Best Caribbean islands open for travel right now

15 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in 2024

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The Caribbean is the ideal place to go for a tropical vacation, be it a romantic getaway, a family holiday, or a special trip with friends. The best Caribbean islands offer warm sand, crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, and cloudless skies to help you escape the daily grind or the dreary winter season.

There are hundreds of islands and cays in the Caribbean, and over the years, we’ve explored some of the most amazing Caribbean destinations. Each island has something unique about it, and we’re always awestruck by the diversity in each country’s history, culture, and environment.

It can be hard to decide where to go, so in this guide, I’m sharing the 15 best Caribbean islands to visit. Keep this list handy so you can plan your trip and any future visits to one of the most beautiful regions in the world, the Caribbean!

1. Puerto Rico, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit

First, Puerto Rico is one of the best Caribbean islands for vacation, especially if you’re in the U.S. It’s easy to get to, has sunny weather year-round, and boasts beautiful beaches and landscapes.

You can’t miss San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital city and home to historic homes, monuments, and attractions. Old San Juan is a walkable area with colonial architecture, a vibrant music scene, and landmarks like the Castillo San Cristobal, an 18th-century fortress. This free tour will take you through town so you can explore all the highlights.

Puerto Rico, best islands of the caribbean

1. Puerto Rico, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit

Outside of the city, you’ll find the most incredible natural areas, like El Yunque National Forest. It’s a treasure trove of mountain peaks, lush foliage, and rainforest critters. This is also a haven for adventurers since you can enjoy forest hikes, waterfalls, swimming, and natural waterslides. If you can’t decide, this forest tour is a great way to spend the day in El Yunque.

Of course, the beaches of Puerto Rico are well worth visiting, so consider a day cruise to Culebra, where you can go snorkeling or take this sailing cruise along the Fajardo coastline. Along the way, you’ll visit the island of Icacos, a gorgeous spot for swimming and snorkeling.

2. Dominican Republic, the best Caribbean island for an active vacation

With its romantic beaches, the Dominican Republic is one of the best Caribbean islands for couples. Here, you can enjoy watersports, nightlife, nature activities, and of course, plenty of downtime. Some of the best beaches here include the white sand beaches of Bavaro Beach and Macao Beach, the latter of which is a popular spot for surfing and dune buggy tours.

For something more relaxing, take a leisurely cruise to one of the DR’s nearby islands. This catamaran cruise goes to Saona Island, which has awesome mangroves and coral reefs. Another option is this day trip to Catalina Island, a place with diverse marine life, private beaches, and transparent waters. It’s the perfect spot to see parrot fish, trumpet fish, sea sponges, and all kinds of coral.

Dominican Republic, the best caribbean island to visit

2. Dominican Republic, the best Caribbean island for an active vacation

I also can’t leave out a whale-watching tour like this one, which departs from Punta Cana and stops by Bacardi Island and the El Limon waterfalls.

Back on land, the Dominican Republic is one of the best Caribbean islands for adventure since it’s home to the longest zipline in the Caribbean, with multiple platforms and cables. So, if you want to soar over the rainforest canopy and the river, I recommend this tour.

Finally, the DR’s nightlife is unmatched, especially in Punta Cana. Coco Bongo is a super popular nightclub, so to get the complete experience, check out this Coco Bongo package with drinks.

3. Jamaica, the best Caribbean island for nature lovers

Jamaica has long been one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit, so if you haven’t been here yet, I highly recommend it. Jamaica offers everything from pristine beaches to watersports to unforgettable cruises and sailing trips, so you’re sure to have a blast.

One of the most famous attractions in Jamaica is the 600-foot Dunn’s River Falls. A series of natural rock stairs lead to the waterfalls, which also include several lagoons you can swim in. It’s a must-see while you’re on the island, so consider this day tour, which also visits the Bob Marley Museum.

Jamaica, best caribbean country to visit

3. Jamaica, the best Caribbean island for nature lovers

Another natural wonder to see in Jamaica is the Green Grotto Caves. The cavern walls are covered in green algae, and you can take a guided tour into the caves, where you can see an underwater lake, stalagmites, stalactites, and bats.

After dark, I recommend taking this lagoon cruise to see a bioluminescent waterway lit up by phosphorescent organisms and plankton. Not only is it a magical sight, but there are intriguing stories surrounding this glowing lagoon.

As you can see, Jamaica is one of the best Caribbean islands for nature lovers, and you can’t forget the lovely beaches here. Negril’s Seven Mile Beach and Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay are two popular spots. If you want to visit the latter, I suggest this catamaran cruise, which includes an open bar and snorkeling session.

4. Barbados, another one of the best islands in the Caribbean

Barbados is known for having some of the most picturesque beaches and coastal landscapes in the world, making it one of the best Caribbean islands to visit.

For example, Bathsheba Beach boasts a striking scene with clear turquoise waters and impressive rock formations. Meanwhile, Dover Beach is a slice of paradise, especially for those who want to sunbathe among palm trees or enjoy some watersports.

Sea turtles in Barbados, best caribbean island for vacation

4. Barbados, another one of the best islands in the Caribbean

You also can’t miss Carlisle Bay, a small natural harbor that’s home to Barbados’ capital city of Bridgetown. While you’re here, consider exploring this beautiful city on this walking history tour, which takes you past Parliament, Town Hall, and other top sites. Also, this catamaran cruise departs from Bridgetown and includes a shipwreck visit, a snorkeling session, and lunch.

Some other interesting attractions in Barbados are the lush expanses of the Andromeda Botanic Gardens and Hunte’s Gardens, as well as St. Nicholas Abbey, a historic plantation home and rum distillery. For something off the beaten path, check out Harrison’s Cave Eco-Adventure Park, where you can explore a limestone cave system with stalactites and stalagmites.

With so much to do here, it’s worth adding Barbados to your list of Caribbean islands to visit. If you’re not sure what to do or see, this island day tour will take you to several famous landmarks and natural areas like Animal Flower Cave.

5. Bahamas, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit with family

Hands down, the Bahamas is one of the best Caribbean islands for families, and while it’s known for its beaches, there are lots of other things to do here, too.

First, New Providence is the most popular Bahamas island, and its capital city of Nassau is a hotspot for vacationers, offering everything from beaches and cruises to food, history, and nightlife. You can eat your way through the old town on this Nassau food tour, or try jet skiing, parasailing, and other watersports on this adventure tour.

The Bahamas, best caribbean island for families

5. Bahamas, one of the best Caribbean islands to visit with family

Off the coast of New Providence, it’s worth visiting Paradise Island. If you go, check out the romantic Versailles Gardens, or consider this private beach excursion to nearby Rose Island, where you can enjoy an open bar, music, and kayaking or snorkeling.

Harbour Island also stands out for its pristine coastline, particularly the secluded 3-mile-long Pink Sands Beach. Over in the Exumas, you can swim with wild pigs and snorkel in the crystal clear waters at Pig Beach.

Finally, if you’re on Grand Bahama Island, I recommend exploring Lucayan National Park and its underwater caves. A good alternative is Clifton Heritage National Park in Nassau, on New Providence Island. This park is full of old ruins, lovely beaches, and an undersea sculpture garden.

  • Recommended accommodations:
    • The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort – one of the most elegant resorts on Paradise Island with an awarded chef restaurant and a Balinese spa
    • Grand Hyatt Baha Mar – a sophisticated resort in Nassau with six pools, a private beach, and a spa
    • SLS at Baha Mar – an oceanfront Nassau hotel with on-site watersports and a convenient location near the airport

6. U.S. Virgin Islands, some of the best Caribbean islands to visit

The U.S. Virgin Islands is a territory of the United States, so Americans can visit this Caribbean island with no passport required. The major islands here include St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, so I recommend focusing your vacation on these areas.

First, St. Thomas is wildly popular thanks to its historical monuments, pristine natural scenery, and stunning beaches. The capital city of Charlotte Amalie is full of old fortresses and cathedrals, like Fort Christian, Blackbeard’s Castle, and the Cathedral Church of All Saints. This food and culture tour takes you past the most visited landmarks and the shops on Main Street while treating you to delicious local cuisine.

Magens Bay Beach, U.S. Virgin Islands caribbean island list

6. U.S. Virgin Islands, some of the best Caribbean islands to visit

You’ll also find the most accommodation options and activities on St. Thomas, like this watersports tour at Cas Cay, where you can go hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling among the tropical fish, sting rays, and sea turtles. If you’re short on time but want to experience a bit of everything, this sightseeing tour is your best bet.

St. John also has incredible snorkeling and kayaking spots, as well as parks where you can explore the outdoors and the native flora. Finally, St. Croix is known for its Danish botanical gardens, mangroves, and coral reefs. So, if you love to explore new places while on holiday, these are some of the best Caribbean islands for your vacation.

7. Cuba, a unique island in the Caribbean

Known for its cigars, rum, and vintage cars, Cuba is one of the best Caribbean islands for a couples’ getaway. There is so much to discover here, from the amazing Spanish colonial architecture, dancing, and art to the magnificent valleys and romantic beaches.

First, you can’t miss a visit to the capital city of Havana, where you can mingle with the locals. Old Havana has the most iconic buildings and attractions like the Havana Cathedral, Plaza Vieja, and the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. It’s also worth checking out the historic city of Trinidad, which is full of museums, monuments, beaches, and nightlife venues.

I also recommend spending a day in Cienfuegos, a bayside city that looks like a postcard, thanks to its old monuments and colorful homes.

Vinales, Cuba, best islands to travel to right now

7. Cuba, a unique island in the Caribbean

Moreover, Cuba is one of the best Caribbean destinations for those who want to witness some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world. For example, the lush valley of Viñales is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with short, rounded mountains (mogotes), caves, fields, and forests.

If you want a beautiful beach day, I suggest going to Varadero and Cayo Jutias, two of the best places in Cuba. Varadero is one of the country’s most famous beaches, so there is lots to do, while Cayo Jutias is more remote and private, but has the most amazing sunsets.

  • Recommended accommodations:
    • Hotel Nacional de Cuba – an iconic hotel from the 1930s that overlooks Havana and the outskirts
    • Casas particulares – A rental room/accommodation in a Cuban family’s home. I recommend finding one in each city you plan to visit, such as Trinidad, Viñales, etc.

8. Aruba, the best island in the Caribbean for a luxury holiday

Aruba is one of the best Caribbean islands for a luxury vacation, so I suggest it if you’re planning a special occasion. Here, you can enjoy long days on the beach, stunning coastal sunsets and views, and fun watersports like banana boat rides and snorkeling. If that sounds good to you, you’ll love this full-day tour with all kinds of aquatic activities, a waterpark visit, and a Caribbean buffet with an open bar.

You can also take a day trip to the island’s most interesting sites, like the California Lighthouse, the Alto Vista Chapel, and Arikok National Park. This Jeep safari tour takes you through Arikok and includes a refreshing swim at the Conchi Natural Pool and Baby Beach.

Aruba, best of caribbean island

8. Aruba, the best island in the Caribbean for a luxury holiday

Speaking of the beaches here, you should also check out Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. One of the unique experiences here is this semi-submarine tour, where you can see underwater sights like the Antilla shipwreck, the Arashi Reef, and all kinds of tropical fish and coral.

Back on land, the Butterfly Farm and the Aruba Aloe Factory Museum are two cool places that offer history and culture. Without a doubt, Aruba has a bit of everything, and it’s one of the best Caribbean islands for a honeymoon. If you’re traveling as a couple, I suggest taking this happy hour sunset cruise along the coast.

9. Turks and Caicos, another one of the best Caribbean islands for couples

The clean white sand, the clear turquoise waters, and the palm trees swaying in the breeze…the islands of Turks and Caicos are a slice of paradise. This region has eight inhabited islands, with Providenciales (Provo) being the most popular.

On Provo, you’ll find the most idyllic shorelines at Taylor Bay, Leeward Beach, and Grace Bay Beach, which is the best place to go parasailing. Grace Bay is the crown jewel of the island, and a popular site for all kinds of tours, from snorkeling cruises to catamaran sails and adults-only sunset cruises.

Ship in Turks and Caicos, caribbean islands open for travel

9. Turks and Caicos, another one of the best Caribbean islands for couples

In addition to being one of the best Caribbean destinations for couples, Turks and Caicos is an exceptional place to learn about different geological formations and marine life. Smith’s Reef and Bight Reef offer spectacular sea beds full of coral, while nearby Iguana Island has a diverse array of tropical fish. This half-day tour from Provo includes snorkeling equipment and a cruise past Big Water Cay, Fort George, and Half Moon Bay.

If you prefer to stay on land, this love buggy island tour is a must-do. You’ll roam around the island, passing by the Cheshire Hall Plantation, the Junkanoo Museum, and more.

Also, while Provo is the main destination for most tourists, the island of Grand Turk is also a beautiful location with beaches and attractions like the Turks and Caicos National Museum, the Grand Turk Lighthouse, and Pillory Beach.

  • Recommended accommodations:
    • The Oasis at Grace Bay – some of the suites at this 5-star hotel have an equipped kitchen, although there is also an on-site restaurant and bar
    • Alexandra Resort – All-Inclusive – another Grace Bay resort, this property is near the airport and has an exclusive pool and beach area
    • Neptune Villas – located on the southern coast of Provo, this resort has a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, and complimentary watersports

10. Guadeloupe, one of the best Caribbean islands for relaxing

Guadeloupe is another top Caribbean island with a unique natural landscape featuring the La Soufrière volcano and the Pointe des Chateaux, a peninsula with stunning rock formations.

There are also gorgeous waterfalls here, including the Carbet Falls and the Cascade aux Ecrevisses. For all these reasons, Guadeloupe is one of the best Caribbean islands for nature lovers who want to spend their days hiking through lush forests, climbing to scenic lookout points, and admiring the tropical flora and fauna.

Guadeloupe, best caribbean island for honeymoon

10. Guadeloupe, one of the best Caribbean islands for relaxing

To all this, I must add the lovely beaches here, such as Plage de Grande Anse, a breathtaking beach with golden sands, aquamarine waters, and lush, green foliage. It’s also a popular spot for watersports like jet-skiing, paddleboarding, and surfing lessons. You can also check out nearby Plage de la Perle or Plage de Sainte Anne on the other end of the island.

Another intriguing area in Guadeloupe is the Grand Cul-de-Sac Marin, a chain of coral islets and mangroves off the north-central coast of the island. You can take a paddleboarding excursion or a day cruise through the lagoon to see tropical fish, crabs, sting rays, and a variety of sea birds.

Back on land, be sure to visit the Jardin Botanique de Deshaies and the Memorial ACTe history museum.

11. Curaçao, one of the best islands in the Caribbean for watersports

Curaçao has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean and a wealth of historical Dutch monuments and Spanish colonial architecture.

This island may be small, but it has a lot to offer, from Shete Boka National Park in the north to Mambo Beach in the south. You can see both attractions, as well as Curaçao’s popular western coastline on this full-day beach tour. Along with the beaches of Piskado, Kenepa, and Cas Abao, you’ll also stop at the St. Willibrodus Flamingo Sanctuary.

Curaçao, best caribbean island for snorkeling

11. Curaçao, one of the best islands in the Caribbean for watersports

Grote Knip is another gorgeous beach, and it’s known for its rich marine life, which you can see on this snorkeling trip. It’s also worth taking a day trip to Klein Curaçao (Little Curaçao), an uninhabited island with a pristine coastline and some of the clearest waters in the world. This catamaran cruise includes a visit to the island, as well as snorkeling, a buffet, and an open bar.

Of course, you must also visit the capital of Curaçao, Willemstad. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it’s home to a series of 17th and 18th-century fortifications. It’s also full of shopping malls, museums, and landmarks like the Queen Emma Bridge, which was built in 1888. This is also where you can explore the 200,000-year-old Hato Caves, which are made of coral limestone and feature stalactites, stalagmites, and local bat species.

12. Grenada, one of the best Caribbean islands to explore

Grenada is one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, specifically in the West Indies. The southwestern region of the island is particularly popular since it’s where you’ll find the capital city of St. George’s, a beautiful town with picturesque squares, charming homes, and a lively port.

South of St. George’s, you can visit the idyllic beach of Grand Anse, which is considered one of the prettiest beaches on the planet. It has gorgeous sunsets, as the pinks and purples contrast perfectly with the warm golden sand and the aquamarine water. Another spot you should check out is Flamingo Bay and the nearby underwater sculptures, which you can see on this snorkeling tour.

Coastline of Grenada, top caribbean destinations

12. Grenada, one of the best Caribbean islands to explore

If you want to make the most of your time on this island, I recommend this full-day tour from St. George’s. You’ll visit great sites like Concord Falls, a chocolate factory, a rum distillery, and Grand Etang National Park, a forest reserve and Grenada’s largest national park.

13. St. Lucia, one of the best Caribbean islands for a beach vacation

St. Lucia is one of the overall best Caribbean islands and has long been known for its dramatic landscapes, coral reefs, volcanic beaches, and rainforests. With so much to see, it can be tough to choose, so I recommend this land and sea tour. You’ll visit major sites like the Pitons mountains, sulfur springs and mineral baths, waterfalls, and the coastline.

As one of the best Caribbean islands for hiking, St. Lucia has numerous trails like the Tet Paul Nature Trail, the Canaries Waterfall Trail, and the Gros Piton Trail. If you’d rather see the scenery from above, try this rainforest zipline adventure over the forest canopy.

St. Lucia, easiest caribbean island to travel to

13. St. Lucia, one of the best Caribbean islands for a beach vacation

Moreover, the capital city of Castries offers an impressive Central Market, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and Marigot Bay, a harbor with all kinds of recreation and watersports. Plus, Pigeon Island National Park, an incredible cape with 18th-century ruins, is just a 30-minute drive away.

Of course, the beaches here are superb, so if you want some beach time while also sightseeing, take this full-day catamaran cruise. You’ll go snorkeling in Marigot Bay, zip-line over the rainforest, see waterfalls and springs, and feast at a Creole-style buffet.

14. Bermuda, another one of the best Caribbean islands to visit with family

Bermuda is another one of the best Caribbean islands for vacation, thanks to its pink sand beaches, clear turquoise waters, and delectable seafood.

A good place to start your adventure is in the capital city of Hamilton, which is full of dining and shopping venues, as well as nightlife. One of the best tours in the city is this food and culture tour, which takes you to the best local restaurants while teaching you about Bermuda’s history.

You should also visit nearby Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse and the Crystal and Fantasy Caves. These subterranean caves are 1,640 feet long and 200 feet deep and have a series of pathways so you can walk past natural pools, stalactites, and stalagmites.

Bermuda, best islands to travel to right now

14. Bermuda, another one of the best Caribbean islands to visit with family

Along the coast, you’ll find Horseshoe Bay, a spectacular pink sand beach with limestone cliffs. In fact, some of the best beaches in the Caribbean are in Bermuda, including Warwick Long Bay, Elbow Beach, and Tobacco Bay.

These stunning beaches feature soft sand and refreshingly clear water, and several of them are perfect for practicing watersports. Adventurous types will love this catamaran day trip, which includes snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding, as well as snacks and Caribbean rum.

Another option is this full-day island tour which also includes snorkeling and a trip to some of Bermuda’s hidden gems, like the caverns of Blue Hole Park.

15. St. Maarten, the best island in the Caribbean for a romantic getaway

Beautiful St. Maarten makes for one of the best Caribbean getaways, thanks to its perfect mix of adventure and leisure.

Start your trip in the capital city of Philipsburg and go shopping, sightseeing, and dining along Front Street. Stretching from the Great Bay to the Great Salt Pond, Philipsburg has a buzzing port, and it’s not uncommon to see cruise ships docking here. In addition to the sea breeze and views of the bay, the city has old military and fortress ruins.

St. Maarten, best caribbean island couples

15. St. Maarten, the best island in the Caribbean for a romantic getaway

It’s also home to Maho Beach, one of the most popular beaches in the country for its proximity to the airport. If you go here, you’re bound to see an airplane flying super close to the beach, and many tourists come here to go “planespotting.”

If you prefer something quieter and more secluded, go to Plum Bay or Baie Longue. That said, Great Bay Beach and Mullet Bay are two top beaches on the island where you can swim, dive, and ride ATVs. As one of the best Caribbean islands for watersports, St. Maarten has amazing cruise tours like this speedboat tour and this catamaran trip.

Back on land, don’t miss your opportunity to go zip-lining over Loterie Farm or Rockland Estate, which has the world’s steepest zipline.

Best Caribbean islands map

Now that you know the best Caribbean islands to visit, it’s time for the hard part: deciding where to go. To help you out, here is a Caribbean islands map you can download and use to plan your trip.

Also, if you have any questions about these destinations, or you’d like to share where you want to go in the Caribbean, leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you and help you out. Until then, have a safe trip and enjoy your island getaway!

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CHIEF ADVENTURER, TRAVEL GURU, AND MASTER PLANNER AT CAPTURE THE ATLAS
Hey there, I'm Ascen, your personal trip planner on a mission to help you craft the most incredible adventure of your life. While I'm based in Las Vegas, you won't find me there often. As a full-time traveler, I'm always on the go, exploring new destinations and capturing the world through my lens. From the enchanting shores of Almeria, Spain, where I grew up, to the far reaches of the globe, I'm here to provide you with detailed travel guides and practical tips to make your trip planning a breeze. Find out more about me here.
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4 replies on “15 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in 2024

    • Ascen Aynat says:

      Hey, thanks for reading! Which is your favorite Caribbean island to visit?

  1. Ryan Decker says:

    If there’s one island in the world that’s known for its diversity, luxury, entertainment, and celebration for all cultures and ethnicities, it’s St Maarten. Despite being the smallest island in the world, St Maarten is home to people from more than one hundred nationalities living in harmony on the island. It’s one of the best islands in the Caribbean!

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