Discovering Paradise: The Best Caribbean Islands to Visit on Your Next Holiday
If you’re currently in the process of planning a trip to the Caribbean, we won’t be surprised if you’ve found yourself in the same position as Christopher Columbus back in 1492, who wrote in his journal: “I saw so many islands that I hardly knew…to which I should go first.”
Whether you’re after a fly and flop holiday complete with palm-fringed beaches, or prefer rum-filled dancing and plenty of jungle excursions, there are different islands to suit every type of traveller.
After all, a trip to the Caribbean rarely needs convincing, and these are the best islands to visit whilst you’re there…
St Kitts and Nevis
If you like your golf courses well-manicured and your hotels five-star then you’ll feel right at home on the welcoming two-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis.
An ideal option for lovers of a slower pace of life, expect plenty of lazy beach days, excellent food and a mellow culture that revolves around ‘limin’ (hanging out, drinking and talking). St Kitts is where you’ll find most of the big fancy resorts, while on the more compact Nevis you can climb its sole misty peak in search of crystalline waterfalls, or wander around botanical gardens where you might just spot some mango-stealing monkeys.
Where to stay: Boasting eco-friendly credentials and surrounded by mind-blowing marine life, the ocean-front Sunset Reef St Kitts marries the feel of a private holiday rental with fantastic staff, even better cuisine, and all the amenities of a luxe five-star hotel.
Grand Bahama, Bahamas
Not one, but more like 700 islands located just off Florida, yourpiates choice of Bahamian islands may seem endless, but our top pick would be Grand Bahama. Promising a more laid-back island getaway than its glamorous sibling of Nassau, it is a mesmerising mix of beach front villas, hiking opportunities and snorkelling galore.
A place where filmmakers of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise chose as their primary film site for the second movie, spend your days exploring the nearby towns, settlements and caves where it’s believed that pirates like Henry Morgan and Blackbeard hid their vessels; hiking at Lucayan National Park; and diving wrecks, holes and walls for some of the most exciting underwater exploration of your life.
Where to stay: Nestled in Freeport, the capital of Grand Bahama, Grand Lucayan is a modern all-inclusive resort complete with restaurants, a spa, golf course, casino, water sports, swimming pools and a beautiful beach.
Home to 365 of the finest beaches in the Caribbean (that’s one for every day of the year), Antigua has enough to keep even the most die hard of beachgoer occupied. And while it may be a superyacht hotspot, don’t let all that fancy stuff put you off – this picturesque island defines laidback chic with plenty of snorkelling opportunities and a stellar marine scene to boot.
Proving that the best things come in small packages – nothing is ever more than a 45-minute drive away – be sure to check out the bustling city of St Johns where you’ll find the Antigua black pineapple for sale, Dickenson Bay for water sports, and Half Moon Bay for its pink crystal sand. Heaven.
Where to stay: For true island luxury, Hermitage Bay is an exclusive boutique resort where you’ll find a scattering of wooden cottages and lush green gardens overlooking the sea. Slightly more budget friendly yet equally as gorgeous, Tamarind Hills Antigua is beachfront bliss at its finest.
Turks and Caicos
Just a two-hour flight from Miami, the Turks and Caicos islands are the perfect blend of beautiful beaches, year-round weather, interesting wildlife and lack of modern development, allowing them to maintain their Caribbean charm.
A place where you can expect near-Maldivian levels of solitude, right at the southern tip of the Bahamian Archipelago, the pace of life is easy going, the locals welcoming and the diving some of the best in the world. What more could you ask for?
Where to stay: Located along an isolated stretch on the western coast near North West Point National Park, Amanyara is the only Aman Resort in the Caribbean. A sanctuary of private stand-alone villas complete with plush pools and tennis courts, this hotel defines luxury.
Perhaps one of the most diverse islands in the Caribbean when it comes to landscape – think sandy stretches of sand in one direction and volcanoes and lush tropical rainforests in the other – St Lucia is the perfect pick for those after a mix of relaxation and adventure. What’s more, the island's rich cultural heritage, influenced by both French and British colonial history, adds a unique charm which is evident in its vibrant festivals and delicious Creole cuisine.
Start your morning with a hike up the Piton mountains or zip-lining through the dense jungle before heading back to your resort to snorkel the vibrant coral reefs or, if you’re too exhausted, a little R&R with sundowners included.
Where to stay: Whether you choose to admire the Pitons from the comfort of your sun lounger, gorge on Creole food or get up close and personal with the Caribbean’s myriad of marine life, Sugar Beach A Viceroy Resort is our favourite hotel on the island.
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Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago rank among the finest Caribbean islands to explore for very good reason.
With its lively capital city, Port of Spain, Trinidad hosts vibrant festivals like Carnival, which takes place in February each year and showcases its rich multicultural heritage, while its lush interior boasts pristine nature reserves, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife.
Meanwhile, Tobago's tranquil charm captivates with its stunning beaches, excellent snorkelling and diving opportunities, and laid-back island vibe. In other words, you get the best of both worlds.
Where to stay: If one of you is looking to golf, and the other plans on being horizontal for the majority of your holiday, book a suite at Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort. Sitting on 750 acres of gated Tobago Plantations Estate, surrounded by a golf course, nature trails and vast spaces of picture-perfect golden beach, there are even eight places to eat and drink plus a swish spa, meaning all bases are covered.
When is The Best Time to Visit the Caribbean Islands?
While the Caribbean islands enjoy a hot and tropical climate all year round, its dry season runs from mid-December through to April, which is when the crowds descend. Depending on which islands you choose, the shoulder season of May to July can be a magical time to visit, with temperatures averaging around 27°C.