8 BEST CARIBBEAN ISLANDS
We’ve cherry-picked the 8 best Caribbean Islands so you can find the perfect escape for you, better still, their tropical year-round temperatures means the islands are perfect for winter sun holidays, too. Brilliant blue skies, swaying palms and soft white sands are what make these far-flung destinations so dreamy and if you haven’t considered these shores before, then now’s the time to discover your Caribbean crush.
With glamorous resorts, palm-fringed private beaches and dazzling yachts dotted around its 700 islands, you’re bound to feel like James Bond on holidays in Bahamas. The capital of Nassau (or nearby Cable Beach resort) in New Providence is the most visited island, but if you’re all about sparkling surf and scuba diving then Freeport on Grand Bahama is the spot for you. The Out Islands offer away-from-it-all bliss, particularly when you’re making a splash on iconic Pig Beach in Exuma, but beyond the beaches there are legions of activities including fantastic golf fairways, underwater caves, lush natural parks and fantastic nightlife to look forward to.
Want to sink your toes into one of the most beautiful beaches in the world? Head to Harbour Island's Pink Sand Beach and let its blush-coloured sands blow you away!
Cuba has so much personality beyond its gorgeous talcum powder beaches, that you’ll almost feel like time spent lazing on luxury sands is time wasted! While Varadero is the go-to resort for gorgeous beach holidays, a day trip to the enchanting capital of Havana really mustn’t be missed. Watch the 1950’s American classic cars cruise past the crumbling rainbow houses of Old Havana, flock to Floridita cocktail bar for a Daiquiri or make the most of the city’s dynamic music scene with a little late-night salsa.
The Dominican Republic exudes natural beauty, with swaying palms that lean over soft sands and tropical rainforests that hum with life. Puerto Plata and Punta Cana are popular resorts for beach lovers, with gorgeous swathes of sand that are dotted with beach bars, shops and palm-leaved parasols. There are plenty of activities out to sea too, with colourful coral reefs and ancient wreckages to dive, alongside a full menu of watersports. If you can drag yourself away from the sun-drenched Coconut Coast, there are lashings of activities and exciting excursions to try. Head into the tick of the jungle and trek through the mangroves, visit a marine park known for breeding dolphins or go on a boat trip and explore the three nearby islands – Cayo Paraiso, Isla Saona and Isla Catalina during your Dominican Republic holidays.
If you’re all about adventure, St. Lucia should be your first stop. This tropical treasure serves up plenty more than golden sweeps of sand, with souring volcanic peaks, lush rainforests and exotic botanical gardens to marvel over. Jutting out from the sapphire blue sea is the iconic twin Piton volcanoes – a perfect photograph opportunity. Better still, if you want to experience these famous landmarks up close, you can now drive through the middle. Mountains, rivers and multi-coloured waterfalls make up the rest of the landscape, but if you’re interested in an exotic excursion, the Sulphur Springs and mud baths in Soufriere are an experience you’ll never forget. When you’re not stepping off the beaten track, St. Lucia holidays serve up luxury resorts, boutique hideaways, glittering marinas and candy-coloured villages – a Caribbean getaway with a side order of style.
Read our destination guide to St Lucia for tips on where to stay and what to see.
Crowned as one of the most popular Caribbean Islands, Barbados is celebrated for its Platinum Coast, where long blonde beaches are met by tall swaying palms. St James and St Peter are popular beach resorts on the west of the island, while party-central St Lawrence Gap in Christ Church is where rum shacks and reggae bars make a lively lineup. If you want to swap the coast for a little culture, the UNESCO-listed capital of Bridgetown is where you’ll find fine examples of Bajan history, from museums and barracks to parliament buildings – try and squeeze in some shopping time at Broad Street too. With beautiful gardens (don’t miss Hunte’s Gardens), pretty sugar cane plantations and spectacular caves to explore, you’re Barbados holidays are sure to blow you away.
If you’re looking for feel-good vibes, you won’t find a more laid-back island than Jamaica. Here the jerk chicken, reggae and rum are on tap and the classic Caribbean beaches are spilling with attractions. If you’re interested in the island’s history, the bustling streets of Kingston are jam-packed with colonial buildings and museums that tell tales of the past, but you’ll also find age-old mansions and plantations dotted around too. Searching for active days away from the sand? The beautiful bright Blue Lagoon is an enchanting spot or grab your walking boots and climb Dunn’s River Falls or the Blue Mountains instead. Jamaica is a great option for couples getaways or fun-loving family holidays.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale on your holidays in Antigua, where two-tone waters and vibrant green forests frame the island’s gleaming white-sand beaches. It may be smaller and lesser-known than other Caribbean Islands, but Antigua certainly has a lot to shout about. Dickenson Bay and Jolly Harbour are known for being the best sandy spots on the turquoise coast and are a great choice if you’re looking for an easygoing beach holiday away from the hustle and bustle. Or if you want to get to grips with the island’s history, the English Harbour is where you’ll find Nelson’s Dockyard and can explore the sunken shipwreck at Galleon Beach. Hiking enthusiasts can head for the hills, as The Shirely Heights clifftop nature trail offers the best views over the dockyard and harbour - so don’t forget your camera.
Puerto Rico is the party island of the Caribbean with bouncing beaches, trendy backstreet bars and sprightly sands. Old San Juan is one of the most attractive urban spots with plenty of entertainment during the day and night. Isla Verde beach is a fantastic spot to lay your towel down on and there are watersports available for those that fancy cooling off - the luxury hotels that edge this sandy stretch are perfect if you don’t like to be too far from the beach, too. The town’s cobbled streets are lined with pastel-coloured colonial buildings and Art Nouveau architecture, not to mention a spectacular variety of restaurants and bars. While outside of the capital, take the opportunity to hike, climb or kayak through the rainforest or explore the underground Indio Caves.