Your Island Guide to the Caribbean

From the U.S., a Caribbean beach is just a plane ride (or two) away! What’s not to love about sunshine, turquoise waters, and a tropical drink with a mini umbrella?

Since the Caribbean has over 7,000 individual islands, we narrowed down which ones are passport free, best-value, and our top pick for best beach and adventure. Come dream along with us and when your wallet allows, discover which island is perfect for your next getaway.

 

Passport Free

Puerto Rico is a territory of the U.S. that is rich in Hispanic culture, has vibrant nightlife and beautiful resort-lined beaches. But more than that, it’s home to some of the best surfing in the world. Puerto Rico has hosted the World Surfing Championships and its “Caribbean Pipline” is the surfing capital of all the Atlantic.

The U.S. Virgin Islands are also U.S. territories that are made up of three main islands - St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John. St. Thomas is bustling as a main port for cruises and offers plenty of shopping and sightseeing. It is home to a Skyride that hovers 700 feet above the city – this is a must-do for a view as far as the eye can see! 

St. Croix is rich in beauty and history with stunning rainforests and landmarks dating back to the 18th century. There are plenty of ways to take it all in. Try horseback riding through the rainforest, relax in a natural tidal pool, and experience an authentic jungle bar on the west-side of the island, complete with beer drinking pigs!   

St. John is covered in natural beauty, with two-thirds of the island as national park. The landscapes are breathtaking as valleys, hills and beaches all collide. St. John is also a haven for boaters with calm trade winds and turquoise waters. A snorkeling excursion or evening boat ride is sure to be most memorable!

Best Value

The Dominican Republic is one of the most affordable and easily accessible destinations in the Caribbean. With sophisticated cities, 8 international airports, beautiful beaches and charming villages, it’s not surprising it has received high praise from several top travel organizations. The land is an adventurer’s paradise - zipline past monkeys through the jungle, rappel into a cave, swim among humpback whales, and try a waterfall jumping excursion! Of course there are also plenty of great all-inclusive resorts for those who prefer to indulge in the relaxation of sun and sand.

Jamaica is another great island that’s easy on the wallet. It offers plenty of flight options from low-cost carriers as well as varied accommodations from guesthouses to all-inclusive properties. The beaches are stunning, the culture is exciting and the food is delicious! Climb the beautiful Dunn’s River Falls, take a zipline canopy tour, and get a true rainforest experience by bobsledding on a mountainside at Mystic Mountain.

The Bahamas is just 50 miles from Florida, making it an easy to get to destination and with plenty to see and do. The U.S. dollar is accepted and the official language is English, creating a smooth transition to a think-free vacation! The Bahamas are made up of 700 islands so there are plenty of gorgeous beaches to choose from and activities galore on clear-blue waters. One of our favorites has been scuba diving with Caribbean Reef Sharks off the coast of Eleuthera. Surrounded by nearly a dozen sharks, it was a truly amazing experience! Eleuthera is home to the most narrow place on Earth where the choppy Atlantic meets the calm waters of the Caribbean.

Best Beach Island

With thousands of white-sand beaches and turquoise waters to choose from, it’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking for relaxation on a stunning beach. But if we have to choose, it would be alongside the most highly awarded beach in the Caribbean – Grace Bay on Turks and Caicos

Stretching 12 miles, Grace Bay is sheer island perfection. Our favorite part was exploring by scooter this island's care-free and laid-back vibe. This island has been recognized as the #1 Beach Destination in the World among other highly acclaimed Traveler’s Choice Awards. And in case basking in this perfection isn’t enough, the nearby reefs make for incredible snorkeling, scuba diving, and water adventures!

Best Adventure Island

Many islands in the Caribbean offer amazing activities such as snorkeling near beautiful reefs, hiking through rain forests, and experiencing majestic waterfalls. But our pick for most adventurous island goes to Dominica, the one that has been deemed “Nature Island”.

Dominica boasts volcanic peaks, lush jungles, an abundance of rivers, and even boiling waters. Take a guided river tour under a forest canopy, dip in the Emerald Pool, or hike to the world’s second largest actively boiling lake. The terrain is so stunning and varied that there are endless adventures to be had on this incredible island.

Which island is perfect for you?