30 Best Caribbean Islands
30 Best Caribbean islands to visit in 2021 By Nomadinme. For the first time ever, view our fully comprehensive list with photographs, descriptions and best things to do, with the ultimate Caribbean island guide. In this article we guide you through the most popular and best-kept secrets the Caribbean has to offer. Whether you are looking for a private, luxury island getaway, or a thrill seeking, adventured filled vacation on a budget.
Dominica is commonly known as The Nature Island and certainly one of the 30 best Caribbean islands. This lush green rock rises up from the glistening waters of the eastern Caribbean. Arguably one of the best-kept secrets of the Caribbean, the island is a textured canvas of rainforests, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, sculpted by its volcanic origins.
Resting in the heart of the Eastern Caribbean archipelago between Martinique and Guadeloupe, it’s known officially as Commonwealth of Dominica. Which is about as official as things get on The Nature Island.
Whether you’re looking for a rugged day of hiking, a heart-stirring day of diving or just a lazy afternoon relaxing on a veranda surrounded by the sounds of birds, wind through leaves, and scenes unfound anywhere else, Dominica and its people await you with open arms, restorative days, and relaxing nights.
Best for: Nature – Hiking – Waterfalls – Bird Watching
Providenciales quickly grew in popularity in the early 2000’s to become one of the 30 best Caribbean islands, and narrowing the culprit can be a challenge. Grace Bay is regularly appointed as the best beach in the Caribbean and I challenge you to find whiter sand and bluer water anywhere on the planet.
Laying at the end of the Bahamian chain ‘Provo’ as its locally known is home to plenty of luxury resorts and private villas. Regardless it’s not without the possibility of exploration. The western side of the island is sparsely populated and complete with shallow banks hosting some of the best bonefishing in the Caribbean. Several caves which once safeguarded stranded pirates offer a fascinating insight to what once went on. After exploring the cave carvings you can jump from the cliffs into the frighteningly blue water and swim between a narrow gap in the rock guarded by a mighty osprey nesting above.
On the eastern shores of the island lay a maze of mangrove-fringed estuaries and uninhabited islands. Pick a local water-sports outfit to paddle, boat or kayak to a nearby atoll and claim it for your own. Footsteps are a rarity in this part of the Caribbean unless you are looking backwards. However, a feeling of solidarity and remoteness in plentiful. A stark contrast from the hotel laden Grace Bay but with all the charm the Turks and Caicos Islands has to offer.
Best for: Luxury accommodation – Scuba diving – Boat charters – Spa’s – Exclusivity
North and Middle Caicos
North and Middle Caicos might well be THE hidden gems on this list. Making up the largest landmass of the Turks and Caicos Islands whilst holding the lowest population. Rustic and ‘off the beaten path’ make for a perfect description. A stark contrast from the luxury hotels and amenities of Providenciales, that is why we think they are amongst the 30 best Caribbean islands.
You will not find an international airport or, a great deal of accommodation and restaurant choices. As a result, a day trip or short stay as a part of your TCI vacation is recommended. You can access the island via a ferry from Provo and with no public transport, its highly recommended renting a car.
A paved road will take you all the way to the end of Middle Caicos and the further you venture from the ferry port, the less likely you are to see another person. You will find countless perfect beaches, mangrove-fringed, flamingo filled lagoons as well as multiple historic and cultural sites such as old cotton plantations. Stop off at locally owned beach bar along the way and enjoy some fresh fish with some of the friendliest locals in the Caribbean.
Best for: Remoteness – Beauty – Wildlife – Culture – Exploration
Grand Cayman is the cosmopolitan island of the Caribbean and when discussing the 30 best Caribbean islands it deserves a place on the list. Grand Cayman has many returning guests and for good reason. With its modern infrastructure, low level of unemployment and a vast choice of hotels, resort and private rentals, it’s a solid choice.
You can find everything you want, and expect from this type of holiday destination whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or family holiday. 7 Mile beach offers condos and hotels for every budget. With some of the best food in the Caribbean, it truly is a culinary melting pot. There no shortage of activities to choose from with everything from botanical gardens, to caves, to world-class scuba diving, to the famous stingray city. For more information check out What To Do In Grand Cayman.
If you are wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Geroge Town and 7-mile beach. Head to the Eastern Districts where you will find Rum Point and Cayman Kai. These delightful quiet communities offer a thoroughly different feel. Absent of large hotels and mass tourism, this is a place to relax and recharge. The beaches are a little more rugged but for the large part empty. You will escape the hustle and bustle and the need for a shirt or shoes allowing you to really get into the island feel.
Best for: Diving – Water-sports – Luxury – Food and Drink – Spa – Large Groups – Weddings
Little Cayman has a permanent population of 170. This little slice of paradise is well known as a diving mecca where people flock from around the world to dive the coveted, Bloody Bay Wall. With no need for a car rental or shoes for that matter, you can expect to be on a first-name basis with the entire island by the end of your trip.
With scuba diving being the main flavour the bloody bay wall does not disappoint. A majority of the diving in this area is wall diving where in the blink of an eye, the bottom depth drops from 30ft to 1000’s of feet. Making for an exhilarating experience and some truly incredible underwater structures. A wide variety of underwater life can be found along the drop off from schooling eagle rays, to seahorse nestled between the finger sponges.
For non-divers you can enjoy some serious relaxation time on the gorgeous white sand beaches. Followed by a visit to the spa or the pool fronted bar for some cocktail time.
Best for: Scuba Diving – Snorkelling – Relaxation
Cuba is culture, nature, history, magic and traditions. The Pearl of the Antilles is the result of the blend of multiple cultures, a fusion of races and customs that gave birth to one of the most unique and fascinating Caribbean destinations.
Your trip to Cuba will be characterized by its people. The Cubans are imaginative, joyful, unprejudiced and fond of joking and celebrating. This is reflected by the carnivals, charangas, the parranda, the countryside parties and the patron saint’s days, when you’ll have the chance of tasting the typical Cuban gastronomy made of Buñuelos, Tamales and Roasted Pork, always accompanied by a good coffee, a Cuba Libre, a Daiquiri, Mojito or Piña Colada drink.
The revolution marks a before and an after in the history of Cuba. The triumph of January 1st, 1959 meant a new beginning for Cuba and made its culture one of the most prolific ones in Latin America. Cuba excels at dancing, with the world-wide famous National Ballet of Cuba, in literature with authors like Jose Maria Heredia, Jose Marti, Jose Lezama Lima and Alejo Carpentier and practically in every single artistic manifestation, whether theatre, cinema or visual arts.
There are two ways to get to Cuba: by air and by sea. The island has 10 international airports and 15 national airports distributed throughout the archipelago; 4 cruise terminals and 15 international marinas complete the logistic infrastructure that eases tourism in Cuba.
This vast island nation is unparalleled in culture and variety. It would take a lifetime to ‘see’ and ‘do’ all that’s on offer. Much is still unexplored and all is unexploited.
Best for: Culture – Nature – Exploration – Traditions – Value – Hiking
Jamaica’s popularity as a Caribbean holiday destination is a reflection of what a truly diverse nation is it. There is something for everyone, from affordable all-inclusive beach resorts to luxury private villas in the coveted Blue Mountains. You can spend your days sipping on cocktails by the pool, snorkelling the vast network of coral reef that surrounds the island or chasing nature in the thick mountainous jungle.
You will find no shortage of nature in Jamaica. The Blue Mountains, found in the northeast of the island, has become a hub for all manner of wellness and lifestyle retreat. It is known as the best hiking in the Caribbean and is home to a number of endemic species of plants. Be sure to sample the Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee.
Montego Bay on the northeast side of the island is the 4th largest town in Jamaica and hosts some of its best beaches. With its British colonial architecture, teaming cruise ship ports and bustling white sand beaches. It’s plain to see why the area hosts a majority of the islands all-inclusive resorts.
Best for: Nature, Beaches, hiking, culture
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. It’s known for its beaches, resorts and golfing. It hosts a mixture of rainforest, savannah and highlands, including Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain. This Spanish speaking island nation is rich in flair and culture and has something for everyone.
Punta Cana on the easternmost tip of the Dominican Republic is famous for its 32km of white sand beaches and crystal clear water. The Bavaro region of Punta Cana is known as la costa del coco or the coconut coast. An area brimming with all-inclusive resorts with many activities, such as Scuba Diving, zip-lining, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing to name a few. It is also the closest point to the coveted Silver Banks. An offshore coral atoll that is famous for its migratory humpback whales.
The capital city of The Dominican Republic is the colourful and vibrant Santo Domingo. Widely known as one of the Caribbeans oldest cities. At its centre, you will find Zona Colonial. A walled area of cobblestone streets and colonial buildings dating back as far as the 1500s. The area’s cathedral was the first building constructed by the new world, displaying medieval and renaissance era art and sculptures. The city offers an endless cultural and historic opportunity that few Caribbean islands can rival.
Purto Plata is the northernmost city in the Dominican Republic. Is without a doubt, less commercialised than Punta Cana although the area still offers all the amenities you could ask for. Not only is Puerto Plato home to pristine beaches and a variety of hotels and resorts. It still carries an ‘off the beaten path’ feel, its high altitude provides an increase of rainfall, which in turn more nature, rivers, rainforest and waterfalls. Puerto Plato is the clear choice for the adventurist.
Best for: Culture – Nature – Adventure – All-inclusive – Golfing
Ambergris Caye is Belize’s largest island and known for its safe and friendly Caribbean feel. It is popular for its water-sports and scuba diving, known as the gateway to the Blue Hole, one of the Caribbeans most famous dive sites. As well as the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. The Belize Barrier reef, also known as the Meso-American Reef, is the second-largest reef system in the world.
The island itself is at the perfect stage of development. Still underdeveloped enough to not be classed as over ‘touristy’ but with all the amenities for a comfortable stay. The main mode of transport is golf cart and shirt and shoes optional in many beach bars.
The Great Blue Hole is a giant marine sinkhole and one of the largest and deepest of its kind in the world. It is located at the centre of the Lighthouse reef, a near-perfect circle it is 318m across and 124m deep. Here you can dive or snorkel and enjoy a variety of marine life including sharks, pelagic fish and typical Caribbean reef fish.
Best for: Diving – Snorkelling – Nature – Watersports – Relaxation
San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands in Panama are definitely one of the best ‘little known’ locations. This archipelago is comprised of approximately 378 islands and cays, of which only 49 are inhabited. These individual islands are scattered over an area of around 100 square miles. San Blas is an autonomous territory of Panama, run by the kind and gentle native people known as the Kuna’s
This archipelago is known as being the number one vacation destination on the Caribbean coast of Central America. This is mostly down to how remote and undiscovered the area is. San Blas is effectively owned and governed by the local Kuna people. This keeps the area protected from mass tourism and development.
If you are searching for a truly remote, pristine and untouched destination, look no further. The island’s accommodation is eco-friendly lodges and bungalows, made from local materials and owned by the islands indigenous people. The most common way to get around the San Blas archipelago is by sailboat, to which a number of charters are available. However, flights from Panama City to El Porvenir, Playon Chico, Achutupu, Ogobsucum or Corazon de Jesus can be taken to San Blas.
Best for: Exploration – Adventure – Water-sports – Sailing – Culture
The Corn Islands of Nicaragua are without a doubt Nicaragua’s hidden gem. They are made up of two islands Little and Big Corn. They are well known among the backpacker and surfer crowds meandering their way north or south through Central America. These islands, once a refuge for pirates have an unexpected history. With new development and the increasing popularity of tourism in Nicaragua, these islands are at the forefront of up and coming Caribbean tourism.
The islands are located 43 miles from Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast and are a true tropical paradise. They offer a true off the beaten path experience where visitors can relax and really immerse themselves in the island lifestyle. The turquoise waters meet the white sands which are fringed with palm trees and lush tropical foliage. The reefs and lagoons surrounding the islands have benefited greatly from the island’s remoteness. The diving, snorkelling and fishing around the two Corn Islands are world-class.
The Corn islands can be accessed by local airline La Costeña from Managua to Big Corn Island, there are 3 flights daily. Boat trips are available once a week from El Rama, making a stop in Bluefields, the total time of the trip is 9 hours and we highly recommend flying. Once on Big Corn, Little can be accessed by a 30-40 minute boat trip.
Best for: Friendly locals – Beach time – Relaxation – Water-sports – Scuba Diving
The island of Saba is arguably one of the lesser-known locations on this list, which is one of the things that makes it so special. At only 5 square miles of land area and a population of just under 2000 permanent residents. You would be forgiven for thinking it doesn’t have much to offer. However, you would be wrong. Located between St Kitts and St Martin. Saba is a volcanic rock rising to 887 metres at the highest point.
A Saba vacation isn’t your traditional Caribbean beach holiday. Diving and Hiking are kings here and it is regarded as being the safest and friendliest island in the Caribbean. At its heart lies Mount Scenery, a dormant volcano, which is responsible for not only the creation of the island but for its fertile soil, an array of hiking trails and most of all its breathtaking underwater structures. It is the smallest municipality of the Netherlands and lies in the northern Leeward Islands portion of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands. Together with Bonaire and Sint Eustatius, it forms the BES islands.
Saba is famous amongst divers for its submerged offshore pinnacles. Divers can explore a blend of coral-encrusted volcanic structures including boulders, crests, apexes, and lava tubes. rocky peaks rise from the surface at the many dive sites such as: like Diamond Rock and Torrens Point. Saba can be accessed by air and sea from Saint Martin.
Best for: Diving – Hiking – Sightseeing – Relaxation
St Martin is part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It is comprised of 2 separate countries sharing one island, divided between the northern French side called St Martin. And the Southern Dutch side Sint Maarteen. The island is home to a variety of busy beach resorts and private villas. It is also well known for its variety of cuisine, busy and vibrant nightlife and a vast array of duty-free shopping.
The two islands are heavily influenced by their European roots and allow visitors to enjoy French and Dutch culture and cuisine. With all the beauty one can expect from a Caribbean Island. Aside from the above St Martin and Sint Maarteen are known for having some truly breathtaking coves and beaches. With plenty of opportunity for exploring hidden coves, where crystal clear waters lap against powdery sand beaches, encased in soft limestone rock.
Despite the obvious allure for fine dining, party’s, duty-free shopping and casinos. The island still has a remote and rugged side. With plenty of hiking trails through its lush green centre and a variety of beaches with its unusual shape, there truly is something for everyone. With its popularity comes a huge variety of activities particularly in the water-sports sector. From jet ski rentals to scuba diving the island’s operators have it all.
Best for: Beaches – Duty Free – Nightlife – Cuisine – Water-sports
St Kitts & Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a dual-island nation in the west indies. Located in the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles, it is the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere, with regards to both area and population. It is situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is known for cloud-covered mountains and a variety of beaches. In the past, sugar cane farming was the main industry. Many of its former sugar cane plantations are now converted to accommodation and historic ruins. The larger of the 2 islands is Saint Kitts and it is dominated by the dormant Mount Liamuiga volcano, home to a crater lake, with Green Vervet Monkeys and rainforest packed with hiking trails.
“Small enough to see in a day, and big enough to explore for a lifetime.” Is the motto splashed over many of the tourist boards avenues. This is very true indeed for these exceptionally attractive islands. Lush green peaks rise from the deep blue ocean, yet unlike other islands similar they have no shortage of stunning beaches and rocky coves. Our favourite beaches include Majors Bay, South Friars and Frigate Bay.
If you are looking for more alternative activities, specific to St Kitts and Nevis a hike up Mt. Liamuiga, St Kitts dormant volcano is a must. You can explore the lush forest, enjoy the views and see the islands most important natural site. Alternatively, you could visit the Brimstone Hill Fortress, an impressive, historical military site and UNESCO world heritage site,
Best for: Nature – Hiking – Beaches – Nature – History
Bonaire is yet another island municipality of the Netherlands. It lies off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean and is a member of the ABC Islands alongside Aruba and Curaçao. Its reef-lined coast is protected by the Bonaire National Marine Park. The islands main attraction is its marine life and scuba diving/snorkelling. In addition the island shelters lizards, donkeys and birds within its large and impressive Washington Slagbaai National Park, marked by beaches, lagoons, caverns and desert-like landscape. The island has around 20,000 permanent residents and a land area of around 111 square miles.
Bonaire’s economy, like many of the Caribbean islands on this list, is based mainly on tourism. The main attraction and type of tourism beside cruise ship visitors is the islands superb diving and snorkelling. Bonaire has long been regarded as the best shore diving in the world. Removing the need for boats and making the diving easier, more affordable and accessible for many.
Bonaire’s Marine Park offers a total of 86 named dive sites and is home to over 57 species of soft and hard coral species and more than 350 recorded fish species. A large majority of the island’s resorts and hotels have an on-site dive shop, and other accommodations are affiliated with a dive operation.
Lac Bay, in the southeastern part of Bonaire, is a hot spot for windsurfers. The shallow bay is on the windward side of the island, so trade winds are strong and consistent. A barrier reef across the mouth of the bay allows windsurfers of all skill levels to select the conditions best suited to their ability.
Best for: Diving – Snorkelling – Windsurfing
Curacao – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Curacao is the last of the Dutch overseas territories on our list and the second of the ABC islands. Laying just to the West of Bonaire it has a population of around 165,000 people and a landmass of around 161,000 miles. The capital Willemstad, has superb pastel-coloured, colonial architecture. The island is littered with gorgeous sandy coves set between small limestone cliffs, great for exploring the coastline and finding your own private slice of paradise.
The 2 main national parks in Curacao are the Christoffel National Park and the Shete Boka National Park. The Christoffel National Park is home to the Boca Grandi, Mount Christoffel and the Indian caves where you can see paintings left by the Arawak Indians. Sheta Boka is an area of bluffs and limestone caves running along the exposed windward coast, here you will find several protected turtle nesting areas.
Curacao’s diving and watersports industry is thriving and for good reason. Not only does Curacao have a number of great wreck and shark dives. It is also home to the best macro diving in the Caribbean, with various little critters such as seahorse, frogfish and cleaner shrimp. A part of the appeal of diving in Curacao is the heavy focus on conservation shared amongst locals, ex-pats and operators. This combined with the absence of tropical storms and hurricanes means the reefs and the life living on them has been able to thrive.
Best for: Diving – Culture – Architecture – National Parks
Cozumel – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Cozumel is a well known Caribbean holiday destination and certainly one of the Caribbeans 30 best islands. with its bustling cruise ship port and world-class diving. However, the island is relatively undeveloped and has far more to offer than just that. This is a relatively large island with a total landmass of around 185 square miles and with a relatively low population of around 77,000 people. The island is only around 12 miles from mainland Mexico and fringed to the south by the northern half of the Meso-American reef. Giving the island some truly breathtaking scuba diving and marine life.
Being part of Mexico gives Cozumel a historic advantage over many other islands on this list. Although not in the abundance found on mainland Mexico. Mayan ruins and history can be found on island such as San Gervasio Ruins. Where Mayan women used to visit this shrine in central Cozumel to pay tribute to their goddess of love and fertility, Ixchel. In addition, Faro Celerain Eco Park has some historic points of interest and is one of the most popular things to do on the island with an abundance of wildlife and over 145 acres of walking trails. Be aware, stay-over guests, check times and amount of cruise ships visiting on these days as they can get busy.
Cozumel is famous for its drift diving, involving drifting with the current or hooking into the reef and watching the wildlife swim past. Although for the inexperienced diver this may seem daunting, it is a safe and extremely popular form of scuba diving. Allowing you to really maximize the experience of your bottom time. Cozumel is home to several rare and sought after marine creatures including, manatee, manta ray and several species of shark including the bucket list, whale sharks, that frequent the island and surrounding waters during the season.
Best for: Diving – Snorkelling – Wildlife – Food & Drink – History
Roatan – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Roatan is the first of the Honduran Bay Islands featured in this article. It is the largest and most populated of the 3 islands with an approximate area of 32 square miles and around 60,000 people. All three islands share the mainlands rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity and probably lead the pack in this regard. Roatan is the most popular tourist destination in Honduras, with a large variety of hotels, resorts and accommodation. It is also a popular destination amongst cruise ships, which regularly frequent its bustling cruise ship port.
The diversity of flora and fauna found in the Bay Islands and Honduras can be enjoyed at a number of parks and attractions on Roatan. Gumbalimba Park is a family-friendly attraction that offers visitors to Roatan the opportunity to mingle with friendly white-faced Capuchin monkeys and exotic birds Including but not limited to macaws, parrots, and hummingbirds. Indigenous lizards and iguanas can also be spotted all around the park.
It goes without saying that Roatan is one of the Caribbeans best islands offering world-class scuba diving and snorkelling. Roatan sits on the tail end of the second largest barrier reef in the world, the Meso-American Barrier Reef. Scuba Diving is the most popular attraction on the island and there are a variety of operators to fit every need and experience level
Best for: Nature – Hiking – Diving – Wildlife – Culture – Eco Tourism.
Utila – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Utila is the smallest of the Bay Islands, with a total landmass of only 17 square miles and population of around 4,000. It’s a true diving mecca and a hot spot for professional training with a high number of divemaster and instructor certifications being undertaken each year. The island is all about diving with little else on offer. It is however a breathtakingly beautiful island and a real hidden gem. In keeping with the Bay Islands, it’s entire coast is littered with beautiful tropical sandy beaches, blue lagoons and lush green rainforest, straight off the beach. You really don’t need to be a diver to enjoy this special and unique part of the world.
One of the things that makes Utila one of the best Caribbean islands, is its frequent visits from the bucket list creature the whale shark. This gentle giant is at the top of any divers list for an absolute must-see. Although they are known to frequent the waters all year round, the best times to see them is April/May and September/October. Utila also has a great hit rate on dolphin sightings, these friendly playful animals are regularly seen around the world from above the water. However, underwater sightings are surprisingly rare. Besides the big stuff, all of the typical Caribbean coral and reef fish can be found in the area and for the most part, the reef is healthy and well looked after by the local eco-friendly dive shops and visitors.
Diving on Utila is very affordable and due to the high volume of professional-level training on the island, the standards in training and certification are kept to a very high level. This is reflected in not only the islands superb safety record but also, a reflection of the conditions available. We found Utila to be very similar in many ways to Koh Tao in Thailand.
To learn more about Utila and how to swim with whale sharks read this article: https://nomadinme.com/swim-with-whale-sharks/.
Best for: Diving Diving Diving – Nature – Atmosphere – Night life.
Guanaja – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
About 44 miles off the northern coast of mainland Honduras, sits the small beautiful island of Guanaja. Guanaja is far less known or visited when compared to it’s sister island of Roatan. It is both well preserved and untouched by the hands of tourists and eager resort developers.
Guanaja has excellent diving, fishing and kite surfing with 90% of the island having been declared a national forest reserve and marine park. This means there is plenty of opportunities to explore, whether by boat or on foot. The area is a collision of tropical flora and fauna with numerous plant and animal species endemic to the island. A vibrant coral reef encircles the 18km-long island and its 15 or so cays.
Guanaja town, known to locals as Bonacca, occupies its own little island where buildings are jam-packed together along with a winding series of canals. Remnant to the idea of seasteading. Boat, is the most common form of transport here, with few roads. The reef that protects the entire island allows for protected waterways and the several rivers, creeks and mangrove systems, increase the reach and accessibility available through the island’s waterways.
Best for: Nature – Diving – Water-sports – Hiking – Remoteness.
San Andres and Providencia – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
“Colombia’s finest coastal destination” is one hell of a title and well deserves a mention as one of the Caribbeans best islands. San Andres and Providencia although 750 miles from the nearest piece of Colombian mainland, are indeed a territory of this bright, vibrant and exciting country. With a total area of around 10 square miles and a population of about 50,000 people. This archipelago is great for a private and personal Caribbean island getaway.
Visitors to San Andres and Providencia can enjoy a very unique culture embodied by the islanders that call it home. San Andrés is the largest island in the archipelago and is the commercial and administrative centre. It attracts many Colombian tourists, visiting to take advantage of the islands duty-free status. This can result in the islands being busy, we recommend limiting your time on Sand Andres and heading for the smaller less commercialised island of Providencia.
Providencia offers the same turquoise sea and extensive coral reefs found around San Andres but is much more tranquil. Its colonial heritage has a real presence, with thriving in townships of colourful, traditionally built homes, which are present all over the island. Both islands offer a stark contrast of pace from the mainland and are well worth the effort of visiting, especially if travelling through Colombia. As expected for the area, the islands also offer a great diving scene with multiple sites dotted around the island.
Best for: Diving – Culture – Shopping – Beaches.
St Vincent and the Grenadines – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Now we head to the southwestern Caribbean to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. St Vincent is the main island comprising of a series of other smaller islands and islets. With a total area of 150 square mile’s and around 110,000 people, the island hosts yacht-filled harbours, chic private islands and volcanic, lush landscapes. It’s known as a major sailing destination with reef-lined Bequia Island off Admiralty Bay known among sailors worldwide. The main island’s capital, Kingstown carries a true rustic Caribbean feel, complete with British colonialism.
The countless islets and cays dotted throughout the archipelago, are what make the island’s so popular for sailors. They also make for a truly one of a kind Caribbean experience. Boat charters are the best way to enjoy the islands with enough uninhabited cays to supply everyone with their own private slice paradise. The Tobago Cays are the most popular, small white sand, palm tree-covered islands, surrounded by a pristine coral reef.
It is, however, not necessary to leave the main island of Bequia, which fulfils many dreams associated with the perfect small Caribbean island. It has beautiful sandy beaches where more than a dozen people may constitute a crowd. The lush green hillsides are gently interrupted by attractive little villages and intimate hotels and guest houses. You can choose a holiday of total beach relaxation or an exhilarating day of sailing and diving in some of the most beautiful turquoise waters in the world.
Best for: Sailing – Scenery – Island Hopping – Boat Charters – Beaches.
Barbuda and Antigua – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Antigua and Barbuda are the main two islands of this sovereign island nation lying between the Caribbean sea and the Atlantic ocean and around 39 miles apart. They include a number of other islands including Great Bird, Green, Guiana, Long, Maiden, Prickly Pear, York Islands and Redonda. Combined they have around 95,000 people with an approximate 170 square miles of land. Antigua is by far the most populous island with its capital st John’s and Codrington on Barbuda. Generally, they are quiet and sparsely populated, low lying islands with lush green landscapes and white sand beaches. Here is why they are on the list as the 30 best Caribbean islands.
Antigua is a far more lively island when compared to Barbuda. The island boasts of its 365 perfect white sand beaches and a large variety of resorts and accommodation options. From all-inclusive resorts to boutique eco bungalows. You can quite simply spend your entire trip on Antigua exploring beaches with one for every day of the year. However, the island boasts a great variety of diving and water-sports activities. You will also find options for every budget with regards to boat charters. This island, although, busier than its sister island is all about beach time and relaxing.
Barbuda remains one of the real last untouched gems of the Caribbean. This tiny island with one village and about 1500 permanent residents is largely undeveloped. A majority of the accommodation options on Barbuda consist of vacation rentals. If you are looking for true solidarity with about as laid back of a feel as possible to find, this may be a match for you. Its absence of any significant amount of tourism has left nature, both bellow water and above, in virtually pristine condition. With pink sand beaches, large mangrove expanses, frigate bird colonies and a unique cave system, you will find plenty to do on this small island.
Best for: Beaches – Relaxing – Nature – Luxury Accomodation.
St Lucia – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
St Lucia is far too special and unique to not featurein the 30 best Caribbean islands. With 238 square miles of volcanic mountains, lush rainforest and world-class beaches, she has something for everyone. This is not your average Caribbean island, with dramatic landscapes, its clear to see why this is the honeymoon destination of the Caribbean. For years, the French and British fought over St Lucia, with it being ruled 7 times by each side until it finally gained independence in 1979.
For adrenaline junkies and adventurists, The Pitons are large volcanic peaks, with Mount Gimmie reaching a maximum height of 950 metres. Here you will find a network of hiking trails and rock climbing options for a variety of different experience levels. Sound like a lot of effort? Try zip-lining through the Chassin regions lush rainforests. Finnish of your day of exploring at one of the many lookout bars such as the Jade Mountain Club for a cocktail and sunset special.
St Lucia has a great dance and music scene with the St Lucia Jazz and arts festival in the summertime. The Gros Islet hosts a variety of pop up dance parties throughout the evening and is a great place to spend an evening socialising and letting loose. Despite the island’s reputation as a honeymoon destination with its luxury hideouts. A variety of accommodation options are available. The islands leeward side is the best for perfect calm beaches and all-inclusive resorts.
Best for: Luxury – Honeymoon – Nature – Hiking – Sunsets – Landscape
Martinique – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Martinique is a rugged hilly Caribbean island in the lesser Antilles and certainly one of 30 best Caribbean islands. The island is a French territory and carries an eclectic mix of French/Caribbean culture that is unique to this part of the world. Located between the two previously mentioned islands, St Lucia and Dominica. Martinique is alike in the way of a mountainous centre. Dominated by Mount Pelee at a huge elevation of 1,397m this active volcano has sat dormant since the devastating eruption of 1902.
The South of the island is home to many of the countries beautiful swimming beaches as well as a large majority of its hotels and tourism. To the North, you will find a contrasting landscape with volcanic rock and black sand beaches. In addition, you will find lush rainforest, hiking trails and the occasional waterfall. The Gorges de la Falaise is a walking trail and popular hiking location on the island. For a small fee, you explore this lush valley with swimming pools and thick foliage, a great way to see the islands native flora and fauna.
As expected from a French colony, the food and drink scene in Martinique is up there with the likes of Grand Cayman and St Martin. With over 500 bars, cafes and restaurants, you are spoiled for choice and can expect to find a large variety of French and West-Indian fusion. Restaurants vary from exclusive, high-end gourmet establishments often attached to upmarket hotels, to small pop up eateries and cafes. A large number of catering companies on the island makes the market very competitive indeed, which in turn keeps the standard and quality high.
Best For: Food and Drink – Hiking – Nature – Culture – Water-sports
Anguilla – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
The small island nation of Anguilla, just a few miles north of St Martin is a relatively flat low lying island of just 35 square miles. As a predominantly limestone island, it features picturesque white sand beaches, glowing blue lagoons and dotted with several cave systems. With a small population of around 18,000 permanent residents. Anguilla has seen rapid growth within the luxury travel sector in the past two decades. It has a number of luxury villas and a bustling vacation rental market.
The beaches are without a doubt the main draw to the island, with 33 world-class bays and coves in total. This combined with its low population and absence of mass tourism make it the ideal Caribbean beach getaway. Shoal Bay could compete for the top spot with just about any beach in the world. Others worth noting include Barnes, Rendezvous, Road and Little Bay. From April through November, many of Anguilla’s beautiful beaches are nesting grounds for leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles. This natural phenomenon is being allowed to continue, relatively uninterrupted due to the lack of large hotels and mass development.
Certainly one of the 30 best Caribbean islands. With its limestone origin and sandy banks Anguilla, as expected, is a fantastic spot for scuba diving and snorkelling. With an impressive 7 individual marine parks, the government of Anguilla is doing what’s necessary to protect the local reefs and marine environment. Virtually the entire island is surrounded by coral reefs with an abundance of marine life. Diving and snorkelling is an absolute must and seldom disappoints.
Best for: Beaches – Relaxation – Water sports – Diving – Snorkelling – Luxury Rentals.
Montserrat -30 Best Caribbean Islands
Montserrat is, without doubt, one of the Caribbean’s most dramatic islands destinations. Not only with regards to its soaring volcanic peaks and forest-covered hillsides. But also due to the devastating volcanic eruptions that occurred in the Soufrière Hills Volcano that took place in the late 1990s. These tragic eruptions pummelled this small island, which led to the eventual decision to evacuate the capital of Plymouth and virtually the entire population of the southern two-thirds of the island. The effects of this catastrophe are still felt today, however, the island is making a recovery.
Despite this, tourists are beginning to return, party for volcano-related day trips. However, those who stay are drawn by the slow pace of life, friendly locals, immense hiking and incredible birdwatching. The said eruption although devastating, put a pause on the rapid growth and mass tourism that has hit much of the Caribbean. Leaving the island with a very traditional, old school Caribbean feel.
Montserrat is definitely for the more adventurous traveller, looking to explore and see what others do not. Or to take advantage of the situation by escaping the crowds and venturing of the beaten path.
Best for: Hiking – Bird Watching – Nature – Locals – Authenticity.
Grand Bahama – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Grand Bahama is the first of our two featured Bahamian Islands. The Bahamas features a mix of islands offering a variety of options for people looking for all inclusive hotel getaways. Or off the beaten path experiences. Grand Bahama is the 4th largest island with 530 square miles of land mass and a population of 51,000 people. Freeport is the main city and shipping port where as Lucaya is the most popular area for tourists. You will find great choice of all-inclusive hotels and golf courses.
Being one of the main tourist islands in the Bahamas, you can find a large variety of activities and fun things to do from scuba diving to horse riding. Birdwatchers from all over the world flock to Grand Bahama where you can see 18 of the 28 native species of Bahamian birds. The Rand Nature Centre is extremely popular and full of like-minded people. Here you can view West Indian flamingos, Antillean Peewee birds, Red-legged Thrushes, Stripe-headed Tanagers, and the endangered Bahama Parrot.
Grand Bahama is home to 3 national parks which are the best ways to relax and explore some of the best sights the island has to offer. They include Lucayan National Park, The Rand Nature Center and Peterson Cay National Park. The Lucayan National Park is the crown jewel of the three parks on Grand Bahama Island. With a total area of 40 square km and established in 1982, it is located 25 miles east of Freeport. When visiting the park you will see thousands of different species of pine trees, mangroves, ferns, and dozens of rare flower species, including orchids.
Best for: Nature – Beaches – Golf – All-inclusive – Accessibility.
Eleuthera – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Eleuthera is a long narrow island in the Bahamian archipelago. It has a landmass of 176 square miles and a small permanent population on only 11,000. It is well known among visitors for its pink sand beaches such as French Leave Beach. Near to Gregory Town, you will find Surfer’s Beach, which offers one of the few places in the area for surfing. In the southeast of the island, Ten Bay Beach has shallow lagoons and a nearby cave system. Ocean Hole is a natural inland lagoon that is great for swimming with tropical fish and turtles in a protected, enclosed environment. Edwin’s Turtle Lake Marine Reserve is home to green sea turtles, which are abundant in the area.
Like many of the Bahamian islands, Eleuthera is sparsely populated and great for exploring its countless beaches and coves. The main highway runs for 111 miles right through the island, making every part extremely accessible. Along the way, you can stop off at small locally run fish shacks, stop off to explore caves, snorkel in the protected lagoons and lookout for flamingoes and other rare bird species.
Fishing, snorkelling and island hopping are very popular and for good reason. Countless satellite cays and islands are dotted throughout the Bahamas, with Eleuthera being no exception. Spanish Wells and Harbour Island are popular stop-offs. You can find fantastic wreck diving in the area and fishing anything from bonefish to amberjacks to billfish.
Best for: Fishing – Exploring – Snorkelling – Wildlife – Surfing
Barbados – 30 Best Caribbean Islands
Barbados is situated just outside of the Caribbean in the Atlantic Ocean, east of a majority of the other West Indian Islands. Barbados is the easternmost island of the Lesser Antilles. It is relatively flat in comparison to its neighbouring islands to the west. The island rises to the central highland area known as Scotland District, with the highest point of Barbados being Mount Hillaby at around 340m. The island has 169 square miles of landmass and is one of the most densely populated islands in the world with about 290,000 permanent residents.
This island nation sat on the edge of the Caribbean is famous for its beaches, surfing, vibrant night life and rum. The popular Mount Gaye Rum Is produced on the island and follows a long heritage of rum making and sugar cane production. One of the most notable beaches is Bathsheba, as one of the better-known surf breaks on the island, it is not suitable for swimming. However, the interesting rock formations and great vibe make it well worth a visit.
For naturists and green thumbs, the Hunte’s gardens are one of the top botanical parks in the Caribbean. With a variety of species of both endemic and foreign plant species. You can enjoy winding paths taking you through perfectly landscaped gardens. Fish fries are big business in the Caribbean and Barbados is no exception. Oistins fish fry is one of the better known and hosts a great mix of pop up fusion cuisine enjoyed my locals and tourists alike.
Best for: Culture – Food and Drink – Beaches – Surfing – Water-sports – Nature
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