With so many beautiful places to kick back and relax, how do you even begin to make a choice? You can always island-hop, visiting all of the best locales until you find your perfect sandy beach – the ultimate bucket list thrill.
Don’t have the time or energy for that? No problem. Think about what living your best beach life feels and looks like, then match your preferences with these expert tips. You’ll be able to choose the best Caribbean beaches for your next vacation, and the one after that, too.
Experience the Caribbean
There is so much to do and see in the Caribbean islands that are more than beaches or water sports. There are jungles, forests and mountains, and amazing places to white river raft or deep dive in sublime blue waters in search of treasure, or more likely, rum.
You may think you know which island is perfect for your next vacation until you hear about an adventure on another. This travel guide to the Caribbean islands offers a snapshot of what the islands offer to help you plan a trip that is exactly what you’ve been dreaming of.
A country that has managed to escape untouched by casinos and mega-resorts, it is just as beautiful as any of its neighbors. When you want a true vacation away from it all, you can enjoy a beautiful, remote Caribbean experience here.
700 islands make up this country, with the most visited being Bimini, Abaco, Nassau, Grand Bahama Exuma, and New Providence. Close to the U.S., it is often a key stop on many cruises.
Visit to see some of the most magnificent pink sand beaches on the planet, swim with pigs, and gamble.
With a population of over 10 million, there is so much to do when you’re tired of the beach. Vibrant Santo Domingo is a historic spot full of excitement and is quite affordable. You can also find cigars as good as Cuba’s.
Turks and Caicos
For gorgeous never-ending turquoise waters and snorkeling these islands are a top choice. Providenciales, the largest island, offers something for everyone and has world-renowned resorts and beaches. This island is also home to the popular Parrot Cay.
For seclusion, never-ending watersports, and world-class dining in an authentic Caribbean setting, South Caicos should be your choice. South Caicos is home to the 5-star Sailrock Resort and East Bay Resort. Just 20-minutes away from Providenciales, both resorts include island-hop flights with stays.
First thoughts aren’t of white sand and fruity drinks, but there’s some amazing surfing to be done and history to discover. Here you can experience Afro-Caribbean culture and art at its purest.
Known for its lenient tax and banking laws, these three islands have some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean. Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman is a highlight for tourists, but there are real adventures for scuba divers on Cayman Brac. When it comes down to Turks and Caicos vs Grand Cayman, it may come down to the type of experiences that you’re looking for.
As one of the Caribbean’s most cosmopolitan destination, the French influence is alive and well. French fashions, live music, and gourmet beach cuisine can be found here. Surprisingly, it is still one of the lesser-visited islands.
Obviously, everyone should go for the reggae! But Negril’s popular beaches and famous cliff divers should be a great distraction. Another affordable find, it also has the world’s foremost adult resort – Hedonism II.
Antigua and Barbuda
Two distinct experiences are to be had here. Antigua is the traditional Caribbean Americans think about. Barbuda, however, is all about the wildlife that includes native deer, deep-sea fishing, and a bird sanctuary.
The British Virgin Islands
Internationally known for the boating scene, there some fantastic private-island resorts. Besides beautiful beaches, stumble around in the rainforests or protected national parks.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The long-time stomping grounds of seafarers, visitors come here to drink, drink in the fabulous white sand beaches, and shop. In that order.
One of the few hidden gems of the Caribbean, gorgeous beaches abound but its mountainous terrain has amazing hiking trails, a nature preserve, and a rainforest offer true wonders.
St. Kitts and Nevis
Nevis is a paradise yet to be spoiled by over-development and is perfect for romantic getaways. St. Kitts has a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park.
Francophiles will love the natural beauty and authentic culture. Uncrowded beaches and watersports as well as a national park and hiking trail that leads to an active volcano. It’s spectacular.
A playground for the rich and famous, high-end shopping, gourmet dining, and exclusive locations and secluded beaches are the norm.
Luxury in the Caribbean
Behind Europe, the Caribbean is where the wealthiest people travel to let their hair down. Get a glimpse at how a few islands compare when you need a little pampering.
Aruba and Turks and Caicos
Aruba is loved for its beaches, friendly people, and gorgeous sunsets. The joyous mood of the island is infectious and there are a lot of festivals taking place throughout the year. Aruba has some of the most amazing private islands and retreats as well.
Known for an array of watersports, everything can be done in this island’s waters, including kiteboarding, windsurfing, snorkeling, boating, kayaking, fishing, and diving. It also has mountains for hiking or having an off-road adventure. It’s not uncommon to see all-terrain vehicles and Jeep rentals.
There’s an American vibe to Aruba in the sense that you’ll see fast-food chains, cruise ships, casinos, and lots of nightlife. The look and feel of the hotels are familiar, too, if you’re from the States.
Turks and Caicos
Many people fall in love with the Turks and Caicos because it is seriously stunning. It also has a sophisticated vibe. Besides having some of the most gorgeous water you’ll ever have the pleasure to lay eyes on, it has any number of secluded beaches, restaurants, and cays to explore.
Providenciales also has some of the best Caribbean beaches with luxury hotels and resorts, but there are seven other islands besides Providenciales to get lost in, too. In fact, South Caicos has one of the Caribbean’s leading luxury island resorts.
If privacy is what you’re looking for, which usually does go along with luxury, the Turks and Caicos is the place. It tends to be more expensive than many islands but also has far fewer resorts and many more private villas. Shared pools and overcrowded restaurants and beaches don’t happen here at the same rate as in Aruba.
Overall, there is less development in the Turks and Caicos compared to Aruba, though it is well on its way. When it comes down to the Turks and Caicos vs Aruba, you may find that age plays a big role as well as the charm and appeal you need on that particular vacation.
Turks and Caicos or Grand Cayman?
Let’s start with Seven Mile Beach, one of the most well-known beaches in the world. It’s a gorgeous place and has waters that surely rival those found in the Turks and Caicos. The waters can be a little rough at times and there are both good and not-so-great areas to stake claim to.
Grace Bay Beach, in the Turks and Caicos is also one of the top beaches. No matter where you sit, stand or jump, you are going to get a beautiful view. The sands are soft and only get softer as the water touches it. There are no rocks and shells to worry about so going barefoot 100% of the time is possible. Known for its snorkeling, the waters are pretty shallow offshore for a decent distance, which can be frustrating for some.
Both slices of paradise offer similar activities. You can parasail, kayak, paddle board and more. In the Turks and Caicos, marine life is all around and lots of boat tours you’ll love. However, Grand Cayman has a little something called Stingray City that is simply amazing. You’ll never see so many friendly stingrays.
It isn’t hard to find delicious cuisine in either place, but the food in Providenciales and the atmosphere it has can really suck you in. There are a lot of restaurants to choose from, but you won’t find anything like fast food, for the most part.
Grand Cayman has far more dining options, and while there are some pretty incredible places, there’s more of a wow factor in the Turks and Caicos, but that will be different for everyone.
What’s indisputable when it comes to the two countries are the prices. The Turks and Caicos is expensive, but Grand Cayman has prices that make you wish they simply weren’t listed at all.
Then there’s the overall vibe of the two destinations. Grand Cayman is busy. Very busy. Right when you come off the highway, traffic can be shocking. You may feel as if you are in an American city, as it can take two hours to drive 20 miles. The Turks and Caicos has the kind of charm that makes you feel like you can completely relax, wind down and disconnect.
In Grand Cayman, anything you want, from chain restaurants to shopping, are within your grasp. The Turks and Caicos has a more relaxed, chill vibe more closely associated to the Caribbean luxury most think of.
The Bahamas or the Caribbean?
Often times the Bahamas is thrown in with the Caribbean, mostly because of the similarity of atmosphere and culture, but the Bahamas is actually in the Atlantic. For the most part, the people consider themselves Caribbean, but not all.
Once again, let’s start with one of the most important things: which has the better beaches. Everyone knows by now this is an impossible question to answer as they both have some of the most spectacular shores on the planet.
What can be said about the Bahamas vs. Caribbean comparison is that, unlike the Caribbean, the Bahamas sands are not white, they are mostly tan. The Bahamas do have a few beaches with pink sand that are simply incredible, however. The only thing that can truly be said is that there are more beautiful beaches to choose from in the Caribbean.
If you are deciding between which cruise to take, you’ll want to know about the bars, and the Caribbean is full of them. You can watch Jamaica’s fearless clear divers while you sip planter’s punk in Negril or have drinks in a chic St. Barts lounge, where you may be lucky enough to see celebrities hanging out.
There are rustic beach bars in the British Virgin Islands that a barfly would never dream of leaving.
It would be foolish to act as if drinks aren’t available in the Bahamas. Nassau has seriously posh places like the One and Only Ocean Club and Dune Bar, but when you’re not there, you will be on a cruise line’s private islands, which don’t have the same character as other places in the Bahamas.
A lot of cruises in the Bahamas are designed primarily for families with children. They feature playgrounds, water slides, mini cars and faux archaeological digs to keep kids entertained. The Caribbean has a lot of activities that are family friendly, but nothing as specific for children in that manner. Most of the offerings are geared toward adults.
When comparing these two, it’s usually about which cruise is better, especially with a family, because traveling with kids can change things. It’s a tough choice, but both are going to be a great time, whether you are traveling with a family or not.
Top 10 Best Caribbean Beaches
What makes a great beach all depends on the traveler. Is it the Instagram-worthy natural beauty that ranks a beach among the best? While that is certainly a requirement, but – depending on your mentality – privacy, accessibility, seclusion, shade, extracurricular activities, unique scenery and who you’re traveling with may also play a role.
Travel to any of these best Caribbean beaches for your most memorable sand-and-sun experience yet.
1. Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Though Anguilla only stretches across 16 miles of flat land, it has some of the most stunning beaches in the Caribbean, and Shoal bay is one of the best. Open to the public, its 2 miles of silvery sands are the stuff of legend. Visitors love the soothing waves of the blue sea, flawless sand, convenient on-site equipment rentals and famous local eateries.
You can walk the length of the beach, enjoying beautiful serene views. After that, grab some grilled mahi mahi from Elodias Beach Bar or BBY from Uncle Ernie’s – don’t forget to wash it all down with some rum punch.
2. Trunk Bay, U.S. Virgin Islands
Postcard-perfect, Trunk Bay, located on St. John, is one of the islands most breathtaking beaches and its offshore coral reefs are some of the most well-preserved attractions. Silky soft white sands and warm waters lure visitors to this dreamy escape.
Thanks to well-maintained facilities that include showers, snorkel equipment and chair rentals, you can bask in the sun, visit the Underwater Trail’s 225 yard-long reefs or see how you fare at some underwater photography. If you want to get away from the water, explore the park instead; it has ruins of historic plantations and many hiking trails.
3. Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos
Celebrities build their vacation homes on this 1,000 acre private island that can only be reached by boat, so that should tell you just how beautiful this beach is. Pairing service with tranquility, the island only has a few private villas and one luxury resort, you can spend your entire vacation without seeing another person.
Daily yoga sessions and meditation sessions on Parrot Cay’s pristine white sand beach have brought people here from all around the world.
4. Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas
It’s such a shame to only choose one, but Pink Sand Beach is a favorite among travelers. While the Bahamas islands have plenty of bright white sand, not so here (as you could have guessed). The rosy hued-blush sands aren’t the only reason this beach is a worthwhile visit. It’s also huge. Three miles long and 50 to 100 feet wide, you can relax in a lot of places while watching the sun set.
You have a lot of options here, too. For relaxation you can swim or even test your horseback riding skills, opt for privacy away from the resorts by finding a secluded area on the expansive beach or you can hit up a number of bars and beach eateries for non-stop camaraderie.
5. Bathsheba Beach, Barbados
Rugged, untouched and wild are just a few words to describe Bathsheba’s shoreline. Surfers and photographers run here to catch killer waves and to see the “Soup Bowl,” a name for the mesmerizing natural phenomenon that occurs when waves crash onto the huge boulders and white sand.
Located 14 miles from the capital city, this beach isn’t for sipping rum punch and daiquiris. The rolling surf and eye-popping rock formations are for those who want action and adventure. Grab a rum punch and soak in one of the shallow pools, take a revitalizing stroll, sailing or paddle out into the wild and breezy waves.
6. The Baths, British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda’s top attraction, get there by land or sea. Wading through colorful coves and granite boulders will be an experience you’re unlikely to forget. Climbing through the grottoes and crevices and over the gigantic boulders of The Baths isn’t too intensive but it can be slippery, so sneakers or swim shoes are typically encouraged.
Once you reach the clearing at the rocks, you’ll be at Devil’s Bay, a stunning beach. Plop down on the super-soft sand and start sunbathing or meet new critter friends snorkeling in the turquoise shallow waters. Don’t forget to check out the Cathedral Room, a natural pool in a small cave.
7. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands
Lauded as one of the top beaches in the Caribbean, take just one look at the shore’s crescent shape or one sniff of the silky coral sand and you will feel the same. Even with very large crowds, visitors find it impossible not to love the soft sand and calm waves.
You’ll never get bored here either as there are many things to do. Besides taking a walk along one of the most beautiful shores, you can snorkel or stand-up paddleboard.
Many of the best resorts are on Seven Mile along with restaurants and casual beach bars. There are even restrooms, showers and a playground for the little ones.
8. Ffryes Beach, Antigua
With enough beaches to see a new one every day of the year (yes, Antigua has 365 beaches), choosing just one isn’t easy. 20 minutes from St. John by bus, Ffryes Beach has the powdery sands, chill laid-back Caribbean vibe and gentle surf that makes you want to stop using all the muscles in your body and melt into the sand. Get there by bus to enjoy a perfect day at the beach with a nice drink and good food.
Here, it’s all about relaxation and beauty, though the cruise ships being in port can turn it into an excursion destination.
9. Eagle Beach, Aruba
Don’t expect the swagger of Palm Beach here; this unassuming beach has an offhand charm that outshines its more famous (and more crowded) counterpart. With miles of calm waters, clean shores and fantastic weather, it is truly a beauty you cannot miss.
Free to the public, you swim in the gentle surf, lie out in the sand or get your adrenaline going with paddle boarding or jet skiing activities.
10. Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
The pale pink sand and bright turquoise waters are gorgeous. They are also famous, bringing in visitors from across the globe. Scores of bathrooms, snorkel rentals, eateries and lifeguards have made this one of Bermuda’s most popular seaside retreats.
Horseshoe Bay has a hidden secret though: Port Royal Cove. The cove’s pink sand is soft and perfect complemented by dramatic rock formations. There’s also shallow water that young kids will find perfect. A nearby equestrian center even provides trail rides to the private cove.
Which Caribbean Island Is Right for You?
Asking yourself “which Caribbean island should I visit?” is a great question because it means you know that while every Caribbean island has beautiful waters, shores of white sand and plenty of delicious rum, that is pretty much where the similarities end.
Within the many islands of the Caribbean is a place for every type of traveler. What kind of traveler are you?
Often called the Nature Isle, Dominica is recovering nicely after being hit by hurricanes, and the unspoiled waterfalls and rainforests again offer limitless opportunities for hikers. The most challenging and most famous trek of all is the journey to Boiling Lake. It takes a day to complete and leads to one of the largest hot springs in the world.
Turks and Caicos is a place to consider. It has one of the longest barrier reefs in the region and is the ideal destination for underwater exploration. Kayak in the mangrove forests or try kiteboarding in Long Bay Beach.
The Road Less Traveled
The Dutch island of Saba, a dormant volcano, is perfect for those who seriously, truly want to get away from it all. The island is only five square miles with a population of 2,000 people and is surrounded by coral reefs and marine park. This is not the place to go if you want the beach, there are very few here, with one being a “wandering beach” that is only visible if the conditions are just right.
No Sleeping on Vacation
When the sun goes down, Curacao is one of the places you need to be. Beach clubs, annual festivals, casinos and famous DJs are a standard night here.
St. Lucia is where the honeymooners go due to its sheer beauty, white beaches and lush rainforests.
Beach bars, hotels, calm waters and plenty sun are here for you in Aruba. You’ll never have to leave he beach for a snack or drink again.
Fun With the Family
Safe, clean and very close to the U.S., the Bahamas has a lot of choices if you are on vacation with the kids. Atlantis mega-resort is here and Grand Bahama has some gorgeous beaches for the kids and casinos for when they’re asleep.
When You Want It All…On a Budget
Don’t turn Jamaica into a cliché. It has the reggae and the beaches, but it’s bigger than you think. From the posh resorts to their distinct urban culture on over to the more adult-themed play areas, you’ll have a complete trip here.
Bonaire is another great location where you can have fun no matter how much money is in your pocket. It is one of the southern Caribbean’s more interesting islands and is famed for its offshore diving. The main city, Kralendijk, has fascinating history and is walkable.
Low Key Luxury and Isolation
On Antigua, you can find resorts ranging from lavish to modest. Little beaches can be found throughout the island so if someone sits too close to you on the beach, you can just find another one.
The Best Caribbean Beaches Are Waiting
Remarkable beaches and warm weather make the Caribbean a fantastic place to visit just about any time of the year. Whichever beach wins your heart, the remarkable culture, terrain and atmosphere of your chosen island will only enhance the trip further.