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[Updated 4/23/ 2019] Stretching from the southeastern U.S. down to the north coast of South America, the Caribbean consists of more than 700 islands, islets, reefs, and cays.
Yet the vast majority of travelers seem to visit the same old-fashioned hoary chestnuts( receive: the Cayman Islands, Grand Bahama, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) for their Caribbean Islands vacation year after year.
Fortunately, most of our favorite islands have yet to succumb to the curve of mass tourismthat’s currently broad Europe and some of the most popular beaches in Southeast Asia.
But, for more adventurous travelers, there is our collects for 20 of the best Caribbean Islands to visit if you love mood and detest crowds 😛 TAGEND
READ MORE: 30 Best Exotic Islands to Visit
Barbados Dominica Grenada Grenadines Maria-Galante( Guadeloupe) Montserrat Saba
Isla De La Juventud( Cuba) Isla HolBox( Mexico) Isla De Providencia( Columbia) Jamaica Little Corn Island Rosario Islands( Colombia) Roatan( Honduras) San Blas Islands( Panama) South Water Caye( Belize)
EASTERN CARIBBEAN ISLANDS BARBADOS
Located 100 miles east of its nearest Caribbean neighbor, Barbados offers big-hearted curves, a rugged northern coastline, and a rocky interior that make it a haven for quality fans. Quantifying precisely 17 miles long and 14 miles wide, it’s is a tiny eastern Caribbean island with a huge heart.
Start by exploring Historic Bridgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s home to the Barbados Museum& Historical Society, whose collection includes artifacts from the island’s Amerindian and colonial history. You can even open some of the aged prison cells there.
In periods of natural entertainments, there’s the 1.4 -mile-long Harrison’s Cave, the 6.5 -acre Andromeda Botanic Gardens( peculiarity the largest collection of humid weeds in the eastern Caribbean ), and the Flower Forest( which is filled with heydays, birds and apes ).
In words of waterspouts, there’s also snorkeling with Sea Turtles in Folkestone Underwater Park& Marine Reserve, Scuba diving through subsided carries( such as the 360 -foot freighter S.S. Stavronikita ), and voyaging in the trade winds off the island’s southern tip.
For a delicacy of genuine Bajan culture, head to the Friday night fish fry in the town of Oistin’s. And if you can time your visit for late July or early August, don’t miss the Crop Over Festival, the island’s most important cultural celebration.
Where To Stay: Just 1 minute from the sea and forgetting Paynes Bay in St James, the Beach View Hotel is a little 36 suite self-catering hotel set on 3 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens.
READ MORE: The Top 10 Events to Do in Barbados
Photo by Dejeuxx, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons CULEBRA( Puerto Rico)
Although it’s located really 19 miles east of Puerto Rico, the smallest of the inhabited Spanish Virgin Islands feels like it’s a macrocosm away.
Seven miles long and three miles wide, with less than 3,000 tenants, Culebra has virtually no nightlife to speak of.
But it does have crystal clear irrigates with 60+ hoofs of visibility, superb white sand coasts( Culebrita is among the best ), and the oldest lighthouse in the Caribbean.
Thanks to the establishment of the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge in 1909, there are also lots of seabirds and turtles , not to mention exceptional scuba diving.
Where To Stay: Set on a private bay, the shacks at Tamarindo Estates give ocean examines, perfectly gave kitchens, and an 1,800 -foot coast with enormous shelling and snorkeling.
READ MORE: The History of Caribbean& Latin American Art
Dominica’s Indian River DOMINICA
Often confused with the Dominican Republic, “The Nature Island” is 65% shall be included in tropical rainforest, with more than 300 miles of hiking trails.
And that’s just one of the many reasons it’s at the top of our personal roll of the best Caribbean destinations to visit. The affecting sea turtle conservation program on the island is another.
Thanks to copious rainwater, impressive cascades are everywhere, with Emerald Pool, Trafalgar Falls, and Victoria Falls all stimulating it worth the intrepid hikes to reach them.
Other highlights include the Morne Trois Pitons National Park( the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the eastern Caribbean ), snorkeling Champagne Reef( where geothermal undertaking utters the water heated and bubbly ), and the Kalinago Barana Aute( dwelling of the pre-Columbian Carib people ).
Where To Stay: For amazing ocean their opinions and private coasts check out Secret Bay , an award-winning boutique eco resort with six sustainable indulgence villas.
Image by Gary Stephen from Pixabay GRENADA
With its flourishing focus on sustainable development- including eco-resorts, agritourism initiatives, and innovative environmental patterns- Grenada is rapidly emerging as one of the best Caribbean islands for nature lovers.
The island has introduced/ expanded its protected areas, including Levera National Park( a nesting site for Leatherback Sea Turtles) and Grand Etang Forest Preserve( which offers birdwatching, hiking, and river tubing acts ).
If you be given an opportunity to, visit during the island’s endless culture galas, which include the Grenada Chocolate Festival, Fish Fridays, and the Carriacou Maroon& String Band Music Festival.
Where To Stay: All 7 villas at Maca Bana are stylish, with hardwood decks, outdoor hot tubs, and dazing sentiments. It’s also dwelling to one of Grenada’s best restaurants, Aquarium, and a 3-minute foot from picturesque Magazine Beach.
READ MORE: The 20 Best Festivals in the World
Photo via CC BY-SA 3.0 THE GRENADINES
The Grenadines consisted of 31 islands and cays straining between St. Vincent and Grenada, with ownership and governance divided between those two countries.
But the archipelago is sparsely populated. Even the biggest of the islands- 7.1 -square mile Bequia and 12.6 -square mile Carriacou- exclusively have around 5,000 to 6,000 permanent residents.
These remote, peaceful humid trip ends are some of the most beautiful caribbean islands and are rarely toured. They volunteer travelers a getting-away-from-it-all experience with unspoiled seas, endemic fowls, and fascinating coral reefs teeming with marine life.
Bequia boasts beautifully forested mounds in the north, as well as some superb impetu dives. The Tobago Cays, which are protected as a marine park, offering some of the finest snorkeling in the Caribbean.
Union Island, a kiteboarding haven, has now been developed as an off-the-radar adventure travel hotspot. And Carriacou teems with lively neighbourhood culture, especially if you see during Carnival.
Photo by Anonymous, GFDL, CC-BY-S-A3. 0, via Wikimedia Commons MARI-AGALANTE( Guadeloupe)
Discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and referred after his flagship, Maria-Galante is a 61 -square mile island located in the Guadeloupe archipelago.
Best known for sugar production during the colonial age, small island developing offers a urban feeling of French West Indies tranquility, with myriad raises, pristine seas, and bays protected by coral reefs.
This is a place indeed in touch with its folkloric lores, which is one of the main reasons we consider it among the best Caribbean islands to visit.
But it can be surprisingly lively at night, when locally produced rum and “ti punch” honied with carbohydrate cane accompanying the piano bars and nightclubs to life.
By David Stanley( Flickr: Little Bay, Montserrat) CC BY 2.0 MONTSERRAT
Montserrat was a showcase for the lifestyles of rich countries and notorious in the’ 60 s,’ 70 s, and’ 80 s, when classic books by icons such as Dire Straits, Duran Duran, and The Police were recorded at Sir George Martin’s AIR Studios.
But in 1995 the long-dormant Soufriere Hills volcano hooted to life, destroying the capital city of Plymouth and forcing two-thirds of the local population to flee.
Now the island has been reborn as a quality sanctuary. Nature love will enjoy exploring the island’s nine world-class rainforest hiking routes, stupefying panoramic coastlines, and some of very good Scuba diving the Caribbean has to offer.
Where To Stay: For beautiful sunset their opinions and a centrally located spacious apartment check out, SeaView Suite. Noman, the owner, is happy to pick you up from the airport/ shuttle and to arrange tours on his island.
Saba Island, photo by Richie Diesterheft- Flickr: Saba Wearing a Cap, CC BY-SA 2.0, SABA( Netherlands Antilles)
Known as “the Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean, ” this Dutch island is just a 12 -minute flight away from St. Maarten.
With a total region of 5 square miles( dad. 2,000 ), the island’s centerpiece is the aptly named Mount Scenery, which rises 2,910 paws above sea level.
Naturally, descending and hiking the Caribbean Island’s mountain lines are among the most popular activities.
But the protected liquids of Saba National Marine Park too proceeded guests with stunning 220 -foot tall volcanic spires, dolphins, and the occasional whale sighting.
Where to Stay: With welcoming owneds and breathtaking thoughts, the El Momo Cottages are an eco-friendly hideaway offering intrigue and relaxation in equal measure.
READ MORE: 20 Best Mountains in the World
Caribbean Islands Map
Click on the”-” token on the planned( 10 x) to zoom out to see a map of the Caribbean Islands.
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WESTERN CARIBBEAN ISLANDS ISLA DE LA JUVENTUD( Cuba)
Located approximately 31 miles south of Cuba, Isla de la Juventud( translation: Isle of Youth) was known as the Isle of Pines until 1978. Much of the western caribbean island is covered in lush pine forests, and lumber extraction remains a big business in the area.
Encompassing around 850 square miles, it’s the largest of the 350 islands in Cuba’s Canarreos Archipelago and the seventh-largest in the West Indies. But it only has a population of around 86,000 people, the majority of members of whom reside in the northern city of Nueva Gerona and the city center of Santa Fe.
The island’s plotting ecotourism lures involving the beautiful liquids and beach of Playa Paraiso, the uncommon Cuban Crocodile, and a cave complex near Punta del Este that facets more than 200 archaic indigenous cave drawings.
Referred to as “Cuba’s Hidden Treasure, ” Isla de la Juventud also offers innumerable hiking courses lined with animals and plant life and some of the best snorkeling and Scuba diving in the Caribbean.
Sunset at Villas Flamingos ISLA HOLBOX( Mexico)
Located about 40 instants northwest of Cancun( around 3 hours by bus from international airports ), Holbox Island is a tiny trawl hamlet that’s developing into a haven for ecotourism in the Caribbean.
The island is separated from the mainland by a shallow lagoon that equips sanctuary to thousands of herons, flamingoes and innumerable endangered species.
Golf carts are the most common form of transportation- no cars earmarked- with Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve and Isla Pajaros( Bird Island) ensuring you’ll witnes more animals than people.
But the island’s big-hearted draft is the annual afuera, a meet of hundreds of big whale sharks who come to feed off the Yucatan Peninsula coast every June to September. Swimming with whale sharks was one of the most incredible undertakings two daughters and I have had together.
Where To Stay: Read reviews of the 15 Best Isla Holbox Hotels and Resorts now.
Manzanillo Beach on Providencia Island, photo by Luis Barreto via CC BY-SA 2.0 ISLA DE PROVIDENCIA( Colombia)
Situated in the Caribbean Sea between Costa Rica and Jamaica, Providencia is part of a Colombia-owned archipelago set 482 miles northwest of the mainland.
The rocky island( which has a maximum elevation 1181 paws) was the site of an English Puritan colony that was originally founded in 1629. But Isla de la Providencia was best-known as the base for Welsh pirate Henry Morgan, who eventually became Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica.
Local rumors suggest that some of the treasure that Morgan( most famous as the face of Captain Morgan Rum) and his servicemen pillaged during the course of its countless raids on Spanish ships remain buried here.
History devotees will enjoy exploring the various forts and guns that were available sowed on neighbour Santa Catalina Island, that is available via a footbridge. Guests can also snorkel the island’s impressively pristine coral reef system.
Photo courtesy of Blue Hole Mineral Spring JAMAICA
” But wait ,” I can hear you saying.” Isn’t Jamaica the prototype of overtourism in the Caribbean ?”
Of course, if you stick to mass tourism caribbean vacation spots such as Montego Bay, Negril, and Ocho Rios, the answer is yes. But formerly you go outside these meccas for sunshine/ beach/ surf worshippers, Jamaica has spate to offer those attempting the sanctuary of nature.
The Blue Mountains are best known for stretching some of the best coffee in the nations of the world. But they likewise furnish fantastic hiking, with lots of endemic flora and fauna and stunning the opinion of the 7,402 -foot summit.
The southwestern parish of St Elizabeth is far off the conventional tourist way. Outdoor pleasures there include swimming at Treasure Beach, looking for Crocodiles on a Black River Safari Tour, and spending a day at YS Falls( which is a lot less horded than those at Dunn’s River ).
Elsewhere on small island developing, you can bathe in the Blue Hole Mineral Spring( Westmoreland ), inspect Frenchman’s Cove and the Blue Lagoon( Portland ), or try surfing in St. Thomas.
Where to Stay: Between Jamaica’s northeast coast and the sublime Blue Mountains, Mocking Bird Hill is a romantic 4-star 10 room eco shop inn where you can stroll through 6.5 hectares of botanically diverse gardens.
Photo courtesy Yemaya Island Hideaway LITTLE CORN ISLAND( Nicaragua)
With a distinctive Creole culture that integrates with African, Indian, and Spanish beginnings, this insignificant island 43 miles off the coast of Central America feels more Caribbean than Nicaraguan.
There are four different languages spoken on Little Corn Island– Creole, English, Miskito, and Spanish- and there are no gondolas or roads whatsoever.
Originally known as a backpacker’s haven, the beautiful seas and excellent snorkeling/ Scuba diving in this pristine paradise have attracted more upscale ecotourists in recent years.
Thankfully, despite the gradual uptick in visitors, the remote island remains unspoiled by mass tourism development.
Where To Stay: Named one of the top inns of 2014 by Forbes, Yemaya Island Hideaway is a 16 -cabana eco-resort offering a serious yoga program, farm-to-table food, and a harmonious flavour of laid-back luxury.
A Lazy Day in the Rosario Islands ROSARIO ISLANDS( Colombia)
Located merely a 45 -minute boat ride away from the historic city of Cartagena, this little-known treasure is an archipelago is composed of 30 small islands.
The islands are part of the Corales Islas del Rosario Natural National Park, which was created to protect 4,633 square miles of ridges, sea grass, and mangroves( and the aquatic species that inhabit them ).
As you might think, the snorkeling and Scuba diving there is exquisite. But you can have an equally shocking era merely bending up in a hammock with a potent sip, watching the spectacular sunset over the sea.
Where To Stay: Blending elegant sophistication and laid-back simplicity, Coralina Isla Boutique is a placid, foodie-friendly paradise.
READ MORE: The Best Things to Do in Cartagena, Colombia
Photo by WestBrownCanada via CC BY-SA 3.0 ROATAN( Honduras)
Situated nearly 40 miles off the country’s northern coast, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras.
The sleepy island’s population is primarily a mixture of Cayman Islanders( who came over after Britain abolished bondage in 1838 ), Mestizo migrants from the mainland, and industrialists and expats from the US, Canada, South Africa, and Australia.
Roatan’s metropolitans can be a bit more on the bustling back than some of the other islands on this list. But there is still spectacular remote beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, and mangrove woods to explore.
But the main reason to visit Roatan is the fact that small island developing sits instantly atop the Mesoamerican Reef, the second largest reef system in the nations of the world. So the snorkeling and Scuba diving here are easily among the highest in the Caribbean.
READ MORE: The 16 Best Mayan Ruins to Explore
SAN BLAS ISLANDS( Panama)
The San Blas archipelago encompass a whopping 378 islands and cays, straining approximately 200 miles along the Caribbean coast of Panama.
Most of these impressively pristine islands have few arteries and even less people. Many of the islands are ringed by health coral reef and magnificent ocean, which has made them increasingly popular amongst Scuba divers and sailing enthusiasts.
The 49 San Blas Islands that are inhabited are largely home to the Kuna Indians, a semiautonomous tribe that was driven from the mainland during the Spanish invasion. Countless Kuna still practice the ancient heritages of their ancestors, including the crafting of brightly colored, appliqued fibers known as molas.
In addition to learning about their indigenous culture, other favourite activities in the area include snorkeling the appease seas of Cayos Limones and Cayos Holandeses.
SOUTH WATER CAYE( Belize)
From spectacular white sand seas lined with palm trees and hammocks to brilliant oceans colored in sparkling subtleties of blue, this 15 -acre island is a picture-perfect testament to the beauty of Belize’s cayes.
Located approximately 14 miles off the coast of Dangriga, South Water Caye is accessible by boat or a immediate flight. But its rustic, relatively pristine romantic appeal feels far removed from the tourism development of mainland Belize.
Snorkeling right off the coast employs you in the South Water Caye Marine Reserve, which boastings an affecting regalium of naval life, including Rainbow Parrotfish, Reef Sharks, Moray Eels, and Spotted Ray. If you get fortune, don’t miss a chance to go on a nighttime nose-dive or snorkeling tour: The reef’s colourings really come alive after dark!
If you’re not a fan of snorkeling or Scuba diving, you are able to go birdwatching on the aptly-named Bird Islands, try kayaking or paddle boarding, or search for the puzzled Manatees that frequent adjacent Man Of War Caye.
SOUTHERN CARIBBEAN ISLANDS ARUBA
The “A” in the ABC islands of the Netherlands Antilles( which also include Bonaire and Curacao ), Aruba is not what most people are waiting for a Caribbean hotspot.
Sure, there’s perfect weather, friendly people, dazing seas that have been reputation among the most beautiful seas in the nations of the world, and postcard-worthy ocean considers nearly everywhere you turn.
But the insignificant southern caribbean island( 19.6 miles long and 6 miles wide) likewise peculiarity windswept trees and rugged shorelines on the northeast coast, and drastic cliff patterns and desert-like landscape in the interior.
Animal fans will be receiving the Bubali Bird Sanctuary( which provides breeding ground for more than 80 species of migratory birds ), the Aruba Ostrich Farm( render close encounters with the world’s largest bird species ), and Aruba’s Butterfly Farm( which has educational exhibits on the supernatural of metamorphosis and presents excellent photo opportunities ).
For outdoor undertakings, the hiking routes at Arikok National Park feature lava constitutions and ancient Arawak art.
Climbing the Casibari Rock Formation plies breathtaking goals of Aruba’s landscape. And caves along the coast feature stalagmites and stalactites, as well as a colony of at-bats( in Guadirikiri Cave) and Arawak Indian draws( in the Fontein Cave ).
Rare Deer in St Christoffel National Park CURACAO
Curacao is a curious nation- as colorful as any of its Caribbean neighbors, but with a distinctive temperament all its own. This is partly due to its point 40 miles from Venezuela, partly due to its ownership by the Netherlands, and partly due to its complex history.
You won’t want to miss the the capital city of Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 500 years of history including the 17 th century Fort Amsterdam, Mikve Israel Emmanuel Synagogue( the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere ), the Queen Emma and Queen Juliana Bridge, and the excellent slavery-focused Museum Kura Hulanda.
In terms of natural attractiveness, start with hiking in St. Christoffel and Shete Boka National Parks. St. Christoffel boasts hiking footpaths leading to Curacao’s highest point( 1,292 feet ); wildlife such as the uncommon White-tailed Deer; and ancient Arawak cave covers. Shete Boka offers a natural aqueduct, blowholes, and caves that serve as Sea Turtle breeding grounds.
You can also explore the island’s cactus-strewn backcountry via an ATV or Jeep safari, try an undersea undertaking with Substation Curacao( which takes pilgrims 1,000 paws beneath the brandishes ), or Scuba dive world-renowned locates such as the Tugboat and the Blue Room.
NORTHERN CARIBBEAN ISLANDS Pirate’s Trap Beach STANIEL CAY( Bahamas)
This tiny 2-square mile island, with a population of merely 110, is an under-the-radar ecotourism haven in the remote Exumas. And that’s precisely what stirs it one of the best Caribbean islands to visit.
With exactly two inns, a eatery/ rail, and a marina, there’s not much action in sleepy Staniel Cay to lure the cruise ship crowd.
But for mood fans, there’s the picturesque Thunderball Grotto( included within the 1965 James Bond film ), the far-famed swimming boars of Major Cay, skippering, and scuba diving in impossibly blue waters.
If that’s all a little too much pleasure for you, there is still various excellent little beaches without a single soul in sight.
Where To Stay: Built by Staniel Cay inhabitants on their family’s ancestral arrives, Embrace Resort is the area’s firstly sustainable eco used. -Bret Love; photos by Bret Love& Mary Gabbett unless otherwise noted
FAQS What is the Caribbean?
Located southeast of the Gulf of Mexico and North America , northward of South America and east of The countries of central america, the Caribbean is comprised of the Caribbean Sea, small island developing within it and even some islands in the Atlantic Ocean( Bahamas& Bermuda ). Because of government and cultural acquaintances, the Caribbean also includes the mainland countries of Belize, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
The big 1.06 million square miles of the Caribbean archipelago is divided into regions: the Lucayan Archipelago, the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and the ABC Islands.
Lucayan Archipelago: The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Greater Antilles: Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.
The Lesser Antilles: This island group is divided into the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, and the ABC Islands.
Leeward Islands: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, Sint Eustatius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, US Virgin Islands.
Windward Islands: Barbados, Dominica, Greeda, Martinique, Saint Lucia, St.Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago
ABC Islands: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao.
What continent is the Caribbean in?
The Caribbean is in the continent of North America.
What are the Caribbean Islands?
There are more than 700 Caribbean Islands, but most of the islands are uninhabited.
These are the Caribbean Islands with the highest people: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent, the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands.
How many countries are still in Caribbean?
There are 26 independent country level other domains in the Caribbean.
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands, Antilles, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts& Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent, Trinidad& Tobago, Turks& Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands.
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