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Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean

March 5, 2024 | The Aerial, BVI

The Caribbean Sea is full of spectacular destinations that adventurers should visit at least once in their lifetime (and preferably more!). Each island boasts natural wonders and many also feature historical sites that provide a window into the influences that have made the Caribbean islands what they are today.

The Caribbean destinations that have been selected for this list are of special interest due to their natural beauty, tourist amenities, and cultural or historical offerings. The most frequented Caribbean destinations are often selected by travelers due to their proximity to the United States. However, it’s worth considering other islands as well, as you can often find hidden gems and stunning beaches with fewer tourists competing for space.

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are sister islands located in the northeast Caribbean. Antigua is especially attractive to English-speaking tourists because it is the largest English-speaking island in the Leeward Island group.

Antigua has both natural and man-made points of interest that are highly recommended for visitors:

  • Half Moon Bay is considered to be one of the best beaches in the Caribbean and is a short 5-minute drive from Freetown. Its colorful reefs and coral gardens are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and body surfing, and the beach itself offers picturesque forested headlands and palm trees that provide a beautiful view when walking along the sand.
  • Nelson’s Dockyard is the only continuously working Georgian Era dockyard in the world and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Public and private tours are available for visitors and sailing enthusiasts can also moor in the dock and take advantage of the modern amenities (electricity, internet, restrooms, and a supermarket) that are provided on-site.

Barbuda is a smaller island located 27 miles northeast of Antigua that is accessible via a 15-minute plane ride. Nature lovers may be interested in visiting the Frigate Bird Sanctuary—the largest in the Western Hemisphere—and will also appreciate the island’s pristine 11-mile pink sand beach.

British Virgin Islands top Caribbean place to visit

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are located east of Puerto Rico and boast beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters that are ideal for watersports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, kitesurfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. The main islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke, and there are another fifty or so islands and cays.

There are several places of interest in the BVI to visit during your stay:

  • The Baths, Virgin Gorda, consist of a collection of huge granite boulders that form hidden rock pools. This national park has bathrooms and lockers for visitors’ convenience.
  • Devil’s Bay is accessible from The Baths via a short hiking trail. You can also access the beach by crawling and climbing through the granite rocks. This exquisite bay—ideal for snorkeling—is much more secluded than The Baths. Please note that it does not have any amenities.
  • The Aerial, BVI is our luxury health and wellness resort that is located just off the coast of Tortola. Cruise visitors can come for the day and enjoy a nutritious island-to-table lunch, watersports, and access to the tribal beach gym. Visitors to the BVI can also book an all-inclusive stay featuring personalized health and wellness activities or attend one of the transformative Elevate Summits that are held throughout the year.
United States Virgin Islands

United States Virgin Islands

The United States Virgin Islands are just south of the British Virgin Islands and are so named because they are an unincorporated territory of the United States, whereas the British Virgin Islands are a British Overseas Territory. The USVI consists of three main islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. There are also several small islands and cays.

The following are a couple of the most popular places to visit in the USVI:

  • The U.S. Virgin Islands National Park on St. John features historic sugar mills, rock carvings, hiking trails, and underwater sea gardens. Trunk Bay is one of the most beautiful places for snorkeling in the national park.
  • The sugar mills, plantation houses, and rum distilleries on St. Croix are of special historic interest and are highly recommended for visitors who want to learn about the colonial history of these Caribbean islands.

Tip: Our article on the USVI vs BVI provides a more detailed exploration of both island groups along with their similarities and differences.

St Lucia top rated place to visit in Caribbean

St. Lucia

St. Lucia is perhaps the best Caribbean island for honeymooners and is one of the best Caribbean vacation spots for romantic trips in general thanks to its stunning scenery and luxurious resorts, some of which even have private plunge pools. The island lies in the Windward group of the Lesser Antilles and is popular with cruise visitors for its art galleries, fresh produce, duty-free shopping pavilions, and coral reefs.

These are a few of the must-visit destinations in St. Lucia:

  • The Pitons—Gros Piton and Petit Piton are tremendous rock pinnacles that rise from the sea. Boiling sulfur springs can be found in the crater of a volcano near Petit Piton.
  • The Soufrière Marine Management Area is a fishing-free area that is filled with colorful fish and unspoiled coral reefs. Diving, snorkeling, and glass-bottom boat tours are available for tourists.
  • Rodney Bay Marina is a popular mooring spot for charter yachts making their way south to the Grenadines. Visitors will find waterfront restaurants, shops, and island activities at the marina.
Cayman Islands

Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are located northwest of Jamaica and are part of an underwater mountain range that stretches from Belize to Cuba. This island group consists of three main islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Like the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands are a British Overseas Territory.

The following are some of the must-visit destinations in the Cayman Islands:

  • George Town is the capital of Grand Cayman and is a lively city center with a famous National Gallery, the Cayman Islands National Museum, historic sites, and artisan jewelry and antiques for sale.
  • Boatswain’s Beach is a popular destination for families. This site has an interactive marine park with coral reefs, shark exhibits, and a snorkel lagoon, as well as the famous Cayman Turtle Farm and Stingray City.
  • Seven Mile Beach is a crescent-shaped coral-sand beach located on the western end of Grand Cayman that has around six miles of walkable sand. The beach is where most of the island’s hotels and resorts are located and many of the resorts have restaurants that are open to the public. Seven Mile Beach was awarded “The Caribbean’s Best Beach” by the Caribbean Travel and Life Magazine in 2015.
  • Cayman Brac is a small island that features hiking trails, almost 200 bird species, and the only Russian warship in the Western Hemisphere that is dive-accessible.
  • Little Cayman is located five miles from Cayman Brac and is popular for bonefishing and diving sites, including wrecks and over 50 walls.
The Bahamas

The Bahamas

The Bahamas are some of the best Caribbean islands for U.S. visitors because of their proximity to Florida. The 700 or so islands (16 major islands) that make up this island group are located only 50 miles off the coast of Florida and can be accessed by ferry or plane—you can even go there for a day trip!

These are some of the best places to visit in The Bahamas:

  • Grand Bahama Island is the headquarters of the Underwater Explorers Society and is a popular spot for scuba diving.
  • Freeport/Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island is known for its golf courses, including golf courses designed by Joe Lee, Dick Wilson, and Robert Trent Jones Jr.
  • The Lucayan National Park is known for its wildlife, including red-legged thrushes, the Bahama parrot, and flamingos.
  • Andros is a nature paradise with lakes, freshwater creeks, mangrove swamps, pristine beaches, the second-largest reef in the Western Hemisphere, and fishing for bonefish.
  • Pig Beach is located on Big Major Cay in the Exumas, a group of 365 cays in The Bahamas. The main point of interest on this cay is the pigs that live on the island and swim in the water with visitors.
Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos

Turks and Caicos consist of a small tropical archipelago just south of The Bahamas. They are a British Overseas Territory just like the BVI. Most of the population lives on South Caicos, Providenciales (known as Provo), and Grand Turk—although there are six main islands in the Caicos group and several cays in both island groups.

Special places of interest in Turks and Caicos include:

  • Dive walls off the Turks that are ideal for underwater exploration.
  • Grace Bay in Providenciales (Provo) is a spectacular 12-mile beach that is extremely popular with tourists.
  • Conch Bar on Middle Caicos has a labyrinth of caves with limestone formations and bats that visitors can explore with a local guide.
  • Grand Turk is home to the Turks and Caicos National Museum and several restored churches that are open for tours.
  • Salt Cay is a prime viewing spot for humpback whales from January through March.
ABC Islands

ABC Islands

The ABC islands consist of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao—the three westernmost islands in the Leeward Antilles. Aruba and Curaçao are constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.

These are some of the best places to visit in the ABC islands:

  • Willemstad is the capital city of Curaçao and its Historic Area is a UNESCO protected heritage site. Visitors can appreciate three centuries of colonial architecture and development with significant town planning and regional adaptations.
  • Playa Forti on Curaçao is a go-to spot for cliff jumping and also features a snack bar and a restaurant.
  • Bonaire National Marine Park consists of 6700 hectares of protected waters with 85 distinct dive sites. Many of these dive sites are accessible from the shore.
  • Oranjestad and Palm Beach in Aruba are resort areas that are popular for their party vibe and nightlife, including lounges, clubs, and piano bars.

The Caribbean Is a Wonderland to Explore

We have touched on the tip of the iceberg as far as the best places to visit in the Caribbean. However, many other Caribbean destinations are just as spectacular.

Most of the top tourism destinations in the Caribbean Sea offer coral reefs, crystal clear waters, hiking trails, historic sites, and recreational destinations to explore. Once you get to know some of these delightful places, you’ll want to go back again and again!