The Caribbean sea houses hundreds of islands. Some are their own countries, and some are clusters of smaller islands that have come together.
These include popular spots like the Bahamas and Barbados to lesser-known destinations like St. Vincent and Cozumel. They’re all worth visiting thanks to their natural wonders, distinct local cultures, rich histories, and delicious food. Choosing the right one depends on what you want to get out of your trip.
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This island has two volcanic mountains, Gros Piton and Petit Piton, that are designated World Heritage sites. You can hike up them and enjoy their natural rainforests. You’ll even find Sulphur Springs, the only drive-in volcano in the world.
If you’d rather spend time in the water, St. Lucia has white sand beaches and coral reefs. There are also plenty of resorts and luxury hotels to end your day in.
This is one of the most famous Caribbean islands for good reason. It has beaches aplenty, including the 7-mile beach in Negril and the secluded Treasure Beach.
Negril has cliffs that reach from 10-30 feet tall and attract jumpers. You’ll find the YS waterfalls farther south and the Dunn River Falls close to Ocho Rios.
Don’t forget to visit Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city. You can dance to reggae music and try specialty foods and drinks including jerk chicken and Appleton rum.
This famous location is primarily made up of The Exumas. It’s a collection of 365 islands that is 176 miles long and full of clear waters. It’s a paradise for everyone, but especially animal lovers. You can swim with sharks, meet wild pigs, or see the fish at Thunderball Grotto.
Cozumel is a diver’s paradise off the coast of Mexico. It’s one of the best Caribbean islands to visit if the first item on your itinerary is going scuba diving. The Palancar Reef is the second-largest in the world.
The sand is white and the water is clear enough to see plenty of wildlife. You can also swim over to nearby Isla Ballestas to see sharks migrating by.
The Cayman Islands
These islands are another diver’s paradise. The Cayman Trench is perfect for deep diving, and the Stingray City is a more shallow spot if you want to swim with stingrays. It’s also one of the more affordable islands with hotel and rental deals to snag.
Cuba is the largest Caribbean island and is full of history.
Check out the colonial architecture in Havana. See the evidence of its once-thriving tobacco trade in Vinales. Visit author Ernes Hemingway’s museum 10 miles outside of the capital city.
Cuba isn’t packed with tourists or commercial shops like other Caribbean islands. You’ll find independent restaurants that sell delicious seafood.
You’ll also find the type of quality beaches you’d expect from any Caribbean island. Playa Las Tumbas has white sand to relax in.
The ABC Islands: Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao
Aruba is one of the best Caribbean islands to visit with children. Its beaches are quiet, and they’ll love swimming with turtles and fish on the beaches. You can also visit Arikok National Park with its tall cacti, the abandoned Bushirbana Gold Mine, the donkey sanctuary, the butterfly farm, and more.
Bonaire is small, but that makes it perfect for relaxation. It’s also great for wildlife spotting and even has a flamingo sanctuary. Take a kayak through its mangrove forests or hike through Washington Salgbaii National Park. The island is surrounded by Bonaire National Marine Park, which is a great spot for diving and snorkeling.
Curacao is technically a Dutch colony known as the Amsterdam of the Caribbean. It features colonial architecture and beautiful beaches. You can enjoy it year-round because its trade winds help regulate the temperature and it’s outside of the hurricane belt.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts is the more exciting island of these two islands. YOu won’t forget hiking up the volcano Mt. Liamuiga to see its rainforests or ziplining down. It also has delicious seafood, fresh fruit, a buzzing nightlife, and local festivals.
Nevis is a quieter island with beautiful hot springs and botanical gardens. You may also spot wildlife such as wandering donkeys and monkeys.
This island has something for everyone. It’s the second-largest country on Hisponala, the second-largest island in the Caribbean, which it shares with Haiti. It packs its space full of attractions.
You’ll never run out of sand and sun here. The Dominican has 10-mile beaches and beach clubs in Punta Cana. There are hidden beaches in Saman. You can enjoy mojitos on the sand in Las Terranas or Cabarete. You can even hike 7 miles to reach Playa Trudille.
The island also offers plenty of adventures. You can canyon through its rivers, go paragliding, cliff jump, or hike to the Caribbean’s highest peak.
Puerto Rico is part of America, but you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to another world when you visit. It’s home to El Yunke, the only rainforest in the US National Park Service. It has bioluminescent bays and 365 different beaches. Even its heritage center is beautiful.
Puerto Rico is a melting pot of cultures, including Spanish, African, and indigenous peoples. The food and rum are delicious, and the island has an active nightlife.
Turks and Caicos
This is actually a collection of 30 islands and cays. Only 8 of them are inhabited.
Go to Providenciales, the main island, if you want to stay in civilization. It’s full of cocktail bars, restaurants, and luxury boltholes.
The other islands are worth visiting as well. Grand Turk is full of history and a great diving destination. Middle Caicos has the largest cave network in the Caribbean.
All of Turks and Caicos is beautiful, but its sands aren’t only white. Breaks from one of the largest coral barrier reef systems in the world make some of them pink or peach.
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This island is also known as the culinary capital of the Caribbean. You can sample dishes such as conch critters or whelk soup or go to an open-air lolo to get fresh fish and barbecued meat. There are also beautiful beaches to relax on with reefs and shipwrecks to dive down to.
This island has 33 beaches and offshore cays. It’s another great dining spot full of beach shacks, food trucks, and local restaurants. Straw Hat and Jacala have even won awards.
Anguilla may be full of life, but even its uninhabited areas are worth visiting. Two of its islands, known as Prickly Pear Cay, are six miles away from the mainland. They’re a secret snorkeling haven full of marine life and a beach bar that offers fresh fish and cocktails.
Anguilla’s Heritage Trail will guide you through its history, stopping at ancient Arawak Amerindian sites. You can also visit the Heritage Collection Museum.
This island may be known for its sailing but it also has 365 beaches. All of them are publicly accessible, meaning you can visit a new one every day. It has historical sites such as Nelson’s Graveyard, and Betty’s Hope sugar plantation. It’s fairly affordable, and the Antigua Donkey Sanctuary will let you stay there if you volunteer to help them.
The US and British Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands are the perfect place to enjoy nature. St. Thomas is the hub of it all and, like Puerto Rico, requires no passport for Americans. It has beautiful beaches fit for snorkeling, and Magens Bay frequently ranks as the best in the world. St. John is great for hiking and seeing waterfalls.
The British Virgin Islands are made up of four main islands and 60 smaller islands and clays. Norman Island is beautiful and allegedly inspired the story of Treasure Island. You can also hike up The Baths on Virgin Gorda, see the beauty of The Baths National Park, or go paddleboarding and snorkeling at Monkey Point. Try delicious food such as roti and lobster.
You’ll have your eyes blown by the gorgeous views on this island. It’s got beaches, coves, rainforests, and more.
You can also take an adventure through the beautiful landscape. Hike to the Seven Sisters waterfall in Grand Etang National Park or visit the world’s first underwater sculpture park.
You can also return to civilization when you’re done admiring the island. St. George’s Market Square is the place to find local food and souvenirs. Go to Grenada National Museum to educate yourself on the history of the island. Go to the House of Chocolate if your sweet tooth is acting up. Get the best view of the city from Fort George.
This is one of the best Caribbean islands for nature park lovers. Over 70% of its area is protected territory. It also has plenty of marine parks with white, gold, and black beaches. This makes it great for wildlife spotting and scuba diving. It’s also a lesser-known island that isn’t crowded by tourists.
This popular island is technically in the Atlantic Ocean and not the Caribbean, but it’s still considered a Caribbean island. It also manages to provide enough attractions for any visitor.
Its natural wonders include Harrison’s Cave, the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, Hunte’s Garden, and the Flower Forest. Its sands include Crane, Miami, Bath, and Bathsheba Beach.
Get a closer look at marine life by taking a dive on the Nemo with Atlantis Submarines or the Action Charters catamaran cruises. The island has historical buildings such as St. Nicholas Abbey, The Sunbury Plantation House, and The Morgan Lewis Windmill.
Go to Oistins Fish Fry or go on a Lickrish Walking Food Tour to taste the local cuisine. You won’t be able to mistake the sound of calypso music all around you.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
This collection of 32 islands is a unique experience for every traveler. The largest is St. Vincent, and its capital is Kingstown. It’s a port city with a botanic garden and a market full of fresh fish and produce. You can also sail to the other islands to go diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, or even golfing.
Have you been to any of the Caribbean islands? Let us know in the comments below.