Based on user votes and expert insights, plus factors like accessibility to beaches, tourist sites and comfortable accommodations, U.S. News complied the list below to help you choose your next Caribbean getaway.
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1. British Virgin Islands
Why go: “Posh” is the best word to describe the British Virgin Islands. The shoreline at Cane Garden Bay is particularly picturesque and The Baths are mystifying. Infused with refined British culture, this archipelago is the epitome of Caribbean luxury.
2. St. Lucia
Why go: This island’s got it all: sprawling chalk-colored beaches, towering mountains and upscale resorts. Start your day with a hike through the Piton Mountains, soak up some midday sun along Reduit Beach and watch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea.
3. U.S. Virgin Islands
Why go: Spring is the time to enjoy the U.S. Virgin Islands, particularly in late April when the boisterous Carnival season in St. Thomas gets underway. You can still enjoy the unspoiled beauty of a St. John beach or historic trivia on a St. Croix plantation tour at any time of year.
4. Cayman Islands
Why go: One of the most scenic spots in the Caribbean (and home to some of the world’s best beaches), the Cayman Islands offer premier diving sites. This archipelago features some great hotel deals, so you can enjoy the white beaches and clear waters while sticking to a budget.
5. Turks & Caicos
Why go: Turks & Caicos offers some of the most stunning white beaches in the Caribbean, including Grace Bay. These islands make a wonderful retreat for those who seek maximum comfort in a tropical setting, though, hotel prices can be higher than on other islands.
Why go: As one of the ABC islands (along with Aruba and Bonaire), Curacao sits outside the hurricane belt, meaning you’ll find pleasant weather year-round. That factor, along with the island’s notable coral reefs, makes Curacao a top spot for divers and snorkelers.
7. St. Kitts & Nevis
Why go: St. Kitts earns its approval in part from the soft sands and buzzing nightlife of Frigate Beach, plus its reputation for excellent festivals. When you need a break from the action, just hop on a quick ferry to the quieter island of Nevis.
Why go: While you’ll certainly find the standard Caribbean staples – sandy beaches, verdant golf courses and palatial resorts – Barbados offers a distinctly unique flair. Here, you can sample bittersweet Mount Gay Rum, attend a horse race and dance to a calypso tune.
Why go: Culture hounds, architecture buffs and amateur historians will find plenty in Havana. Though it’s not as easily accessible as its neighbors, the island’s cultural offerings are unparalleled. Plus, if you’re craving a little beach time, just head east of the city to Playas de Este.
10. St. Martin – St. Maarten
Why go: You’ll find first-rate beaches and plenty of activity on St. Martin-St. Maarten, as well as an assortment of hotel options and vacation rentals for all budgets. This is a great island for foodies; consider having lunch at one of the lolos located along the shore.
11. St. Vincent & The Grenadines
Why go: Comprising 32 islands, St. Vincent & The Grenadines has something to offer every traveler. Enjoy time on the biggest island of St. Vincent, but be sure to hop on a boat and sail between the many other remote land masses for diving, snorkeling and exploring opportunities.
12. St. Barts
Why go: Khaki-colored beaches separate the island’s hilly landscape from the turquoise waters. Just be prepared to splurge: St. Barts is for the well-heeled, beckoning to the elite with secluded resorts offering upscale amenities. Score some good deals by planning well in advance.
Why go: The bright colors of St. George’s harbor in Grenada offer a view well worth enjoying. But don’t stay in one spot for too long – Grenada has 45 beaches along its shores to choose from, including the popular 2-mile Grand Anse beach.
Why go: These well-liked islands cater to families, groups and even couples with their variety of beaches and water sports activities. Plus, travelers can easily find flight deals and discounted room rates for this Caribbean hot spot.
Why go: Jamaica has long been a go-to destination for experiencing a lively Caribbean culture, not to mention (relatively) affordable airfare and hotel rates. The all-inclusive resorts appeal to honeymooners and families while activities like hiking the Blue Mountains draw adventure seekers.
Why go: Bonaire is often lauded as a “diver’s paradise,” thanks to its clear blue waters packed with colorful sea creatures. Scuba divers and snorkelers can see all sorts of fish while beach dwellers can enjoy the island’s soft sands year-round.
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