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The Caribbean Islands: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect One For You.

Updated on April 17, 2019
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Rosheda Stephenson is a travel writer who writes extensively on travel to the Caribbean and North America.

The Caribbean islands are many things to many people. Whether your dream vacation consists of all night parties, wholesome family fun, history and culture or luxurious tropical beaches, you will find in the Caribbean an island perfect for you. Shared history and geography give the islands similar customs and the undeniable tropical beauty visitors have come to expect from the region. Yet, each island has its own unique personality that will appeal to different types of visitors. Added to this is the region’s proximity to the U.S and Canada. As this map shows, the Caribbean is literally in America's backyard.

Map of the Caribbean Islands

This map of the Caribbean shows just how close the Caribbean islands are to the U.S
This map of the Caribbean shows just how close the Caribbean islands are to the U.S | Source

The happy result is that if the Caribbean is your destination you can easily be on vacation in a few hours. In fact, a flight from Florida to many of the more popular islands- Jamaica, the Bahamas, Grand Cayman- will take an hour! Now all you have to do is choose an island. And that is where this guide comes in. All the islands in this guide are English speaking, and are organized according to their offerings. And if you are short on time, there's a handy list immediately below that you can use to click straight through to the section that interests you.

Best Caribbean Islands for Partying and Nightlife

Aruba

Clear water and the pretty beach keep Aruba's Palm Beach on Best Beaches of The World lists.
Clear water and the pretty beach keep Aruba's Palm Beach on Best Beaches of The World lists. | Source

An Overview

Your sky diving partner is as equally likely to be local as she is to be a tourist in Aruba. And while we are at it, don’t even worry about a rainstorm or a hurricane on your sky diving adventure. The island’s strong economy and perfect weather-even for the Caribbean- gives it the reputation of one Happy Island. And this isn’t just marketing jargon.

After living in and travelling to many Caribbean Islands, I can say that Aruba is simply one of the happiest island one can visit in the Caribbean. The strong economy gives the locals a high standard of living so much of the soliciting and petty crime of other Caribbean Islands are absent here. Instead the island delivers happy locals who genuinely want to socialize and share their island. There is also no worry about hurricanes or unpredictable rainy days as it lays just outside the Hurricane Belt in the southernmost end of the Caribbean.

Perfect weather and genuinely pleasant locals are just the beginning. Aruba is home to a dramatic landscape that is a nature lover’s dream come true, an award winning expanse of sand and sea (according to this Conde Nast Survey), and good watersports options for adventurers. Partiers will especially find much to love on the fun loving island.

There are the twelve casinos that have earned the island the moniker, Las Vegas of the Caribbean. Or, if one wants the nightlife minus the empty pockets, there are the many party spots in the capital city of Oranjestad or along Palm Beach. Then there are the more local options like Carnival (a month long party in the finest Caribbean tradition), countless local festivals and a rowdy party hopping practice known as Paranda. And of course, on top of the list of things partiers will love about Aruba is the feeling of safety the island inspires. If you are into the nightlife, here are some of Aruba's best partying.

Aruba’s Best Partying

Paranda or Party Buses

You could describe Paranda with many words: bar crawl, pub crawl, party on wheels, unpredictable night out with a bunch of strangers... The list could go on, but until you experience it there are no words to describe the party buses on Aruba.

Paranda is the local practice of a group of people coming together in one big bus to hop from party to party. The local practice got adapted for visitors and now any visitor can book their own paranda. After booking, the party bus picks you up from your hotel and plunges you into the midst of a bunch of strangers already enjoying the party on wheels. The party bus itself is open air and led by a party host who spins the tunes and ensures the party on wheels continues until the first stop. Depending on what paranda you book, you may start out with a champagne toast on the beach or with loud karaoke onboard. The bus then goes to the first stop which is usually a local bar outside the touristy area. After the first stop, the party just keeps going on and on until you have made it to 3 or 4 bars or stopped at a casino to perform some karaoke on stage.

Aruba's Party Buses is partying done right.
Aruba's Party Buses is partying done right. | Source

Carnival

Carnival or Carnaval depending on which island you visit is the Caribbean’s way of letting it all out and reveling for months at a time. Picture Mardi Gras and you will have a good idea of what the main Carnival parties are like. Colorful floats, flashy costumes, live music, drummers, steel bands, dancing and cultural shows are all part of the celebration.

In Aruba Carnival starts in late February and continues for 6 weeks. Each day of Carnival sees parties, singing competitions, dancing and live entertainment. All of these are fun and if you visit during Carnival try to see one of the competitions, however it is the parades that always steal the show. The pulsating parades are fests of music, dancing and costumes. There is a pajama parade, one for kids in costumes and the main one which is the one to be at if you want to see an authentic Caribbean party. Here is a peek at the main parade:

Partying in the Caribbean Island of Aruba

'Must' Things to do in Aruba

See a Caribbean Desert

I know. Desert and Caribbean do not belong in the same sentence. The Caribbean is definitely more beachy haven and lush rainforest than stark, dry desert. However Aruba and the rest of the ABC Islands lie in a region that sees little rain (a side effect of laying outside the Hurricane Belt), has little humidity and a nice dry wind. The result is that the islands have a curios juxtaposition of tropical beaches and arid, desert land. In Aruba the gorgeous beaches and tropical feel is concentrated in the western section of the island, but venture to the northern and interior parts of Aruba and it feels like you are in a different country. Sandy desert land complete with cactus, desert creatures like rattlesnakes and iguanas and huge rocks suddenly transform the landscape.

One cannot visit and not try to see this part of Aruba at least once. Some attractions to consider on the desert side of Aruba include gorgeous natural pools, old caves with Indian carving and the old gold mining sites like the old Bushiribana Gold Mine pictured below. For those into adventure, there are many ATV outfits that offer guided tours of the rugged landscape.

One of Aruba's old gold mines in the desert
One of Aruba's old gold mines in the desert | Source
One of Aruba's natural pools
One of Aruba's natural pools

See Donkeys at The Sanctuary

There aren’t many places where you can see the humble donkey anymore. If you are in Aruba and would like something different to do, why not go see the creatures at this haven. The Donkey Sanctuary offers close up interaction with the creatures and short educational talks that highlight the history of Aruba’s donkeys and the necessity for a sanctuary.

Lay on Palm Beach

Palm Beach's sugar white sand
Palm Beach's sugar white sand | Source

With its recent appearance on Conde Nast's and TripAdvisor's Lists of Best Beaches in The World (2018 Lists), this pretty beach is sure to attract even more visitors in the coming years. One can easily see why the beach is considered among the world’s best. Calm water a vivid shade of blue-green and powder white sand dotted with beach huts, restaurants, bars and colorful umbrellas sit right across the road from many of the island’s hotels. The beach itself is a clean, wide expanse that is home to watersports and tennis matches during the week. Simply put, Palm beach with its perfect waves, good amenities and perfect weather is the epitome of the perfect Caribbean beach.

Barbados

The gorgeous Carlisle Bay Beach in Barbados shows why the Caribbean Island is beloved for its tropical beauty
The gorgeous Carlisle Bay Beach in Barbados shows why the Caribbean Island is beloved for its tropical beauty | Source

An Overview

Popular Barbados is the quintessential Caribbean island. Beautiful beaches, lush tropical foliage, authentic Caribbean culture and tons of tourists in the high season are all to be expected from the well-loved English speaking island. Like Aruba, tiny Barbados also packs a punch when it comes to nightlife. The island is home to world class nightclubs, large open-air parties and a contagious party vibe that fills the air with electricity.

In Barbados, every night is party night. On Fridays, the village of Oistins in the parish of Christ Church puts on an energetic fish fry party where food, pulsating music and locals are the highlights; on Wednesdays and Mondays the always happening and popular roofless bar Harbour Lights puts on a Beach Dinner Show where fire eaters and dancers entertain into the wee hours. And on Saturdays head to any of the countless rum bars for a taste of partying done the Bajan (Caribbean term for the people of Barbados) way and some of the strong stuff the island has been distilling for ages. Since party seems to be the universal language in Barbados, if you visit it won’t be hard to find a spot to party the night away, but there are a few standout spots for party lovers.

Barbados' Best Partying

The Jolly Roger Party Cruise

Partying on land can be fun, but partying on the high seas in Barbados takes on all the intrigue and excitement one can envision it did when genuine pirates reveled on the Caribbean Sea in the 16th century. The outfit that makes this possible is called the Jolly Roger. The Jolly Roger is known for its party cruises and strong rum punches in a boat reminiscent of a pirate vessel.

If you plan to walk the plank and go swimming or snorkeling try not to have too much of the unlimited rum punch that’s included in the cost. The potent local stuff is a creeper and may have you uncoordinated by the time the snorkeling stop comes up. Do take part in the limbo or the cha- cha. Everyone will be having so much fun they won’t notice how off your moves seem. The parties also include fire eaters, live music, comedians, stilt walkers and a scary looking swing rope that swings over the deep ocean. Regardless of which party you book, a fun time all round is guaranteed.

Any Rum Shop on a Weekend Night

Barbados prides itself on its local rum. This is not just local pride. Bajan rums consistently rank high on the worldwide rum scene ( see this 2018 Town and Country magazine sipping rum survey and this rumratings.com list). The island celebrates its potent stuff every night in colorful huts called rum shops scattered around the island.

The rum shops come in many iterations from more upscale to tiny shacks full of local vibes. No matter which you choose you are in for a night of good Caribbean music, rum in flavored concoctions you hadn’t thought of and good vibes. Some of the most popular ones include John Moore in St. James parish and Seaside Bar in St. Joseph’s parish for a very local vibe.

'Must' Things to Do in Barbados

Peacocks at the Barbados Animal Reserve
Peacocks at the Barbados Animal Reserve | Source

See Tropical Birds at Barbados Wildlife Reserve

After you have had your fill of Barbados' night life its time to enjoy some of the treasures scattered around the island. One such treasure is this Reserve that is a must for animal or wildlife lovers.

The Barbados Wildlife Reserve is four acres of tropical creatures set on a hill in the parish of St. Peters. Proud peacocks, comedic monkeys, colorful birds and lazy tortoises and deer all call the reserve home. At feeding time, barrels of fruit are dumped on the ground and all the animals come rushing in. It's a sight for animal lovers and a great way to spend a few vacation hours.

Surf on Bathsheba Beach

As one of the Caribbean’s most developed islands. Barbados is fully equipped to fulfill the needs of the most discriminating tourist. Resorts designed to pamper, five-star golf courses and award winning beaches like the gorgeous Crane and Dover Beaches can be found competing for precious space on the island’s west and south coasts. But venture to the rugged east coast and Barbados really reveals itself. One of the best places to see this other side of Barbados is Bathsheba beach which takes its name from the surrounding fishing village.

Bathsheba Beach has none of the frills of Barbados’ west coast beaches. Instead of colorful umbrellas and lounge chairs, the otherworldly beach sports humungous black rocks that seem pre-historic, tiny shacks that serve alcohol and food and some good surf shops. There is nothing fancy here. After all this is the side of Barbados where the laid-back surf lifestyle reigns: where both pro and amateur surfers in the know come for one thing and one thing only- to catch the killer wave known as the Soup Bowl. This is also the side of Barbados where locals come to escape the throngs of tourist and admire the unrelenting, rough waves after a hard day of work.

It goes without saying that the waves on Bathsheba make it unsuitable for swimming, so don’t plan on visiting if you have your heart set on swimming in the ocean. However if you want to see the ocean at its wildest or do some surfing there is no better place in Barbados than Bathsheba Beach.

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The Harrison Caves

Even if you plan to visit for only the sun and sea, a visit to Barbados’ interior to see these caves should be on your list of things to do in Barbados. The series of caves descend more than 100 miles underground and are filled with flowing water, gushing waterfalls and naturally formed stalactites and stalagmites that seem as if they were carved by a fine artist. The caves are alive so they are forever changing as the naturally formed growths change in size and shape.

For Soaking in History and Culture

Cuba

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An Overview

Even if one weren’t armed with the knowledge that Cuba is home to all of eight United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ( U.N.E.S.C.O) designated historical sites, the very mention of the word Cuba would conjure historical images.

Depending on what you know of the small Caribbean island the images may be of revolution, communism, and a successful defeat of the U.S in a failed invasion that led to international isolation. Or it may be of ornate architectural styles brought to the island by wealthy European colonists who imported the styles from Europe starting in the 16th century and continuing up to the 1900s. If you are into cars, your mind may immediately go to those gleaming, well preserved circa 1900s car that the island is famous for or to the horse drawn carriages that is still the popular mode of transportation in rural Cuba.

It is a lot to digest and a visit to Cuba will be no different. The island is an overload of history and culture that can overwhelm those who try to squeeze it all into a single vacation. Since historical sites from different eras abound all over the island it is best to choose a few and spend a couple of days focusing one each.

Lest you forget, Cuba is as beautiful as any other Caribbean Island so while you plan your historical escapades, remember to include free days where you can explore the island's golden sanded beaches and an incredible interior that is a bird lover’s haven.

In Cuba- probably more than any other place you will visit- there is a sense of desperation from many of the locals that will translate into aggressive pursuit of the dollars in your pocket. This is just a fact so go prepared with an idea of what trips should cost, which local bed and breakfasts you want to stay in and how the two different local currencies work when exchanging your foreign exchange. And, as much as possible try to travel with at least one other person you trust.

This is not to suggest that there is an exaggerated possibility of crime on the island. It is quite the opposite as the political system in Cuba deters crime more effectively than most other islands in the region. As long as you have done your research and know what to expect you can relax and take in what is the most fascinating island in the whole Caribbean. And, it is still true that the only way to genuinely see Cuba is to try interacting with the locals as much as possible!

Historical Sites From the Revolutionary Period

From the revolutionary period there is the famous and equally beautiful Bay of Pigs site on the island’s southern coast where Fidel Castro and Che Guevarra repelled the U.S; the emotional Che Guevarras Museum and Mausoleum in Santa Clara for those fascinated by one of Cuba’s and Latin America’s most popular revolutionary figures; the informative Museum de Revolucion for a look at the period from Cuba’s perspective and a rare view at revolutionary era war vehicles including the infamous Granma yatch that transported Fidel Castro and his army to Cuba on the journey that would start the revolution.



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Architectural Sites

Those more interested in the island’s architectural treasures from the colonial era must visit Habana Vieja (Old Havana) or Trinidad for their ornate, palatial buildings which were once home to the Spanish plantation owners who imported Moorish and Baroque style into the island.

'Must' Things to do in Cuba

Stroll El Malecon

El Malecon, Cuba's popular five mile long esplanade offers the opportunity to escape the bustle of Havana and Old Havana and relax by the sea wall while taking in the sounds and smells of the ocean with other visitors and thousands of locals who convene at the public space to relax throughout the day or take in the amazing sunset in the evenings.

Like the rest of Cuba, El Malecon oozes history and culture. There are monuments on the esplanade itself, old buildings with diverse architectural styles and fantastic views of monuments across the ocean in Cuba’s other towns. It is however the excitement that the locals bring to El Malecon that is the boardwalk’s most captivating feature.

Look out for young boys diving from the sea wall with astounding skill in what seems to be friendly competitions or for older Cuban men fishing when the ocean is calm. If you are lucky enough to visit when the ocean is in one of its rougher moods, be sure to snap a few photos of the waves threatening and winning the seawall so much so that vehicular traffic has to stop and give way to the waves crashing over the old wall.

At nights, El Malecon transforms into Cuba’s romance hub. Cuban lovers in various styles of embrace sit on the wall and just bask by the majestic ocean. If you walk long enough, you will inevitably walk into either live music or a group of locals playing music from the radio and dancing the night away.


People sitting on the sea wall at El Malecon
People sitting on the sea wall at El Malecon | Source

Roll a Cuban Cigar in Vinales

Where El Malecon throbs with the excitement of raw Cuban culture, Vinales is the more laid back, rural way to take in another aspect of Cuba. Vinales charms with rolling fields and the smell of tobacco emanating from the area’s tobacco farms. This is the town that gives the world the Cuban cigar so a visit would be incomplete without actually rolling one!

Suntan on Varadero Beach

With all its historical and political sites, one can easily forget that Cuba is indeed a tropical paradise. But one visit to this gorgeous beach is all it will take to confirm that Cuba is as much tropical beach paradise as it is historical hotspot. Named on Tripadvisor's 2018 List of Best Beaches in The World, Varadero is miles and miles of fine sand, clear blue water and palm trees. So take your fill of Cuba's heady history, but do take a trip to its more tropical side even for a day!

Best Caribbean Islands for Families

The Bahamas

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An Overview

For the family with multiple ages, different interests or high energy, the Bahamas will seem like a dream come true. With over a hundred islands and cays to explore, one could truly spend a whole month and still not exhaust the endless adventures on the chain of islands.

All in all, the Bahamas is just what the doctor ordered for the mixed family looking for a good variety of activities that will entertain different ages.


The Bahamas' swimming pigs will leave kid sin awe.
The Bahamas' swimming pigs will leave kid sin awe. | Source

Bahamas' Best Family Activities

See Swimming Pigs On Pig Island in Exumas

It's guaranteed: cute pigs swimming out to meet you as you approach their island is one of the cutest sights you and your kids will ever see, and the novel experience can only be had in the Bahamas.

Pig Island is located in the Exumas Islands section of the Bahamas and is totally uninhabited by humans so to get there one has to sail from one of the other islands. The cute creatures are the big draw here, but there are also iguana that you will see shyly peeking out if you look closely.


Take Teenagers to Captain their Own Submarine

Teenagers and older kids looking for extreme adventure will want to try captaining their own personal submarine at Stuart’s Cove in the capital island of the Bahamas-Nassau. This one is so much fun that only a video can do it justice:


Submarine Fun in the Caribbean Island of Nassau

See Flamingoes

For families who love seeing unusual birds or who enjoy wildlife, the Bahamas is home to colonies of the long legged, pink creatures. The best places to spot the birds are Inagua Island and Acklin Islands, but those looking for a treat will want to head to Inagua where most of the island is a national park that is also home to parrots, ducks and hummingbirds.

Take the Whole Family to See Caribbean Art

Art lovers will find much to love in Nassau’s eclectic galleries and craft shops where family crafting classes abound and there are many opportunities to score colorful souvenirs. One can find everything from paint and sip classes to coconut shell crafts.

'Must' Things to Do in the Bahamas

Atlantis Waterpark

If there is one thing every family must do while in Nassau it is the popular Atlantis World. A walk through the park's indoor streets takes the whole family on a journey through mythical Atlantis where sharks and ocean life swim underfoot and in the walls. The 141 acre park also has many other adventures like dizzying water slides, lazy rivers and multiple pools that will ensure a day of fun.

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A family surrounded by marine life at the Atlantis Resort and Waterpark.
A family surrounded by marine life at the Atlantis Resort and Waterpark. | Source

Laze on a Pink Sand Beach

Bahamas has some of the most beautiful beaches. Its pink-sanded, turquoise watered variety are arguable some of its most beautiful, and definitely it's most unique. There are a few pink sand beaches scattered around the island, but one of the most famous Is the three mile long Pink Sands Beach (yes, that's the real name!) in Harbour Island.

The famous beach has been the backdrop to countless movies and photos shoots and is simply breathtaking. After beach time head to the pastel lined streets of Harbour Island for a stroll with the family and some lunch at one of the cute restaurants on the island.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia's Kid Friendly resorts are the biggest draw for families visiting the Caribbean island
St. Lucia's Kid Friendly resorts are the biggest draw for families visiting the Caribbean island | Source

An Overview

In gregarious St. Lucia the vibe is outgoing, but the feel is all family. The highlight of the island are its excellent family resorts where children take center stage, so if your family prefers to spend vacation on the grounds of a paradise-like resort that caters fully to kids then St. Lucia is the place to be.

If you do plan to leave your resort for a day or for a few hours, St . Lucia does have a few off resort attractions, but unlike the Bahamas, it is St Lucia's superb family resorts complete with on-site kid friendly beaches that keep families returning.

St. Lucia's Best Family Resorts

Coconut Bay Beach Club

The excellent Coconut Bay Beach club with its three kid pools; always open playground; kids club with toddler and infant activities; lazy river and made to order toddler friendly food is a favorite for its reasonable all inclusive rates and private beach. Extras like kayaking, nightly family friendly parties and personal butlers ensure that your family never has to leave.


The Windjammer

The Windjammer Resort on the island's opposite end is the place to go for personal nannies who will entertain your kids while you have much needed alone time. During scheduled hours the excellent kids club (allows kids age 4 and older) makes everyday an adventure with treasure hunts, tie dye activities, horse back riding, beach time , pirate parties and other themed evening sessions. A pool dedicated to smaller kids makes pool time stress free and fun.

When its time for the beach, the small resort beach with its beach trampoline is an excellent way to spend a morning. Other perks include kids menus, catamaran tours and kayaking.

'Must' Things to do in St. Lucia

Climb Gros Piton

St Lucia's twin peaks are its most famous icons. Although a hike may be too much for very young kids, those with tweens and teens or those who can go solo for a few hours must do this hike. The picturesque hike to the top is well worth it just for the gorgeous greenery on the journey, but the view of the Caribbean Sea and Petit Piton (the other peak) from the top will be an even bigger reward.

St. Lucia Pitons
St. Lucia Pitons | Source

Dance at 'Jump Up'

Friday nights are big in St. Lucia. It's when all roads, including that of the locals, lead to Gros Islet for a weekly party called Jump Up. Music, spicy chicken and fish grilled before your eyes and lots and lots of dancing make it a must for those who want to experience a genuine Caribbean party and dance the evening away.

Jamaica

. Family friendly resorts like the Beaches Negril Resort pictured here and exciting off resort activities make Jamaica one of the best Caribbean islands for families.
. Family friendly resorts like the Beaches Negril Resort pictured here and exciting off resort activities make Jamaica one of the best Caribbean islands for families. | Source

An Overview

Jamaica combines the best of the Bahamas and St. Lucia in one island. The Caribbean island combines superb, family friendly all-inclusive hotels with some of the Caribbean's most exciting off-resort activities to make it a well loved hit with every kind of visitor.

It is said that the all-inclusive concept was invented in Jamaica and the rumor is easy to believe. Apart from adult only and other special interest all-inclusives, Jamaica is home to dozens of family focused all- inclusive resorts that will give your family good value and a superb vacation. Those who love the beach will want to head to the award winning Negril beach where the Beaches Resort with its Sesame Street themed events, teen lounge, waterpark and more will keep the kids entertained for days. In famous Montego Bay, families will have much to choose from. There is the Sunscape Splash Resort with its onsite waterpark, the Grand Pallladium with its awesome kids club, the Holiday Inn with its unbelievable rates and fun activities and the Sunset Beach Resort with its pirate themed park. In Ocho Rios, there is the Jewels resort, also with an onsite waterpark and the excellent Moon Palace Resort.

Outside of its resorts, Jamaica also shines. Here are some of the best family activities on the island.

Jamaica's Best Family Activities

Dolphins frolicking at Jamaica's Dolphin Cove
Dolphins frolicking at Jamaica's Dolphin Cove | Source

Swim with Dolphins at Dolphin Cove

These cute, social creatures are even cuter when you see them up close. Your kids will get a chance to do just that at Jamaica's Dolphin Cove, located in the Ocho Rios section of the island. The well like attraction offers an experience for all ages.

The really young can take part in the kiss and play program where they get to kiss and pet the dolphin. Older kids get to swim with the creatures; and teenagers get to take part in a more educational adventure where they get to be take care of a dolphin.

Zipline and Bobsled In a Forest

Jamaica's interior is all lush rainforest that beckons to the adventurorus. One of the best adventures is undoubtedly ziplining on Mystic Mountain. The ziplines are perfect for kids of any age and the facility makes it possible to spend a whole day with added attractions like bobsledding and a waterslide that ends in an infinity pool.

Sail Down a Crocodile Habitat

This one sounds scarier than it is in reality. Yes there are crocodiles, lots and lots of them, and yes the boat takes you down their river habitat, but they don't bother their visitors at all. In fact when you see them they will likely be sunbathing or floating calmly by. The trip goes down the Black River in the St. Elizabeth parish which is a diverse habitat in itself so expect a bit of education thrown in by the knowledgeable guides.

'Must' Things to do in Jamaica

Lay on Negril Beach

Negril Beach is Jamaica's award winning seven mile stretch of sugar white sands and is known for casual laid back vibes and a beach scene that is ever happening, no matter the time of day. In the mornings Negril's calm waves and lazy beauty will entice even those who hate the sand. At midday the beach comes alive with the spicy smell of jerk chicken or grilled seafood wafting out form the colorful huts that line the beach. And at nights, the world renown Negril sunset and live music sets a romantic vibe.

Climb Dunns River Waterfall

Jamaica is called the land of wood and water by locals for good reason. Most of its parishes is home to at least one waterfall. That means that no matter where you stay there should be a waterfall to climb or to play in.

Of course, the most popular is the famous Dunns River Falls where James Bond filmed his first movie. Guided tours take visitors up into the gushing waterfall for an experience of a lifetime. After the climb, there is a pretty good beach for those who want to make it a whole day affair.

Best Caribbean Islands for Beautiful Beaches

All the islands in this guide have breathtaking beaches. In fact many of the islands already mentioned have award winning beaches. These include Negril Beach in Jamaica (TripAdvisor 2018 Best Beaches of the World), Palm Beach in Aruba (Conde Nast and TripAdvisor 2018 lists), Harbor Island Beach in the Bahamas (Conde Nast 2018 list) and Varadero in Cuba (Tripadvisors 2018 list). If all you want is the beach, either for solitude or for underwater exploration, here are a few other islands to consider.

Nevis- For Secluded Beaches

Overview

If when it comes time for vacation you crave solitude or just relish in having a beach almost to yourself, Nevis is the perfect Caribbean island to visit. English speaking Nevis is the sister island of more popular St Kitts and is regarded (by the few who have actually visited) as more secluded oasis than tourist resort. Unlike many other Caribbean destinations, Nevis doesn't advertise or try to attract visitors. In fact, there was a time when its government actively tried to discourage tourists from coming to its shores. Also keeping the island relatively private is the fact that there is no airport. Those who want to visit must fly into St Kitts, then take a boat to Nevis.

Nevis is a place with most of the charms of other Caribbean destinations, but none of the crowd. There is no port big enough for a cruise ship so the hordes of cruise ship visitors that the other well developed islands get are a non-issue here and the extra steps involved in getting into the island serve as a deterrent of sort to would- be visitors.

The lack of crowds is no judgement on the desirability of Nevis. The island’s white sand, pink shell strewn beaches and lush green mountains are just as postcard perfect as any other Caribbean island and there is also snorkeling, hiking and a few museums. But the thing that most people visit Nevis for is quiet relaxation and the chance of having a beach all to oneself. If you are a beach lover seeking quiet and solitude, Nevis is your best option in the Caribbean!



Best Nevis Beach for Solitude

Pinney's Beach

Pinney's Beach is a brown sanded, turquoise water beach with a reputation for clear water and gorgeous sunsets. The 4 mile long beach sports eateries and bars in some spots, total rugged, untouched beauty in others, and the spectacular Four Seasons Hotel where one can get a day pass to enjoy the grounds.

Even of the busiest day, it is easy to grab a chair away from your fellow beachgoers, but those seeking unadulterated solitude, need only explore the beach for any of the many empty spots that abound.

"Must" Things to Do in Nevis

Golf at the Four Seasons Hotel Golf Course

If golfing with the view of a volcanic peak behind and views of the Caribbean Ocean in front sounds appealing, then this golf course should be just up your alley. And to add a bit of charm, cheeky monkeys sneak in and out of the course at will!


Hike Nevis Peak

Nevis' interior is all lush rainforest and visitors get to go into the thick of things on a hike up the island's highest mountain. Tropical plants, waterfalls and majestic trees keep you company on the hike, and though it seems easy at first, be prepared for difficult terrain as you get closer to the top.

Barbuda- For Even More Private Beaches

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Overview

Like Nevis, Barbuda is the sister island to a larger island - Antigua- from which one has to travel in order to reach its shores. A 20 minute plane ride or a ferry ride is all it takes, but the extra steps to get to the island combined with a tiny local population guarantee privacy. The tiny island is all sand and clear water. The stunning beaches come in a few varieties- white sand, brown sand and pink sand beaches that keep those in the know coming back to the tropical paradise.

Those who want privacy will find that any beach on the island will be almost empty, even in high season. Here are two of the most private beaches on the island.

Secluded Beaches in Barbuda

Princess Diana Beach

The sand on this beach may be the softest you have ever felt, and the water could just win the award for clearest in the Caribbean. But, it is the feeling of awe visitors have as they take in the secluded ruggedness of this beach that makes it a rising star in Barbuda.

Don't expect many amenities or eateries on the beach, but do go if having a beautiful beach all to yourself is exactly what your soul needs.

Pink Sands Beach

Many of Barbuda's beaches are pink hued and this is possibly the pinkest of them all. Apart from the gorgeous juxtaposition of pink sand and the blue ocean, Pink Sands Beach is also known for offering totally private areas along its long shoreline.

"Must" Things to Do in Barbuda

Frigate Bird Sanctuary

Thousands of birds from over 100 species, including the red billed frigate (also known as the man of war bird) call this incredible sanctuary home. Its location on a lagoon make it even more appealing as the birds all but fly into your boat as they dance, sing and mate as you watch.

All in all, the sanctuary is a must do activity, even for those who are indifferent to the creatures.

The Cayman Islands- For Good Snorkelling

Underwater scenes like this make Grand Cayman the best Caribbean island for snorkeling and diving.
Underwater scenes like this make Grand Cayman the best Caribbean island for snorkeling and diving.

Overview

The group of islands known as the Cayman Islands are popular for their polite British sensibilities, gorgeous beaches and scuba diving and snorkeling. Almost all visitors to the islands stay on developed Grand Cayman where most of the islands attractions and lodging can be found.

Tiny Grand Cayman is dotted with some of the most gorgeous beaches in the whole Caribbean, beautiful gardens, a good selection of restaurants featuring local and international cuisine, and of course some of the best diving and snorkeling in the Caribbean.


Best Beach for Snorkelling in Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman's famous Seven Mile Beach is miles of soft sand and the clearest water imaginable. It is also home to a gorgeous reef that is healthy and strong in most places. To make it an even sweeter deal, there is a real shipwreck that can be reached by a five minute swim.

The best snorkeling spots are Cemetery Reef and Governor's Beach. Both spots are for more advanced swimmers, but the reward is a nice healthy reef and lots of colorful marine life. Those looking for a short swim (around 5 minutes) will love exploring the Gamma Wreck on the southern most part of the beach where the ship has become home to many fish who dart in and out to their own rhythm.

'Must' Things to do in Grand Cayman

Visit the Stingrays in Sting Ray City

If there is one thing every visit to Grand Cayman should include, its a trip to this unusual site in the middle of the ocean. Stingray City is the home to dozens of stingrays that love nothing more than interacting with the human visitors that come on boats daily.

What? you say. How can I interact with stingrays in the middle of the ocean? Glad you asked. Stingray City is actually a sandbar, so although it can only be reached by boat, one can actually stand or swim while the stingrays dart in and out for a visit. Lucky visitors even get a stingray kiss!


For High End Luxury

Bermuda or Turks and Caicos

From private villas to butlers who can arrange a private seaside dinner on your own private spot of beach, these two islands are tops in the English speaking Caribbean for the jet-setting crowd. Expect only the finest accommodations and services and the same otherworldly beauty you would expect from any Caribbean island. On top of that, both islands are experienced with catering to celebrities and the top 1% so privacy and discretion is second nature in the service industries. And the list of activities range from yachting on Bermuda, to private beaches and nature sanctuaries on the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Comments

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    • nomadspirit profile imageAUTHOR

      Rosheda Stephenson 

      3 months ago

      @Emerlyn. Can't wait to read about beautiful St. Lucia!

    • nomadspirit profile imageAUTHOR

      Rosheda Stephenson 

      3 months ago

      Liz Westwood, thank you for the compliment. I am sure when you do visit, you will love the Caribbean!

    • EmmaJame profile image

      Emerlyn 

      5 months ago from St.Lucia

      This is great! I'm from the Caribbean island of St.Lucia and will be writing a few pieces about it. Would love to share my view with you all.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      5 months ago from UK

      This is a very well-structured article and tackles a big topic very well. There is so much to cover, I would not have known where to start or how to pull it all together. The Caribbean islands have been a fascination and a long time travel goal for me for a long time. Unfortunately, from the UK travel times and therefore costs are higher. I had relatives who used to go to visit friends in Barbados. Their descriptions and photos were great. Since then I have known people take cruises round the Caribbean and also visit St Lucia, Antigua and the Bahamas. Your photos and descriptions do the area great justice. Hopefully one day I will make it.

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