The Top Ten Caribbean Island Vacation Destinations
Are you looking for a great vacation destination? Composed of a group of roughly 7,000 islands, the Caribbean is home to some of the best vacation spots on the planet. Known for its friendly people, pristine beaches, warm breezes, and clear blue waters, it's hard to find a better getaway than the Caribbean. Whether you're looking for fun or just a little rest and relaxation, this is the place to go.
Don't worry if the island you want to visit isn't listed here; all of them are beautiful, and no matter where you go, your trip will be unforgettable.
1. Puerto Rico
If you like deep-sea fishing and scuba diving, then Puerto Rico is for you. Known as the land of enchantment, this tropical island is famous for its exotic places, white sandy beaches, and other natural wonders. Travelers are equally drawn to its mild weather, quality accommodations, and excellent restaurants.
This island nation was founded in 1521. Its capital, San Juan, has the distinction of being the oldest city under U.S. jurisdiction and is home to a third of Puerto Rico's population.
2. The Bahamas
Are you into island-hopping? With 700 islands of white sand beaches, you are sure to love the Bahamas. This group of islands gets its name from the Spanish words baja mar, which mean "shallow sea." If you enjoy shopping, outdoor activities, and good nightlife, this is the place to go.
The Bahamas is an ecological oasis surrounded by some of the clearest water on the planet. It is said that its turquoise waters are as warm and inviting as the locals who live there. The visibility of the water is over 180 feet; a person can see the barrier reef below them as easily as their toes. As you can imagine, the snorkeling here is top-notch. If that is not enough, head to one of the Bahamas' busy straw markets to haggle on the prices of ceramics, handicrafts, and local art, or play a round of golf on one of its world-class courses.
3. St. Thomas
If you're a fan of breathtaking panoramas, then St. Thomas is the place to be. In addition to the magnificent views on this mountainous island, St. Thomas is also known for its snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, fishing, beautiful real estate, and spectacular golf courses. If you plan to vacation here, be sure to allow time to visit the beaches, or at least take an island tour.
The capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie, is located on St. Thomas. It is the largest city on St. Thomas and home to half the island's 50,000+ population.
St. Thomas was once a hangout for pirates including the infamous Blackbeard.
4. The Dominican Republic
With miles of beautiful beaches, coconut palms, and spectacular mountains, the Dominican Republic is an incredible vacation destination. Many consider this island nation to be the perfect place for weddings and honeymoons.
With the variety of topography, climate, wildlife, and plants found here, the Dominican Republic invites you not only to visit but to explore. Beautiful beaches and various adventure activities such as bird watching, camping, and four-wheeling make this island the perfect vacation getaway.
The Dominican Republic is located on the second largest island in the Caribbean, along with Haiti.
Beautiful beaches, spectacular mountain views, and a vibrant local culture make Jamaica one of the world's most unique destinations, and any trip here is sure to be memorable.
Jamaica has an area of roughly 4,200 square miles. The island is the third largest in the Caribbean and is surrounded by delightfully warm waters. Jamaica is known as one of the most colorful islands in the Caribbean. With vibrant tropical blooms against a background of blue mountains, it is a sight to see. Montego Bay and Kingston are the two main cities on this island. Visitors here can look forward to fun nightclubs, excellent dining, and world-class golf courses.
This island is known as one of the most attractive in the Caribbean. Aruba is located in the heart of the southern Caribbean, just north of Venezuela. Unlike other islands in the Caribbean, it doesn't have a rainy season, and it is less humid; this makes it a great year-round destination. In addition, Aruba is outside the hurricane corridor, so it is safe to visit during hurricane season. This island is known for its beaches, water activities, casinos, shopping, and beautiful golf courses.
Calling All Shoppers
Aruba and the U.S. Virgin Islands offer duty-free shopping!
7. St. Maarten
If you crave the excitement of a cosmopolitan atmosphere but still want that Caribbean feel, visit St. Maarten. This island has two governments—one French and the other Dutch—making life on St. Maarten interesting. The Dutch and French have maintained a peace for over 340 years, the longest of any two nations sharing a border, and the Treaty of Concordia, enacted on March 23, 1648, is still honored today. If gourmet food, good nightlife, duty-free shopping, and pristine beaches excite you, visit St. Maarten.
St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world to have two governments.
8. The U.S. Virgin Islands
Would you like to experience the feel of the Caribbean without leaving U.S. territory? Welcome to the Virgin Islands! The U.S. Virgin Islands include St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. Though they may technically be part of the U.S., visiting these islands is like going to a different country.
If you are a swimmer, this is the place to be. The U.S. Virgin Islands are known for their white sandy beaches, warm turquoise water, and abundant marine life. Although it is impossible to do everything in one trip, popular activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, biking, and mountain climbing.
If none of those appeal to you, there are other worthwhile activities available in the Virgin Islands. Try a helicopter or boat tour to get some of the best views of the islands. Because there is so much to do and see, many tourists take a cruise to see as much as possible. Doing this gives travelers the time to visit all three main islands and to enjoy the spectacular scenery at a slower pace.
9. St. Croix
St. Croix in the U.S Virgin Islands is the largest of the three main islands at 28 miles long and 7 miles wide. Its vegetation ranges from rainforest to desert, and it is home to roughly 50,000 people. This island has an average winter temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit and a summer temperature of 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
St. Croix is known for its beaches, coral reefs, and recreational water sports. On the west end of St. Croix is Frederiksted—a city growing in popularity as a cruise ship port and an excellent fine dining location. On the eastern side of St. Croix is Christiansted—a city known for the duty-free shopping, art galleries, pubs, bars, and restaurants, that can be found along the harbor boardwalk. This island is a low-key, laid-back destination; it doesn't have a Spring Break-style atmosphere, nor is it a mainstream tourist spot. It's an island of adventure with a variety of activities including horseback riding, ATV tours, and parasailing. Doesn't that sound like an amazing getaway?
When visiting Barbados, you will notice it has stretches of wide, flat plains, as well as beautiful rolling hills and deep ridges. This topographical variance makes for a marvelous assortment of flora and fauna.
This island is located north of Trinidad and east of the Windward Islands and is one of the most popular ports of call in the Caribbean. Perhaps this is why Barbados has a more sophisticated feel than the other islands on this list, with some of the best resorts and hotels in the Caribbean. It is also home to Welchman Hall Gully, a must-see for nature lovers. All in all, Barbados is a beautiful place with many activities to choose from, including cultural exhibits, great nightlife, and world-class dining—but what makes Barbados truly special is the people.
At the heart of Barbados is a series of underground lakes and caves that are believed to have some of the cleanest drinking water on the planet.
Although they didn't make the top ten list, I want to give the following islands their due. Some of the ones on this list may not be as well-known, but they are all wonderful vacation destinations.
- Cayman Islands
- San Andres
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines