The Caribbean is full of amazing destinations, all with their own unique character and flavor. So, how do you decide what are the best islands in the Caribbean? We’ve got the low-down on all the most beautiful and popular islands that will help make your decision easier.
1. St. Thomas
Called the most “unvirgin” of the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is for those who want to be active. St. Thomas is the most commercialized of the Virgin Islands, with cruise-ship traffic and big resorts galore, but it’s also full of fun and adventure. Though it’s only 32 square miles in size, St. Thomas has a million miles worth of things to do. Take a couple beach days, go snorkeling, scuba diving, windsurfing, a day charter, kite boarding, sailing, fishing, kayaking and parasailing.
The island is largely mountainous. Many roads around the island offer terrific panoramic views of the island and ocean. Among the hills on St. Thomas and along the beaches you will find an assortment of accommodations; resorts, historic inns, guest houses, vacation homes, villas and condos. St. Thomas is also home to the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charlotte Amalie. It has been the heart of St. Thomas’ activities from colonial times to present.
Jamaica is intense in its beauty and its people will leave a lasting impression. Jamaica is the third largest island in the Caribbean and home to over 2.6 million people. Its indigenous Taino inhabitants named the island Xaymaca, meaning the “Land of Wood and Water”. It later became a colony of Great Britain and became an independent country in 1962. Most major towns and cities are located on the coast. Chief cities include the capital Kingston, Spanish Town, Mandeville, Ocho Rios, Port Antonio and Montego Bay. Go discover the country of rum, reggae and Bob Marley, sun drenched beaches and warm tropical breezes.
3. St. Lucia
St. Lucia is the kind of island that travelers to the Caribbean dream about; a small, lush tropical paradise that is still relatively unknown. St. Lucia is one of the Windward Islands of the Lesser Antilles, located midway down the Eastern Caribbean chain, between Martinique and St. Vincent, and north of Barbados. The Island is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, with a shape that is said to resemble either a mango or an avocado. The Atlantic Ocean hugs its eastern shore, while the beaches of the west coast owe their beauty to the calm Caribbean Sea.
There is a broad array of exciting and exotic activities available on St. Lucia. A genuine, natural landscape of gorgeous palm-fringed beaches, miles of unspoiled rainforest and the majestic Piton Mountains, there is plenty to see. The island’s steep coastlines and lovely reefs offer excellent snorkeling and scuba diving. The rainforest preserves of St. Lucia’s mountainous interior are one of the Caribbean’s finest locales for hiking and birdwatching. Natural waterfalls, breath-taking views, friendly locals and authentic culture impress the most traveled individuals for a holiday with lasting memories. The island also possesses excellent facilities for golf, tennis, sailing, and a host of other leisure pursuits.
4. St. Martin
St. Martin is part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea and is the smallest land mass in the world to be shared by two different nations. At only 37 square miles, the island is divided between its northern French side (Saint Martin) and its southern Dutch side (Sint Maarten). The southern Sint Marteen is one of four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The northern French part of St Martin is an overseas collective of France. The island is home to busy resort beaches and secluded coves. Visit St. Martin for days filled with sunshine, velvet soft nights, and breathtaking scenery. St. Martin is also lauded by many as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, and for good reason. With some serious French-Dutch flavor, there are likely more bistros, cafés, and eateries per capita here than any other island in the world.
5. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with its neighbor Haiti to the west. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south, the lush tropical island paradise boasts nearly 1,000 miles of coastline, 250 miles of the world’s top beaches, magnificent resorts and hotels, and a variety of sports, recreation and entertainment options. Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus, the country overflows with fascinating history, museums and exciting cultural experiences like music, art and festivals, plus uniquely Dominican specialties such as cigars, rum, chocolate, coffee, merengue, amber and larimar.
The country is also the #1 destination for golf in the Caribbean delighting visitors with 25 designer golf courses amid breathtaking coastlines with mountain backdrops and lush green fairways. Dominican Republic offers a fantastic combination of environments to capture your imagination and refresh the soul. And with eight international airports, paradise has never been easier to explore.
Grenada is home to black sand and white sand beaches with water so blue and clear that coral formations can be spotted from the air. Grenada’s volcanic origin has created a landscape of great variety with rainforests, a 13-acre crater lake, cascading cliffs, and hot springs. Explore the natural splendor of the lush terrain and discover the history of the Island of Spice with visits to historic forts or the underwater sculpture park. Located in the southeastern Caribbean just north of Trinidad and Venezuela, the tri-island state of Grenada is made up of three islands, Grenada being the largest, occupying 133 square miles.
7. Grand Cayman
Located in the Western Caribbean, the Cayman Islands are three separate islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Inundated with the vibrant tropical colors of lush flora, bright coral reefs, flourishing marine life and exotic native birds, the Cayman Islands are a showcase of natural beauty. The Cayman Islands were first sighted by Christopher Columbus on May 10, 1503, during his fourth and final voyage to the New World. Today’s name of ‘Cayman’ came about when Sir Francis Drake named the islands for the ‘caiman’, the word for alligator in the Neo-Taino language.
Grand Cayman is the favorite of the three islands. Here you will find some of the best diving in all of the Caribbean. World class resorts and gorgeous beaches fill the island. Whether it’s a swim with stingrays or a dive to explore the remains of one its several shipwrecks, the Grand Cayman offer plenty for the water enthusiast, and the luxury traveler.