The Caribbean: the poster child for beach getaways. The weather is always warm, and the beaches are paradise, but which of the islands is right for you? We’re breaking down five of the best destinations for your Caribbean vacation and the top attractions to visit at each one.
Grand Cayman Island
Grand Cayman Island is known for its incredible snorkeling and scuba diving. From exploring the bioluminescent bay to descending to the Kittiwake shipwreck, there’s always something to see in the crystal-clear waters. The most popular site is a shallow sandbar known as Stingray City. Here, guests can spend three hours swimming with and feeding Atlantic southern stingrays.
Back on land, you’ll find Seven Mile Beach, consistently ranked one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Its soft, coral sand and endless array of resorts, bars, and restaurants make it a can’t-miss destination on your next trip.
Speaking of restaurants, you should definitely consider putting some time aside to try the local cuisine. Grand Cayman Island is often called the “culinary capital of the Caribbean.” One of the best ways to experience the island’s popular food scene is the Flavour Tour. You’ll enjoy a sample of Camana Bay’s most renowned farm-to-table restaurants, as well as a drink pairing for each course.
If you only know Aruba as the place the Beach Boys want to take you, you’ve been missing out on some of the most magnificent beaches and landscapes in the world. Eagle Beach, one of the most popular shores on the island, is easily accessible. Its talcum-powder sands paired with the ocean waves are truly a sight to behold. For something a bit more relaxing, Palm Beach is less populated, providing more tranquil waters to enjoy your vacation in peace.
Encompassing 20% of the island, Arikok National Park is an unmissable attraction for any lover of the outdoors. It’s known as one of the greatest hiking spots in Aruba due to its varied terrain, beautiful plant life, and centuries-old rock paintings.
The very heart of the Bahamas lies in its capital city, Nassau, which seamlessly blends the area’s rich history with its spectacular beauty. Ascend the Queen’s Staircase, made out of solid limestone in the 18th century, to Fort Fincastle – an enormous fortress built to protect the island from pirates. Best of all, this is also the highest point on the island, making it easy to gaze out over all there is to explore.
During the early 1700s, Nassau was an infamous hideout for pirates, including the dreaded Captain Blackbeard. Dig a little deeper into the city’s history at the Pirates of Nassau Museum, featuring interactive exhibits, dioramas, and authentic pirate treasure meant to educate pirate fanatics of all ages. Once you’ve had your fill, stop by John Watling’s Distillery to get a taste of the island’s specialty rum.
No Caribbean island is complete without an unforgettable beach, and Nassau is home to one of the most popular. Located right in downtown Nassau, Junkanoo Beach is easy to get to and located close to the cruise port.
Take a step back in time in Old San Juan, the oldest city in the Western hemisphere. Its stunning scenery and historic buildings create an unmistakable experience you won’t find anywhere else. Take a stroll down the cobblestone streets to discover many of the local restaurants, shops, and bars.
Just a short ferry ride away is the less developed island of Vieques. A population of 2,000 horses roams free across its black-sand beaches. At night, take in the sights from Mosquito Bay, where the rare bioluminescence creates a celestial glow on the ocean surface.
Constructed by the Spanish from 1539 to 1589, Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a behemoth of a castle, standing at six stories tall. Guests can walk the grounds to get a one-of-a-kind peek into the history of the island, or take a trip to the top for unbeatable views of the surroundings.
Don’t forget to check out El Yunque, the only rainforest in the U.S., and try some of Puerto Rico’s most famous beverage in the Coffee Zone.
U.S. Virgin Islands
Serving as the focal point of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas is the perfect spot for a Caribbean getaway. Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the islands, is home to 17th-century Fort Christian, as well as the Government House. This three-story 19th-century home is still used to this day as the offices for the governor. The city is not only a great place to walk in the footsteps of history, but also to enjoy some duty-free shopping.
The island’s main shore, Magens Bay Beach, has been rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by multiple organizations. There’s no better feeling than dipping your toes into the warm, white sand and gazing out across the marvelous seascape.
On the island of St. John’s, Virgin Islands National Park boasts raw, unfiltered natural beauty, while Watermelon Cay offers some of the best snorkeling in the area. For those seeking something a bit more laid-back, consider Francis Bay, a less crowded beach the locals love.
Start planning your Caribbean vacation today by booking a trip with Vacations by Marriott.