We’ve all dreamt of that perfect Caribbean island escape, relaxing on palm-fringed beaches with a rum punch or two. But sadly, you can’t be in 7,000 places at once. That’s why we’ve narrowed down our favourite Caribbean islands and why we love them.
Barbados is full of fun in the sun. There are loads of festivals to get involved with throughout the year celebrating food, music, and the country’s history. Or if you’d rather, you can chill on the beach and enjoy the classic laidback Caribbean island life with a rum punch in hand all day long.
Who it’s best for: Families and partygoers
Why we love it: It’s great for spotting exotic wildlife from macaws and Caimen to green monkeys and giant sea turtles.
Don’t miss: A tour through Harrison’s cave which hides away hundreds of stalagmites, ‘tites, and other impressive sights.
National dish: Flying fish
Fun fact: There was a Trafalgar Square (now called National Heroes Square) with a statue of Lord Nelson in Barbados 30 years before Nelson’s Column was built in London.
The Dominican Republic isn’t just a beach holiday. While its beaches are spectacularly Caribbean, there’s loads to keep you busy around the island. Trek deep into the jungle, try your hand at watersports (keeping an eye out for whales), or wander through the replica Italian village of La Romana.
Who it’s best for: Animal lovers and outdoor adventurers
Why we love it: Some of the best cacao beans in the world are grown in the Dominican Republic, and we can’t resist a bar or two of the sweet stuff.
Don’t miss: El Soco’s underground caves adorned with Taíno etchings and a Water Mirror Gallery.
National dish: La Bandera (rice, red beans, meat, and salad)
Fun fact: The amber stone with a preserved prehistoric mosquito trapped in it from Jurassic Park is on display at the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata.
Life goes a little bit slower in Jamaica, with reggae music filling the air. Or listen to the birdsong instead with a trek though the jungle and a plunge in one of the many blue pools across the island. But the Seven Mile Beach in Negril is calling, so grab that factor 50 and let’s go!
Who it’s best for: Families and explorers
Why we love it: The natural world highlights itself in Jamaica – literally! Not only do you have lush rainforests and hiking trails, there’s also the Luminous Lagoon that glows under the moonlight.
Don’t miss: The Jamaican Mystic Mountain Adventure Park where you can bobsled down a thrilling 1000-metre track through the treetops, just like Cool Runnings.
National dish: Ackee and salt fish
Fun fact: Ian Fleming wrote all the James Bond books in Jamaica.
Cigars, Cadillacs, and cocktails all come to mind when you think of Cuba. But it’s also steeped in history, bursting with baroque architecture, and those classic Caribbean island sandy beaches that are sure to delight. And when the night falls, the neon-lit bars and jazz clubs come to life with mojito-fuelled fun.
Who it’s best for: Culture vultures and nightlife lovers
Why we love it: Cuba’s got a little bit of everything: historical sights, gorgeous beaches, off-the-beaten-track experiences, tropical landscapes, and incredible national parks.
Don’t miss: Carnaval de Santiago de Cuba, the biggest carnival in the Caribbean with parades floats, music, and long conga lines.
National dish: Ropa Vieja (shredded flank steak in a tomato sauce base)
Fun fact: In Cuba, Christmas was banned for almost 30 years, from 1969 until 1997. It’s known as Las Navidades Silenciadas (the Silent Christmases).
Not only does St Lucia have the iconic white sand beaches and secluded coves of the Caribbean, it’s home to the Piton mountains and miles of thick jungle bursting with wildlife. Or take a wander around the sugar, coffee, and cocoa plantations and make your very own bar of choccie.
Who it’s best for: Honeymooners and nature lovers
Why we love it: St Lucia is one of the prettiest and insta-worthy Caribbean islands, which we can prove while you’re ziplining through the forest.
Don’t miss: The world’s only drive-in volcano, Sulphur Springs, with nearby mud baths.
National dish: Green figs and salt fish
Fun fact: The real Blackbeard docked up his ship in St Lucia and supposedly buried some of his treasure in Vieux Fort.
Antigua is a dream destination for beach-lovers. You’ve got everything from the pink beaches of Half Moon Bay to the classic beach resorts feel of Dickenson Bay. But there’s plenty of different historic landmarks from Antigua’s naval past at Nelson’s Dockyard and you’ll be treated to colonial treasures at the sea-facing forts.
Who it’s best for: Beach sloths and history buffs
Why we love it: There are 365 beaches spread across the island, so youhave every excuse to spend your days chilling on the beach with a cocktail.
Don’t miss: The top Caribbean yacht races at Antigua Sailing Week which attracts thousands of keen spectators and hundreds of yachts from all over the world.
National dish: Fungee and Pepperpot (okra cornmeal with a hearty stew)
Fun fact: There are no permanent rivers in Antigua.
Grenada is a Caribbean paradise hidden in plain sight. It hasn’t quite cemented itself on the tourist map yet, so you’re sure to be treated to almost untouched palm-lined beaches and incredible hiking and diving opportunities. It’s also steeped in history with the now-police station Fort George and hurricane survivor St George’s Church.
Who it’s best for: Outdoor enthusiasts and culture vultures
Why we love it: The lush rainforest is home to the Seven Sisters group of waterfalls as well as a supposedly bottomless lake where monsters and mermaids take up residence. It’s the perfect way to make your insta followers green with envy.
Don’t miss: Bianca C, the biggest diveable wreck in the Caribbean – a 600ft-long luxury cruise liner now home to corals, rays, and even sharks.
National dish: Oil Down (stew made with coconut milk and a side of dumplings)
Fun fact: Wearing camouflage clothing is a crime in Grenada.
With over 700 islands and cays making up the Bahamas, it’s no wonder this is a holiday best explored by boat. Only 30 islands are inhabited, but you’ll still find incredible hiking trails, diving spots, and lively nightlife. Every watersport imaginable is available on the islands – perfect for fun-seeking families and adrenaline junkies.
Who it’s best for: Divers and families
Why we love it: It’s hands down the best Caribbean island (maybe even the world) for cage-free diving with sharks. It’s also got great drift dives in Eleuthera and Harbor Island and Jeep wrecks in Jeep Reef.
Don’t miss: Big Major Cay, where a colony of pigs swim freely in the crystal clear waters.
National dish: Crack conch with peas and rice
Fun fact: Pablo Escabar’s partner in crime, Carlos Lehder, used Norman’s Cay as a base for their drug smuggling operation. He even extended an airstrip on the island for his fleet of aircraft.
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