Caribbean – can you imagine a more beautiful name for your dream destination? Just saying the name of the Caribbean takes your mind to paradise beaches, white sand, and turquoise sea.
That’s what the Caribbean offers as a holiday destination, even in reality. But where in the Caribbean should you travel to make your dream come true?
There are many safest Caribbean islands where many people’s fingers go to their mouths just thinking about their exotic names. How do you find the best island among them, where your Caribbean trip is guaranteed to be successful and memorable?
The answer, of course, depends on your wishes. To facilitate their implementation, here are the best islands in the Caribbean.
The atmosphere of a Caribbean travel destination also has a lot to do with whether you travel to a large or a small island in the Caribbean Sea. The large islands of the Caribbean are Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica. On the other hand, you can find endless small islands in the Lesser Antilles archipelago, whose countless small volcanic islands curve along the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea towards Venezuela.
On some of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, such as Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic), tourism is minimal and the atmosphere is very local. All residents seem to know each other and even tourists are greeted without inhibition. However, the beaches on all the islands of the Lesser Antilles are not strange either.
Culturally, the Caribbean islands are also diverse: some islands are independent, and others belong to France, Holland, or Great Britain. The United States also has an island in the Caribbean: Puerto Rico.
It is not possible to visit all the islands of the Caribbean Sea even on several Caribbean trips. Island hopping is possible in the Caribbean but often requires quite expensive flights.
The Caribbean islands presented below are not in order of priority, but first, the largest and most popular islands of the Caribbean are presented, then we travel to the smaller islands of the Caribbean.
1. Cuba – the Best Island in the Caribbean
It is easy to name Cuba as the best island in the Caribbean, the most versatile of the Caribbean travel destinations. Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean, and in addition to the beaches, Cuba has plenty to see and do in the fascinating Havana, the beautiful old city of Trinidad, and Cuba’s famous cigar plantations.
It’s not worth traveling to Cuba just for a beach vacation, but at its best Cuba is on tours.
Self-employed travelers can also combine their Cuba vacation with diving, which is surprisingly good in Cuba.
Havana is only a 45-minute flight from Miami, so before long Cuba will be filled with American vacationers. But for now, Cuba is in an interesting in-between state: places are still ripping, but change is in the air.
When planning a holiday in Cuba, you should remember that the island is large. Cuba has a length of 1250 kilometers, so if you were to put Cuba on the map of Europe, it would stretch from Brussels to Budapest.
Already in the fascinating capital of Cuba, you can enjoy almost all the wonderful clichés of Cuban tourism: American railways, wildly beautiful beach boulevards, colonial-era neighborhoods, and socialist-era propaganda. You can also go to the beach in Havana.
There are an incredible 20 kilometers of wonderful sandy beach. Varadero is home to many of Cuba’s best international-level hotels. Nightlife is also lively in Varadero.
Instead, there is less of a local atmosphere – most of the accommodation is in all-inclusive hotels. Luckily, it helps that it’s easy to get to Havana from Varadero – the trip on high-quality Viazul buses only takes a couple of hours.
You hardly have time to see all of Cuba in one trip, but fortunately, most of the sights of Cuba are located in the western parts of Cuba. For many, the most cherished memory of a vacation in Cuba is the encounters with Cubans, whether it was ordinary everyday encounters or Salsa-tinged proms. Salsa is played everywhere in Cuba.
2. Dominican Republic – the Caribbean on a Package Tour
The Dominican Republic is a good vacation destination to start your Caribbean travel. The beaches are long and beautiful and in the Dominican Republic, there is enough to experience both nature and history. You can go on vacation to the Dominican Republic from Finland with a reasonably priced package tour or a direct Finnair flight.
The culture of the Dominican Republic is exactly what you would expect from the Caribbean: the people are relaxed and friendly, and the swinging rhythms of merengue play everywhere. Rum and cigars are enough.
It is not a small island state: the Dominican Republic is slightly larger than Estonia. And the Dominican Republic only covers a good half of the island of Hispaniola, which the country shares with Haiti.
If the Dominican Republic is best known as a package travel destination, there are also fascinating areas for independent travelers, such as the Samaná peninsula decorated with deserted beaches.
The Dominican Republic is, at least for many Finns, their first contact with Caribbean tourism. There are quite affordable package tours to the Dominican Republic even from Finland.
In terms of area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest country in the Caribbean, so you shouldn’t imagine arriving on a Caribbean vacation on a small paradise island. On the other hand, on vacation in the Dominican Republic, you can enjoy diverse landscapes: in addition to sandy beaches, there are mountains and jungles. The island is also known for merengue dancing, cigars, and rum – not a crazy combination for a Caribbean vacation.
The most popular beach destinations in the Dominican Republic are Puerto Plata and Sosua on the north coast and Punta Cana on the eastern tip. A pundit might point out that the north side of the Dominican Republic is not actually on the Caribbean Sea but the Atlantic.
The most amazing attraction of the Dominican Republic is the capital Santo Domingo, whose atmospheric old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is the oldest in the New World – the conquest of America began here. One of the most stylish hotels in Santo Domingo is the Billini Hotel in a restored convent, with contemporary art hanging on its 500-year-old stone walls.
The most popular beach destinations in the Dominican Republic can be found on the north coast of the island in the Puerto Plata area and on the eastern tip of Punta Cana. Both have beautiful and long beaches. Currently, Finnair flies from Finland to both destinations in the winter season.
Puerto Plata first became popular among Finns, where flights and holiday trips from Finland first started, but the nicer beaches can be found in Punta Cana.
A peaceful atmosphere can be found on the beautiful Samana peninsula, which can now also be reached on trips by Finnish travel agencies. The best beach destination for divers is Bayahibe on the south coast.
2.1. Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada and Sosua
Puerto Plata is the most important city on the north coast. Also worth seeing is the Amber Museum, where Steven Spielberg is said to have gotten the idea for the Jurassic Park movie.
The beach destination Playa Dorada is located right next to the city. If you buy a trip to Puerto Plata, your hotel is more likely to be right on the beach of Playa Dorada, although there are also places to stay in the city.
Among the most beautiful beaches in the Puerto Plata slue is the sheltered Playa Sosua, located twenty kilometers from the city, which is lined with beach trees instead of hotels.
Unfortunately, recently the beach has suffered from erosion, and is no longer the best possible option for swimming.
The best experience and destination for a day trip in the Puerto Plata area is Damajagua’s 27 waterfalls. In the jungle, you will have an adventure under the guidance of a guide from one waterfall to another, sometimes jumping into the water and sliding along rock jewelry. The mood is like being in nature’s water park.
2.2. Cabarete – popular with kite surfers
Windy Cabarete is especially popular with kitesurfers – this is considered one of the best kitesurfing destinations in the world. Thanks to the kite surfers, Cabarete has a youthful atmosphere, also in terms of nightlife.
Punta Cana – The most beautiful destination in the Dominican Republic
At the eastern tip of the country lies Punta Cana, with beaches 30 kilometers away. Punta Cana also has its airport, which can be reached by Finnair’s direct flight in the winter season.
Compared to Puerto Plata, the atmosphere is more luxurious in Punta Cana: the beaches are more spectacular, the sea is more turquoise and the hotels are bigger and more upscale. Almost every hotel has amazing swimming pools. Beach areas here are often privately owned by hotels.
3. Jamaica – reggae, Rastafarians, and Pirate Stories
Tourists are drawn to Jamaica, especially by the island’s legendary reputation as the home of reggae music and Rastafarians. Jamaica has its atmosphere. Inland, you can also find wonderful nature, such as paradise-like waterfalls. Jamaica is also James Bond’s unofficial favorite island – the character’s creator, Ian Fleming, wrote the book series about the agent’s adventures at his villa in Jamaica.
The most special of Jamaica’s attractions is the pirate city of Port Royal, located near the capital Kingston, sunk ten meters deep in an earthquake, whose ruins you can dive into.
Beneath the Surface: Port Royal, Jamaica
Its reputation in the hills: With its countless brothels, gambling dens, and brothels, Port Royal was known as the Wickedest City in the World. The most notorious of the residents was privateer captain Henry Morgan, who burned Panama to the ground.
So how did it happen? Henry Morgan eventually became the governor of Port Royal and cleaned up the town by hanging his former fellow pirates. In June 1692, a great earthquake swept most of the city into the sea and killed half of its 6,000 inhabitants.
Who found it? Port Royal never disappeared from the history books. Its underwater ruins have been explored since the 1960s, and the objects found there have provided important information about life in the 17th-century colonial city.
Flippers on the leg: Hiio hoi! You can still see wildly dressed pirates in the area, as Port Royal is a pilgrimage destination for pirate fans. Local diving operators organize trips to the ruins located at a depth of ten meters.
4. Puerto Rico – Island of Hunter S. Thompson and the Piña colada
Puerto Rico is the Aland of the United States – a small, autonomous island nation that is culturally distinct, yet distinctly more American than other Caribbean islands.
The main reason for traveling to Puerto Rico has been the reasonably priced flight connections from Finland. The capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan, is one of the most fascinating cities in the Caribbean, with its beautiful old centers and fortresses. Inland, you can go hiking in the rainforest or learn about coffee cultivation in the highlands. On the western edge of the island, Rincón has some of the best surfing waves in the Caribbean.
What about the sandy beaches of Puerto Rico? You can enjoy beach life even outside the capital, but to get to a really beautiful beach you have to take a day trip to the small island of Culebra on the eastern edge of Puerto Rico.
If you decide to travel to Puerto Rico, you should definitely stay at least a few nights at the Caribe Hilton , if the budget allows. Opened in 1949, the hotel is one of the most legendary in the Caribbean, the mother of all tropical cocktails, the hated and loved Piña colada, comes from the hotel bar. Caribe Hilton also filmed the movie The Rum Diary starring Johnny Depp, which is based on the novel by Hunter S. Thompson, a gonzo journalist who spent a leisurely life in Puerto Rico.
5. Dutch ABC Islands – Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao
The Dutch ABC islands, i.e. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, are located separately from the Caribbean island chain just off the coast of Venezuela. The ABC islands are small and it is easy to choose between them according to what you are most interested in.
Among the islands, the most popular holiday destination is Aruba, whose Eagle Beach is the most beautiful of the island group. Aruba also has one of the world’s best wrecks for snorkelers: the handsome cargo ship SS Antilla, sunk in the Second World War, lies at its lowest point at a depth of fewer than ten meters.
The capital of Aruba, Oranjestad, is a pretty cute place too, but the most beautiful city of the ABC islands is Curaçao’s Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old town of Willemstad is like a mini version of Amsterdam in pastel shades. Curaçao is a suitable holiday destination if you want to enjoy the lively Caribbean city life in addition to beautiful beaches. In Willemstad, you can also find affordable accommodation such as The Ritz Village.
Bonaire, on the other hand, is one of the best diving destinations in the Caribbean. Bonaire is surrounded by a protected coral reef with more than 90 dive sites. Bonaire is also great for snorkeling, as the coral reef can be accessed directly from the beach. Macro diving on Bonaire is also among the best in the Caribbean.
There is not much else to do on these small islands other than diving, snorkeling, and enjoying the fine sandy beaches. You can easily travel between the ABC islands by plane.
6. Bahamas – pirates, paradise beaches, and stink dives
The most famous of the Caribbean island states is the Bahamas, which is located closest to Florida. The Bahamas is called the Canary Islands of the United States, so popular is the Bahamas among Americans.
The Bahamas has islands to share with others, a total of 700 islands, and 2400 smaller islets. The main island of the Bahamas is New Providence, where the colonial capital Nassau is located. Nassau was once known as the home port of Blackbeard and other ferocious pirates.
Right next to Nassau is the popular holiday island Paradise Island, which is home to one of the world’s most amazing beach hotels, The Royal at Atlantis, famous for its wonderful water park
For a luxury-style beach vacation, the best island in the Bahamas is Harbor Island, whose stunning sandy beaches meet shades of pink. The island’s only small town, Dunmore Town, is also like a pastel-hued dream. See offers for Harbor Island hotels .
However, what makes the Bahamas a real once-in-a-lifetime travel destination is the archipelago’s wonderful stingray dives. In Grand Bahama, you can dive with tiger sharks and in the waters of Bimini Island, you can see hammerhead sharks from December to March. Whitetip sharks, on the other hand, spend time in the waters of Cat Island from April to June.
The Andros Islands, which are bordered by one of the world’s largest coral reefs, are also a famous diving destination in the Bahamas. At Andros Reef, you can also dive into the blue holes. See offers for Andros islands hotels .
7. Turks and Caicos Islands – an Idyllic Alternative to the Bahamas
If the Bahamas sounds overly commercial, a good alternative for a luxury Caribbean vacation is the Turks and Caicos Islands, whose beaches are at least as wonderful. The atmosphere on the islands, on the other hand, is much more relaxed, exactly what many expect from a Caribbean vacation.
Tourism is largely concentrated on the Caicos Islands and especially on Provinciales Island, whose picture-perfect Grace Bay Beach has a turquoise sea stretching as far as the eye can see. Hotels in Providenciales are mainly focused on luxury tourism. Beaches Turks & Caicos is perfect for a vacation with the whole family. The trump cards of the huge all-inclusive hotel are a long and beautiful sandy beach and the largest water park in the Caribbean, Pirates Island Waterpark, located in the middle of the hotel area.
8. Trinidad and Tobago – In the hum of Trinidad Carnival
The best parties in the Caribbean can be found in Trinidad, which is located almost on the coast of Venezuela. Trinidad’s carnivals are among the best in the world. Calypso music plays and the whole island turns into a party scene in February and March. The festival also includes limbo – which is from Trinidad.
Trinidad’s sandy beaches are not among the best in the Caribbean, and tourism is low outside of Carnival season. On the beach of the small fishing village of Grande Riviere, you can relax in your peace and watch the leatherback turtles nesting on the beach and their hatchlings emerging from under the sand. From Trinidad, the hatchlings swim to Madagascar, grow up to two meters in size, the largest sea turtles in the world, and return to the beaches of Trinidad to lay their eggs. Returning to the Grande Riviere would be good for a person too.
There are a few amazing hotels on the shore of the Grande Riviere, such as Acajou and Le Grand Almandier.
Even more beautiful beaches can be found on Trinidad’s neighboring island of Tobago, where most of Trinidad and Tobago’s tourism is concentrated. Tobago’s most praised vacation spots are the versatile Blue Waters Inn, hidden in a secluded cove, the strikingly stylish Bacolet Beach Club, and the Coco Reef Resort & Spa, which has been voted the best all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean many times.
Other Notable Visits on The Safest Caribbean Islands.
1. Caribbean Cruises
The most popular ways to get to know the Caribbean are, of course, Caribbean cruises, where you can see several islands at once and effortlessly – albeit very superficially.
Caribbean cruises are also usually cheaper than a Caribbean island vacation when you include accommodation and food. However, it is worth noting that you usually have to pay extra for guided day trips to the islands on cruises. Of course, you can explore the islands on your own during cruises.
2. Martinique – the Island of a Destructive Volcano
You can explore the French side of the Caribbean by traveling to the island of Martinique. The most impressive sight in Martinique is the volcano Mont Pelée, whose eruption in 1902 was one of the most destructive of the last century.
The most beautiful beach in Martinique is Les Salines, located on the southern tip of the island.
The most praised accommodation in Martinique is the moderately priced apartment hotel Corail Residence, whose balcony opens up to a wonderful beach landscape.
3. Barbados – the Island of Banks and Luxury
What about Barbados? The most famous islands of the Lesser Antilles are the home island of pop star Rihanna, Barbados, where beautiful sandy beaches and a luxurious atmosphere await tourists. As a travel destination, Barbados is one of the wealthiest and most expensive parts of the Caribbean – in addition to tourism, Barbados has become rich with its offshore banks.
If you don’t have tax evasion or a fan trip in Rihanna’s footsteps in mind, you should prefer another Caribbean island.
It is worth noting that clothing with terrain patterns is prohibited in Barbados. We got to experience this ourselves when we tried to march from the ship to the harbor wearing shorts with a terrain pattern.
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