12 of the Best Caribbean Islands

Palm tree on a beach in St. John, US Virgin Islands, one of the top Caribbean islands to visit

It’s that time of year, folks. Many of us are well into the snowy season. And many of us have been quarantined or house-bound for weeks at a time. We’re all dreaming of some tropical, sunny paradise, like the beautiful Caribbean islands, to take all our cares away. And, while we simply can’t go much of anywhere right now, we can certainly sprinkle a little wanderlust on our daydreams with some post-vaccination, post-Covid travel. So, I asked my amazing travel blog community for the best Caribbean islands and here’s what they’ve presented us with. A big thanks to my fellow travel bloggers for their generous contributions and travel tips!


Antigua, A Top Spot For Sunsets & Road-Tripping

There is little doubt that tiny Antigua is one of the best Caribbean islands. Famous for its gorgeous white sandy beaches and clear, warm waters, Antigua is much more than meets the eye. And it’s a fantastic holiday destination for any kind of traveler. 

Families traveling with children will find pristine beaches at gorgeous beach resorts. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy diving, snorkeling and sailing  since Antigua is one of the best sailing destinations in the world. 

Albeit small, Antigua also has a variety of hiking trails. The best hike goes from English Harbor all the way to Shirley Heights, the most impressive viewpoint on the island. Make sure to go there at sunset for stunning vistas. 

One of the best things to do in Antigua is to set off on a road trip. The island is so small that you will only really need a day to explore it. Landmarks you should not miss include Devil’s Bridge, a unique rock formation; Betty’s Hope, a series of windmills from when the island was a major sugar cane producer; the Donkey Sanctuary, a haven for rescued donkeys; and, the laidback capital St. Johns.

Sunset from a lookout point in Antigua

Contribution by: Claudia of My Adventures Across The World.

Aruba, A Caribbean Desert Oasis

Aruba is part of the ABC islands that also include Bonaire and Curaçao. The ABC islands are the three western-most islands of the Leeward Antilles and were once part of the Netherlands. To this day, they are often referred to as the Dutch Caribbean.

Unlike many of the Caribbean islands, Aruba has a dry climate and is more desert-like. This means the island has reliable warm, sunny, clear skies year-round with very little rain. It also sits outside of hurricane alley, so chances of hurricane or severe weather are slim. Oranjestad is the capital and largest city in Aruba. It’s nickname is “Caribbean Amsterdam” because of its colorful colonial houses. 

Snorkeling, diving, windsurfing and sailing are popular activities on the island. Aruba has plenty of beachside bars, restaurants including one’s where you can dine on the sand, and many casinos. There are also many sightseeing options.

Visit the natural swimming pool (Conchi) or the California lighthouse. Stop by the aloe factory or the butterfly farm. Go see Casibari Rock Formation or Arikok National Park. All of this, and more, makes Aruba one of the Caribbean’s best islands to visit.

Colorful sunset on an Aruban beach

Contribution by: Alexa from 52 Perfect Days.

Bahamas, A Climate-Friendly Island Paradise

The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is the closest Caribbean island to the US, making it one of the most accessible. A frequent first stop for cruise ships, most tourists don’t get the opportunity to see the authentic side of the island, one rich in culture and history.

The Bahamas is one of the most productive island in the Caribbean in terms of environmental conservation and combatting ocean pollution. Clifton Heritage National Park is a great place to learn more about the history of The Bahamas. Stroll through old slave quarters, in stark contrast to the beautiful turquoise waters just steps away.

You can also visit Ocean Atlas, a large underwater sculpture park. It was installed to stimulate coral regrowth in the area while snorkeling through giant art pieces. Or, you can just float in the crystal clear waters. Whatever suits your activity level.

For authentic Bahamian cuisine, head to The Fish Fry to try a large number of Bahamian dishes in one seating. Peruse the food carts and local-owned bars at Potters Cay Dock at night. Or, visit during the day to buy local produce.

There are many misconceptions and myths about The Bahamas, mostly due to a lack of knowledge about the culture. But once you step out of the cruise area, you can really appreciate the down-to-Earth beauty of the island. Which makes The Bahamas some of the best Caribbean destinations! 

A beach in the Bahamas, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit!

Contribution by: Kay of the Awkward Traveller.

Barbados, Where The Surf’s Up

The Caribbean is full of incredible tropical islands to visit but Barbados is one that stands out from the rest. While most of the islands are volcanic, Barbados has a coral limestone landscape. It’s actually the exposed part of an ocean ridge, formed when tectonic plates collided. This gives Barbados a unique landscape where you can see actual reef across the island’s surface. 

One of the best things to do in Barbados is surf, no matter what level you are. The small waves on the Caribbean side of the island are perfect for beginners, while the Atlantic side has larger waves if you’re more advanced. If surfing is not your thing, there’s an endless amount of other water sports to try.

Barbados also has incredible opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, where you can see amazing marine life such as sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, flying fish, barracudas, and more. 

Of course, Barbados also has the picture-perfect beaches you would expect to find in the Caribbean. Along with a safe, chilled vibe and world-class hotels, it’s the perfect destination for your next Caribbean holiday.

Bathsheba coast in Barbados

Contribution by: Lora of Explore With Lora.

Bermuda, A Tasty Caribbean Getaway Spot

Bermuda, while not technically in the Caribbean, is a gorgeous archipelago of islands just a couple-hour flight from the US. Bermuda’s islands boast bright cerulean waters, crystal caves and pink sand beaches. Not to mention rich British and African history, shopping, and—of course—plenty of water sports. There are so many things to do, you might need a whole Bermuda Bucket List just to see it all!  

Once part of the African slave trade routes, Bermuda is an Overseas British Territory with a lot of history. Bermudians are incredibly friendly, so even if traveling solo, you’ll have no problems making new friends.

One of the best things to do in Bermuda is explore its easternmost island, St. George. St. George is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the world-famous Tobacco Bay and the Unfinished Church. Bermuda’s capital city, Hamilton, is home to some of the finest shopping and dining in all of the Caribbean.  

Be sure to bring your appetite, as Bermuda has some mouthwatering local dishes and drinks to experience.  Bermuda fish chowder and spiny lobster are popular food options, and must-haves if you’re visiting the island. For drinks, head to the Swizzle Inn to try the original Rum Swizzle. Or, take a Gosling’s Rum Cruise to sample the original Dark & Stormy.

Bermuda may be the best Caribbean island to visit. Adored by families, couples, solo travelers, and golfers, Bermuda truly has something for everyone.

Tobacco Bay in Bermuda, one of the best (sort of) Caribbean islands to visit

Contribution by: Jade of The Migrant Yogi.

Cozumel, One Of The Best Caribbean Islands For Snorkeling

Cozumel is a small island located right off the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. While there’s an international airport on the island, most visitors fly into Cancun. Or take a ferry from Playa del Carmen or arrive on a cruise ship for the day. 

Top activities are usually snorkeling or scuba diving. Water lovers can experience the diverse marine life of the world’s second-largest coral reef system. As with any Caribbean island, make sure to spend some time relaxing.

You can go to one of the many beautiful beaches all around the island or take a catamaran cruise. Other fun adventures are taking an ATV to Jade Cavern, renting a jeep, or chartering a fishing boat. 

Hopefully, you can spend a night or two on the island to eat at a local restaurant and go shopping downtown. You don’t want to miss Cozumel, one of the best Caribbean vacation destinations to visit post-Covid.

A cenote in Cozumel

Contribution by: Dan of Honeymoon Always.

Dominican Republic, A Whale & Waterfall Haven

In the north of the Caribbean lies the Dominican Republic, the second-largest island of the Caribbean. It is famous for its astounding nature, stunning beaches, luxury resorts and rich culture. And getting there is convenient since there are eight different international airports. 

If you’re searching for a romantic getaway, a relaxing holiday or an adventure, the Dominican Republic has something to offer everyone. Arguably one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.   

Santo Domingo, the capital, is less touristy, but you can get a good sense of the Dominican culture and lifestyle. On the east coast, you’ll find Punta Cana, famous for all-inclusive resorts and golfing. There are lots of different places to visit in the Dominican Republic, and something for everyone.

Samaná is a great destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers. If you are lucky enough to visit in the winter months, make sure to head to Samaná Bay. More than a thousand humpback whales gather to nurse their newborn calves there. Take a day trip to El Salto Del Limon waterfall, too, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. 

El Limon waterfall in Dominican Republican

Contribution by: Mansoureh of Travel With Mansoureh.

Jamaica, One Of The Best Caribbean Islands For Culture

When looking for where to go in the Caribbean, Jamaica should be high up on your list. Aside from the lush white sands and turquoise waters, the island is known for Bob Marley and his reggae music. Which you can vibe to no-matter which parish you find yourself in.

Unique places like Dunn River Falls or the historic Port Royal make Jamaica much richer than your standard paradise getaway. There are untold stories to hear about from its cultural history.

The Jamaican people are respectful and welcome new tourists who wish to learn. And for that reason, many people like to return to the island. It’s recommended you find out the best time to visit Jamaica before booking. You don’t want to get caught up in the hurricane season.

All in all, a visit to Jamaica offers a unique cultural experience like no other. And it has something for everyone who is interested in visiting the Caribbean. 

Masks at a market in Jamaica, one of the best Caribbean islands

Contribution by: Daniel of Layer Culture.

Puerto Rico, A UNESCO World Heritage Island Paradise

Puerto Rico is not only a beautiful Caribbean destination, it is also easy for US travelers to visit. From historic sights to great food and drink, Puerto Rico is one of the best islands in the Caribbean for vacation.

San Juan, the capital, is the most popular destination on the island. And it definitely warrants the top spot on any Puerto Rico itinerary. Home to Spanish colonial-era fortifications, San Juan boasts an old city that will light up your Instagram feed.

Also visit El Yunque, a tropical rainforest not too far from the city. Culebra and Vieques are two smaller offshore islands that are worth visiting for their stunning beaches. And Vieques has a bioluminescent bay as well.

Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second-largest city, is a must-visit if you rent a car. Here, you can enjoy rum tastings at the hilltop Castillo de Serralles, along with views over the city. Drive further around the island to beautiful and uncrowded beaches before arriving at Rincon, famous for its lighthouse and sunsets.

Throughout your visit, don’t forget to indulge in the local food and drink. Cocktails in a pineapple or coconut are a must-try!

Oceanfront fort in Puerto Rico

Contribution by: Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles.

Saint Barthélemy, A Super Swanky Beach Vacation

It’s difficult to decide what island provides the best Caribbean vacations. First, because I have a lot of friends in many islands and I want to keep them. Second, because I do honestly believe they are all small pieces of paradise on Earth.

And if somebody tells you that they are all the same, do not believe them. The only thing they have in common is white sand beaches and turquoise waters. But the culture, folklore and the charm of each island is very much unique.

St. Barts, for example, is the most elegant island—a small Caribbean Paris, I dare say. The elegant luxury hotels and world-class restaurants (outrageously expensive) make St. Barts the most exclusive Caribbean destination for Hollywood stars and the wealthy elite. Otherwise, who could afford 1,000 USD a night on hotels?

But worry not—it’s also possible to visit St. Barts without breaking the bank. I’ve stayed at the more humble, yet cute, accommodations, more suitable for us normal people.

Rent a car and explore. You can’t get lost and the island is full of spectacular hidden bays and immaculate beaches. It’s super safe and enjoyable as a family getaway or a romantic escape. You definitely won’t get bored with all the amazing things to do in St. Barts, whether is basking in the sun, going for a hike, shopping or having a nice meal on the beach. 

Lookout point in St. Bart's, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit.

Contribution by: Isabella of Boundless Roads.

Saint John, US Virgin Islands, A Quiet, Natural Beauty

The tiny island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands is one of the most unique places to visit in the Caribbean.  Two-thirds of the island consists of Virgin Islands National Park. Which means much of the island stays lush and untouched, including the top beaches.

St. John is not nearly as commercialized as other Caribbean islands and allows for an unforgettable getaway in pristine surroundings. This is helped by the fact that St. John does not have an airport or allow cruise ships to dock.  The island does get busy during peak times, but it’s never completely mobbed by tourists.

The biggest highlight on St. John are its pristine white sand beaches lining the north shore.  Every beach offers something different when it comes to size, popularity and convenience, and there is something for everyone.  One of the most popular is Honeymoon Beach for its length, ultra-clear calm waters, and full-service amenities.

Two more truly unique characteristics of St. John are its Danish plantation ruins and amazing snorkeling. St. John also has upwards of twenty hiking trails. And many of them, like Peace Hill and Reef Bay, will take you past these historic stone structures.

Finally, snorkeling is huge on St. John thanks to the Coral Reef National Monument that surrounds the island.  You’ll see snorkelers at every beach, but particularly at Trunk Bay, Waterlemon Cay, and in Hurricane Hole.

St. John may be tiny, but there is no shortage of ways to stay busy. Which makes it one of the most epic and best Caribbean islands to visit.

Palm tree on a beach in St. John, US Virgin Islands, one of the top Caribbean islands to visit

Contribution by: Theresa of Fueled By Wanderlust.

Saint Lucia, One Of The Best Caribbean Islands For Mountain Views

When I think of the Caribbean, I think azure waters, tropical flavors and warm breezes. But, when I consider the best Caribbean islands to visit, my mind goes only one place: St. Lucia. The island is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Pitons.

Those mountains define its geography. Roads in St. Lucia wind up and down the hilly terrain, connecting small fishing towns and banana plantations. Tucked away in nooks and crannies, you’ll discover waterfalls and volcanic mud baths.

While I didn’t get to hike the Pitons on my visit, I loved the view from many different vantage points. One of the best places to get photos of the Pitons is from the beach in Soufrière. This popular cruise port destination also has amazing resorts for those who want to explore more.

The Pitons in Saint Lucia, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit.

Contribution by: Karen of Family Travels on a Budget.

What Do You Think The Best Caribbean Islands Are?

I couldn’t even tell you how many Caribbean islands there are, but… there’s a lot. And this won’t be the only Caribbean post you’ll have to look forward to. However, I want to know which island paradises you’d like to see on the list. Comment away and have some wanderlust fun! Or, just reach out via my Contact form if you’re feeling shy.

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