Best Caribbean Islands

Enchanting beaches, endless sunshine and some of the best food in the world – this is what the Caribbean is all about. And each island promises a different kind of adventure, whether you’re after a glamorous luxury retreat, a family-friendly resort, a perfect honeymoon escape or an adrenaline-fuelled getaway. Whichever island you choose, you will be whisked away from the routines of daily life and everyday stresses will disappear the moment your plane lands. Not sure where to go? Here’s a glimpse of our favourite Caribbean islands to help you choose.

  1. Jamaica
  2. Barbados
  3. The Bahamas
  4. The Dominican Republic
  5. Martinique
  6. St Lucia
  7. Cuba
  8. Aruba
  9. Antigua and Barbuda
  10. Trinidad and Tobago
  11. Grenada
  12. Guadeloupe

1. Jamaica

Jamaica promises an explosion of colour, music and spice. It is, after all, the home of jerk chicken, rum and Bob Marley. This large island has three main resort areas, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril. Laze away the days on some of the best beaches in the world (Doctor's Cave Beach is a must) before heading to the spectacular Dunn’s River Falls, the Green Grotto Caves or the Bob Marley museum in Kingston. Later, kick back with rum cocktails while listening to the sound of reggae rhythms and steel drums.

Unmissable adventure to try: See Dunns River Falls from above on its zip lines and hanging bridges 

Best for: Fun-loving explorers with a taste for adventure

2. Barbados

Travelling on a budget or prefer a touch of luxury? Both are possible in Barbados. Whatever your travel style, don't miss the so-called Platinum Coast where alluring beaches such as Alleynes Bay are lapped by calm waters. You might even catch a glimpse of turtles sporting in the crystal-clear waters. Pop into Bridgetown, the island's vibrant capital and tour the distilling tanks of Mount Gay, Barbados’s world-famous rum. Then dine on freshly caught fish topped with hot scotch bonnets.

Unmissable adventure to try: Take a tram journey into the breathtaking caverns of Harrison's Cave 

Best for: Sun-seeking beach lovers 

3. The Bahamas

The Bahamas is one of the most picturesque destinations in the Caribbean, thanks to its many beautiful white and pink sand beaches. Watersport junkies can sail, dive and snorkel while party animals can enjoy all that the nightlife has to offer with lively bars and clubs. Interestingly, the Bahamas was once the haunt of buccaneers and pirates. Their legacy can be seen in Fort Charlotte or the Pirates of Nassau Museum.

Unmissable adventure to try: Swimming with wild pigs at Big Major Cay 

Best for: A spot of island hopping

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4. The Dominican Republic

Miles of pristine beaches including beautiful Punta Cana guarantee lazy stress-free days in the Dominican Republic. Punta Cana resorts are perfect for honeymoon bliss but adventures await as well. Hike in the Sierra de Bahoruco, surf at Cabarete, whale watch from the Samaná Península, raft on the Yaque del Norte River or paraglide over the Jarabacoa valleys. Take time to enjoy Santo Domingo's heritage where architecture stretches back to the 16th century. After sunset, dip into a nightlife scene of bachata music.

Unmissable adventure to try: A horseback trek to the spectacular El Limón waterfall deep in the mountains 

Best for: Adventure-seeking honeymooners 

5. Martinique

Staying in Martinique brings a touch of Gallic joie de vivre to your Caribbean holiday. The slopes of smouldering Mont Pelée sweep down through rainforests to the north while to the south are gorgeous beaches such as Anse Michel and Anse des Salines. Life in much of Martinique is lived at a sedate pace but the capital Fort-de-France adds a buzz to island life with its history and culture.

Unmissable adventure to try: Hike up Mont Pelée and enjoy the island views 

Best for: Getting away from it all on isolated beaches

6. St Lucia

Lush rainforests, hidden waterfalls and tropical beaches guarantee romance in St Lucia. On the west coast, the volcanic plugs of Gros Piton and Petit Piton are a World Heritage Site. A visit to them should be part of any St Lucia holiday. Don't miss the Hotel Chocolat cocoa plantation near Soufriere. The cocoa is grown ethically and a fair price is guaranteed for the crops. Also at Soufriere, history lovers can explore the ruined military buildings that lurk in the Pidgeon Island National Park.

Unmissable adventure to try: See the rainforest canopy up close from the Aerial Tram 

Best for: Truly romantic breaks

7. Cuba

Still somewhat off the beaten track, Cuba is a blend of lively music, retro Cadillacs, and natural beauty. During the day, wander Havana’s Spanish-style streets, visit Trinidad and Remedios or laze away sunny hours on beaches such as Cayo Jutias or Playa Varadero. After dark, find a small local bar to tango and samba the night away while drinking Cuban rum.

Unmissable adventure to try: Snorkel in the colourful waters of Cueva de Los Peces 

Best for: Lovers of retro style and music

8. Aruba

With tropical beaches and reliable hurricane-free weather, Aruba attracts visitors all year round. Head for uncrowded beaches such as Arashi, Boca Catalina or Hadicurari and you won't want to leave. If learning to dive is on your bucket list, Aruba is the perfect destination. Many resorts offer diving lessons around the coral reefs and shipwrecks. If you do want to escape the beach, spend a day in the Arikok National Park or tour the old gold boom town of Bushiribana.

Unmissable adventure to try: 4x4 or dune buggy safaris into the dunes and canyons of Aruba's desert hinterland

Best for: Quiet holidays on uncrowded beaches

9. Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are a duo of islands separated by a tiny sea channel. With 365 beaches (one for every day of the year!), they're perfect for sunseekers and family holidays. Get a different perspective on this island pair by hiking up Shirley Heights or taking a boat trip along the coast. Visit at the end of April to catch the world-renowned Antigua Regatta while the Nelson's Dockyard National Park has something for all ages. Across the water in Barbuda is the Frigate Bird Sanctuary, home to a huge colony of these intriguing birds.

Unmissable adventure to try: A daring ziplining tour through Antigua's rainforest canopy 

Best for: Family fun and adventures

10. Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is the spot for a beach getaway with a touch of nature. As well as waterfalls, caves and lakes, you’ll also find some incredible wildlife here including leatherback sea turtles. And as one of the world's top spots for bird diversity, you’ll also find a whopping 472 species of birds. In terms of beaches, Las Cuevas Beach and Maracas Beach are two of the most beautiful and spacious. If you can, try to time your visit to coincide with Carnival in February/March – this vibrant celebration of culture, fashion, art and music is a must.

Unmissable adventure to try: Hike to the Argyle Waterfall, finishing with a dip in its plunge pool 

Best for: Nature lovers

11. Grenada

Grenada, nicknamed the Spice Isle, is a foodie's delight. Laze away the day on glorious beaches (Morne Rouge Beach or Grand Anse Beach are two of the best), dine on the freshest seafood and take tours of nutmeg, spice and chocolate factories. Food and festivals often go hand in hand and Grenada is no exception. The best is the Carnival Spicemas Festival in August, a colourful medley of music, parties and street food. Explore the heritage of the capital St George or get away from it all with a hike in the Grand Etang National Park.

Unmissable adventure to try: Snorkel or dive at the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park 

Best for: Lovers of authentic Caribbean food

12. Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe is the true tropics with lush rainforest interiors and exotic beaches fringed by palm trees. It is butterfly-shaped, made up of two islands, Grande Terre and Basse Terre that are joined by man-made bridges. French influence is strong here, reflected in the chic shops of Grande Terre and the seriously good food found throughout the island. Grand Terre is busier with family-friendly beaches such as Caravel while the larger Basse Terre is a wild region of mountains and waterfalls perfect for adventurous escapes.

Unmissable adventure to try: Explore the corals, marine life and wrecks of the Jacques Cousteau Marine Reserve 

Best for: Families with an adventurous streak

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