The Caribbean exudes its charm worldwide and is often compared to paradise. Everyone immediately has dreamy beaches, joie de vivre and exotic cocktails in mind when they think of the Caribbean islands. Some places in the Caribbean are better known, but there are also a few unknown treasures. In this article, you will see our top 12 Caribbean Islands and destinations and also some of our favorite resorts for a luxury winter getaway, family summer holiday, honeymoon, familymoon… or a splurge trip! We all need a revenge trip as we emerge from this pandemic!
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Top 12 Caribbean Islands & Resorts
Antigua was the first island vacation we took with Ms. Peachy (she was just 2 or 3 years old and had the time of her life on the white sand beach). Famous for its 365 spectacular beaches, Antigua is one of the Caribbean’s top destinations. There are also a lot of stone churches in Antigua, which indicate an English influence. From the famous Dickenson Bay to the hundreds of secluded coves and white-sand inlets, there is plenty to explore during your Caribbean holiday.
I can’t mention Antigua without also talking about Barbuda. These two islands are separated only by a small gap of the gorgeous blue Caribbean sea. Antigua is the larger of the two islands. A popular destination is the Shirley Heights Lookout, with Falmouth and English Harbours in the foreground and the Montserrat volcano in the distance. Sailors from all over the world meet on Baburda.
Where to stay in Antigua:
A private-island resort six minutes by boat off the coast of Antigua, Jumby Bay is one of the Caribbean’s top luxury, all-inclusive stays, and one of its most environmentally-conscious resorts. The sustainable property is a member of the Oetker Collection, but the properties belong to an association of island homeowners. Highlights are the hawksbill sea turtle preservation program and that every room comes with two bikes(no other type of wheels allowed). At Estate House restaurant located in a former colonial plantation home from 1830, try Italian fare like seafood risotto or roasted butternut ravioli with truffle butter.
Hermitage Bay is a natural paradise – a privately-owned, luxury retreat, all-inclusive, 5-star boutique hotel is located in a perfect bay on the west coast of Antigua. You will find 27 individual suites nestle on the beach and hillside in beautiful tropical gardens and surrounded by 140 acres of lush, undeveloped land. Recline in a plantation chair on the verandah and be transported back to Antigua’s colonial era.
The Bahamas is a rather expensive destination compared to the other places in the Caribbean and Tourism is a very important part of the Bahamas. And one of the highlights of recent years is swimming with pigs. Haven’t you heard about that yet? Then you should definitely read up on it 🙂
Unlike other excursions where people are brought together with animals, this one is also mostly more animal friendly. But still, make sure when booking that the pigs are not overfed 😉 The capital Nassau is also worth a visit! Are you a fan of pirates? Then take a look at the Pirate Museum. And be sure to try a Strawberry Daiquiri!
Where to stay in The Bahamas:
If you like boutique luxury hotels, you will love The Dunmore located steps away from the three mile stretch of pink sand beach in Harbour Island, Bahamas.
The Bahamas was our babymoon destination and we haven’t been back since. Time to plan a familymoon!
Did you know that Belize is officially the only country in Central America where English is spoken? So if you don’t know Spanish, this is the easiest place to communicate 🙂 There are many influences there that can be found in the culture and food. For example, Mayan, Mestizo, East Indian… Speaking of Maya, Belize is considered the epicenter of the ancient Maya World.
Where to stay in Belize:
Turtle Inn is a fantastic collection of 25 elegantly furnished rooms and cottages on the picturesque island of Placencia. The cottages are ideal for families, with plenty of space and traditionally styled interiors, lots of light and big verandahs that open out onto lush tropical gardens. You will also find a pool and a private beach, and a kid’s club with a wide range of activities on offer.
Looking for budget friendly overwater bungalows, you might like the Thatch Caye Resort.
4. British Virgin Islands
In 2017, British Virgin Islands were hit hard by a hurricane (Irma). Since then, there are numerous actions to help the people of the island (and nature) to rebuild. One of these actions is the Seeds of Love Campaign. So plant a tree on your next visit to the British Virgin Islands. With four large islands and 50 smaller isles, there is much to discover in BVI during your Caribbean Island holiday.
The largest of 60 British Virgin Islands and home to the archipelago’s capital, Tortola is the perfect launchpad for an exploration of the waters that have made it the sailing capital of the Caribbean. On Virgin Gorda island you will find the Baths and a labyrinth of beachside boulders. Named for an early Dutch settler and former pirate, Jost Van Dyke has vegetation-covered sugar mill ruins, old trails that crisscross the island and a great place to observe whales and dolphins.
Where to stay in The BVI:
Rosewood Little Dix Bay is situated on one of the Caribbean’s finest shorelines – where gentle blue waters meet the powder-white sands of a stunning half-mile crescent beach. The luxury Caribbean resort is surrounded by the untamed wilderness of Virgin Gorda, an island of volcanic origin featuring rugged hills, quiet coves and unspoiled beaches. The iconic property was founded by Laurance S. Rockefeller over 50 years ago.
Cuba is our absolute favorite and on the top of our list of Caribbean Island Getaways! This country has so much to offer and the highlight is, besides the breathtaking beaches and landscapes, clearly the people of Cuba. Despite their difficult past (and present), they are full of warmth and joie de vivre like no other place in the world. Before your book your trip to Cuba, check out this post about Cuba to make the most of your vacation time. In addition to information on the different seasons and the perfect time to travel, you’ll also find a checklist for your trip and learn more about popular destinations. Cuba is worth a trip all year round.
Where to stay in Cuba:
Located in the heart of Old Havana, and surrounded by the main UNESCO World Heritage buildings, Gran Hotel Manzana is the first luxury hotel in Cuba. With 246 luxurious rooms, including 50 suites, it is a great place to start your Cuba adventures.
After exploring Havana, indulge in the Lobby Bar El Arsenal or enjoy panoramic views and eats at restaurant San Cristobal Restaurant or relax at the rooftop pool. Enjoy a cocktail or smoke a cigar paired with a rum in the cozy tobacco lounge, Evocación.
Curacao is one of the better-known destinations in the Caribbean. And for good reason. The sparkling clear water is breathtakingly beautiful and also perfect for snorkeling, diving and swimming. Curacao is also home to the UNESCO world heritage site of Willemstadt. This city is built in the Dutch colonial architecture style. The colorful houses really fit perfectly into the Caribbean atmosphere. Make sure to cross the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge and just enjoy the day. What we love most about Curacao is that despite its fame, it offers so much space and there are still new corners to discover. So you can find your own place right on the gorgeous Caribbean sea.
Where to stay in Curacao:
This family run boutique hotel, Avila has the island’s original governor’s mansion dating from 1780. The hotel is just a few minute walk away from downtown Willemstad. The hotel is involved in many efforts to contribute to a Sustainable planet Earth and continues to be a reflection of the island of Curacao. The Avila Beach Hotel is a centrally located Historic hotel in Curacao (Dutch Caribbean). and has two private beaches, a beautiful House Reef, an Infinity Pool, Spa, Luxury Gym and great Restaurants & Bars onsite.
Baoase is another great luxury resort in Curacao that is simple yet dazzling with Balinese and Hindu sculptures, idols and statues.
7. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic shares its island with Haiti. In the Dominican Republic people are already rather poor, but in Haiti people are even worse off. Tourism is also hardly represented there, which means that this source of income is additionally missing. Nevertheless, the Dominican Republic is a very popular vacation destination – especially in summer.
In the north, near Semana, tourism has just begun. Here it is still a bit quieter and also the landscapes are more unexplored. You can take tours into the jungle, or go to the small towns and have a nice time with the locals. In the south is Punta Cana is party central where you will find many resorts.
Where to stay in The Dominican Republic
Eden Roc at Cap Cana, Relais & Châteaux property is the most exclusive of the six hotels in the gated Cap Cana Reserve. Some beachfront suites even have kitchens; there stand-alone suites with private pools, gardens, and verandas; and oceanfront villas come with butler service. Perfect for a Caribbean Getaway with the family!
Located on a wildly beautiful stretch of the island’s northern coast, Amanera is remote, and that’s part of the appeal. Like the other Aman resorts, it’s elegant, exudes luxury and yet ecologically sensitive and self-contained. Privacy is paramount since it is frequented by A-listers and celebrities. All the accommodations are located within free-standing casitas scattered along the shoreline cliffs, each boasts unobstructed views of the sea.
Finally, a real all-rounder. If you don’t know exactly where to go first in the Caribbean – visit Grenada! Here you will find almost everything the Caribbean has to offer. Grenada is the perfect place to get the first opinion and then visit another Caribbean island depending on your personal interests. But of course, a second or third trip to Grenada is also worthwhile.
In Grenada you will find romantic scenery, hiking trails in the rainforest, waterfalls in the jungle, breathtaking road trip routes, gorgeous beaches, beautiful bouganvillas, smell of spices, great diving spots and other water activities… the list can be continued endlessly. There are also many small islands nearby where festivals are held regularly. Of course, this also includes a good rum! In Grenada they produce their own rum in the River Antoine Distillery, a must visit if you ask me. All in all a great Caribbean destination!
Where to stay in Grenada:
Silversands Grenada is a beachfront boutique hotel on Grand Anse Beach with one of the longest pools in the Caribbean stretching down to the shore. The resort with its neutral decor blends into its heavenly, hilly surroundings, If you book a hotel transfer: staff will pick you up in a Tesla, and from there, things can only get better – starting with the lobby, where you’ll get your first glimpse of that prolonged pool seeping into the ocean. For colorful Caribbean nights, head to the Grenadian Grill for calypso-soundtracked sunsets and just-caught seafood.
With Jamaica, you also have to mention Bob Marley. With him and his songs you immediately associate the relaxed freedom in the Caribbean. Jamaica seems to be the center of the Caribbean. Most of the luxury resorts are in Montego Bay. Here are also numerous Hollywood films shot, such as James Bond. But besides the beautiful landscape, many visitors come to Jamaica because of Bob Marley. Go inland if you want to visit the birthplace of Bob Marley.
But also just to enjoy the day in the rum bars of Kingston and listen to the music of Bob Marley is something that you should have done once in your life. Culinary Jamaica has a lot to offer as well, but be careful it could be spicy (Love me some Jerk Chicken!) 😛 So just come to Jamaica and enjoy life!
Where to stay in Jamaica:
Originally owned by author Ian Fleming, who wrote all his James Bond novels while wintering here, GoldenEye is a small but elegant hotel in Jamaica. It is located at Oracabessa Bay, an hour and a half’s drive from the airport at Montego Bay. GoldenEye is not any ordinary hotel, but a collection of private villas, cottages and beach huts, each set amid tropical gardens, private beaches and secluded coves.
Round Hill Hotel & Villas sits on a 110-acre peninsula just minutes outside Montego Bay, will also elicit references to glitterati who have escaped here over the decades, from Jackie and John Kennedy–they honeymooned in Villa 10–to Ralph Lauren!
Rockhouse is another boutique luxury hotel in Jamaica located on the Test Cliffs overlooking the Caribbean.
Glimpse of our Jamaica trip from pre-blogging days
10. St. Lucia
St. Lucia is one of the more unknown places (at least I didn’t know it yet). But everyone who has been there raves about this little paradise. Especially in the summertime, you can spend a very good time there and it is perfect for music lovers. The St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival takes place there. But also those who prefer a more action-packed vacation will get their money’s worth here. No matter if you like climbing or if you are looking for more adrenaline and want to do zip-lining through the rainforest.
Compared to the other Caribbean islands, St. Lucia is also relatively inexpensive. St. Lucia is also becoming an increasingly popular destination for honeymooners but good familymoons as well.
Where to stay in St. Lucia:
Jade Mountain is adult only and is consistently ranked St. Lucia’s most romantic hotel. Rising high above the sea and offering an unparalleled view of the Pitons, the hotel features rooms with an open concept (the so-called “sanctuaries” are missing a fourth wall), equally dramatic alfresco baths, and private jewel-toned infinity pools with otherworldly vistas. (The resort is the First Caribbean Hotel to Earn LEED Gold).
James Beard Award–winner Allen Susser prepares the food of love in the on-site restaurant using ingredients cultivated in the resort’s private organic farm, and a rotating schedule of weekly classes, from rum tastings to a tandoori cooking lesson. Guests also have access to the beaches and spa of sister property Anse Chastanet, located just down the hill.
11. Turks & Caicos
This network of roughly 100 islands and cays has three dominant personalities. There is the glamorous Providenciales, or “Provo,” which boast a bevy of luxurious hotels. Laid-back Grand Turk is the historic and cultural nucleus and cruise ship hub, (stop along the shores of Cockburn Town, where Christopher Columbus first docked in the Western Hemisphere). Tiny, flat Salt Cay plays host to the best dives: from where, you can explore one of the largest reef systems in the world.
Where to stay in Turks & Caicos
Beaches all-inclusive Turks & Caicos has a 45,000 square-foot waterpark; four magnificent villages, boasting the architecture and ambiance of Italy, France, the Caribbean and Key West. Not to mention the 12-mile beach of clear turquoise waters. Endless fun activities for everyone, from tots to tweens and teens, a great Caribbean getaway for the whole family!
COMO Parrot Cay is another great family friendly resort in Turks and Caicos.
12. U.S. Virgin Islands
With windswept beaches, a vibrant dining scene, and the historic towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted – as well as no passport required for U.S. citizens – make the largest of three major United States Virgin Islands a convenient Caribbean getaway.
Boasting white-sand beaches, coral reefs, and rolling green hills, St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix are very family-friendly. St. Thomas is particularly popular for families with active tweens or adventurous teens. At Magens Bay Beach, you can kayak, paddleboard, and snorkel. Nearby, marvel at amazing views from the trailhead at Magens Bay. Families can also take the ferry to St. Johns, a not-so-commercialized island teeming with native wildlife.
When is the best time to visit the Caribbean Islands?
The Caribbean islands enjoy a hot, tropical climate all year round and the temperatures average around 82°F ( 28°C ). Although mother nature can change her mind anytime, the best time to visit the Caribbean is during its driest months which are usually from February to May. July to November is the wettest period when you can expect rain.
When the rain comes, it’s usually in brief, heavy showers and the average hours of sunshine are fairly consistent throughout the year. Keep in mind, June to November is the official hurricane season, and you can expect a few tropical storms at this time of year.
Other Caribbean Islands that not are included above:
- Caribbean Netherlands (BES islands made up of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba)
- Cayman Islands
- Puerto Rico
- Sint Maarten (Kingdom of the Netherlands) & Saint Martin (France overseas territory)
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Barthelemy (St Barts)
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
With over 7,000 islands in the Caribbean Sea, the choice of where to vacation (in summer or winter) can be daunting, hope this list of top Caribbean destination helps you find the best Caribbean Island for your next beach getaway!
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