Best Caribbean Islands
The Caribbean and its many islands are a dream destination for people’s vacations and honeymoons. However, having to choose between the different islands can be a bit overwhelming for some. This article provides a list of the ten must-visit Caribbean islands as well as the reasons to visit each. Once you’re done reading, you may have the urge to venture to each of the islands featured.
First on this list is probably the most popular among the islands in the Caribbean – the Bahamas. This region of the Caribbean is composed of over 700 islands, among which some are inhabited and packed with resorts while some don’t have people on them at all. Aside from having hundreds of islands, the Bahamas also serves as the home for thousands of rock formations and cays.
The year-round sunny weather in this region makes it the ideal destination for beach lovers. Most of them are free to visit, while there are a select few that require a small fee. A lot of these beaches are also near hotels, restaurants, and bars, which make them highly accessible. If you will visit a faraway beach – for instance, one that requires a water taxi to go to – try to research about their food and beverage options first.
There are also many people who go here to dive or to go on boat tours. Diving and snorkeling activities let you see the wonders hidden under the waters of the Bahamas, some you may not see if you only visit the region’s beaches. You can see a wide variety of corals and fishes by doing this. So make sure you pack your dive watch and snorkeling fins! Boat tours, on the other hand, allow you to spend time on as many parts of the Bahamas as possible. You can go from island to island without much trouble. This lets you try the many different activities available on these islands as well.
The Cayman Islands
Up next are the Cayman Islands. This part of the Bahamas has been rising in popularity over the past couple of decades. One of the main reasons for this is that it features two of the most exclusive hotels in the area, which are both located on its Seven Mile Beach. Namely, these are the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman and the KimptonSeafire. The latter is actually a large collection of properties ranging from villas to what they refer to as “Margaritaville.” There is also a wide array of restaurants and bars eager to please your culinary desires.
Going to see the stingrays is another popular activity in the Cayman Islands. These friendly sea creatures can be found in the northern portion of the islands. Tourists can swim with and even pet the stingrays found here. You can also visit one of the many rum distilleries that make one of the Caymans’ most popular exports. You can watch the entire rum-making process from start to finish. Most of these distilleries even let you taste or take home some of the products they make. You may want to drop by the souvenir shop afterwards to get an extra bottle or two as well.
Number three on this list is Antigua, which actually houses one of UNESCO’s latest world heritage sites – Nelson’s Dockyard. This naval heritage spot has a history dating back to 1632 when it was used as a base for the navy’s operations. This spot was popular among seafarers back in the day due its placement being a natural defense against storms and hurricanes. Since its restoration was finished back in 1961, it now serves as the home for various hotels, museums, restaurants, and marinas.
Aside from Nelson’s Dockyard, there is so much more to do in these islands. For instance, you could visit the other historic sites located in Antigua. You could pay a visit to The Blockhouse, Monk’s Hill, Shirley Heights, and Fort Berkeley. Antigua’s Donkey Sanctuary is another must-visit, especially among animal lovers. Arts and crafts are also popular in this region, with museums and galleries being among the best-reviewed places for this Caribbean island. You will never run out of things to do in Antigua.
Barbuda, together with the previously mentioned Antigua, actually make up a single nation in the Bahamas. However, what they offer is noticeably different from one another. For instance, if Antigua boasts a sanctuary for donkeys, then Barbuda has a sanctuary for different kinds of birds. Speaking of animals, horseback riding is another popular tourist activity in this island.
If you are more of a history buff than an animal lover, no need to worry. Barbuda also has a variety of historical sites such as the Codrington Dividing Wall as well as the Indian Cave. The former serves a memorial to a darker time in Caribbean history, that of its involvement in the slave trade. Meanwhile, the latter is a rock formation dating all the way back to the Neolithic period, which features petroglyphs from that point in time.
The British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands have been in and out of the spotlight over the past couple of years. In their latest return to the spotlight, a lot of effort has been put into bringing Tortola into the tourism forefront. Tortola is the largest among the British Virgin Islands and it also has the most to offer. This Caribbean island features white-sand beaches that are surrounded by green mountains covered in colorful bougainvillea. It also has a lot of diving spots, which allow you to see shipwrecks and different kinds of marine life.
If you’re a fan of extreme sports, then you may want to bring your surfboard in Tortola. The towering waves in this region are ideal for those looking to get an adrenaline rush in the open waters. If you don’t know how to surf, but you want to know how to, a lot of surf spots in this region also offer lessons in much calmer waters. The night owls out there will also have something to look forward to in their visit to the region. Tortola is known for its amazing parties, where visitors could even join exotic talents such as fire jugglers.
Similar to the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten has also been in and out of the public eye recently. In St. Maarten’s case, if fell off for a short while due to Hurricane Irma – one of the worst natural disasters it has encountered in quite some time. Despite this, the government and the community of this Caribbean island have already rebuilt. A little over a year on from one of their darkest times, the people here have found their smile once again. This is why St. Maarten has been hailed as one of the happiest places in the Caribbean.
Like many other Caribbean islands, St. Maarten boasts amazing beaches as well as picturesque farms and animal sanctuaries. However, it also has a lot of unique amenities. Tennis is a popular sport in this region of the Caribbean. As a result of this, the American Tennis Academy offers many services to its visitors. You can get a daytime court rental or you can step your game up a notch by having a private lesson. You could even go on a fast-paced ATV ride across the island if ever the traditional boat tour doesn’t suit your taste.
Number seven on this list is St. Kitts. It may be small, but it is an established favorite among more chic travelers. This was made true by the opening of the Park Hyatt towards the end of 2017. The rumbling lush, green hills of this island make it seem like it came straight out of a painting or a movie scene. The natural beauty doesn’t end there though, as St. Kitts is also home to many bays and beaches. Luckily, the hotels in and around the area were developed featuring this natural beauty in mind. For example, the Belle Mont Farm is a working farm that doubles as a high-end resort and food destination.
If nature doesn’t spark your interest, then maybe shopping and sightseeing in the island’s capital, Basseterre, is more your speed. It boasts amazing restaurants where the foodie in you can enjoy a meal with friends, family, or a special someone. Their ceviche and cocktails are a must-try. The capital is also easy to navigate, so maybe, instead of hiring a tour guide, you can ask the locals around the area for suggestions on what to do while you’re there. They may even give you suggestions that you can’t see on any tour manual or handbook.
We can’t talk about the must-visit islands in the Caribbean without mentioning Barbados. It seems that there is something for everyone in this bustling Caribbean island. Every corner of Barbados has something to offer. The south coast has white sand beaches, while the north side has the Animal Flower Cave that lets tourists relax in its clear, tranquil waters. Batts Rock in western Barbados offers an unparalleled snorkeling experience. On the other hand, you’ll be able to see the Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison – another Caribbean UNESCO world heritage sight – in the east.
The large Barbadian population is also among the most welcoming in the entire Caribbean. Their hospitality shows through their seemingly endless dining choices. Try out some Barbadian or Bajan cuisine, which is a mixture of African, Indian, Irish, Creole and British influences. Some examples of this cuisine are fish cakes, barbequed pig tails, jug jug, and macaroni pie. Many stores offer Bajan seasoning in a jar, so you could have a small taste of the island even if you’ve already left. The rum produced in Barbados is also one of the most sought-after, so give it a try as well.
At number nine we have Curacao, which is the most modernized island featured on this list. Despite this, it is still a must-visit for those who want to experience a Caribbean beach. They have untouched stretches of white sand as well as beach clubs complete with DJs and beautiful people. Curacao also has the added benefit of having its pristine beaches surrounded by one-of-a-kind architecture and top-of-the-line shopping options. Once you’re done partying and shopping the day away, you can go back to your room in of the island’s luxury hotels.
Curacao also features a floating bridge dubbed the “Swinging Old Lady.” This is one of the five bridges that connect the three major areas of Willemstad. Once you get to this area, you will find that it is remarkably easy to get around on foot. It is home to a lot of art, whether visual or auditory, as seen in the crayon palette-colored houses and the frequent jazz nights respectively. It’s going to be hard to run out of things to do in this part of the Caribbean.
Last, but certainly not the least, is Jamaica. Despite being best known for its food as well as its music, this Caribbean nation has a lot more up its sleeve. The Blue Hole is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Jamaica. It offers a breath of fresh air in an otherwise extremely busy Ocho Rios. There are no lines and no vendors, but there are clean water and a breathtaking view. You can swim, dive, and maybe even jump to your heart’s content.
Culture is another major selling point for Jamaica. Maybe you could pay a visit to the Rastafari Indigenous Village if you ever find yourself traveling to this part of the Caribbean. Here, you get the chance to interact with the Rastafari people. You can learn about and even share in one of their famed vegan meals. You could even take home some of their traditional crafts by visiting the store that they have in the village.
You could never go wrong in choosing to go to the Caribbean. The toughest part is not deciding whether to go there, it’s deciding on which island to visit. Read through this list and see that each of them has their own unique attractions to offer. You may just end up visiting every single island mentioned.