If you are looking for the best Caribbean islands to visit then you have come to the right place!
As Caribbean nationals, we can boldly say that there is something for every type of traveler to the region.
Whether you are a solo female traveler, senior individual or young adult, the Caribbean has a destination that will make your visit memorable.
In this guide, we cover the best islands in the Caribbean to visit as well as highlight why we have selected them as some of the best places to explore.
So let’s dive in.
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1. St Maarten
Our first recommendation is the Dutch Caribbean Island of St Maarten which is known for duty free shopping, the iconic Maho Beach and a vibrant nightlife atmosphere.
It is located in the Northern Caribbean region and is a unique destination as it shares its landmass with the French overseas territory, St Martin.
The capital city, Philipsburg is a popular port for cruise visitors to the Caribbean. It is also one of the best places in the Caribbean for duty free shopping.
Brands such as Cartier, Ralph Lauren and Dior all have a retail presence. There are also many electronic and gadgets stores.
St Maarten is known globally for the iconic spot called Maho Beach.
Affectionately also known as Airport Beach, this location is famous as flights approach the landing strip of the airport at an altitude of 100 feet.
Persons line the shore to experience the excitement of jet blast which is strong enough to push you.
This has resulted in the death of several persons and hence care must be exercised during this process.
Fondly referred to as the Spice Isle, Grenada is situated in the Southern Caribbean but it is often a destination overlooked by tourists.
Home to approximately 110,000 inhabitants, the state of Grenada consist of three islands.
There is mainland Grenada and two smaller dependencies being Carriacou and Petite Martinique respectively.
Grenada is a perfect island to visit for persons who love exotic cuisine.
The island is the second largest producer of nutmeg in the world after Indonesia. It also cultivates, harvests and manufactures chocolate.
In the heart of the city, there is a café called House of Chocolate which is a cozy and relaxing spot that sells a variety of chocolate drinks and treats.
Grenada is also home to one of the best beaches in the Caribbean being Grand Anse Beach.
This beach is located in the South of the island and is beloved for its long two miles stretch of white sand with turquoise waters.
Due to its proximity to commercial areas, the beach is in walking distance to Spiceland Mall, Excel Plaza, Grand Anse Shopping Centre, commercial banks and Camerhogne Park.
3.Turks & Caicos Islands
This Caribbean island is a British Overseas territory that consists of40 different islands and cays. However, only 8 of these are inhabited.
It is the perfect destination if you are seeking a beach escape.
Turks & Caicos is home to Grace Bay Beach which has been voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by Trip Advisor in 2023.
It is adored for both locals and visitors alike for its three miles of white soft powdery sands and turquoise waters.
Grace Bay Beach also has barrier reef and as a result the water is calm with gentle waves which is perfect for swimmers at all ages and stages.
Alternatively, Turks & Caicos is not the preferred island to visit if you are seeking an energetic nightlife atmosphere.
One of the weekly items on the entertainment calendar is Fish Fry. This is hosted every Thursday on the island of Providenciales.
The event brings together individuals who prepare and sell a variety of fish inspired dishes.
There are also local bands that provide music as well as vendors selling souvenir items.
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4. St Kitts & Nevis
If you are passionate about hiking and history, St Kitts & Nevis is the perfect Caribbean island to visit.
St Kitts is home to the UNESCO heritage site which began in 1690 and it opens daily to the public.
The views from this location are immaculate and on exceptionally clear days, visitors can see Nevis, St Eustatius, Saba and other neighboring islands.
There is also a fast ferry service provided by Makana Ferry Service that provides high speed transportation to St Maarten mentioned above.
5. Antigua & Barbuda
For beaches and more beaches, Antigua and Barbuda is the destination to visit.
The island is fondly known for having 365 beaches being one for every day of the year.
Dickenson Bay Beach is one of the preferred spots in Antigua for calm and turquoise waters.
Visitors can enjoy a range of water sporting activities such as paddle boarding.
Barbuda is also known for having amazing beaches with Low Bay Beach being one of the most beautiful.
This beach is known for having pink sand and turquoise waters with driftwood on the shore.
Barbuda does not receive a large volume of tourists and therefore is great for persons seeking remoteness and tranquility.
Antigua is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nelson’s Dockyard National Park where Shirley’s Heights and Clarence House are based which is the place for culture, history and yachting.
6. St Thomas
Our next recommendation is St Thomas for individuals who want to experience the sunny weather of the Caribbean but still remain on US soil.
St Thomas along with the other US Virgin Islands are overseas territories of the United States of America.
As such no passport is required for entry and exit. The island is excellent for luxury duty free shopping and amazing beaches.
Magens Bay Beach is one of the most visited spots in St Thomas.
It is located within the Magens Park area where there are hiking trails, opportunities to rent water sporting gear and areas where you can rent for a beach party or picnic.
The beach is ideal for individuals of all ages as well as beginner swimmers as the water is very calm with gentle waves.
Several international brands have also established a retail presence such Bulgari and Diamonds International on the island.
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7. St Lucia
St Lucia has gained a name for its self as a destination for honeymooners in the Southern Caribbean.
The island is also known for its majestic twin peaks called The Pitons which are an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With an altitude of 2,530 feet, the Gros Piton is the official hiking trail. Alternatively, the Petit Piton with an elevation of 2,438 feet is rarely climbed.
St Lucia is mountainous in topography and may be a bit intimidating for new drivers from larger countries who are used to flat terrains.
The destination is blessed with tropical rainforests and majestic waterfalls. Some of the best waterfalls in St Lucia include La Tille, Diamond and Sapphire Waterfalls.
Due to the volcanic nature of the island, there are numerous black sand beaches with Anse Chastanet Beach and Anse De Piton being two of the finest to explore.
There is also a high speed catamaran ferry service that connects St Lucia to other neighboring islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Dominica.
During period of festivities, L’express also provides onward connections to Antigua & Barbuda mentioned above.
The Caribbean island of Barbados is one of the more developed places in the Southern Caribbean region.
Therefore, if you are traveling for a vacation and prefer to have better healthcare facilities on island, Barbados may be an option to explore.
The island is home to many amazing beaches and is known for horseracing peradventure this is one of your interests.
Due to the volume of visitors, there are numerous daily international flights to Barbados so this makes travel to the island seamless.
One of the most magical places to visit is Harrison Caves. This attraction allows visitors to explore inside the cave via trams where you can see stalactites and stalagmite formation.
Barbados is also home to many amazing beaches such as Accra Beach and Brighton Beach.
Crane Beach has been regarded as one of the finest on the island for its lush pink sands.
The waves on this beach are extremely strong so it is more suitable for avid swimmers and water activities such as boogieboarding.
For horse racing enthusiasts, while on the island, be sure to check out if there are any events at the Garrison Savannah.
This location is usually is the place for the Sandy Lane Cup which is the biggest annual horse racing event in the Caribbean.
If you are weary of hurricanes and are planning a trip to the Caribbean in the month of September, Aruba is one of the best islands to visit as it is situated outside the hurricane belt.
September is the month where hurricane activities tend to be the highest in the region.
This Dutch Caribbean island is situated approximately 90 minutes flying time from Venezuela.
Aruba is loved by a wide range of visitors as there are numerous things to do.
Golf enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the island is home to two golf courses.
One is located at The Tierra del Sol Resort & Golf while the other is at The Links At Divi Aruba.
Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are the two most popular white sand beaches on the island.
In the busy tourism season, this could get crowded and therefore, it is advised to visit early in the morning.
For adventure seekers, there is a sky diving company that has a sterling reputation in the event you will like to see the island from above.
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Bonaire is an alternative option to Aruba in the event that you will like to stay outside of the hurricane belt.
As its counterpart Aruba, Dutch is the official language spoken. Bonaire is well known as a destination for diving.
According to Tourism Bonaire, there are 85 official dive spots on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire of which 54 are shore dive sites.
Washington Slagbaai Park covers about one fifth of the island and is the most stunning scenery located in the North. This is a must visit when on the island.
There are no ferry services available to the neighboring Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curacao.
Affectionately referred to as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Dominica is ideal for the persons who enjoy hiking.
May is the best month to visit the island as it celebrates Hike Fest.
This is a perfect opportunity to meet other outdoor enthusiasts as a hike is conducted every Saturday for the first three weeks of the month.
Some of the most notable trails on the island include the Boiling Lake, Emerald Pool and Jaco Flats hiking trails.
One of the main tourist attractions on the island is Morne Trois Pitons National Park which is an official UNESCO Heritage Site since 1997.
The boiling lake is located in this site and is the second largest of its kind in the world.
Dominica can be accessed by ferry services from St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe and is a perfect destination for island hoppers.
12. St Barths
This island is often regarded as the playground for the rich and famous when visiting the Caribbean.
Several celebrities such as the Kardashians often select the island as a vacation spot.
St Barths is loved for its white sand beaches, fine cuisine and duty free shopping.
High end and luxurious retail brands such as Hermes, Gucci and Ralph Lauren have stores on the island.
Shell Beach is one of the best beaches on the island loved for its pink sand. The beach is covered with many small shells and hence it is prudent to wear water shoes.
The Princess Juliana International Airport in St Maarten mentioned above is the nearest major airport to the island.
Access from St Maarten to St Barths is via ferry services or small aircraft.
St Barths has garnered a reputation as being one of the best Caribbean islands to ring in the New Years.
Yacht owners often sail to the island for celebrations in the capital city of Gustavia.
13. Saba Island
This small Dutch Caribbean island is suitable for persons who love to hike and seeking to get away from the hustle and bustle.
It is only five square miles and as St Barths above Princess Juliana International Airport is the closest major airport to the island.
Makana Ferry Service provide high speed transfers from St Maarten.
Mount Scenery is the most visited attraction which is the highest peak in the Caribbean Netherlands.
The hike is challenging and it takes about 90 minutes to go up and down.
Saba Island is also a great spot for diving enthusiasts. Some of the well-loved dive sites include Diamond Rock, Third Encounter and Man o War Shoals.
14. Trinidad & Tobago
Located in the Southern region of the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago is often overlooked as a destination.
The oil and gas industry has been a key income earner for the island and as a result it has not been marketed excessively as a tourism destination.
Nevertheless, Trinidad & Tobago is ideal for persons who love lively nightlife, exotic cuisine and amazing beaches.
Tobago is the dependency of the mainland Trinidad and on a whole is the better island for persons seeking white sand beaches and tranquility.
The three main beaches in Tobago are Store Point, Pigeon Point and Englishman’s Bay beaches.
Maracas Bay Beach is the best beach in Trinidad and is located about 30 minutes’ drive from the capital city.
The beach is loved for its golden sands and the amenities that are available.
There are many food stalls in the vicinity and this is the ideal place taste one of the iconic Trinidadian street food being Bake N Shark.
Trinidad is also a great destination for persons seeking a bustling nightlife atmosphere.
Some of the famous entertainment spots include Coco Lounge and Space La Nouba.
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An overseas territory of the United Kingdom, Anguilla is only 39 square miles and thus a very small island.
It is perfect for persons who are seeking fine cuisine, tranquility and amazing white sand beaches.
The tourism slogan of the island also reflects this as the island is marketed as tranquility wrapped in blue.
Rendezvous Bay Beach, Shoal Bay East and Sandy Ground Beach are three of the favorites of both locals and visitors alike.
There is a direct ferry service that connects the island to both St Maarten and St Martin.
Visitors can hop across if they are seeking nightlife and return to Anguilla for relaxation.
Choosing Anguilla can give persons the best of both worlds.
16. St Martin
This French Caribbean island shares its landmass with the Dutch St Maarten mentioned above.
This destination is ideal for persons who want to explore uninhabited islands, bask on amazing white sand beaches and enjoy fine French cuisine.
Loterie Farm is one of the most visited attractions which is perfect to relax and reconnect with nature.
While at this sanctuary, one can enjoy drinks, the pool, great meals and tree top adventures.
Pinel and Tintamarre are small uninhabited islands just a short boat ride away.
These are perfect for just relaxing, water sporting activities and hiking. They also offer sweeping views of neighboring islands.
17. Puerto Rico
This is a US overseas territory that today still maintains Spanish as its official language.
The island is truly blessed as there is a bit of everything in Puerto Rico.
From hiking trails, waterfalls, to forts, amazing beaches, nightlife and activities for kids, Puerto Rico is definitely one of the best Caribbean islands to visit.
El Yunque National Rainforestis the only tropical rainforest in the United States of America and one that should be on your wish list.
Visitors can choose to either hike or drive to a relaxing area making this activity suitable for persons of all ages.
Due to the size of the island, you may choose to remain only in the San Juan region.
Some of the activities you can enjoy there is seeing the San Juan Gate and strolling around the Paseo de la Princesa.
Our next recommendation is perfect as is located less than two hours flying time from Miami International airport and hence is ideal for a weekend getaway.
Jamaica is a suitable island for travelers seeking white sand beaches, excursions, nightlife and exotic food.
Seven Mile Beach and Doctor’s Cave Beach are two the finest white sand beaches on the island.
Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling and a range of water sporting activities on these shores.
Furthermore, the island is known for its authentic foods such as curry goat, festival and jerk foods.
Portland usually hosts its annual Jerk Food Festival in July while Montego Bay hosts it in August.
Visitors can purchase the festival mix at the supermarkets to try making it at home.
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19. The Bahamas
The Bahamas is another destination to consider if you have a limited time to visit the Caribbean.
The flying time from Miami International to the Bahamas is about one hour.
The Bahamas is amazing for nightlife, excursions and lovely beaches. It is home to the iconic pink sand beach located on Harbour Island.
Pink Sand Beach is a great location for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the three mile strip of soft pink sand.
Swimming with Pigs on Exuma Island is also a popular attraction for visitors to the Bahamas.
There are also numerous nightlife and entertainment spots in the Nassau and Freeport regions.
20. Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are British overseas territories that have one of the most diverse populations in the Caribbean.
There are about 135 different nationalities of the world that are represented on the island. This truly makes the island a melting pot.
Seven Mile Beach is the most popular in Grand Cayman for its long stretch of white sand and natural beauty.
Major hotel chains such as The Marriott and Westin shares its shores with Seven Mile Beach.
Cemetery Beach in Grand Cayman is also a wonderful beach to visit for white sand and clear waters. It is also a favorite beach of snorkeling enthusiasts.
A visit to the Cayman Islands will not be complete without trying the national dish being green turtle stew.
This is often served with sides such as rice, beans, plantains and salad. It is not against the law to eat green turtle in Cayman Islands.
21. Dominican Republic
Our final suggestion of the best places to visit in the Caribbean is Dominican Republic.
This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region and home to the highest peak being Pico Duarte in the Punta Cana region.
Dominican Republic is an excellent destination for amazing beaches and nightlife.
The island is also home to Bavaro Beach which is a gorgeous 30 miles of white soft powdery sand with turquoise waters. This is one of the longest beaches in the Caribbean.
Bavaro Beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, walking, snorkeling and parasailing.
Nightlife typically consists of discos, restaurants, and night clubs.
As a Spanish speaking nation, the music genres primarily are reggaeton, electro and latino music.
Salsa dancing is extremely popular as well on the island.
Some of the popular places for nightlife in Dominican Republic are Onno’s Zona Colonial and La Bodega Bar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Best Caribbean Islands For First Timers
The best Caribbean islands for first time visitors are Barbados,Grenada, Antigua, Aruba, St Lucia, and St Thomas. These are selected mainly because they have a relatively low crime rate, friendly people, public transportation and direct and non stop flights from major international cities.
What Is The Safest Caribbean Island To Visit
St Barths is the safest island in the Caribbean but it is also one of the most expensive destination which attracts numerous celebrities. For safer islands that are much more affordable consider options such as Grenada, Bonaire, Aruba, Saba, St Maarten, St Lucia, Barbados and Turks & Caicos.
What Is The Most Unique Caribbean Island
Dominica is the most unique island in the Caribbean which is fondly referred to as the Nature Island. It is home to the second largest hot spring in the world after the Frying Pan Lake in New Zealand. The island boasts of majestic waterfalls, rivers, lakes and lush green mountainous terrain.
Final Thoughts: Best Caribbean Islands To Visit
We trust that this article provides comprehensive information on the best places to visit in the Caribbean based on what you are seeking in a destination.
All the islands are unique in their own way and we hope that this article helps you narrow down your options.
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Caribbean Travel Planning Guide
🛌What is the best way to book your Caribbean accommodations?
For Caribbean hotels, Booking.com is the best site to consider.
Nevertheless, if you prefer apartments or houses VRBO is the best option to explore, which is often cheaper than Airbnb.
🚗Is It Safe To Rent A Car In The Caribbean?
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⛵I don’t speak the language? Can I still vacation in the Caribbean?
Absolutely! Learn languages quickly with the iTalki app. Just a few minutes a day and you are well on your way!
🧳What Is The Best Site To Find Tours?
To find a wide selection of tours, we recommend Viator.
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Protect our reefs and coral life with reef safe sunscreen. Also, do not forget to pack insect repellant as mosquitoes can be plentiful especially during the rainy season and a water bottle to stay hydrated.
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