When we were planning our trip to the Caribbean, we really didn’t know which island to choose. Since we unfortunately cannot spend an unlimited amount of time in the Caribbean, of course we had to decide. We read various posts on these topics, informed ourselves in forums and Facebook groups, only to come to the conclusion that we still don’t know. This post will help you with your decisions.
The Caribbean is an amazing place to visit, particularly because there so many different islands and so many different cultures in such a small area! If you want to relax, there are beautiful sand beaches, hundreds of miles of free to explore if you’re looking to scuba, and old plantations for history lovers. Whether it’s for surfing, exploring, or relaxing – the Caribbean has it all.
How to choose the right Caribbean Island for your vacation
With all these options, you may feel overwhelmed. Hence, I write this post to help you with your decisions – whether it’s a couples getaway, a solo trip, or a family vacation. I’ve listed everything you’ll need to know.
1 – Antigua
Let’s start with A like Antigua. Antigua and Barbuda is an independent state of the Commonwealth, which in addition to the two eponymous islands also includes several smaller islands.
Antigua and Barbuda is the ideal place for people who can’t stay in one spot the whole time. You’ll have the chance to go beach hopping and island hopping every day if you visit this destination.
It’s a destination that is easy to reach from most major airports.
Best for: Beach Lovers, Sailors & Boating, Families, Couples
2 – Aruba
Aruba belongs to the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean and is one of the three ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) that geologically belong to South America.
If your ideal vacation involved lounging around the beach the whole time, Aruba is your dream destination. Aruba’s beaches are among the world’s finest with crystal clear water and while sand along the coastline. Moreover, it’s a good place for scuba and snorkelling activities.
Best for: Beach Lovers, Couples, Families, Watersports
3 – Bahamas
The Bahamas are probably one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean; especially for family travel. Besides the popular Paradise Island, there are actually a ton of there hidden gems where visitors can experience luxury stays, beautiful beaches and diving.
In addition to a fabulous underwater world that invites you to snorkel and dive, this is above all the impressive flora and fauna – including swimming pigs.
The capital city of the Bahamas is Nassau which is extremely easy to get to with frequent flights from most major airports.
Best for: Beach Lovers, Couples, Families, Scuba & Snorkeling
4 – Barbados
The Caribbean are a popular romantic Honeymoon destination. If you want something very romantic with lots of luxury resorts and hotels, then probably Barbados might just be the perfect romantic destination for you. Barbados‘ white sandy beaches, tropical palm adorned resorts, luxury hotels, and calm translucent waters set the perfect environment for a romantic getaway in the Caribbean.
Tip: Holetown Beach is perfect for watching sunsets with your beloved one!
Even from Germany you can be on the popular Caribbean island within 10 hours!
Best for: Beach Lovers, Surfers, Golfers, Couples, Families, Foodies
5 – Bonaire
Iridescent fish, colorful corals, turquoise water and an exciting European-Caribbean culture – you can find them on the still fairly unknown island of Bonaire.
Bonaire is an absolute diving paradise and offers besides diving in stalactite caves other activities such as hours of walking on the beach or exploring the mangrove forests.
As already mentioned, Bonaire belongs to the Lesser Antilles in the southern Caribbean and is one of the three ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) that geologically belong to South America.
Best for: Beach Lovers, Diving, Couples, Families
6 – British Virgin Islands
If you’re into sailing or boating, this is your destination. Visitors often explore the British Virgin Islands by these modes of transportation, making it great to explore the caves and bays around the terrain. People who enjoy snorkeling and diving will also find their paradise here. Whilst it may be not as beautiful as the experience on Bonaire, it’s still worth seeing.
Best for: Sailors & Boating, Diving, Watersports, Couples, Families
7 – Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands consist of three different archipelagos with the names Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Most tourists come to this magical place by stopping during their Caribbean cruise. However, you can also book a flight and hotel directly and spend several days in this little paradise. Vacationers can expect to enjoy outdoor activities, such as snorkeling and diving (especially at the so-called Stingray City where you can actually swim with wild stingrays). You can also go golfing or dine at upscale restaurants and shop at some of the most exclusive boutiques.
Best for: Beach Lovers, Diving, Watersports, Foodies, Families, Golfers, Couples
8 – Cuba
The island looks as if it has been unleashed from a time capsule from the 1950s. Hence, there is still so much untouched beauty that visitors can explore. You can relax at beautiful beaches, stroll around the city of Cuba, or indulge in delicious food whilst listening to music.
Best for: Adventurers, Music Lovers, History Lovers, Couples, Foodies, Beach Lovers
9 – Curaçao
Curaçao is more than just alcohol! White sandy beaches, turquoise sea, temperatures to melt away and a portion of Dutch charm characterize this Caribbean island like no other. Curaçao is, as previously stated, part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) that geologically belong to South America.
Many people visit Curaçao to snorkel, dive, and experience the great cuisine.
Best for: Urban Travel, Watersports & Diving, Families, Couples, Foodies, Beach Lovers
10 – Dominica
Have you heard of this beautiful island before? Well, chances are you haven’t, because Dominica is still an absolute secret tip! It is the perfect destination for people who are looking for something different than the typical beach vacation in the Caribbean. Whilst you can also enjoy some pretty awesome beaches, Dominica is known for its flora and fauna, beautiful waterfalls and mountainous rainforests as well as natural hot springs or mud baths. It’s often referred to as the „Nature Island“.
Best for: Adventurers, Nature Lovers, Hiking, Outdoor Adventures, Couples
Read more about Dominica:
11 – Dominican Republic
There is hardly an island as diverse as the Dominican Republic. If you imagine a vacation full of powdery white dream beaches, a turquoise to azure blue sea and shady coconut palms, the Dominican Republic is the right one for you.
The Dominican Republic is known as a great budget-friendly destination but also includes some really beautiful luxury escapes for all types of travellers. You can enjoy affordable all-inclusive beach resorts, hidden getaways in the forest or luxurious villas in the city.
Best for: Urban Travel, Affordable Travel, Couples, Golfers, Outdoor Adventures, Luxury Travel
12 – Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is one of the lesser known Caribbean islands. It’s a French territory and home to incredible beaches, quaint seaside villages, and an exquisite culinary scene. It’s a great spot for people who want to vacation without the crowds and rather enjoy quiet beaches. It’s also great for swimming, snorkeling, hiking, and other outdoor activities.
Best for: Affordable Travel, Couples, Outdoor Adventures, Beach Lovers
Read more about Guadeloupe here.
13 – Grenada
Grenada is the epitome of an untouched beauty in the Caribbean. This little island is perfect for a beach vacation getaway without the crowds. Moreover, the rainforest offers a great escape into nature, while St. George’s (the capital of Grenada) looks like a replica of the Italian Riviera.
Best for: Couples, Outdoor Adventures, Beach Lovers, Relaxation, Families
14 – Haiti
Haiti has been faced with some challenging times in recent years – from political unrest to natural disasters. Still, you can enjoy the natural beauty around the island and the rich culture and history makes this place a great destination for people who are interested in African culture and history.
The best way to help this island would be to consider visiting Haiti and participate in mission or aide.
Best for: Culture Travel or Mission/Aide
15 – Jamaica
Jamaica – famous for being the home of Reggae music and Bob Marley is one of the most perfect Caribbean getaways for any type of traveler! You can still come to experience the incredible music scene, but you will also fall in love with the local cuisine (trust me on that!), the natural landscapes and the beautiful beaches. If you want, you can also stay in a very luxury resort.
Best for: Music Lovers, Foodies, Beach Lovers, Affordable Travel, Couples, Families
16 – Martinique
Martinique is another French-Creole destination that will be perfect for fluent French-speakers and everyone who loves isolated beaches, world-class cuisine, and a lovely historic part with 17th century buildings. Did you know that you can even find a small version of the Sacré Coeur?
Best for: Foodies, Couples, Hiking, Beach Lovers
17 – St. Barts
Are you really looking to indulge? Then St. Barts is perfect for you! This French-speaking island is popular for being a luxury destination. St. Barts has beautiful beaches, high-end shopping, fine dining establishments and you really can expect expensive yachts, private luxury villas, crazy nightlife and celebrities.
Best for: Luxury Travelers
18 – St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis is another pair of sister islands that offer fun outdoor activities as hiking and great golf courses.
Best for: Outdoor Adventures, Hiking, Golfers
19 – St. Lucia
St. Lucia is known for being the ultimate honeymoon destination in the Caribbean. From breathtaking views of the Pitons (the mountains of St. Lucia), great hiking terrain, lush waterfalls and rainforest trails – St. Lucia has it all. If you want to come here just to beach and swim, you won’t be disappointed either.
Best for: Couples, Outdoor Adventures, Beach Lovers, Relaxation, Families, Hiking, Luxury Travel
Related: Caribbean Island Hopping.
20 – St. Martin / St. Maarten
St. Martin has a Dutch and a French part, thus offering a very unique cultural experience on both parts of the island. The French side offers a more laid back and charming vibe, while the Dutch side offers a more boisterous and vibrant feel. If you’re into culture, food, and beautiful beaches – St. Martin is perfect for you!
Best for: Cultural Travel, Foodies, Beach Lovers
21 – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Not far away from St. Lucia and yet probably the least visited area of the Caribbean. St. Vincent and the Grenadines are famous for boating, sailing and catamaran tours.
Best for: Diving, Sailors, Boating, Adventure Travel
22 – Trinidad and Tobago
These sister islands are like a yin and yang in that they can offer visitors two completely whole different experiences. Trinidad, which is home to one of the world’s most popular Carnival celebrations, is a much bigger island with nightlife, music, and cultural activities. On the other hand, Tobago, is a much smaller and calmer island with lush rainforests, sandy beaches, and much relaxation. If you visit both islands, you really get the best of both worlds.
Best for: Couples, Outdoor Adventures, Beach Lovers, Relaxation, Party & Nightlife, Watersports & Diving, Culture, Music
23 – Turks and Caicos
Looking to relax near some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean? Then you should visit Turks and Caicos. The islands are surrounded by the most beautiful crystal clear water and coral reefs that you can explore. It’s the perfect destination for visitors who search for a luxury stay with some of the best health and wellness retreats worldwide.
Best for: Couples, Health & Wellness, Beach Lovers, Relaxation, Families, Luxury Travel
24 – US Virgin Islands
St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix as well as some smaller, minor islands are the US Virgin Islands. St. John and St. Croix are a bit less developed that St. Thomas, so here you will be able to explore the natural landscape a bit better.
I’ve visited Bahamas, Jamaica(3), Cancun, Dominican Republic, St.Thomas, St. Martin/St. Maarten, Cayman Islands, and in Barbados now. My favorite so far? The Cayman Islands.
Thanks for sharing this information 🙂
This is the most concise & comprehensive resource I’ve read on the subject of Caribbean travel. Thank you!
Thank you 🙂 Happy to hear that!
I’ve been to the Bahamas, Jamaica, the Caymans, St John and St Thomas, Puerto Rico and the Turks and Caicos. Loved them all. Each had its pros and cons. I always thought I wanted to visit St Lucia but a bad experience in St John with a sudden rainy spell convinced me that the desert islands are preferable to the heavily forested ones for people like me who are mosquito magnets. Maybe St Martin or the Grenadines next?
I won’t be on St. Martin or the Grenadines, but if you go, I’d love if you’d update me 🙂
I really love this post! Thanks for all the info 🙂
Thank you, Melli 🙂
Thank you for the work and putting all this together! I love reading your posts so much.
Ohh, that’s so nice of you!