforests, stellar diving and budget-friendly all-inclusive resorts, Puerto Rico ranks amongst the best Caribbean islands.
Top Beaches in Puerto Rico: Carreras Beach, Balneario de Carolina, Jobos Beach
Best Resorts in Puerto Rico: El Conquistador Resort, Dorado Beach Ritz-Carlton Reserve, San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel
The Cayman Islands, located south of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea, enchant with laidback island charm. Grand Cayman offers Seven Mile Beach, an extended stretch of powdery white sand with tranquil jade waters on the island’s southwestern coast. Sister islands Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have remained largely untouched, retaining their pristine beaches and natural habitats. Stingray City, a series of shallow sandbars found off the coast of Grand Cayman Island, allows visitors to pet and feed the creatures in waist-high water. One of the top diving destinations globally, notable dive sites in Grand Cayman include Bloody Bay Wall and the ex-USS Kittiwake, a World War II shipwreck.
Beyond underwater adventures in vibrant reef systems, the tropical islands feature coastal mangrove wetlands, diverse birdlife, orchids and even bioluminescent bays like Bonnie Woodward’s Luminous Lagoon. With an enviable combination of adventure and luxury against a tropical backdrop, Cayman Islands is a magnificent Caribbean escape.
Best beaches in Cayman Islands: Seven Mile Beach, Rum Point Beach, Starfish Beach
Best resorts in Cayman Islands: Le Soleil d’Or, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Margaritaville Beach Resort Grand Cayman
With soaring green peaks, white sandy beaches and verdant rainforest, St. Lucia captivates. Known as the ‘Helen of the West Indies’ after the mythical Greek beauty, St. Lucia seduces with unrivaled natural splendor and rich French-Caribbean heritage. Iconic conical peaks known as the Pitons tower over dense valleys snaking deep into the tropical terrain. Soufriere, the old capital founded in 1746, exudes faded Caribbean charm with gingerbread-trimmed wooden houses, volcanic hot springs, and tranquil beaches like Anse Chastanet Beach with dazzling reefs offshore. From trekking through the verdant rainforest along Bruce Trail to lounging on silky smooth Rodney Bay Beach or Reduit Beach, St Lucia satisfies a thirst for adventure and relaxation in equal measure. With luxury resorts like Ladera Resort and Hotel Chocolat cocooned in nature to value-packed all-inclusives, St. Lucia has it all.
Best Beaches in St. Lucia: Anse Chastanet Beach, Sugar Beach Viceroy, Reduit Beach
Best Resorts in St. Lucia: Ladera Resort, Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Stonefield Estate Resort
Antigua charms with 17th-century English Harbour perched on the sparkling blue-green waters on the south coast, anchored by Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. This former British naval base from the 1700s has been meticulously restored and named a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, it’s Antigua’s fabled 365 beaches, one for every day of the year, that beckons visitors from afar. Some of the top beaches on Antigua include velvety white sand Turner’s Beach on the southwest coast and Half Moon Bay found on the eastern tip with its half-moon shape. Dickenson Bay unfurls blue flag status beaches, reef-protected swimming and abundant bars and restaurants. Its position outside the Caribbean’s hurricane belt means sublime weather almost year-round. With aquamarine waters, stellar dive sites, and iconic resorts like Jumby Bay Island, Curtain Bluff and Carlisle Bay perched amid tropical gardens, Antigua seduces with its easy island pace and natural bounty. Sailing amongst the jagged cliffs and secluded coves aboard a catamaran or relaxing on the sandy shores with a rum punch in hand, Antigua attracts as much with its vibrant sailing culture as with its spectacular beaches that unravel like strands of ivory ribbon along this lush island.
Best Beaches in Antigua: Dickenson Bay, Half Moon Bay, Darkwood Beach, Turner’s Beach, Runaway Beach.
Best Resorts in Antigua: Jumby Bay Island, Curtain Bluff, Carlisle Bay, Galley Bay Resort, Hermitage Bay
With towering mountains, lush rainforests, and brilliant coral reefs, the rugged beauty of Dominica casts a spell. Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protects boiling lakes and soaring volcanic peaks as it stretches across 17,000 verdant acres. Some of Dominica’s top attractions include the world’s only drive-in volcano, Sulphur Springs, and the Caribbean’s longest running river, Indian River. Embark on jungle hikes and zipline adventures across this untamed landscape dotted with secluded waterfalls and natural hot springs ideal for soaking weary muscles.
Dominica’s top beaches may be relatively small, but they astound nonetheless. At Champagne Beach, volcanic gas bubbles through the shallows resembling pools of sparkling wine. Douglas Bay’s black sands set off the brilliant blue bay waters beautifully. Meanwhile Scott’s Head peninsula blends dramatic cliffs with tiny patches of golden sand and underwater pinnacles swarming with sea life. With rustic eco-lodges, Dominica provides awindow into raw natural beauty unlike any other Caribbean island.
Top Beaches in Dominica: Champagne Beach, Douglas Bay Beach, Scott’s Head Peninsula Beach
Best Resorts in Dominica: Jungle Bay Resort & Spa, Secret Bay Resort, Rosalie Bay Resort
St. Martin/Sint Maarten
The small island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten exudes a lively atmosphere with its bustling towns, stellar dining scene, and lively nightlife. Divided into two countries with the French-influenced Saint-Martin on the northern side and Dutch Sint Maarten on the southern end, the island blends continental flair. Philipsburg’s salt-bleached buildings frame a pretty bay bustling with cruise ships and yachts. Meanwhile Marigot feels like a slice of France in the tropics with Gallic panache.
Over 37 beaches fringe the island ranging from secluded coves to expansive strands. Tintamarre island, accessible only by boat, features one of St. Martin’s most serene beaches with crystal waters while Orient Bay dazzles with water sports and buzzing bars. Grand Case wins over foodies with its rows of Creole and French restaurants serving up cuisine bursting with bright Caribbean flavors. With so much terrestrial and underwater variety encompassed on one tiny island, St. Martin/Sint Maarten punches above its weight amongst Caribbean getaways.
Best Beaches in St. Martin/St Maarten: Tintamarre Island, Orient Bay Beach, Mullet Bay Beach
Best Resorts in St. Martin/St Maarten: La Samanna Resort, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Hotel L’Esplanade
Barrier reef systems foster exceptional diving and snorkeling across the islands, especially around spots like Bloody and Glovers Reef. Unsurprisingly given its barrier reef, Belize draws divers and snorkelers in legions who descend to depths teeming with nurse sharks, manta rays, and sea turtles. At sites like the famed Blue Hole, stalactite-filled limestone sinkhole, and Half Moon Caye in Lighthouse Reef Atoll off the coast of Belize City, spotted eagle rays and turtles frequent the shallows while bull sharks and hammerheads lurk in the depths. With island hopping between Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker and the more remote southern islands and atolls paired with mainland excursions to Mayan ruins like Caracol and Xunantunich or searching for wildlife, Belize provides the ultimate Caribbean adventure.
Best beaches in Belize: Hopkins Beach, Barker Caye, Hatchet Caye
Best resorts in Belize: Victoria House, Coppola Resorts Turtle Inn, Cayo Espanto Island Resort
With vibrant reefs and rainforests, Maya ruins and rum distilleries against a backdrop of lush greenery and golden shores, Belize entrances visitors. Although not technically an island, shorelines edged by the second largest barrier reef system in the world earns Belize island status when it comes to enjoying the best of Caribbean life – diving with nurse sharks and turtles, swinging in a hammock under a palapa while enjoying freshly caught lobster, sailing on a catamaran surrounded by hundreds of mangrove-covered islands. Like sister Central American country Costa Rica, adventure is the calling card from ziplining across the jungle to exploring jaguar reserves and Mayan ruins. With rustic lodges and small boutique hotels dotting the islands and coast, Belize offers an off-the-beaten-path slice of paradise.
Looking for a travel buddy or something more? Try invme
invme dating chat is a free city social network app to discover and share what is happening here and now in your city. Share, discover and connect: invme.com offers both locals and tourists the way to share events in the city in an easier way.
So while stalwarts like Jamaica, Barbados and the Bahamas rightfully belong on any ‘best of’ list given the parade of perfect beaches backed by buzzing towns, incredible natural interior landscapes and rich cultural legacies that unfold, the breadth of Caribbean gems spanning Cuba, Belize, Martinique, Sint Maarten/St. Martin and beyond deserve exploration. With each island bearing its own distinctive topography, heritage and atmosphere, part of the Caribbean’s enduring magic is encountering the unexpected – a rugged rainforest waterfall, an effervescent bioluminescent bay, horseback riding along an unspoiled beach, snorkeling a coral reef dancing with angelfish and turtles, waking up to epic views of an active volcano. Adventure and indulgence framed by towering peaks, lush valleys and magical azure waters ring these islands making the Caribbean an unparalleled spot for both unraveling relaxation or intrepid exploration. So whether you seek exclusive luxury and pampering, cultural immersion and eco-adventure or simply to chill out on a hammock swaying between palms trees while warm waves lap the powdery sands, rest assured bliss awaits in the Caribbean.