It’s never too early to start thinking about a relaxing summer vacation. Even now during the frigid months, sometimes the best things to think about (and travel to if you can), are the sun and sand. Millions every year flock to the Caribbean for their gorgeous beaches, clear waters, and top tier relaxation. In the same breath, these are the very things that make it difficult to choose which are the best Caribbean islands to visit.
People are itching to travel these days, with many missing lost time from restrictions that were placed during the pandemic. Recent findings report 37 percent of people are actually traveling more than they were before the pandemic. Moreover, 44 percent of those going on more trips shared that lifting of restrictions was the main contributing factor for their desire to travel more.
Vacations come with high expectations. In fact, a new survey of 2,000 adults reveals that most people are riddled with anxiety, worry, and pressure about having the best time and experiencing the most possible on their trips. In fact, the responses showed that people tend to not feel relaxed during their trip until the third day. Luckily, one of the main reasons people choose the Caribbean as their vacation of choice is because of the chance for complete relaxation and peace from the get-go, which everyone always needs.
With so many possibilities and experiences, StudyFinds set out to make the search process a bit easier. We turned to the experts to find the best Caribbean islands to visit for your next tropical sunshine destination. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading travel websites to see which islands were rated the highest. Our list is ranked based on the most-recommended places across these sites. Are we missing one? Let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Caribbean Islands, According to Experts
1. Turks and Caicos
Between warm weather year-round and being home to one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, Turks and Caicos is the perfect island to relax out on the beach or snorkel and scuba dive. “With some of the most spectacular beaches and turquoise waters, as well as coral reefs that beg to be explored, there is so much to keep you entertained. While Grace Bay is the most popular, head to the area between Providenciales and North Caicos and you’ll find an untouched collection of small cays and deserted white sand beaches,” writes Elite Travel.
It’s a beautiful place for a bit more privacy, away from the hustle and bustle that more popular spots tend to bring. “Turks & Caicos consists of little islands with perfect beaches and the requisite turquoise waters beg for discovery. Nowhere here is very busy, even the world-class dive sites,” adds Lonely Planet.
According to The Times, “The A-lister’s Caribbean is all about islands that allow you to have an entire stretch of beach to yourself, feed you five-star sushi and cocoon you in spaces worthy of an interior-design magazine. The specks of the Turks & Caicos, two hours’ flight from Miami, are where Americans retreat to for near-Maldivian levels of solitude.”
Jamaica is a quirky and fun country for the ultimate adventurer. But it has a bit of everything for everyone, which makes it a hot spot for any traveler. “Like the rhythm of its beloved reggae music, the best of Jamaica is offbeat — stylish hideouts among huge and humming resorts; funky island architecture in universal modern concrete; and a laconic Bob Marley-esque ‘Yeah, man’ in place of the ubiquitous ‘You’re welcome’ of hotel stays elsewhere. It’s also large and lively by Caribbean standards and your best bet for finding character,” says The Times.
Get a dose of the culture or kick back at one of their many all-inclusive resorts. “It’s perfectly possible to spend an entire trip having fun and relaxing at one of the island’s numerous all-inclusive resorts. But for an authentic dose of local culture, head to Kingston (the island’s capital) to attend a lively festival, listen to reggae tunes and try local specialties like Blue Mountain Coffee and jerk chicken,” advises US News and World Report.
If you’re looking for supreme nightlife, Sandals says this is the place to go in the Caribbean. “Jamaica offers so many wild activities for nightlife. They are famous for their Caribbean rum and know how to throw a party. Our favorite time to visit is during Bacchanal (or Jamaican Carnival) season, which lasts for about 2 weeks between March and April.”
Being that this is Rihanna‘s home country speaks for itself, but Barbados is just a 4-hour flight from New York and 3-hour one from Miami, boasting some of the freshest seafood and most picturesque beaches. “Barbados might just be one of the best all-rounder islands in the Caribbean. Some of the top hotels in the region are found here, as are some of the best beaches, all accessible to the public – there are no private beaches in Barbados,” notes Conde Nast Traveler.
The Barbadian people are also known to love welcoming visitors and helping navigate their accessible transportation. “And Bajan buses following the coastline — yellow with blue stripes and vibrating with reggae beats — are regular and cheap, providing an easy way of travelling around the island,” points out The Times.
What to expect? “Barbados’s geography is as diverse as it is stunning: waterfalls, craggy caves, superb snorkeling — even pink-sand beaches. Striving to keep the island and its coral reefs in pristine condition, the government is hot on sustainable tourism, implementing legislation and forming agencies whose sole purpose is to protect, preserve, and educate locals and visitors,” mentions Elite Traveler.
With some of the clearest waters and whitest sands, Anguilla is all about maximum relaxation. “You won’t find any high-rise hotels in Anguilla. You also won’t see any cruise ships in the ports either as this is prohibited by the island’s government. There also are not any casinos on this island, so your focus will really be on just enjoying the simpler things in life,” writes Sandals.
While there may not be a bustling nightlife compared to the others, the food scene makes you not even miss it. “Anguilla is also a worthy choice for its culinary scene. Refreshingly there are no chain restaurants on the island. Instead, restaurants and eateries tend to be small businesses that are family-run. If you visit just one, make it Tasty’s, which serves up a stellar coconut crusted fish and marinated conch salad by Anguillan chef Dale Carty,” recommends Conde Nast Traveler.
5. Saint Lucia
Though not ranking the highest overall, St Lucia holds its ground and shoots its way to the top as the best honeymoon island destination. “The Caribbean is synonymous with honeymoons but it’s Saint Lucia that tops them all when it comes to serving up romance. You can thank the island’s mountainous landscape for that – it’s all about a room with a view of the 2,000-foot high Piton mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the island’s calling card,” points out Conde Nast Traveler.
This and other landscapes full of greenery also make this a hotspot for those looking for biodiversity to just take in the natural world. “While other islands look postcard-ready, with sandy stretches of coast in every direction, St Lucia’s appeal is its diverse landscape — the terrain varies so much you could be in a tropical rainforest one minute and the belly of a volcano the next,” describes The Times.
Ready to get planning? “This is one island where you can have a vacation that is as exciting or laid back as you desire. Whether you pack your itinerary with things to do or go with the flow, that’ll be entirely up to you. Whatever you decide, you might want to visit at least one beach and a waterfall. Some of the best beaches in the north of the island are Pigeon Island Beach and Reduit Beach, and in the south, Sandy Beach in Vieux Fort right next to the Hewanorra International Airport,” says Sandals.
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.