It’s a difficult job to make list on the best places to visit in the Caribbean because it is an incredible array of more than 700 islands, smaller islets and cays that lie in the Caribbean Sea or bordering both the Caribbean Sea as well as the Northern part of Atlantic Ocean. There are too many beautiful places to choose from.
Many times people lump all these islands together under one single umbrella of beautiful places with great beaches. But, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The Caribbean is made up of incredibly diverse and unique nations as well as islands that are part of other nations. The diversity in food, culture, history, and topography along with the common features of beautiful beaches lined by blue waters makes it one of the best places on Earth for travelers.
We have taken upon ourselves the difficult task of making up a list of the best places to visit in the Caribbean according to our own experiences in these places, ease of access, things to do, uniqueness and budget and compiled the places in such a way that ticks many boxes and appeals travelers of all strata.
First on our list of best places to visit in the Caribbean is Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia is absolutely packed with topographical features that you would never imagine to see in one place, let alone in an island which is just 612 sq. kms in area. This sovereign nation in the Eastern Caribbean Sea is a part of volcanic islands known as Lesser Antilles. Hence you can see volcanic mountains here, lush green tropical rainforest and absolutely stunning coastline along with coral reefs making it a water lover’s paradise.
Saint Lucia is more mountainous than most other parts of the Caribbean and these mountains form a large part of why it is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. Mount Gimie rises to 950 meters above sea level, the highest in the island and is covered with rainforest while two pointy mountains called as Pitons covered with lush green forests swoop down to the Caribbean Sea making it seem like they arose right from the deep blue waters. You can go hiking in these mountains or take an adrenaline pumping zip line cruising through the forests. You can also see stunning varieties of birds in the forests.
Saint Lucia offers upscale hotels and resorts for anyone looking for a taste of Caribbean luxury. Take a cruise or a boat ride around the island watching the magnificent Pitons rise from the sea, lounge on the dreamy beaches of Anse Cochon, Anse Chastanet or Sugar Beach or take a relaxing tour to Sulphur Springs. Saint Lucia has something in store for everyone.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos is a peace lover’s paradise. The people are laid back and friendly, the beaches are absolutely beautiful, the waters are famous for snorkeling and scuba diving and there are so many islands and beaches that have very few crowd, so much so that it can at times feel like your personal discovery. It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
The Turks are the smaller islands while the Caicos are the larger islands that make up a part of the Lucayan Archipelago and are collectively known as TCI (Turk and Caicos Islands). The capital city is Cockburn Town where you can visit the Grand Turk Cruise Center, the National Museum and the Lighthouse.
However, the most famous attraction in Turks and Caicos is the island of Providenciales or famously named as Provo. The soft, white sandy beaches lined with turquoise waters are the major attractions of Provo with Grace Bay Beach being one of the most famous beaches in the world. The island has upscale and super luxurious (and also super expensive) hotels and resorts as well as all inclusive ones. It is also famous for kayaking, kite boarding, jet skiing and many other water sports.
But it’s not all tourist filled uber luxurious resorts and villas, you can also venture to sparsely habituated islands and explore the surroundings all by yourself. All these magnificent beaches along with the relaxing and easy going vibe of the island makes Turks and Caicos one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
Jamaica is perhaps one of the most widely known names among all the places in the Caribbean and for good reason. This sovereign nation is the third largest island in all of the Caribbean offering you more space and more places to visit than other smaller islands. The music, the food, the beauty is laced in every corner of Jamaica making it one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
In the small town of Negril is Jamaica’s most famous “Seven Mile Beach” which infact isn’t 7 miles long but only 4. But the mere stats of the beach will be the last thing you will think about here as the sight of the turquoise waters gently caressing the sand will overtake any other thought. Some sections of the beach are reserved by the private resorts and hotels while most of it is free for anyone.
Owing to it’s larger size as compared to other islands in the Caribbean, Jamaica has loads of other activities to offer than just beaches. Waterfall seeing is one of them. The nation is absolutely loaded with beautiful waterfalls like Mayfield Falls, Reach Falls, YS Falls and Dunn’s River Falls. The waterfalls aren’t strictly limited to just sight seeing as you can climb the limestone boulders against the current of the waterfalls.
You can also visit the Bob Marley Museum or take a hike up the stunning Blue Mountain Peak and if that doesn’t satiate your adrenaline hunger you can also try cliff jumping off Rick’s Café.
After all the exploring, hiking and eating you may want to end the day by visiting Appleton Rum Estate which happens to be the oldest and also the largest distillery in the country.
For me, all the beaches, food, the ever uplifting tune of reggae music and the taste of Rare Blend Jamaican Rum aged for 12 years made Jamaica one of the best places to visit in Caribbean.
When you look at the nation of Grenada from the air, it looks like a beautiful postcard or a really well done painting straight from a child’s imagination: green hills, brightly colored roofs of buildings and the signature coastline lined by deep blue water. When you land on Grenada you can smell the nutmeg here which is only fitting as it is called “The Spice of the Caribbean”.
Saint George’s is the capital of Grenada and unlike so many of other towns in this list that we have talked about, St. George’s isn’t heavily commercialized. Zo if you are looking for something that isn’t touristy, this is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. You can visit the Fort George here and discover more of Grenada’s colonial past. Along the inner harbor in St. George you get to walk along the paved paths in The Carenage seeing boats and ships in the water.
Towards North of the capital is Molinière Bay which has dive shops that organize diving and snorkeling trips to the Underwater Sculpture Park. The park consists of statues of children in a circle encircling a man sitting on a desk and was commissioned as a memorial for all the people who died during slave trade days.
Sandy Island is famous with snorkeling enthusiasts and beaches like Levera Beach, Anse la Roche, Paradise Beach are perfect places for laying around doing nothing and taking in all the beauty of the Caribbean. However, if you want to do some exploring you have Belmont Estate which grows cocoa, cloves, cinnamon and of course nutmeg. Similarly, River Antoine Rum Distillery and Nutmeg Processing Cooperative on Gouyave are also major attractions for people looking to discover the plantations here in the spice hub of the Caribbean.
This laid back, slow paced picturesque island is definitely one of the best places to visit in Caribbean.
If the name sounds French to you, wait until you discover the island and you will realize that the French connection goes much deeper than just the name. Guadeloupe is an archipelago of more than 12 islands and falls under the French overseas department and region in the Caribbean. This connection to geographically distant European country makes up for a diverse and fascinating cultural experience and along with naturally blessed Caribbean topography, it is one of the main reasons why Guadeloupe is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
The archipelago makes a part of the Lesser Antilles and is made up of mostly unhabituated islands. Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre are two of the largest unhabituated islands and form what appears like two wings of a butterfly in satellite images. The overall theme of diversity continues, quite astoundingly, in the topography as well as the weather in these two islands.
Basse-Terre is translated as “low land” but it is anything but low. Basse-Terre is made up of mountains, volcanoes covered with lush green forests and waterfalls. This is where the hiking lovers come. The center of this island is made up of National Park of Guadeloupe where you can climb the La Soufrière volcano. Hiking to one of three waterfalls in Chu tes Du Carbet is also a way of exploring Caribbean lands which aren’t beaches. Guadeloupe’s zoo Parc des Mamelles also lies here. For people who love a bit more challenging walks along in thick jungkes, this is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
Across the bridge over the Riviera Sallee lies the other part of the butterfly’s wing, Grande-Terre which is flatter apart from the central “Grand Forts”. Here you can relax in the beaches like Saint Anne and Caravelle beach and also taste the local rum made up of sugar and cane instead of the regular molasses.
Extremely diverse in food, culture as well as geography and filled with incredible sights, Guadeloupe is one of the best places to visit in Caribbean.
One of the few Caribbean nations that don’t have volcanic origins and are comparatively flat but continue the geographic theme of having breath taking beaches is Barbados. Barbados has it all and unlike few other places in this list, it is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean for people who are on a tighter budget.
Barbados is synonyms with it’s beaches and this island nation offers you the best of both worlds. The beaches along the Northern side are great for surfing as they have higher and wilder waves while the ones on the Western side are great for lounging, diving and other relaxing activities. Brownes beach, Crane Beach, Bottom Bay beach, Silver Sands beach are all very popular. These offer activities like kite boarding and windsurfing too.
The capital town of Bridgetown is perfect for a calm walk and sights seeing. It has the Parliament buildings, National Heroes Square, Chamberlain Bridge and also the Barbados Museum. There are also various caves like Harrison’s Cave and Animal Flower Cave where you might catch a fleeting glance of a humpback whale. The incredible wildlife here can be seen at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve.
Barbados is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean for people looking to get a wholesale experience of the Caribbean without having to spend a lot of money.
Lying in the western part of Caribbean Sea, Cayman islands are one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean for adventure seekers because of it’s topographic makeup, wide variety of marine life and the best diving opportunities in the whole of Caribbean.
Grand Cayman is the largest of the three islands that make up Cayman Islands and also the most popular among tourists. Unlike many places in this list, Grand Cayman will seem more “urban” and less like your typical Caribbean tourist site. It’s a good change for people on island hopping travel across the Caribbean or for people who don’t like to be too out there in their travels.
You can visit Georgetown which is the capital of the islands whose port is quite busy with tourists arriving and leaving on cruises. Cayman Turtle Centre, Starfish Point, Queen Elizabeth II Botanical Park are places where you can see the natural side of the Cayman Islands. One such incredibly popular destination where nature and humans meet is the low sandbar series in the North of Grand Cayman known as Stingray City. Here you can dive into the shallow waters and interact with Stingrays.
Cayman Barc and Little Cayman make up the rest of the islands are less crowded and more intimate than Grand Cayman. Hiking, horse riding, cave exploration and specially diving are the activities you wouldn’t want to miss here.
Cayman Islands is one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean for people who want to get the taste of real Caribbean experience but aren’t willing to go too much out of their cultural and urban comfort zone.
Hidden beaches, museums, caves, incredible spots for snorkeling and gastronomical and art scenes to keep you hooked make this island one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean. Curaçao also has one of the best coral reefs with incredible marine life in the region. The capital Willemstad has incredible colonial era architecture and feels like a proper town with packed neighborhoods and factories.
Visit the natural swimming pools near Bushiribana Ruins, feed pink flamingos in the in the private island of Renaissance, snorkel in Magel Haltoor or do absolutely nothing other than lounging in the white beaches of Baby Beach and Rodgers Beach. Aruba has something for everyone which makes it one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.
The natural wildlife of the Bahamas can be seen up close and personal in the Garden of the Groves which is an ecological friendly state spread across an area of 12 acres. It is home to a variety of species of plants, various species of birds, alligators that live around the many lakes inside this estate. The Lucayan National Park also boasts the largest underwater cave system made out if limestone in the entire world. Nearby is the Port Lucayan Marketplace where you can buy local handicrafts and also taste local cuisine.
Albeit slightly expensive the boat tour to Pig Beach in Big Major Cay provides you with one of life’s most astounding sights: pigs swimming in the greenish blue waters of the Caribbean! And you could join them too! John Watling’s Distillery is a great place to try the local rum.
All these incredible sights along with the mesmerizing beaches makes The Bahamas one of the best places to visit in the Caribbean.