The islands of the Caribbean are prime destinations for those who daydream of tropical paradise, with 25 million visitors annually. The Caribbean has cultural variety, warm breezes and azure seas, and will challenge you to decide which islands to discover for therapeutic sunshine, sand and surf.
Of course, some islands are inexpensive and family-friendly areas, while others include all-inclusive or upscale resorts; however, the perfect island vacation awaits everyone in the Caribbean. This article will recommend the best places to visit, in no particular order, and provide information to help you cement your Islands of the Caribbean vacation plans.
Aruba – Sugary White Sand and Endless Snorkeling
Aruba boasts perfect weather and sugary white sand beaches circling the island. The beaches are pristine and the waters shallow, warm and clear. Snorkelers and divers will revel in unique coral reefs, shipwrecks and plane wrecks just offshore, including the massive Antilla shipwreck.
Arubans are warm and welcoming, often speaking several languages to easily converse with visitors. Fun opportunities exist to explore Arikok National Park, a large nature preserve, and other Aruban countryside. In town, discover the colorful local boutiques, and after sundown, visit the casinos for nightly entertainment.
Pricing: Varies per accommodations, hotels and resorts, private rentals and all-inclusive deals available. January to March is high season when prices soar.
Best for: Couples, snorkelers, divers.
Dominican Republic – All-Inclusive Haven on a Budget
Dreaming of the islands of the Caribbean, but cost seems prohibitive? Look to the Dominican Republic for welcome relief. The island draws more visitors than any of the other Caribbean Islands, and for good reason. Punta Cana has beautiful sandy beaches, aqua waters filled with colorful tropical fish, and all-inclusive resorts featuring activities, food and beverages. Time to relax and soak it all in.
History buffs love the Dominican Republic as well. It offers Spanish colonial history, and tells the story of Christopher Columbus landing there in 1492.
Best for: Budget vacations and families.
Cuba – The Island that Time Forgot
Recent relaxations are making Cuban travel available for U.S. citizens. Steeped in culture and history, Cuba is a melting-pot, most notably of Spanish and African people. You will find 1950s-era cars, shabby chic Spanish-colonial architecture, and well-preserved traditions. Still, a thriving medical tourism trade proves it has moved on to the 21st century.
Also rich in natural resources, Cuba has rolling tobacco fields, urban cities, colonial villages and stretches of alabaster beaches. Salsa and rumba music emanates from dance clubs, and friendly Cubans are anxious to meet visitors.
Pricing: Expensive, due to recent travel relaxations.
Best For: History Buffs.
Puerto Rico – No Passport Required
As U.S. territory, no passport is needed to visit Puerto Rico, one of the Islands of the Caribbean that offers a wealth of diverse experiences. The landscape features mountains and waterfalls and even a tropical rainforest. San Juan is the largest city and offers beach bars and casinos, along with the Old San Juan area filled with colorful Spanish colonial architecture and two massive fortresses.
Flights to Puerto Rico are inexpensive and quick, and accommodations range from backpacker’s hostels to luxurious resorts. Try the local cuisine, like alcapurrias, mofongo, and bacalaitos. You will love it.
Pricing: Varies depending on accommodations.
Best For: Culture and history buffs.
Bahamas – Great diving, Casinos, and Hhoneymooners
The Bahamas consists of 700 islands atop an archipelago of coral. In the Atlantic Ocean and just 50 miles off the coast of Florida, the Bahamas is easy and quick to get to by boat or airplane. That is one of the reasons it sees so many visitors from the U.S. annually. Additionally, the Bahamas offers great diving and snorkeling sites, beautiful resorts, endless beaches, water sports and the huge Atlantis casino.
What many don’t realize is the exciting history of these islands, from Columbus to famed pirates like Blackbeard.
Best For: Honeymooners, families, adventure seekers.
Bermuda – Blending British and American Culture
One of the smaller of the islands of the Caribbean, Bermuda nonetheless has lots to offer tourists in the way of history and charm. The British territory of Bermuda is well-known for shipwreck diving, deep-sea fishing and cliff jumping, as well as historic forts and pink-sand beaches at Horseshoe Bay and Elbow Beach.
The distinctive American/British cultural blend is seen all over the island, but especially in the capital city of Hamilton. Here you’ll find vibrant and colorful neighborhoods, even more colorful clothing and delicious seafood and chowders.
Pricing: Definitely not for the budget-minded.
Best For: Luxurious vacations.
U.S. Virgin Islands – Get Away from it All
The U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of four distinct Islands of the Caribbean – Water Island, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. Each of the islands has unique qualities that make it worth visiting. Water Island has no stores, no cars and only about 200 residents. St. John’s is about half filled with national park lands, and the views and beaches are pristine. St. Croix offers the history of the islands on the Heritage Trail and protected sea turtles. St. Thomas offers Magens Bay which is shallow and warm, and a beautiful capital city.
Because it’s technically a part of the U.S., no passport is needed, no plug adapters, and no roaming charges on major carriers.
Pricing: Varies, with accommodations at all levels.
Best For: Couples and Getaway Vacations.
Summing Things Up
Hopefully, you are already thinking about what to pack for your amazing Caribbean Island vacation and deciding which of the Islands of the Caribbean you will visit on this trip. Each one of them offers so much that is unique, you really must see them all. From the laid back vibe of the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands to the amazing culture of Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Cuba, there is something exciting and fun to see and do every day, and every night. Which island are you headed to first?
Images taken from depositphotos.com.