15 Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean
The Caribbean, with its nearly perfect tropical weather, beautiful beaches, turquoise water, and island breezes, is a top vacation destination almost year-round. There are thousands of islands throughout the Caribbean Sea, with 13 sovereign states and 17 territories that are popular tourist destinations, each with their own flare and appeal.
One of the reasons for the popularity of these islands is the range of all-inclusive resorts that make vacations easy.
In the Caribbean, it's easy to plan visits to several destinations on a single trip, whether you are island hopping on an excursion or taking a Caribbean cruise to multiple islands.
For help planning your vacation, read our list of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
1. British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are hands-down one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. For starters, there are 60 islands that make up the BVI, so there is no shortage of places to explore, reefs to dive, and white-sand beaches to sink your toes into while on vacation.
The British Virgin Islands has a mix of tourists and enough activities and lodging to accommodate high-end luxury, all-inclusive preferences, and more rustic experiences.
Beaches are a big draw in the BVI, from the popular family-friendly Cane Garden Bay on Tortola island to the quiet and picturesque Deadman's Beach on Peter Island. The azure Caribbean waters that surround the islands are clear and perfect for surfing, diving, snorkeling, sailing, and windsurfing. There are many excursions you can take from the islands, like dolphin tours and sunset cruises.
2. U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are top places to visit in the Caribbean because travel to them is easy, especially from the United States. The U.S. Virgin islands consist of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. It is easy to island-hop between the three for day trips.
St. Croix is the largest of the islands and attracts honeymooners and scuba divers to its waters. The island is only 22 miles long, with two cities and a nice cultural scene with artisans and architecture.
St. Thomas is the most diverse with regard to visitors, and it generally attracts couples and families to its beaches and cultural city center.
The island of St. John is the smallest island and more rustic than the other two. St. John has a lot of natural beauty beyond well-known beaches like Trunk Bay. Two-thirds of the island is protected national park land, so you will see the Caribbean in its most natural state.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in the U.S. Virgin Islands
3. St. Lucia
The tropical paradise of St. Lucia is one of the top honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean, and it is easy to see why. It has many posh resorts and is equally as relaxing as it is fuel for adrenaline junkies. The clean beaches are where most vacationers spend a majority of their time. Anse Des Sables Beach and Plantation Beach are two of the popular ones.
St. Lucia has many activities to take advantage of on the island, from ziplining through the rainforest to off-roading. It is a desirable island for diving trips and snorkeling excursions. The island has quiet natural beauty but it also has nightlife and restaurants in Rodney Bay.
4. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean country and one of the most popular for vacationers and honeymooners. It is easy to get to the Dominican Republic, which is one of the reasons it is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. It is a two-hour flight from Miami and an eight-hour trip from most cities in Europe.
If the beach is your focus, you have 250 miles of beautiful beaches to choose from on the island.
Some of the best places for tourists to visit include Punta Cana and and Puerto Plata, where you will find many resorts and departure points for excursions, like snorkeling and diving. A visit to the capital, Santo Domingo is also worthwhile for a taste of history.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Family Resorts in the Dominican Republic
5. The Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are top islands to visit for those looking for epic diving experiences in the Caribbean. The island chain is made up of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac. Grand Cayman is the most popular island for vacationers, and it has a number of popular dive sites, like the Kittiwake Shipwreck and artificial reef.
Grand Cayman is also famous for the tranquil Seven Mile Beach, one of the best beaches in the Caribbean, and Stingray City, where tourists can get up close to the giant sea creatures that will eat food right out of your hand. You can stay at one of the many resorts on Grand Cayman and make day trips to the other two islands during your stay.
The crystal-clear waters of Aruba are ideal for a perfect island getaway. Aruba is not as popular as some of the other Caribbean islands, which makes it one of the best places to go because you can enjoy the island's beaches and attractions at their best without large crowds of people.
Swimming in the Caribbean waters is the top thing to do in Aruba. Eagle Beach and Palm Beach are two of the best beaches on the island.
Diving is also popular in Aruba. If you are a novice, you can take a diving lesson from your resort and head out for a day to explore some of the nearby coral reefs and shipwrecks.
For non-beach activities, Arikok National Park is a popular excursion, and the Aruba Ostrich Farm is a fun experience, especially for families.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Beach Resorts in Aruba
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Aruba
By the time most vacationers leave Jamaica, they feel like a local. Almost everywhere you go, you will be immersed in Jamaican culture, from the reggae music to the jerk chicken cooking on a roadside grill. Jamaica is a popular Caribbean destination because there are frequent flights to the island and many all-inclusive resorts, making it an easy vacation to plan.
While Seven Mile Beach in Negril is where you will likely spend part of your vacation, Jamaica is great for travelers who enjoy being active. Dunn's River Falls is just one of many breathtaking waterfalls in Jamaica, where you can swim in the water and hike up the falls. There are also guided excursions to Blue Mountains National Park and snorkeling.
Like most of the Caribbean, sometimes are better than others for a visit. The best time to visit Jamaica may be when you have free time, but otherwise you may want to consider the weather and storm season.
Accommodation: Best Resorts in Jamaica
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Jamaica
8. Turks & Caicos
Turks and Caicos was dramatically impacted by the 2017 hurricane season, but it is still one of the best places to go in the Caribbean, especially as it rebuilds and looks to attract tourists. There are 40 islands and small cays that make up Turks and Caicos.
Grand Turk is home to the only cruise ship port. Providenciales, or "Provo" is known for its top-shelf luxury resorts and one of the best beaches in the world, Grace Bay.
Diving and snorkeling in the Turks and Caicos is recommended around spots like Bight Reef, which has spectacular underwater reefs and fish.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Family Resorts in Turks & Caicos
9. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is one of the best Caribbean getaways because there are plenty of flights to the island, and it appeals to various kinds of vacationers. The clear-water beaches are nice for families, the shops in San Juan attract cruise ship passengers, the secluded island of Vieques is a quiet place for couples, and the 25-foot waves at Tres Palmas beach in Rincon attract surfers from around the world.
Kick back with your beach towel on Flamenco Beach or hike up to the El Morro fortress, one of the top attractions on the island. At night, you can step out to enjoy the bioluminescent microorganisms that glow in Mosquito Bay.
The other nice perk of Puerto Rico is that there are often discount packages available year-round, even in the winter months, when other Caribbean islands hike their prices.
Accommodation: Best Beach Resorts in Puerto Rico
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in San Juan
The main draw of Antigua is its 365 beaches that range from calm, shallow waters that are nice spots for swimming to deep water that is ideal for snorkeling. Dickenson Bay is one of the most popular beaches on Antigua for relaxing. If you are looking for more secluded beaches, the tucked-away sands at Hawksbill Bay are quieter and ideal for couples and honeymooners.
Non-beach activities on Antigua are numerous, which is why this is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. For a panoramic view of the island, hike to the top of Shirley Heights, where you can even see the Montserrat volcano. Another fun outing is going to St. John's Saturday Market, where you can buy unique souvenirs, from spices to crafts.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Antigua
Barbados has a laid-back vibe for a quiet Caribbean vacation, and that is one of its greatest appeals. The beaches in Barbados, like picturesque Bathsheba, Carlisle Bay, and Dover, have pristine white sands, where you can spend the day relaxing in between swimming in the lukewarm water.
Spend an afternoon in Bridgetown and look at the old architecture as you buy spices from local street vendors.
Barbados is a fun island to explore, with many attractions and natural landmarks that are open for tourists. Harrison's Cave offers a nice tour to see the stalactite and stalagmite formations, and Animal Flower Cave is a sea cave that you can access on your own. If you enjoy snorkeling, you will want to book a day excursion that takes you to see shipwrecks and swim with sea turtles.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Beach Resorts in Barbados
The island of Anguilla offers one of the most authentic Caribbean experiences because cruise ships are not allowed on the island, so it is a bit less touristy. Instead of large hotels, Anguilla has small villas on the beach. You will find some luxury resorts on the island if you are looking for additional pampering, but the overcrowded tourist scene that is common on some other islands does not happen in Anguilla.
Most vacationers on Anguilla hang out on one of more than 30 unspoiled beaches, like Meads Bay, Shoal Bay East, and Rendezvous Bay. Day-trip excursions are popular for snorkeling, diving, and eco-tours around the island.
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Anguilla
The island of Curacao is unique because instead of the subdued blue and green colors that you see on buildings on other islands, you will see a vibrant and colorful Dutch influence in the historic architecture. The port city of Willemstad has a fun energy and old European flare, but the beaches are still the main draw.
The snorkeling and diving are excellent on Curacao, and many coral reefs are easy to access. Cas Abao Beach and Playa Lagun are top beaches on the island. It is easy to rent water sports equipment on the island or take a diving lesson.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Curacao
The draw of Grenada is the experiences that you will have on the island, besides the memorable imagery of its beautiful beaches. You can spend mornings beachcombing for shells and afternoons touring one of the island's spice plantations. You will want to visit the colorful harbor and walk St. George's beautiful streets.
Grenada has 45 beaches, but two-mile Grand Anse Beach is the most popular. There are several natural areas to hike, like La Sagesse Nature Center and the Grand Etang National Park. Be sure to plan a little time to visit one of the fun spots on the island, Market Square, where you can pick up souvenirs from local vendors.
Accommodation: Top-Rated Resorts in Grenada
- Read More:
- Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Grenada
15. St. Martin
The small island of St. Martin is a bit more active with tourists than some other Caribbean islands. It is a dual-owned island, so one side is French and the other side is Dutch. The beaches are tranquil and plentiful, so you can try a new one each day of your vacation. Orient Bay, Mulley Bay, and Cupecoy Beach are popular, but there are plenty of others to enjoy.
There are many non-beach activities on St. Martin, like ziplining near the Pic du Pardis mountains, snorkeling, and sailing. Day trips to Anguilla are popular and easy to book from St. Martin. You can also do a catamaran tour around the island.
More Related Articles on PlanetWare.com
More Caribbean Fun: Most people head to the Caribbean for the beautiful beaches, and there are thousands to discover, from The Bahamas to Cuba. The Caribbean is also a top vacation destination because it has some of the best luxury all-inclusive resorts in the world and is among the best places to go snorkeling in the world, so you can be assured of a relaxing and memorable vacation.