Ten Best Vacation Islands in the Caribbean


5. Aruba

Aruba is well known for its luxurious resorts, timeshares and fantastic casinos. Leading the way is the Copacabana Casino at the Hyatt Regency Aruba, the Crystal Casino at Renaissance Aruba and the Stellaris Casino at Aruba Marriott.

Don’t blow all of your money though, because Aruba also has other activities worth your while. Visitors can try their hand at snorkeling, diving and windsurfing, just to name a few. The Arikok National Wildlife Park is a great place to explore and hike the island’s desert terrain.

Aruba is a constituent country of Holland and has an interesting mix of Caribbean and Dutch culture. This is best seen in the island’s local cuisine. Check out the “dine around” program from the Aruba Gastronomic Association, which offers visitors a chance to dine at a wide number of restaurants throughout the entire island and taste everything Aruba has to offer!

The harbor of Aruba's capital city, Oranjestad.

The harbor of Aruba's capital city, Oranjestad.

4. Jamaica

Jamaica is one of the most popular islands in the entire Caribbean for vacationers! It’s a large island, more than 10,000 square kilometers, and befitting its size it has a wide array of beaches and charming cities.

Port Antonio on the island’s northeastern coast is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole country, Boston Bay Beach. Pass the time by relaxing on its white sand, trying your hand at surfing or eating at one of its many jerk pork street-food stands.

Another interesting part of Jamaica is Montego Bay, on the island’s northwestern coast. This is where many of Jamaica’s large resorts are situated, and is a very popular getaway with international visitors. There’s certainly no denying the appeal of long white sand beaches, all-inclusive luxury resorts, sunny weather and pulsating nightlife!

A unique way to experience Jamaica is by visiting the world-famous and raunchy resort Hedonism II. Located in Negril, this exclusive attraction is known for its anything-goes party atmosphere. Swingers and exhibitionists alike have been singing its praises for years!

PS: Make sure to brush up on your Jamaican English before your trip by listening to some Bob Marley!

The turquoise water and blue skies of Montego Bay.

The turquoise water and blue skies of Montego Bay.

3. Dominican Republic

One the largest countries in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern half of the island Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. Rest assured though, the Dominican Republic is a world apart from the troubles that have recently befallen Haiti.

The Dominican Republic is famous for its rich wildlife, beautiful white sand beaches and exciting nightlife. Its locals, meanwhile, are known for their good looks, tanned bodies and relaxed demeanors.

The two most visited areas in the Dominican Republic are Puerto Plata and Punta Cana. Puerto Plata is a medium-sized city located on the country’s northern coast. It offers a sizzling nightlife, beautiful beaches and excellent shopping. Punta Cana, on the other hand, is located in the far east of the country. It’s a more remote area than Puerto Plata and it offers plenty of solitude and some of the most striking beaches in the Dominican Republic!

Imagine relaxing on this beautiful white sand beach in Punta Cana...

Imagine relaxing on this beautiful white sand beach in Punta Cana...

2. Cuba

It may come as a surprise to many Americans, but Cuba’s tourism industry is alive and well. In fact, tourists from every nation but America have been frequenting Cuba for years and the island is especially popular amongst Canadian and French travelers.

Travelers who have visited Cuba, often say that vacationing on the island offers a glimpse of what the Caribbean was like thirty years ago. With its paradisaical natural beauty, unspoiled by large resorts and mass tourism, Cuba is certainly a welcome relief from the Caribbean’s more commercial destinations.

The capital of Cuba is Havana; a city steeped in historical lore. Before the communist revolution, after all, Havana was the hottest spot in the Caribbean. A center for movie stars, international playboys and gangsters alike, who came to celebrate the good life in one of the city’s many casinos.

These days the casinos are gone, but remnants of the city’s glamor still remain. Hemingway’s old haunts call to visitors and classic American cars ply the streets, sailing past the crumbling facades of disused hotels.

But that’s enough about Havana. The best place to enjoy Cuba’s beautiful sun, sand and surf is at Varadero on the island’s northern coast. Situated on a tiny peninsula, only one-kilometer wide and jutting out into the sea, visitors will find 20 kilometers of white sand beaches, dozens of beachfront resorts and Cuba’s only 18-hole golf course.

A classic American car on the streets of central Havana.

A classic American car on the streets of central Havana.

1. Barbados

The small island of Barbados is without a doubt one of the most beautiful islands in the world! It is the easternmost island in the Caribbean and is surrounded by an offshore coral reef, giving the island’s waters an amazing turquoise color and making them ideal for snorkeling or swimming.

More so, friendly locals, known as Bajans, do their best to make sure that visitors to Barbados feel the true warmth of the Caribbean!

Most visitors to the island choose to stay on its west coast, also known as the Platinum Coast, where many of the island’s luxury resorts and villas are located. One of the many notable beaches in the vicinity is Mullins Beach; a great place for swimming.

The capital of Barbados is Bridgetown. Here visitors will find a large selection of duty-free shops and restaurants. Many of the hotels and resorts on the island offer free shuttle services to and from Bridgetown.

For a great dining experience, Brown Sugar in southern Barbados offers more than 30 creole and local dishes. Try souse (pickled pork, stewed for hours), cou-cou, buljol, Bajan flying fish, coconut shrimp and many more. Don’t miss the pawpaw pie and rum pudding for dessert.

A view of Bridgetown and the mountainous island of Barbados.

A view of Bridgetown and the mountainous island of Barbados.

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Claudia is a writer and traveler who has lived and worked in Kuala Lumpur, Auckland and New York and has had the pleasure of traveling to almost 30 countries.