The Best Beach Vacations In The Caribbean – Just A Few Hours From Home

With beautiful beaches (some even rivaling those of Hawaii, Cancun, the Maldives, and other international destinations), the Caribbean calls to ocean lovers who want a beach vacation close to home. If you have your sights set farther out than the traditional American beach towns like Outer Banks, Cape Cod, Hilton Head, Long Beach, or Myrtle Beach, we’ve got some amazing options that are probably a lot closer than you think.

Sandals Emerald Bay Sand Dune Couple

Caribbean islands like Jamaica are just a 1.5-hour plane ride from Miami, while some of the islands of The Bahamas are just 45 minutes away from Florida by plane. A chance to experience sun, sea, sand and Caribbean ambiance will be more than worth the trip!

Expert tip: Looking for some excitement on your beach vacation? Try scuba diving, kayaking, paddleboarding, or going on boat tours from some of the white sand beaches of the Caribbean! These and more water sports can easily be accessed through some of the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. Not to mention the unlimited cocktails!

The best beach vacation destinations are just a short plane ride away

The Caribbean is loved for its stunning natural attributes, including waterfalls and beaches, and its crystal-clear waters. If you want to hit the beach without long travel times, these amazing beach destinations will surely blow you away!

1. Exuma, The Bahamas

From Miami: 1.5 hours

From New York: 5 hours

From Los Angeles: 7.5 hours

The Bahamas is a traveler hotspot with hundreds of islands and cays and almost as many amazing beaches. Exuma, to the south of New Providence and the capital city of Nassau, is one of the most visited islands of The Bahamas. Here you’ll find lots of amazing beaches such as Coco Plum Beach and Tropic of Cancer Beach. These beaches are as natural as they come, and they provide a glimpse into the undeniable beauty of The Bahamas.

Sandals Emerald Bay The Bahamas Aerial Main Pool Front

Also, in Exuma, you can visit Pig Beach on Big Major Cay (also known as Pig Island) where you can get the beach experience you’ve been craving, but with a twist! At Pig Beach, beachgoers can meet and interact with the famous swimming pigs of The Bahamas. You’ll be delighted as they swim towards you and your party as you arrive on the island by boat. Spending some time at one of the beachfront all-inclusive resorts in Exuma is another way to get in a luxurious beach experience on these islands.

Expert tip: There are loads of interesting things to do in Exuma including golfing on Sandals’ award-winning golf course at Sandals Emerald Bay in Great Exuma!

2. Grace Bay, Turks & Caicos

From Miami: 2 hours

From New York: 3.5 hours

From Los Angeles: 5 hours 45 minutes

The Turks & Caicos Islands are not as far away as you might think. This popular vacation destination stands out because there are many islands you can explore during your stay. Islands like Providenciales, where the stunning Grace Bay Beach is located, give you all the comforts of home wrapped up in a gorgeous Caribbean package.

Beaches Turks Caicos Aerial view BTC

Paradise in true form, Grace Bay Beach is three miles long and can be found to the north of Providenciales. This beach frequently makes the list of best beaches in the Caribbean and stands out among the world’s best as well. In fact, Grace Bay Beach was once voted 2nd in Trip Advisor’s ranking of the World’s Best Beaches.

For vacationers, Grace Bay Beach is appealing because of its powdery white sand, which always seems so intricately placed, and it's clear and calm waters. The extensive length of this beach ensures it never seems overly crowded and the exquisitely turquoise water is hard to resist. This is the perfect beach destination for families and pretty much anyone who enjoys the ocean.

Good to know: Planning on diving at Grace Bay Beach? There are some great coral reefs about a mile off from Grace Bay Beach where you can spot tropical fish, turtles, lobsters, stingrays, and more.

3. Dickenson Bay, Antigua

From Miami: 3 hours 15 minutes

From New York: 4 hours 10 minutes

From Los Angeles: 9 hours 15 minutes

Dickenson Bay in Antigua is a beautiful, sheltered bay that is as convenient as beaches come. This beach is on the northwestern coast of the island, and it is loved for its beautiful white, fine sand, calm waters, the availability of water sports, and especially the swim-up bar in the middle of the ocean!

Sandals Antigua Dickenson Bay Beach Overview

If you decide to spend the day at Dickenson Bay Beach, you can definitely get into some water sports activities and even take a trip on a glass-bottom boat. Lounge on the beach beneath a perfectly positioned beach chair and umbrella rental to work on your tan or read a good book. When you get hungry, pop into one of the beachfront restaurants like Coconut Grove Restaurant, which is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just for drinks. For the best Dickenson Bay Beach experience, stay at one of the all-inclusive resorts in Antigua where you can take your beach vacation to the next level!

Expert tip: A swim-up bar experience at Dickenson Bay Beach is a vacation must. You can also enjoy the swim-up bars and up to 11 themed restaurants at Sandals Antigua.

4. Seven Mile Beach, Jamaica

From Miami: 1 hour 40 minutes

From New York: 3 hours 50 minutes

From Los Angeles: 7 hours 40 minutes (with 1 stop)

On the western shore of Negril, Seven Mile Beach really does have a way of taking a person to a whole different world. This is the most popular beach in Jamaica and one of the top reasons to visit Negril. As the name suggests, this beach is quite extensive — the four miles of shoreline of Seven Mile Beach meet with three more miles of beach in an area known as Bloody Bay. It is all just really incredible to see. Seven Mile Beach is so beautiful that many consider it one of the best beaches in the world.

Sandals Negril Seven Mile Beach Overview

At Seven Mile Beach, you’ll be able to enjoy calm, cool seas, and great conditions for diving and water sports. Water sports and dive equipment can be rented on the beach, and if you plan on spending the day here, you’ll have plenty of options for places to eat with so many restaurants, bars, and even a few all-inclusive resorts in Negril nearby.

5. Pigeon Island Beach, St. Lucia

From Miami: 3.5 hours

From New York: 4 hours 25 minutes

From Los Angeles: 9.5 hours

Pigeon Island in the north of Saint Lucia is a great option if you’re looking for a place to spend the day with more than one beach. Though the beach areas on Pigeon Island are along the same coast, they are separated by rocks and various other man-made features. One of the beach areas is near the town of Gros Islet, while the second is near Sandals Grande St. Lucian Beach Resort and Spa, one of the popular all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia. Two more small beaches can be found inside the Pigeon Island National Park, which you can access for a fee of $8 USD per person.

Sandals Grande Saint Lucian RBeach Aerial

As a whole, Pigeon Island Beach is great for swimming, snorkeling, and just soaking in some sun. You can take boat tours around this area to get closer to the reefs or just to admire the beauty of this space. While on Pigeon Island, you might also want to explore Fort Rodney (a relic of the American Revolutionary War), get acquainted with the hiking trails, and admire the scenery inside the park.

Expert tip: While on Pigeon Island why not take advantage of the opportunity to visit one of the Caribbean’s best golf courses, the Sandals St. Lucia Golf & Country Club, which is both award-winning and family-friendly.

6. Sandals South Coast Beach

From Miami: 1 hour 40 minutes

From New York: 3 hours 50 minutes

From Los Angeles: 7 hours 40 minutes (with 1 stop)

Aside from the more widely known public beach options in Jamaica, there are private beaches like Sandals South Coast Beach that you can visit while on the island. The perks of this beach in Whitehouse, Jamaica, which is owned by Sandals Resorts, are that it is kept well-manicured at all times and is rarely crowded. This beach spot is definitely easy on the eyes and there are lots of lounge chairs you can settle into to take in the truly tropical views. For extra safety, there are lifeguards and security officers on the beach. Sandals guests can access this beach for free whenever they feel like it. This kind of exclusivity certainly ups the appeal of an all-inclusive beach vacation on this island!

Sandals South Coast Watersport Aerial Beach

Expert tip: The offshore reef at Sandals South Coast Beach is a great snorkeling spot for both beginners and advanced divers.

7. Sandals Montego Bay Beach

From Miami: 1h and 40m

From New York: 3h and 50m

From Los Angeles: 7h and 40m (with 1 stop)

If you’re looking for a more private beach experience at a location that’s trendy and active, you’ll be able to find just that at Sandals Montego Bay Beach in Jamaica. This private beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica is owned by Sandals Resorts, which means that if you stay at one of Sandals’ all-inclusive resorts in Montego Bay, you’ll have quick and easy access to the best beachside spots.

Sandals Montego Bay SMB Aerial Couple

The shores of Sandals Montego Bay Beach are always immaculately clean, making for the perfect beach ambiance. The waters are as calm and clear as you would expect from a serene beach such as this, and palm trees sway ever so gently reminding you all the while of how lucky you are to have a moment like this in paradise.

You’ll feel safe as well at Sandals Montego Bay Beach with lifeguards on hand. Plus, you can easily skip over to other nearby attractions in Montego Bay from this beach including Doctor’s Cave Beach, or even Dunn’s River Falls, which is a little over 1.5 hours from Montego Bay.

Bonus beaches!

Sandals Royal Bahamian Private Island

The already luxurious Sandals Royal Bahamian has a private island that guests can get to with a short (5 minute) ferry ride. On this private offshore island, Sandals Barefoot Cay, guests can visit a spa that offers massages and beauty treatments, as well as spend time in private cabanas, and dive into the clear, blue waters for the most incredible snorkeling. A visit to this private island is perfect for a romantic date, or just basking in the Caribbean sunshine.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Private Island Bahamas

Insider tip: Sandals guests have access to some of the most interesting things to do in Nassau and can easily plan tours through the resort.

Sandals Royal Caribbean Private Island

It’s not every day the opportunity to vacation on a private island comes around, but at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, you’ll have access to a remote island for the duration of your stay. This private island has additional amenities including a Thai restaurant, swim-up bar, a spa, private cabanas, a beautiful beach, and amazing snorkeling opportunities.

Sandals Royal Caribbean Private Island Aerial

This resort/private island combo is perfect for couples who want to get away from it all. Passion and romance will come to life as you both experience the heights of island extravagance on one of the private offshore islands in the Caribbean.

Expert tip: Snorkeling in Montego Bay is highly recommended as this is a sure way to experience the beauty of Jamaica beneath the waves.

Shake it up for your next beach vacation

You don’t have to travel very far to have the wind in your hair, the sand in your toes, and the most mesmerizing beachside views. Forget Maui or Oahu, and imagine yourself on one of the beautiful, sandy beaches of the Caribbean! There are many Caribbean destinations to choose from - all you’ll need to do now is choose the best one for you.

Sandals Royal Bahamian Beach View

You can go for one of the islands with popular beaches that are loved by all who visit, islands with relatively secluded beaches, or even those with resorts like Sandals Royal Bahamian and Sandals Royal Caribbean with their own private island. In fact, Sandals’ all-inclusive resorts can be found at many of the best beach destinations in the Caribbean, combining luxury, quality inclusions, and stunning beaches.

Whichever you choose, you’re sure to have plenty of beach time and adventure!

Read More Travel Guides

Kylie Morrow

About Kylie Morrow

Born on the tropical island that is Saint Lucia affords a never-ending source of inspiration. In the past 13 years, Kylie loved to work with various newspapers, magazines and blogs in the Caribbean.