35 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit During Your Next Getaway

An upcoming vacation has a way of spicing up life as you know it - from the moment the days start dwindling until you get to your destination. Before you find yourself on the shores of an island paradise, you’ll first need to decide which one you want to visit. If you’re looking for somewhere gorgeous, adventurous, and fun, the Caribbean is probably the first place that comes to mind.

Where should I travel in the Caribbean?

The Caribbean Islands are a great destination for a variety of vacation experiences. Whether you are looking for a family-centric experience, a romantic getaway, or a lively adventurous vacation, there is something for everyone. However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind before deciding on a Caribbean destination.

Best place for families in the Caribbean: You’ll want an island that offers a lot of age-appropriate activities for your children, but also something exciting for older travelers. The Bahamas offers a lot of different activities, perfect for kids and adults.

Best place for nightlife in the Caribbean: Jamaica offers so many wild activities for nightlife. They are famous for their Caribbean rum and know how to throw a party. Our favorite time to visit is during Bacchanal (or Jamaican Carnival) season, which lasts for about 2 weeks between March and April.

Best place for couples in the Caribbean: There are romantic destinations everywhere in the Caribbean. However, our favorite destination is Grenada. This island is less popular than destinations like Jamaica and The Bahamas but offers intimate romantic moments for couples celebrating a honeymoon or anniversary. It’s definitely among the best couples' vacation destinations in the Caribbean!

Throughout this article, we’ll go over the top 35 islands to visit in the Caribbean so you can find your ideal destination.

Expert tip: If water sports are what’s drawing you to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, check out the best places to snorkel in the Caribbean, the best Caribbean islands for fishing, and the best Caribbean islands for surfing to get you started on your adventure.

1. Jamaica

Distance from New York: 3 hours 37 minutes

Distance from Miami: 1 hour 35 minutes

Best time to visit Jamaica: mid-December to mid-April

Jamaica is a paradise for anyone looking to explore, unwind, and enjoy a mix of nature and luxury. This island is just an hour and a half away from some U.S. cities and can be the tropical getaway you’ve always dreamed of.

The first thing you’ll notice once you arrive in Jamaica is how green this island is. Beaches with swaying palm trees are a reality here - as are crisp and clean waterfalls you can jump right into. If you’re into reggae music (such as the sounds of Bob Marley) or even spicier genres like dancehall, you can dance to your heart’s content at any of the local clubs or bars, and even within your resort.

Go rafting on the Martha Brae River in Montego Bay, try an ATV safari adventure, stroll down Seven Mile Beach, or even visit the famous Blue Mountains to snag some delicious and authentic Jamaican coffee — whatever you decide to do, it’ll be against an idyllic backdrop.

Insider tip: When it comes to accommodations, Jamaica has many options including six Sandals all-inclusive resorts and two Beaches all-inclusive resorts. For couples, we recommend Jamaica's amazing overwater bungalows at Sandals Royal Caribbean and Sandals South Coast, and for families with kids, a waterpark vacation at Beaches Negril or Beaches Ocho Rios is ideal.

2. Barbados


Cover photo credit: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock.com

Features two Sandals Resorts that are side-by-side.

Distance from New York: 4 hours 45 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 35 minutes

Best time to visit Barbados: December to mid-April

Barbados is where it's at if you’re looking for a postcard-worthy (or rather Instagram-worthy) vacation. Sun, sand, and sea will be the backdrop of your escape to this Caribbean island, which is known for its dreamy beaches, breezy palm trees, amazing seafood, and, of course, the singing sensation Rihanna who was born here.

Your Barbados adventure can start in Bridgetown, the UNESCO-listed, capital city of Barbados. A stroll through this town to see the sights will be both memorable and fun. As you walk around, you’ll be struck by the openness of the Bajan (Barbadian) people who love welcoming visitors to their shores. If you want to party in Barbados, consider going during Crop Over, a festival that is usually held in August, or during one of the other Caribbean festivals held on the island, including jazz and sailing events.

You won’t have a hard time finding accommodations because there are incredible all-inclusive resorts in Barbados that will make a vacation on this island that much more stress-free.

3. The Bahamas

Tropical island getaway just one hour away from Miami.

Distance from New York: 3 hours 10 minutes

Distance from Miami: 1 hour

Best time to visit The Bahamas: December to mid-April

The Bahamas is near the top of the travel list for many people with their sights set on the Caribbean. This territory is made up of over 700 hundreds of islands, rocks, and cays, with some of the most popular being New Providence, where the capital city of Nassau is located, and the Exumas, which are truly exotic.

The Bahamas is loved both by the weddings and honeymoon crowds, as well as families looking for adventure and lots of beach time. All those islands equate to hundreds of beaches, many of them just a short drive or a boat ride away. The Bahamas is famous for pink sand beaches and swimming pigs as well, so this will be a truly unique experience.

Other than lounging on picture-perfect beaches or even scuba diving in The Bahamas, you’ll be able to enjoy lots of entertainment and unique cuisine including conch dishes and other food and drinks you can try in The Bahamas. There are quite a few luxurious all-inclusive resorts in Nassau, as well as duty-free shopping and world-class casinos. All in all, you won’t run out of things to do in The Bahamas.

Good to know: The waters of The Bahamas are among the clearest in the world which makes it great for snorkeling and diving. Some of the best all-inclusive resorts in The Bahamas include both snorkeling and diving in the cost of your vacation!

4. Puerto Rico


Cover photo credit: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 3 hours 43 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 30 minutes

Best time to visit Puerto Rico: mid-April to June

Known for its beautiful landscapes, and rich culture, Puerto Rico makes for an exciting vacation destination. Many people don’t realize that Puerto Rico is an island, but it certainly is! This means that your island vacation can be closer than you think if you’ll be traveling to this destination from the United States. Here you can see firsthand some of the natural wonders of the world, including the Glowing Bays, which are bioluminescent beaches, and the Guánica Dry Forest, one of the most expansive dry forests in the world. While in Puerto Rico, you should also take some time to see the Raices Fountain at La Princesa, which was unveiled in 1992 and is spectacular to watch, especially around sunset.

5. The Turks & Caicos Islands

Home to Grace Bay Beach, named the Best Beach in the World in 2018. Also features one Beaches Resort.

Distance from New York: 4 hours 45 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 40 minutes

Best time to visit Turks & Caicos: April to May

The Turks & Caicos Islands are among the best places to vacation in the world. This territory is made up of 40 islands, with each bringing something unique to the table.

Providenciales or “Provo,” is the main island in Turks & Caicos. This is the island where you’ll find some of the best luxury resorts and the main cruise ship port. From Provo, it won’t be hard to visit a few of the other islands in Turks & Caicos, such as Grand Turk where you can visit the Turks & Caicos National Museum to find out more about the history of the islands.

Salt Cay is another island in Turks & Caicos - one where you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best diving in the Caribbean and see one of the largest reef systems in the world.

Good to know: Beaches Turks & Caicos has its own Caribbean waterpark and is great for families.

6. Antigua and Barbuda


Cover photo credit: Darryl Brooks/Shutterstock.com

Home to the World’s Most Romantic Resort. Features one Sandals Resort.

Distance from New York: 4 hours 20 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 10 minutes

Best time to visit Antigua & Barbuda: May to November

Antigua has, over the years, managed to present an incredible Caribbean experience that does not take away from the island’s authenticity, but rather enhances it. Promotions of this island revolve around the beach, and rightly so since there are 365 beaches on this beautiful little island. That’s right, one for every day of the year, and they are all unique and alluring.

In Antigua, you can take in panoramic views of Shirley Heights, visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and tour the Antigua Distillery for a taste of the island. You’ll also have the opportunity to explore sister isle Barbuda, which is just as popular with visitors.

When it comes to accommodations, the all-inclusive resorts in Antigua are worth considering if luxury and romance are what you want. All-inclusive means hassle-free, and who can argue with that?

7. Cuba


Cover photo credit: Oriol Querol/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 3 hours

Distance from Miami: 4 hours

Best time to visit Cuba: December to May

Cuba is a dream for travelers who love the beach, amazing food and exploring foreign cultures. This island may not be as modern as some others in the Caribbean, but that just makes it one of the most authentic.

Beautiful and timeless, this is one destination that will leave a lasting impression. When you get there, you’ll likely find yourself riding around in classic American cars, some of which date back to the 1950s. This aspect of Cuban life is a result of the embargo on American imports to the country.

In Cuba, you’ll have the option of staying in a hotel or in a homestay, which can be just as fun if not more so. English is not widely spoken on this island, so you might have to brush up a bit on your Spanish before you go. You’ll definitely want to spend some time exploring the UNESCO-listed capital city of Havana while you’re on the island.

8. Grenada

Features one Sandals Resort.

Distance from New York to Grenada: 4 hours 45 minutes

Distance from Miami to Grenada: 3 hours 35 minutes

Best time to visit Grenada: January to April

Grenada is known and loved for all the spices the island produces. Their aromas linger in the air, adding a certain sweetness to every vacationer’s experience. This island is as beautiful as they come! With its amazing waterfalls and spectacular beaches, you really can’t go wrong with selecting this island for a getaway.

In Grenada, you’ll find colorful colonial towns, exciting options for excursions like hiking nature trails, and the best of Caribbean hospitality. Your vacation on this island can include spending some time at one of the all-inclusive resorts in Grenada where you’ll have access to things like unlimited dining at multiple themed restaurants, bars including swim-up bars, day and night entertainment, and so much more.

As far as Caribbean vacations go, Grenada definitely leaves nothing to be desired.

9. Saint Lucia

Distance from New York to Saint Lucia: 4 hours 51 minutes

Distance from Miami to Saint Lucia: 3 hours 40 minutes

Best time to visit Saint Lucia: mid-December to mid-April

An unexpectedly refreshing vacation awaits in Saint Lucia, also known as the Helen of the West Indies, or simply, Fair Helen. This beautiful island is fair indeed and features greenery almost everywhere you look.

This is one island where you can have a vacation that is as exciting or laid back as you desire. Whether you pack your itinerary with things to do or go with the flow, that’ll be entirely up to you. Whatever you decide, you might want to visit at least one beach and a waterfall. Some of the best beaches in the north of the island are Pigeon Island Beach and Reduit Beach, and in the south, Sandy Beach in Vieux Fort right next to the Hewanorra International Airport.

Speaking of beaches, there’s great snorkeling available in Saint Lucia as well! Some of the best snorkeling spots in Saint Lucia include Smugglers Cove Beach in Cap Estate, Marigot Bay Beach, and Anse Chastanet Beach in Soufriere. If you want to dive, you can easily set up your dive during a stay with one of the all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia.

Expert tip: Want to do it all while on this island? Here are some of the best things to do in Saint Lucia.

10. Curaçao


Cover photo credit: Izabela23/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York to Curaçao: 4 hours and 45 minutes

Distance from Miami to Curaçao: 3 hours 10 minutes

Best time to visit Curaçao: May to November

Curaçao appeals to couples who want the Caribbean with a twist. This island is part of the ABC island chain that includes other Dutch-speaking islands, specifically Aruba and Bonaire. In Curaçao, you’ll be able to get a taste of the island’s history as you explore the capital city Willemstad. This whole city is a world heritage site filled with pastel-colored Dutch colonial-style buildings.

Lovers of art will enjoy the immersive experience of strolling through Otrobanda or Pietermaai in Curaçao and admiring the wall art and graffiti. This openness of these artistic displays is a reflection of that of the people, and this is one of those islands where the little details will remain ingrained in your memory.

Even the all-inclusive resorts in Curaçao manage to convey the unique mix of landscapes and culture that you’ll find on this beautiful southern Caribbean island.

11. Aruba


Cover photo credit: Steve Photography/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York to Aruba: 3 hours

Distance from Miami to Aruba: 4 hours

Best time to visit Aruba: December to May

Even the name Aruba rings off the tongue in an exotic way, and exotic is certainly what you will find on this Dutch Caribbean island! The ‘A’ of the ABC island chain, Aruba has a lot to offer travelers who want a different kind of Caribbean experience.

Perfect for escaping from colder temperatures, this warm winter getaway destination is made just right with cool breezes where you need them most. Your exploration of this island can start in the capital city of Oranjestad. There you’ll find lots of restaurants and bars as well as entertainment. Aruba’s main cruise port is in the capital city as well, so when cruise ships are in port, things can get quite busy.

Aruba has some great beaches and is an amazing place to go diving. The white sand beaches, culinary delights, and endless possibilities for exploration on this island are definitely enough to keep any traveler smiling.

Insider tip: Both Aruba and Turks & Caicos are known for having some of the best beaches in the world. You can read up on Turks & Caicos vs Aruba to discover what sets these islands apart, and perhaps decide which one to visit on your next Caribbean getaway!

12. The Dominican Republic


Cover photo credit: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York to the Dominican Republic: 3 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Miami to the Dominican Republic: 2 hours 20 minutes

Best time to visit the Dominican Republic: July to August

The Dominican Republic (DR) barely needs an introduction — it is one of the most visited territories in the Caribbean. As this territory is near North America, travelers often take advantage of deals to vacation there. The appeal of the Dominican Republic has a lot to do with its incredible beaches, resorts, and entertainment.

If you’re looking for things to do while in the Dominican Republic, definitely visit the Damajagua Waterfalls, which will take your breath away. At this location, there are 27 waterfalls and natural rock pools you’ll be able to dip into. These are all along Puerto Plata on the Northern Corridor mountain range. The views from this area are outstanding.

There are lots more activities you can do in the DR including whale watching (if you go between the months of January and March), and visiting the monasteries and cobblestone streets of Domingo’s Zona Colonial, which have undergone some restoration. Definitely visit the capital Santa Domingo while there and be touched by the heart of this beautiful nation.

13. Bermuda


Cover photo credit: Stephen Bonk/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York to Bermuda: 2 hours 15 minutes

Distance from Miami to Bermuda: 2 hours 35 minutes

Best time to visit Bermuda: March to April

Bermuda is tiny — just 20 miles by 2 miles, but this island packs a punch. Bermuda has a mix of cultural influences including British, North American, African, Portuguese, and West Indian. On this island, pastel-colored homes are the norm, which adds to the breezy and peaceful ambiance that will surround you from the moment you get there.

Bermuda has been featured in the Condé Nast Traveler as the number one island destination in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. You can decide for yourself when you get there and experience some of the beaches on this island, many of which are great for diving and some of which have pink sand, like Horseshoe Bay Beach. Golfing, yachting and a fantastic culinary scene that incorporates lots of fresh offerings are more reasons to visit this enthralling Caribbean nation.

14. Grand Cayman


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Distance from New York to Grand Cayman: 3 hours and 34 minutes

Distance from Miami to Grand Cayman: 1 hour 24 minutes

Best time to visit Grand Cayman: May to October

Grand Cayman is the largest island in the Cayman Islands. Here you’ll find some cool resorts and restaurants, as well as lots of boutiques for shopping. Grand Cayman is known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean and when you get there, you can take a flavor tour to determine this for yourself.

From Grand Cayman, you can easily explore some of the other isles in the Cayman Islands as well as experience beach life on and around this island. Snorkeling and scuba diving are also popular on this island, and swimming with stingrays can easily be arranged. Some of the other things you can do in Grand Cayman include hiking, exploring the Crystal Caves with a guided walking tour, embarking on a bioluminescent boat tour, or even just sampling rum cake at Tortuga Rum Company.

Life is certainly a beach in Grand Cayman, and occasionally, a big party too.

15. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands


Cover photo credit: NAPA/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York to St. Croix: 3 hours 51 minutes

Distance from Miami to St. Croix: 2 hours 40 minutes

Best time to visit St. Croix: April to June

St. Croix is a surprisingly cozy little island that lots of vacationers love. It is just around 40 miles to the south of the other Virgin Islands, and it is a nature lovers' paradise.

If you want to get off the hamster wheel for a bit and explore an island that is all about enjoying life on your own time, you’ll have a great vacation in St. Croix. This island is a top pick for snorkelers and divers who want to dip into the tranquility of the waters of this territory. Some of the best dives can be experienced at the Buck Island National Park where you’ll find the Buck Island Reef.

On dry land, some of the most interesting places you can visit in St. Croix include the St. George Botanical Garden, which is the perfect oasis to spend a couple of hours and take great photos. Beach-wise, Sandy Point on the west end is the most pristine and will be sure to leave an impression.

16. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands


Cover photo credit: pics721/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York to St. John: 4 hours 30 minutes

Distance from Miami to St. John: 6 hours 48 minutes

Best time to visit St. John: April to June

With two-thirds of St. John being part of a protected national park, it is clear just how much the local government cares for the sustainability of this island. This sort of protection assures travelers can have an authentic Caribbean experience on this island that will be filled with opportunities to explore and be one with nature.

St. John is one of the most popular islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands even though there aren’t any airports or cruise docks, and few resorts. You can access the island by ferry, which will land in the main village of Cruz Bay. From Cruz Bay, you can make your way around the island. Accommodation-wise, many people who visit St. John stay in vacation rentals or inns.

While in St. John, some interesting things to do include hiking the Cinnamon Bay Beach or Reef Bay trails, snorkeling at Trunk Bay, paddleboarding through Hurricane Hole, or even just enjoying happy hour on the beach. It will be a laid-back vacation, but you’re likely to return home refreshed.

17. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands


Cover photo credit: emperorcosar/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 4 hours 5 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 35 minutes

Best time to visit St. Thomas: April to June

St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) is a great place to start when exploring this Caribbean territory that includes about 50 islands. Typical of the Caribbean, St. Thomas has lots of beautiful beaches. There are also lots of great places on this island to dine, go duty-free shopping, and even party.

Your vacation in St. Thomas can include lots of water sports action, island hopping to some of the nearby USVI islands, which offer their own unique experiences, indulging in sophisticated resorts, and just enjoying the outdoors. Let your days in St. Thomas be sun-kissed and memorable by just letting go and enjoying the moment island-style.

18. Haiti


Cover photo credit: emperorcosar/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 3 hours 34 minutes

Distance from Miami: 1 hour 55 minutes

Best time to visit Haiti: November to March

Breathtaking waterfalls, lush vegetation, and blue waters are all attributes of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. This country was once a busy tourist destination loved for its tranquil beaches and rugged coves, but tourism has slowed in recent times.

Though Haiti is often highlighted in the media when tragedy strikes, this island is much more than it appears to be, and richer than some might think in many ways. During a vacation in Haiti, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the tastiest cuisines in the Caribbean. The food here is often a combination of flavors from various cultures including French, Spanish and African. You’ll definitely be tempted to take some recipes home with you if you’re a foodie, and even if you’re not.

If you’re able to get the timing right and set up a vacation in Haiti, it just might be an immensely enjoyable experience.

19. Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands


Cover photo credit: Nature's Charm/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 4 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours

Best time to visit Bonaire: May to October

Bonaire, in the southern Caribbean, is part of the ABC island chain that includes Curaçao and Aruba. This is an adventurous island ideal for travelers who’re open to new experiences. Life in the outdoors of this Dutch Caribbean island is exciting, to say the least. The number one shore diving island in the world, Bonaire is considered a diver’s paradise. Kite surfing is popular on this island as well, particularly in Lac Bay where the trade winds are consistent offshore. Windsurfing is also a popular pastime.

In the south of Bonaire, which is flat and mostly covered with seawater, there are active salt production sites, a flamingo sanctuary, and a mangrove forest that you can explore by kayak. While in Bonaire, you can visit the capital city Kralendijk, which is also the main port on this island. In the town, you’ll find shops of all varieties as well as restaurants, boutiques, cafes, and bars.

Other than that, there’s lots more to explore in and around Bonaire including the nearby Klein Bonaire, a pristine sister island that can make an interesting day trip during your vacation.

20. Anguilla


Cover photo credit: Aleksei Potov/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 7 hours 45 minutes

Distance from Miami: 5 hours 25 minutes

Best time to visit Anguilla: May to August

No question about it, Anguilla is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean. A vacation on this island will be all about indulging in the available luxuries and taking in the gorgeous natural scenery.

The easiest way to get to Anguilla is from the nearby island of Antigua, or by ferry from Saint Martin if you’re already on that island. In Anguilla, you can enjoy the beaches, bar hopping, barbecues, kayaking adventures, other water sports, and jamming to the smooth sounds of reggae until the sun goes down. At night, there’s usually lots of entertainment including live music, particularly in the hotels on this island and in restaurants.

You won’t find any high-rise hotels in Anguilla. You also won’t see any cruise ships in the ports either as this is prohibited by the island’s government. There also are not any casinos on this island, so your focus will really be on just enjoying the simpler things in life.

21. Saint Vincent & the Grenadines


Cover photo credit: Larwin/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 4 hours 45 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 40 minutes

Best time to visit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: May, June, November

The people, places, and ambiance of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines will make it one of the best destinations you’ve ever visited in your life. This is easily one of the most beautiful areas in the Eastern Caribbean and it is near the island of Saint Lucia.

Called “Vincy” for short by the locals, this island is a haven for travelers wanting a quieter island experience. This is an island where you’ll be able to press the reset button as you sit by the seaside, focused only on the beauty of the moment.

Scuba diving, swimming in waterfalls, going on catamaran trips - you can do it all in Saint Vincent! Or, you can enjoy some of the local bars and entertainment spots and interact with the locals who’re always welcoming. Should you feel the need for a change in scenery, you might even be able to skip off to the nearby Grenadines. Either way, you’ll be in good hands and in a completely awesome space on this lush Caribbean island.

22. Dominica


Cover photo credit: haspil/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 7 hours 2 minutes

Distance from Miami: 6 hours 15 minutes

Best time to visit Dominica: February to April

Dominica is known as the Nature Isle, and, once you arrive here, you’ll immediately see why. This island has been sustainably developed over the years with an emphasis on promoting the natural elements and incorporating them into tourism promotions.

An experience on this island revolves around rejuvenation. Even if you don’t come directly for this, you’ll find it in the midst of your adventure. On this island, you can find both white and black sand beaches, rivers wide and long enough to go tubing, hot springs, thriving coral reefs, an abundance of hiking trails (including the Caribbean’s first long-distance trail) and so much more. The Boiling Lake and Champagne Reef in Dominica are must-see natural attractions.

There aren’t as many hotels on this island as in other places, but you’ll definitely be able to find accommodation as there are many local villas and guest houses.

23. St. Kitts & Nevis


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Distance from New York: 4 hours 10 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 55 minutes

Best time to visit St. Kitts & Nevis: May to June

Little islands that leave a big impression - that is St. Kitts and Nevis in a nutshell. St. Kitts is one of the smaller islands of the Caribbean and its even smaller sister isle, Nevis, is just a ferry ride away (about 45 minutes). While vacationing in the Caribbean, you can experience both of these islands during a single vacation.

Both St. Kitts and nearby Nevis have a rich history, stunning beaches and mountainsides, and lots of interesting things to do. The duo makes for an interesting vacation combo because each offers a varied vacation experience. For example, Nevis is in many ways more refined with lots of hiking opportunities up Nevis Peak and guided tours of historical sites. In St. Kitts, you’ll be able to decompress from western living and enjoy a mix of laid-back ambiance and festive moments. As this is a volcanic island, there are a few black sand beaches and others that are a mixture of black and white sand. All in all, you can definitely have the perfect mix of luxury and nature on these amazing islands.

24. Guadeloupe


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Distance from New York: 4 hours 20 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 25 minutes

Best time to visit Guadeloupe: December to May

Warm and welcoming, the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is one of the largest islands in the region. Here you can enjoy a France-meets-Caribbean feel right under the tropical sun and delight in fusion cuisine as is popular in French Caribbean territories.

During your vacation in Guadeloupe, you can visit Basse-Terre in the west, which is the capital of this Caribbean nation and home to Parc National de la Guadeloupe. At the highest point of this park is La Grande Soufrière, which is an active stratovolcano. It is the highest point in the Lesser Antilles. On this verdant island, you can enjoy some of the most exciting nature excursions, indulge in culinary delights at the local cafes and restaurants, or just kick back on one of the beaches in areas like Grande-Terre to the east, hopefully with an expertly made rum punch in hand.

25. Martinique


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Distance from New York: 4 hours 25 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 35 minutes

Best time to visit Martinique: December to May

French-speaking Martinique can be found between Saint Lucia and Dominica. The appeal of this island is its natural beauty. Roughly 30 percent of this island consists of rainforest, which means there’ll be plenty of opportunities to go hiking. The north of Martinique is mountainous and more focused on eco-tourism.

The south of Martinique caters to visitors and has most of the hotels and beaches. Surrounded by both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the best beaches in Martinique are typically on the Caribbean side. Overall, Grande Anse des Salines beach is one of the most popular beaches on this island so you probably won’t want to miss out on seeing it while you’re there.

Other than beaches, history, and adventure, the cuisine in Martinique is one of the things that’ll appeal to you most. Your meals here will be cooked up with an infusion of French and Caribbean elements and served with a side of rum, preferably at a beachside restaurant or in the midst of the airy ambiance of the capital city Fort-de-France.

26. Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas


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Tropical island getaway less than one hour away from Florida.

Distance from New York: 4 hours 45 minutes

Distance from Miami: 50 minutes

Best time to visit Freeport: mid-December to mid-April

Once upon a time, financier Wallace Groves made good on his promises to support the development of Freeport on the island of Grand Bahama in a holistic way. He played a key role in what ended up happening on the ground — transforming a pine forest in a swampy area on the southern part of the island into something truly magical that visitors and locals could be excited about.

With these upgrades, Freeport is more than worth considering for a breezy Caribbean vacation. It is less than one hour away from Florida, and attractions in this part of The Bahamas include the beautiful, 40-acre Lucayan National Park. From scuba diving and shark diving to exploring underwater caves and enjoying the island’s six distinct ecosystems, you’ll truly feel liberated on Grand Bahama, which continues to grow in popularity among vacationers.

27. British Virgin Islands (BVI)


Cover photo credit: John Couture/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 3 hours 46 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 44 minutes

Best time to visit the British Virgin Islands: September to November

The British Virgin Islands have a swanky reputation that they manage to live up to with a combination of luxury and adventure. On these islands, which are popular with celebrities, you never quite know who you’ll run into. In fact, Sir Richard Branson has a home on the private Necker island in the BVI.

While in the British Virgin Islands, you can stroll the yacht-spotted beaches, marvel at the intense blues of the ocean, and soak in the perfectly peaceful ambiance. Commit to some water sports, and let loose your inhibitions. Explore islands like Virgin Gorda and experience unique snorkeling or scuba diving in the Baths beach area. When all of that is said and done, enjoy some of the most opulent restaurants in the Caribbean, and return to the indulgence of your resort.

28. Trinidad & Tobago


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Distance from New York: 4 hours 55 minutes

Distance from Miami: 3 hours 40 minutes

Best time to visit Trinidad & Tobago: January to May

Trinidad is one of the largest islands in the Caribbean, and, together with sister isle Tobago, this region can be everything you want out of a Caribbean getaway. Trinidad is the mainland where most commercial activity happens while Tobago is quieter and more exotic. Trinidad & Tobago together make up a Caribbean carnival mecca with the ultimate carnival celebration unfolding in this territory every year in late February. Luckily, it is possible to feed off the rhythmic vibes of this vibrant island year-round.

In Trinidad, you can check out historical sites like the Bamboo Cathedral and Fort George, stroll around Queen’s Park Savannah, go on a jungle expedition in the rainforest, or soak up some rays on a local strand like Maracus Beach. Before leaving this island, you should definitely make some time for a day trip to Tobago, which is a natural wonder in and of itself.

Expert tip: Want to know what’s happening in the Caribbean and when? Check out this calendar of carnival events in the Caribbean to help you plan your vacation.

29. Saint Barthélemy (St. Barths/St. Barts)


Cover photo credit: Michael Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 5 hours 58 minutes

Distance from Miami: 8 hours 5 minutes

Best time to visit St. Barths: November to June

Postcard-worthy Saint Barthélemy (also known as St. Barths/St. Barts) is the savvy traveler’s playground. This is the place that comes to mind when one fantasizes about skipping off to a paradise island in the Caribbean that’s fit for the rich and famous.

The appeal of St. Barths has to do with its pearly white-sand beaches, rugged and beautiful landscapes, and captivating flora and fauna. This island truly is a gem in the Caribbean and it is perfect for anyone who really wants to experience this region at its best. There’s a magnetic pull on this island that appeals to yacht lovers and even celebrities. Some of the famous names who have vacationed here include the Kardashians and George Clooney. Regardless of your level of fame or popularity, St. Barths is an island that you will definitely enjoy.

30. Tortola


Cover photo credit: Eric Rubens/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 5 hours 30 minutes

Distance from Miami: 4 hours 5 minutes

Best time to visit Tortola: September to November

Tortola is considered the friendliest island in the British Virgin Islands. It is also the largest of these islands at 21.51 square miles. Known worldwide for its plethora of white sandy beaches, lush greenery, and striking hillsides, this island is loved by people from all walks of life.

In Tortola, you’ll be able to find some good resorts, private villas, and other options for accommodation. You can set up your vacation on this island to be truly extravagant, or more low-key. Some of the things you might enjoy doing in Tortola include going to the beautiful Sage Mountain National Park, sailing, attending festivals, trying new water sports, and even taking surf lessons. One thing is certain: your vacation in Tortola will truly be an adventure.

31. St. Martin / St. Maarten


Cover photo credit: Maridav/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 4 hours 10 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 50 minutes

Best time to visit St. Martin: May to June, or November to mid-December

You may have thought that Saint Martin and Sint Maarten were two different places, but these islands are one and the same. The two different spellings are a result of the island’s dual culture. In fact, Saint Martin is an island where you can get two experiences in one. On the French side to the north, you can enjoy some amazing beaches, shopping, and French/Caribbean fused cuisine. Then, there’s the Dutch half of the island to the south. Here you can find great duty-free shopping, some of the most gorgeous beaches of the Caribbean (even some beaches where you can cliff dive like Mullet Bay), and lots of places to have a good time no matter the time of day.

Saint Martin is perfect for travelers looking for adventure. If you like casinos, this island is definitely for you! Nine casinos can be found on the Dutch side alone. Saint Martin also has its own island carnival held from April to May annually. As much as the island has going on, it is pretty small at 33.59 square miles, so you’ll be able to experience both the French and Dutch sides during your vacation.

32. Cayman Islands


Cover photo credit: Ethan Daniels/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 3 hours 30 minutes

Distance from Miami: 1 hour 22 minutes

Best time to visit the Cayman Islands: November to April, or March through June

The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas territory made up of three islands known as Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. These islands are best for couples who want a vacation that’s a mix of adventure and relaxation. They are known and loved for their incredibly clear waters and their numerous white-sand beaches where you can spend hours on end if you so choose.

The Cayman Islands are also a popular dive destination where you can explore shipwrecks or just enjoy some of the incredible sea life sightings. Other than the beaches and wildlife, the cuisine in the Cayman Islands and the world-class resorts are more reasons to visit this island destination.

33. Montserrat


Cover photo credit: IndustryAndTravel/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 7 hours 30 minutes

Distance from Miami: 6 hours 30 minutes

Best time to visit Montserrat: February to May

Eruptions of Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills volcano have made the news in times past and this has affected tourism on this island, as well as the livelihoods of the people. Through all those difficulties, Montserrat remains a beautiful island. There are many black sand beaches on this island as a result of the volcanic activity, and there are also some white/golden sand beaches as well.

The last eruption of Soufriere Hills was in 2013 and the volcano continues to be closely monitored. As a result, authorities have deemed visiting this island safe. There is still, however, an exclusion zone that covers the southern two-thirds of the island around Soufriere Hills. This area is now open for tours though, so if you’re feeling especially curious about life on an island with an active volcano, definitely give Montserrat a try.

34. Sint Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands


Cover photo credit: LE-gals Photography/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 4 hours 10 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 50 minutes

Best time to visit Sint Eustatius: May to June, or November to mid-December

Sint Eustatius or ‘Statia’ for short is a Dutch Caribbean island in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. This island doesn’t get mentioned quite as often as some of the popular English-speaking ones, but it can be a great vacation spot if you’re looking for somewhere quiet with great natural attractions.

Sint Eustatius is just six miles long and three miles wide, which means you really don’t need a lot of time to cover the basics. While on this island, you should definitely make the most of the incredible snorkeling opportunities — you might even see stingrays and whale sharks! While on this island, try some hiking and visit the beaches, which are mostly black sand and attract lots of sea turtles during turtle hatching season.

35. Saba, Caribbean Netherlands


Cover photo credit: Martin Sun/Shutterstock.com

Distance from New York: 4 hours 10 minutes

Distance from Miami: 2 hours 50 minutes

Best time to visit Saba: May to June, or November to mid-December

Volcanic by nature, the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba has a population of just under 2,000 people. This island in the southeastern Caribbean Sea is about five square miles and it is best for travelers looking for a getaway that is out of the norm.

A few of Saba’s most compelling attributes are the breathtaking cliffs and beautiful turquoise waters that you can admire while going on hikes along the coast, in the rainforest, and in the dry forest as well. Saba is rich with wildlife and some of the creatures you might come across during a nature expedition include iguanas, anoles lizards, red-bellied racer snakes, and lots of birds like the red-billed tropic and Audobons’ shearwater.

On this island, you can have an authentic Caribbean experience that is less about spending time on the beach, and more about appreciating the diverse ecosystems of this region.

What makes the Caribbean so special?

There are so many islands that make up the Caribbean, but what makes it such a popular vacation destination? You can experience just about anything in the Caribbean, ranging from the peak of relaxation, rich history, tasty food, or wild nightlife.

Caribbean Culture: No matter what island you decide to visit, be sure to admire the rich cultural heritage present on each island. Each destination has its own unique culture, as well as a shared island culture that resonates throughout the area. Visit a variety of Unesco World Heritage sites throughout the Caribbean, like the Blue & John Crow Mountains in Jamaica or the Pitons Mountains in Saint Lucia.

Adventurous Excursions: See what really makes this vacation destination exciting with a variety of adventurous excursions. From ziplining over the beautiful scenery to swimming with wildlife (like Pigs in the Bahamas or Dolphins in Jamaica), you will find no shortage of new experiences.

Delicious Food: Depending on what islands you visit in the Caribbean, you’ll find unique food with a rich cultural heritage. Using mostly local ingredients, you can find spicy creole flavors on islands like Jamaica or fresh-tasting seafood in Saint Lucia.

Nightlife: If the Caribbean is known for one thing, it is its vibrant nightlife. With a variety of Carnival Celebrations throughout the year, locally distilled rum, and music that makes you want to dance, you’ll be able to find unique nightlife on any Caribbean island. But, we recommend visiting during Carnival season for the full experience.

No matter what type of vacation you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it in the Caribbean.

Insider tip: Don’t be afraid to island hop!

Can’t decide on one Caribbean destination for your next getaway? Traveling between the Caribbean islands is much easier than you think. On your next vacation, don’t be afraid to hop on a plane and experience multiple islands on your trip.

Island-hopping is a great way to get a full, well-rounded experience of the Caribbean nations. Additionally, many cruises will allow you to jump between multiple islands in a single trip. That way, you don’t miss out on any of the unique excursions at top Caribbean destinations.

Expert tip: If you’re interested in island-hopping in The Bahamas, we’ve put together several great itineraries that will help you get the most out of your stay. With 700 islands to choose from, it may be hard to decide where to start otherwise!

The Caribbean is calling! Start planning your Caribbean vacation today

There you have it: The Caribbean is much more than beaches and palm trees, and each island does indeed offer a unique experience. From Antigua & Barbuda to Saint Lucia and Jamaica, these islands have all the markings of an incredible getaway. The only thing left to do is decide where to go!

All-inclusive Caribbean resorts can really be the cherry on top of an exciting Caribbean experience. So if you’re looking to add something special to your time in the Caribbean, look no further than a beachfront resort property with multiple gourmet restaurants, multiple bars (including swim-up bars) serving premium liquors, day and night entertainment, unlimited land and water sports, and roundtrip airport transfers - all included.

You deserve a worry-free Caribbean experience. So, choose an island, and let’s get you to paradise!

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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.