Which Caribbean island is right for you?
With so many islands in the Caribbean, it can be hard to pick just one for your vacation. But every island is a little different from the next, and each offers some unique features. Whether your motive is romance or culture, a family getaway or to get out in nature, here are some ideas to get you started in planning your perfect trip.
Best for All Inclusive Resorts: Jamaica, Dominican Republic
If you want to be spoiled for choice of great all inclusive resorts and your motive is to plop down in one spot and soak up the conveniences of resort living, then look no further than Jamaica or the Dominican Republic. Both of these countries offer a myriad of resorts (more than anywhere else in the Caribbean) to fit every taste and budget. With everything from the all-ages awesomeness of the Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana to the ultra romantic and ultra luxurious Sandals Montego Bay, you’re sure to find the perfect match for you and might find yourself never wanting to leave.
Best for Families: Bahamas, Jamaica, Turks and Caicos
Not only is the Bahamas home to beautiful beaches and reefs, but there are plenty of family friendly resorts to fit any budget, many with spacious suites. One of the best is the Atlantis Resort, home to a 141-acre water park, dolphin encounters, an awesome kids club with a giant dollhouse and lego room, and babysitting services. Plus, the Bahamas is accessible via a quick, direct flight from tons of U.S. cities.
Families with younger kids will particularly love the options in Jamaica and the country’s warm welcome to little ones. The all-inclusive Franklyn D. Resort gives every family a private nanny to watch the kids during the day and take them swimming or partake in the resort’s activities.
Turks and Caicos may be a winner for kids of all ages. The island is home to one of the best beaches in all of the Caribbean, Grace Bay Beach, a 3-mile stretch of glorious white sand and clear, calm waters, making for easy swimming and tons of beach fun. There are plenty of budget friendly condo rentals to consider here, but for the ultimate in fun, Beaches Turks and Caicos Resort offers a gigantic water park, six swimming pools, three with swim up bars, a nightclub, 19 specialty restaurants, 12 bars with unlimited drinks, a scuba diving program, kayaking, a spa and health club, tennis courts, a kids club, and a teens club. This will surely be a vacation you’ll never forget.
Best for Romance: St. Lucia, Grenada, Antigua
St. Lucia has been named the ‘World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination,’ and for good reason. Often nicknamed “Little Hawaii,” St. Lucia’s landscapes rival those of the coveted South Pacific islands, and couples will love the choice of incredible resorts where you’ll feel like you’ve completely slipped into your own paradise. Top off your vacation with a day trip to the Pitons mountains, visit the hot springs, or take a whale and dolphin watching trip.
Antigua is another great choice for couples. The relaxed atmosphere here invites quiet beach days, nature walks, and yoga classes. One of the best resorts here is the all-inclusive Cocobay Resort, an adults only property where you’ll enjoy your own cottage overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Rooms include private balconies with hammocks, and some even have their own private plunge pools and outdoor clawfoot tubs.
Couples looking to get a little off the beaten path will love the vibes of Grenada. Grenada boasts one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, tropical fruit trees and perfect scenery, and the constant smell of nutmeg in the air -- it is nicknamed the Spice Island, after all. Most resorts here offer low-key luxury with smaller, boutique style accommodations. While you’re here, enjoy a spice tour or head to the Tobago Cays for some of the Caribbean’s best diving.
Best for Water Activities: Turks and Caicos, Aruba, Cayman Islands
Just an hour flight from Miami, you’ll reach the beautiful waters of Turks and Caicos. If fishing is your thing, then this is undoubtedly your place, as the island boasts awesome deep sea fishing and other sport fishing. With the calm waters here, you’ll also love snorkeling and diving, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, and dolphin and whale watching, to name a few.
The Cayman Islands boast a similar menu of water activities, with boating, diving, and fishing being high on the list. You can also take a tour through the bioluminescent bay and mangroves, where the waters seem to glow in the dark from high concentrations of a bioluminescent phytoplankton. This is a unique experience best witnessed at night by kayak.
Aruba too is all about the beaches. Head to Hadicurari Beach for some great scuba diving and windsurfing. Get further afield at Arikok National Park, located on the island’s east coast, a mecca just waiting to be explored, with ocean pools sheltered by rock formations, lava fields, caves, and picture perfect beaches that have escaped development.
Best for Culture: Puerto Rico, Barbados, Curacao
Looking to discover something unique on your Caribbean escape? Islands like Puerto Rico, Curacao, and Barbados will fit the bill. Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan has charming colonial architecture, a great food scene, and a vibrant art and music scene. Barbados was originally colonized by the U.K. and still proudly holds on to its British traditions of afternoon tea and cricket. And Curacao, situated in the Dutch Caribbean, is a melting pot of 55 cultures. The capital of Willemstad boasts colorful buildings, European charm, an array of good eats, and UNESCO sites.
Best for Nature: Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts
Known as the Nature Island, Dominica has escaped the development that much of the Caribbean has experienced. If you are looking for an off the beaten path vacation, this is it. The island is popular with eco-adventurers and is home to an oasis of rainforests, hot springs, trails, and a notorious boiling lake. Dominica is also home to the Waitukubuli National Trail, a massive 115-mile long trail that takes two weeks to complete and offers some pretty epic scenery along the way.
With 77% of the island covered in intensely green forest and dominated by two jagged volcanic peaks, St. Lucia is a paradise for nature lovers. The coast is home to volcanic beaches and beautiful reefs. The interior has a multitude of trails and hiking opportunities and waterfalls, the most popular being the trek to the twin peaks of the Pitons volcanoes.
Home to a huge national park covered in rainforest, St. Kitts teems with wildlife including monkeys, lizards, and hummingbirds. There are also a number of easy trails, hot springs, and the stunning Mount Liamuiga, a dormant volcano that offers some incredible hiking opportunities. The island promotes its strong conservation efforts, making it a great sustainable destination.
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