Paradise Found: 23 Enchanting Caribbean Islands for Romantic Getaways

As a travel writer, strangers often ask what is my favorite vacation destination. Invariably, I’ll answer that it’s my next trip, but in my heart, I think of home. Having grown up on the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and Puerto Rico, this is where I always long to return, and as for me, these are the most romantic spots in the world.

My husband proposed to me on a deserted white sand beach on the British Virgin Island of Jost Van Dyke. My favorite destination weddings took place in the Dominican Republic and, of course, St. Thomas. And we’ve had a blast exploring new-to-us Caribbean destinations on Royal Caribbean cruises.

Here we have cherry-picked 23 enchanting Caribbean destinations that promise couples the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

Table of Contents

Caribbean Islands Where No Passports Are Required

U.S. Virgin Islands – Caribbean Charm With American Comforts

Dip into the vibrant heart of the Caribbean at the U.S. Virgin Islands, a trio of enticing islands that serve up turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and an irresistibly relaxed vibe, all wrapped in familiar U.S. comforts.

From exhilarating water sports to tranquil beachside lounging, from vibrant festivals to the quiet charm of historic sites, the U.S. Virgin Islands cater to every kind of traveler. And the best part? No passport is required for U.S. citizens. Experience the quintessential Caribbean charm without leaving American soil. The U.S. Virgin Islands are waiting to captivate you with their beauty and charm.

Restaurant with ocean view in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

(1) St. Thomas – Thrilling Adventures And Epicurean Delights

Lively St. Thomas is the duty-free mall of the Caribbean—take along your credit cards and an oversized shopping bag. Aside from nearly 400 duty-free shops and boutiques that sell everything you could possibly want to buy, you’ll find spirited nightspots, outstanding restaurants and luxury resorts around St. Thomas’ main city and port, Charlotte Amalie.

St. Thomas is the most developed of the U.S. Virgin Islands—in fact, it’s one of the most developed in the entire Caribbean. Steep green hills run across the middle of the island, and beautiful beaches ring its shores. Hotels, villas, resorts, small inns, and private residences, each on their own piece of paradise, mix with public and commercial structures.

For example, the charming At Home In The Tropics B&B is housed in historic barracks for the private guard of the Danish Governor and blends in between private homes and government buildings. Meanwhile, the soon-to-reopen Frenchman’s Reef and Frenchman’s Cove encompass an entire point, with a couple of beaches between two bays.

Plan your getaway with our St. Thomas Travel Guide, and get even more inspiration from our list of best things to do in the US Virgin Islands, as well as our roundup of top US Virgin Islands beaches.

Sugarmill at the Buccaneer Hotel in St. Croix.

(2) St. Croix – Unspoiled Beauty

The Danish influence still lingers in St. Croix, the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The two major towns on St. Croix, Christiansted, and Frederiksted, are anchored by forts and historic buildings, and the countryside around them is dotted with deserted sugar mills and plantation houses. Neighborhood names such as Sally’s Fancy, All for the Better, Wheel of Fortune, and William’s Delight are the legacy of those plantation days.

But a rich history is not all St. Croix has going for it. Its landscape of rolling green hills, cattle farms, and rainforest is sprinkled with wildlife refuges, three golf courses, and several large parks, including one that’s partly underwater.

Most romantic hotel: The Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort.

Ocean view in St. John

(3) St. John – The Tranquil Paradise

St. John, the smallest of the three major U.S. Virgin Islands, is laid-back with a casual, quirky ambiance. With over two-thirds of the island preserved in the Virgin Islands National Park, it’s perfect for couples who cherish quiet moments amid lush greenery and pristine beaches.

Also known as “Love Island,” St. John is wholesome and outdoorsy—hiking shoes and snorkeling gear are musts. It’s also dramatically beautiful, with coral reefs, volcanic mountains, deep ravines, tropical greenery, gorgeous cove beaches, and an arid east coast dotted with salt ponds and cacti.

Don’t overlook Cruz Bay, where many St. John residents live. Once a dusty port, it has blossomed into a charming resort town. Among the mix of elegant malls and tiny wooden houses are classy boutiques, cafes, and wine bars. The ferry dock, a small park, and the Virgin Islands National Park Visitors Center form the hub of Cruz Bay life.

Most romantic hotel: Gallows Point Resort.

Historic houses and the Puerto Rican flag in Old San Juan

(4) Puerto Rico – Island of Enchantment

Puerto Rico, among the Caribbean’s largest islands, presents a diverse portfolio of attractions. This U.S. territory blends Spanish, Taino, and African influences in its culture, cuisine, and architecture.

Beyond its renowned rainforests, the island features landscapes ranging from caves and waterfalls to coral reefs and white-sand beaches. Add in championship golf courses, delectable cuisine, premium shopping, and dynamic culture for a well-rounded itinerary.

El Yunque National Forest’s captivating soundscape and close proximity to San Juan make it an ideal day trip. Meanwhile, San Juan itself is a bustling city, with luxurious resorts, a vibrant business district, and a thriving arts scene.

And Old San Juan’s remarkably well-preserved colonial district adds to Puerto Rico’s allure, combining historic attractions with natural beauty. And because it is a US territory, with many nonstop flights from the mainland, this is one of the easiest Caribbean islands to visit and one of the best for a short getaway.

Beautiful Caribbean Islands For Easy Getaways

British Virgin Islands – The Crown Jewel of the Caribbean

If you’re seeking a sanctuary devoid of golf courses, flashy attractions, or bustling shopping centers, then the British Virgin Islands (BVI) might just be your dream destination. Renowned for spectacular sailing waters, surrounding coral reefs, tranquil towns, luxurious lodgings, and exquisite dining, the BVI could be your picture-perfect island getaway.

Sailors appreciate the consistent trade winds, short inter-island distances, breathtaking views, and numerous sheltered coves for anchoring. These waters are considered among the best for sailing globally. Additionally, scuba divers and snorkelers find their nirvana in the reefs, shipwrecks, and crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands.

Regardless of how you choose to explore the British Virgin Islands, anticipate a leisurely, rejuvenating pace, with abundant opportunities to soak up the scenery. Expect to be awed by white crescent beaches cradled by steep green mountains and spectacular panoramic views of neighboring islands from high vantage points.

(5) Tortola – An Unspoiled Romantic Retreat

Tortola, the largest island in the British Virgin Islands archipelago, is a romantic paradise nestled in the cerulean waters of the Caribbean Sea. Its uncrowded white sand beaches, such as Smuggler’s Cove and Cane Garden Bay, are idyllic sanctuaries perfect for leisurely strolls hand-in-hand or intimate picnics at sunset.

This charming island offers an enchanting blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. The verdant Sage Mountain National Park invites couples for tranquil hikes amidst lush tropical rainforests, providing panoramic views of the surrounding islands from its peak.

Road Town, Tortola’s vibrant capital, offers an authentic taste of the Caribbean, with its colorful colonial architecture, bustling marketplaces, and locally loved eateries serving delectable Creole cuisine. For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Old Government House Museum provides an intriguing glimpse into the island’s colonial past.

Whether you’re chartering a yacht for a private tour of hidden coves, indulging in a couple’s spa treatment with views of the glittering ocean, or simply enjoying the serene rhythm of island life, Tortola provides an unspoiled retreat for lovers seeking an unforgettable Caribbean getaway.

Most Romantic Hotel: Long Bay Beach Club

The Baths in Virgin Gorda

(6) Virgin Gorda – Nature’s Paradise

Virgin Gorda, the third-largest of the British Virgin Islands, offers an enchanting mix of natural beauty, serene beaches, and rich history. The island’s unusual name, which means “Fat Virgin,” was given by Christopher Columbus due to the shape of the island, resembling a large reclining woman.

One of Virgin Gorda’s signature attractions is The Baths, a geological marvel comprising enormous granite boulders, which form sheltered sea pools on the beach’s edge. It’s a playground for adventurous couples who like to swim, snorkel, and explore hidden trails leading to spectacular views.

On the island’s North Sound, you’ll find the luxurious Bitter End Yacht Club and the unspoiled beauty of Gorda Peak National Park, where a hike up to the peak rewards visitors with panoramic views of the surrounding islands.

Virgin Gorda’s white sand beaches, such as Spring Bay, Savannah Bay, and Devil’s Bay, are simply mesmerizing. These beaches boast turquoise waters and reefs abundant with marine life, providing excellent snorkeling opportunities.

Spanish Town, the island’s main hub, offers an array of restaurants, shops, and historical sites, including the ruins of copper mines that were exploited in the 19th century.

Despite its popularity, Virgin Gorda manages to retain a laid-back, uncrowded feel, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking tranquility and natural beauty. Whether you’re an adventurer, nature lover, or just seeking relaxation, Virgin Gorda has something to captivate you.

Shoal Beach in Anguilla

(7) Anguilla – The Epitome of Caribbean Luxury

Anguilla is an exclusive sanctuary in the Caribbean, a premium destination matching its luxury with an upscale price tag. As one of the most coveted vacation spots, it promises exceptional service and a tranquil atmosphere that draws an illustrious crowd seeking private, hassle-free holidays.

Before booking your trip, remember that discretion is paramount on this island. Seeing a celebrity doesn’t warrant an autograph request – it’s a place where everyone’s privacy is respected. On the other hand, you’re encouraged to explore and admire the island’s 33 pristine white-sand beaches, indulge in watersports, and enjoy fine dining.

Anguilla offers consistent sunshine, rustic charm, and a compelling sense of self-assuredness among its population. Despite its proximity to St. Martin/St. Maarten, it remains a serene haven that visitors often adopt as their private retreat, returning year after year.

(8) Antigua and Barbuda – Islands Of Beaches

Home to 365 beaches – one for each day of the year – these islands are perfect for beach-loving couples. Explore the historic Nelson’s Dockyard, or simply soak in the sun on a pristine beach.

Antigua and Barbuda are blessed with a beach for every day of the year. The mesmerizing pink sands of Barbuda’s beaches and the vivacious Antiguan nightlife form a combination that’s hard to resist.

The Bahamas – Symphony of Sun, Sand, and Sea

The Bahamas, an archipelago of over 700 islands and cays, spread out in the glistening turquoise waters of the Atlantic, is truly a tropical paradise. Its magical blend of stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and fascinating history make it an irresistible choice for travelers seeking the perfect Caribbean getaway.

(9) Paradise Island – Home Of The Atlantis Resort

Nassau, the bustling capital city on the island of New Providence, is a lively mix of past and present. A walk around its charming, pastel-colored colonial buildings transports you back to the 18th-century pirate era, while the modern luxury resorts, casinos, and duty-free shops showcase its contemporary allure. The city’s vibrant local art, music, and culinary scene provide a rich Bahamian flavor that leaves visitors enthralled.

The world-renowned Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, just off Nassau’s shore, is an attraction in itself with its impressive water park, aquarium, and entertainment complex. Nassau’s surrounding waters are a haven for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts, with coral reefs, blue holes, and even shipwrecks waiting to be explored.

Pigs on the beach in the Abacos Islands of the Bahamas

(10) The Abacos – No cars, No Traffic Lights, No Problem

For a quieter, more secluded experience, set sail for the Abacos, a 120-mile-long chain of islands to the north. Known as the sailing capital of the Bahamas, the Abacos offer an irresistible combination of tranquil coves, picturesque colonial towns, and world-class marinas. Its main hub, Marsh Harbour, has a laid-back atmosphere with a touch of sophistication, brimming with boutique shops, seafood restaurants, and vibrant nightlife.

The Abacos is particularly famous for its beautiful beaches, with Treasure Cay Beach often ranked as one of the world’s best. The surrounding crystal-clear waters teem with marine life, making it perfect for snorkeling, diving, and deep-sea fishing.

Despite the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in 2019, the resilient spirit of the Abacos shines through as they rebuild and restore, continuing to welcome visitors with open arms and genuine hospitality.

Learn more in our Hope Town Bahamas travel guide.

Barbados marina

(11) Barbados – Blend Of British Charm And Caribbean Soul

Barbados, often referred to as the “Little England” of the Caribbean, is a vibrant island nation with an exotic blend of British tradition and Caribbean flair. This easternmost island in the Caribbean offers a distinctively sophisticated charm, breathtaking landscapes, and a rich history that makes it a unique tropical paradise for travelers.

As you traverse the island, you’ll be met with miles of pristine, white-sand beaches on its platinum coast, hugged by crystal-clear turquoise waters. Each beach offers something different, from the calm, serene waters of the west coast, perfect for swimming and snorkeling, to the lively surf of the south, a haven for watersports enthusiasts.

The capital city, Bridgetown, is a bustling metropolis that masterfully mixes the old with the new. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, features historic landmarks, British colonial architecture, modern amenities, and a harbor bustling with luxury yachts and cruise ships.

Explore the vibrant local culture by visiting the island’s numerous rum distilleries or joining in the revelry of a Friday night fish fry at Oistins. Barbadian cuisine, influenced by African, Indian, and British culinary traditions, is a gastronomic delight. Savor the national dish, flying fish with cou-cou, or treat your palate to a mouthwatering variety of fresh seafood and local delicacies.

Beyond the beaches and cities, Barbados boasts a breathtaking interior ripe for exploration. The lush, rolling hills, sprawling sugarcane fields, and tropical rainforests are home to a variety of flora and fauna. Visit the impressive Harrison’s Cave, a crystallized limestone cavern with streams, waterfalls, and towering columns.

Barbados’s true charm lies in its warm and friendly people, known as Bajans. Their infectious smiles, love for life, and welcoming nature make every visitor feel like a part of their island family.

(12) Grand Cayman – A Caribbean Oasis of Luxury and Adventure

Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands, is a tropical paradise in the Caribbean Sea that blends high-end luxury with breathtaking natural beauty. The island’s tranquil atmosphere, warm hospitality, and world-class attractions make it an irresistible destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable Caribbean getaway.

The island is famed for its Seven Mile Beach, often listed among the world’s most beautiful beaches. This stretch of pristine white sand, kissed by turquoise waters, is a public space open to all. Here, you can lounge under the sun, take a leisurely swim, or explore the vibrant coral reefs lying just offshore with a snorkeling or diving excursion.

Grand Cayman’s underwater world is simply mesmerizing. The island is a globally renowned scuba diving destination, with the diverse marine life of its coral reefs and the mysteries of its shipwrecks luring divers from around the world. Stingray City, a shallow sandbar in the North Sound, offers a unique opportunity to swim with and feed the friendly Southern Stingrays.

The capital city, George Town, offers a delightful mix of colonial-era buildings, modern skyscrapers, and bustling shopping centers. Here, you can explore a variety of duty-free shops, art galleries, and local boutiques, or treat your palate to exquisite cuisine that reflects the island’s multicultural heritage.

For a taste of the island’s natural beauty, head to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, home to the rare Blue Iguana and a wide variety of tropical plants. Or visit the Crystal Caves, an intricate system of underground caves boasting stunning stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Grand Cayman also shines with its luxury accommodations and high-end amenities. From opulent resorts to gourmet dining and world-class spas, the island caters to those seeking an indulgent vacation experience.

Aerial view of TRS Cap Cana Waterfront & Marina Hotel at sunset.

(13) Dominican Republic – Where Culture Meets Adventure

The Dominican Republic, located in the heart of the Caribbean, is a vibrant island nation that promises an extraordinary escape. Famed for its warm, friendly locals, rich history, diverse landscapes, and mouthwatering cuisine, the Dominican Republic offers an enticing blend of cultural experiences, outdoor adventures, and luxury retreats. It’s also a premier destination for weddings, offering couples a backdrop of stunning natural beauty and top-notch facilities for their special day.

One of the country’s most alluring regions is Punta Cana, known for its 32 kilometers of pristine, white-sand beaches framed by swaying palm trees and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Resorts in Punta Cana provide a picture-perfect setting for destination weddings, with their breathtaking beachfront locations, luxury amenities, and professional wedding services. Couples can exchange vows with the soothing sound of waves and the romantic hues of the sunset painting an unforgettable picture.

Beyond its dreamy wedding venues, Punta Cana also serves as a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. From snorkeling and diving in the coral-rich waters to exploring the natural wonders of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park, there’s never a dull moment.

In contrast, the small town of Cabrera, located in the northern part of the island, offers a more tranquil and authentic Dominican experience. This charming town is home to some of the country’s most breathtaking natural attractions, including the stunning Dudú Lagoon and the El Saltadero waterfall. The luxury villas perched on Cabrera’s cliffs are an excellent choice for those seeking a more intimate and private wedding venue, offering panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Dominican Republic’s charm goes beyond its stunning locales. The island’s rich cultural tapestry, influenced by its Indigenous, African, and Spanish roots, is reflected in its music, art, and food. From the foot-tapping beats of Merengue and Bachata to the delicious flavors of dishes like Mangu and Sancocho, the country offers an immersive cultural experience that’s hard to forget.

Whether you’re planning a destination wedding, seeking an adventurous getaway, or yearning for a cultural journey, the Dominican Republic is a Caribbean paradise that promises a unique and memorable travel experience.


In Cabrera, we recommend the boutique hotel, Catalina Tropical Lodge, or the uber-luxurious Balaji Palace. Punta Cana, on the other hand, is all about the all-inclusive resort. There, we love the swim-up pools at the beachside TRS Turquesa or nearby, at the very intimate TRS Cap Cana Waterfront & Marina Hotel.


One Love boat in Jamaica

(14) Jamaica – A Tapestry of Culture, Adventure, and Tropical Bliss

Jamaica, the birthplace of reggae and one of the jewels of the Caribbean, is a vibrant island that dances to its own rhythm. With its rich culture, lush landscapes, and an unending array of experiences, it’s a destination that captures the heart of every traveler who sets foot on its shores.

Jamaica’s beaches are among the most beautiful in the world. From the pristine white sands of Negril’s Seven Mile Beach to the popular Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, these tropical paradises offer more than just a chance to soak up the sun. They’re also gateways to vibrant underwater ecosystems, where snorkelers and scuba divers can explore thriving coral reefs teeming with marine life.

But there’s more to Jamaica than idyllic beaches. Venture inland, and you’ll find towering mountains and cascading waterfalls. Hike up the famed Blue Mountain Peak, go rafting on the Rio Grande, or take a refreshing dip in the Dunn’s River Falls. The lush green landscapes are a haven for adventure lovers and provide countless opportunities for exploration.

Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, is a bustling city that offers a blend of history, culture, and modern attractions. Here, you can visit the Bob Marley Museum, housed in the legendary singer’s former home, or explore Port Royal, once known as the ‘richest and wickedest city in the world’.

The island’s culture is as enticing as its natural beauty. Experience the pulsating rhythms of reggae, dancehall, and ska music. Treat your taste buds to Jamaican cuisine, known for its spicy jerk seasoning and other flavorful dishes such as ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s national dish.

Also, no trip to Jamaica would be complete without immersing yourself in its vibrant culture and traditions. From the infectious rhythms of reggae and the lively dancehall scene to the rich flavors of its unique cuisine – think mouthwatering jerk chicken and the traditional ackee and saltfish – the Jamaican culture is truly captivating.

Accommodations in Jamaica range from luxurious all-inclusive resorts to charming boutique hotels and eco-lodges, ensuring every traveler can find their ideal home away from home.

Whether you’re a beach lover, a culture enthusiast, an adventure seeker, or a foodie, Jamaica offers a colorful tapestry of experiences that promise to make your Caribbean getaway truly unforgettable.

Martinique island

(15) Martinique – Mesmerizing Blend of French Flair and Caribbean Charm

Located in the Lesser Antilles, Martinique offers a unique blend of French sophistication and vibrant Caribbean culture. As an overseas region of France, Martinique surprises visitors with its delightful mix of Parisian-style bakeries, lush tropical rainforests, pristine beaches, and colorful Creole houses.

Begin your exploration in Fort-de-France, Martinique’s lively capital. Here, you’ll find architectural wonders like the Saint-Louis Cathedral and the Schoelcher Library. The city’s narrow streets are brimming with vibrant markets, chic boutiques, and bistros serving up mouthwatering blends of French and Creole cuisine.

For beach lovers, Martinique does not disappoint. The southern coast of the island is dotted with idyllic white sand beaches like Les Salines, widely considered one of the best on the island. The northern coastline, contrastingly, boasts stunning black sand beaches like Anse Ceron and Anse Noire, a unique result of the island’s volcanic activity.

Speaking of volcanoes, a visit to Martinique would not be complete without exploring Mount Pelée, an active volcano known for its devastating eruption in 1902. Today, adventurous visitors can hike to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views of the island.

Martinique’s natural wonders extend beneath the waves, with an array of dazzling coral reefs teeming with tropical marine life. Whether you’re a seasoned diver or a snorkeling novice, places like the Diamond Rock and the underwater caves of Anse Dufour are sure to amaze.

Beyond its physical allure, Martinique’s cultural heritage is equally fascinating. A trip to La Savane des Esclaves offers a deep dive into the island’s history and the legacy of slavery on the island, while the annual Carnival brings the island to life with vibrant parades, colorful costumes, and pulsating rhythms.

With its unique fusion of French elegance and Caribbean warmth, Martinique promises a Caribbean getaway that’s brimming with culture, adventure, and natural beauty. Whether you’re lounging on a sun-kissed beach, diving in the turquoise waters, hiking in the rainforest, or immersing yourself in the island’s rich history, Martinique promises a travel experience like no other.

(16) St. Barts – The Epitome of Elite Island Getaways

St. Barthelemy, also known as St. Barts or St. Barths, presents a dream vacation of opulent villas, pristine beaches, and intimate star-studded dinners. However, this captivating beauty, luxury, and exclusivity come at a high cost, with an unspoken rule of respecting celebrities’ privacy.

St. Barts entered the elite travel scene in the 1950s when affluent individuals like David Rockefeller established holiday homes here. It’s not just the glamour that attracts visitors, but also the secluded beaches, warm waters, picturesque landscape, and the island’s sophisticated yet laid-back atmosphere with a French touch. St. Barts offers its high-end guests an unrivaled mix of comfort, peace, and security, making it a go-to destination for those in search of tranquility and privacy.

(17) St. Lucia – The Romantic Haven

Known for its iconic twin peaks, the Pitons, St. Lucia is a slice of paradise in the Windward Islands of the West Indies. Offering rainforest hikes, hot sulfur springs, and luxury resorts, it is an ideal island for a romantic escape.

Among the Windward Islands of the West Indies, St. Lucia stands out with its striking twin peaks, the Pitons. Its luxurious resorts, often complete with private plunge pools and ocean views, make St. Lucia a top pick for honeymooners.

(18) St. Martin / St. Maarten – One Island, Two Nations

If one were to choose a single Caribbean island that encapsulates the full spectrum of travel experiences, St. Martin/St. Maarten would undoubtedly be a prime candidate. Its two nationalities, French and Dutch, present a vivid illustration of the diverse European cultures that have shaped the West Indies.

St. Martin/St. Maarten offers a vibrant palette of attractions, ranging from coral reefs ideal for diving and snorkeling, exquisite white sand beaches for sunbathing, and endless duty-free shopping. It seamlessly blends exclusivity and sophistication with a nod to mass tourism through its large cruise ship ports and sprawling resorts.

This well-connected island boasts top-tier accommodations, glamorous casinos, widespread Wi-Fi access, and an array of exceptional restaurants. Yet, it’s a place of contrasts, offering high-end dining and boutiques alongside roadside kiosks (that are often even more popular spots to grab a bite.)

Welcome to St. Kitts

(19) St. Kitts – The Lush Getaway

St. Kitts, part of the federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, boasts verdant mountains, beautiful beaches, and a rich colonial history. Take a ride on the scenic railway or relax at one of the island’s peaceful beaches.

St. Kitts, rich in both history and natural beauty, provides a unique mix of rainforest adventures, historic landmarks, and charming sugar plantations converted into luxury accommodations.

Ocean side in Turks and Caicos

(20) Turks and Caicos – The Underwater Wonderland

Part of the 700 islands in the Caribbean, the Turks and Caicos Islands are home to some of the most beautiful white sand beaches and crystal-clear turquoise waters. Grace Bay Beach is a must-see, often considered one of the world’s best beaches.

Famed for its breathtaking underwater ecosystem, Turks and Caicos offer an unmatched snorkeling and diving experience. The islands also boast some of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the Caribbean.

Couple in the ocean at Big French Key in Roatán.

Caribbean Islands In Central America

(21) Roatán – A Tropical Paradise in the Caribbean Sea

Emerging from the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, Roatán is the largest of the Bay Islands of Honduras. A world-renowned diving destination and a slice of tropical paradise, Roatan offers an irresistible blend of white sand beaches, vibrant coral reefs, lush greenery, and vibrant local culture.

Renowned for its underwater splendor, Roatán is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest reef system in the world. It is a paradise for divers and snorkelers alike, offering an unparalleled opportunity to encounter an array of marine life, including sea turtles, tropical fish, and vibrant corals. Popular diving spots include West Bay Beach and Half Moon Bay.

But Roatan isn’t just about life under the sea. The island’s surface is equally enchanting. Palm-studded beaches like West Bay Beach and Sandy Bay are perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, or simply soaking up the Caribbean vibes. The crystal-clear waters are also ideal for other water sports like paddleboarding and kayaking.

For those wanting to explore the island’s lush interiors, there are several eco-tourism experiences to enjoy. Roatán’s tropical rainforest is home to the Carambola Botanical Gardens and trails, which showcase the island’s diverse flora and fauna. Don’t miss the chance to meet the island’s most playful inhabitants at the Gumbalimba Park, home to free-roaming capuchin monkeys and stunning macaws.

Roatán’s cultural heart beats in the vibrant communities and colorful villages that dot the island. Coxen Hole, the island’s capital, is a bustling port town with a lively atmosphere and authentic local markets. The picturesque fishing village of West End, with its wooden houses on stilts, offers a glimpse into Roatan’s Caribbean charm and thriving nightlife.

Accommodations on the island range from luxury resorts to charming beachfront bungalows, catering to every traveler’s needs. Delicious cuisine, marked by fresh seafood and local produce, is served in the island’s numerous restaurants, further enriching your Roatan experience.

Whether you’re seeking underwater adventures, beach relaxation, lush tropical exploration, or cultural immersion, Roatan is a Caribbean jewel that offers an unforgettable travel experience. So pack your bags, and get ready to discover the unspoiled beauty of this Honduran paradise.

Cabins at a resort in the San Blas Islands

(22) San Blas Islands – An Untouched Archipelago Oasis

Tucked away in the Caribbean Sea off the northeast coast of Panama, the San Blas Islands (also known as the Guna Yala region) beckon with their untouched beauty and vibrant indigenous culture. This archipelago, composed of approximately 365 islands and cays, offers a tranquil retreat far removed from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The pristine beauty of the San Blas Islands is breathtaking. Think postcard-perfect scenes: powdery white sand beaches, palm-fringed islands, crystal clear turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life. Each island has its own unique charm, from deserted isles perfect for a day of solitude to larger inhabited islands bustling with local life.

But it isn’t just the stunning natural beauty that makes the San Blas Islands special. This region is home to the Guna, one of Panama’s indigenous groups. The Guna people have maintained their traditional lifestyle, resisting the influence of modern civilization. As a visitor, you’ll have the unique opportunity to learn about their customs, admire their colorful molas (handmade textiles), and taste their traditional dishes.

For those inclined towards adventurous activities, the San Blas Islands don’t disappoint. The surrounding coral reefs are a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise, with an abundance of marine life. Sailing, canoeing, and fishing are also popular activities, allowing visitors to explore the archipelago’s beauty from the water.

The accommodations in the San Blas Islands are a part of the experience. Rather than luxury resorts, expect to find eco-friendly cabanas and rustic huts that emphasize sustainability and minimal environmental impact. These accommodations provide an authentic experience that allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and tranquillity of the islands.

Keep in mind that planning a visit to the San Blas Islands is not like booking a typical holiday. The Guna people independently govern the region, and they have their own set of rules for visitors to follow. Part of the charm of visiting this archipelago is its remoteness and the opportunity it provides for a unique cultural exchange.

In short, the San Blas Islands offer an unforgettable escape for those seeking pristine natural beauty, rich cultural experiences, and a sense of peaceful isolation. Here, you can unwind on white-sand beaches, swim in crystal-clear waters, explore vibrant reefs, and engage with a unique culture, all in one idyllic setting.

Vintage red convertible in Cuba

Caribbean Island – Visa Required

(23) Cuba – Timeless Culture, History, and Unparalleled Beauty

Step into a world that feels like it has been frozen in time yet is vibrantly alive in Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean. This tropical paradise blends the old-world charm of colonial architecture with the vivacious rhythm of salsa, the passion of its people, and the stunning natural landscapes of white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and lush mountains.

Havana, Cuba’s capital, pulsates with life and color. Stroll along the Malecón, the city’s oceanfront promenade, and soak up the rhythm of Cuban life. Explore Habana Vieja (Old Havana), a UNESCO World Heritage site, where cobblestone streets meander past grand plazas and Spanish colonial buildings. Sip a mojito in one of the city’s many atmospheric bars, as the smooth sounds of salsa music fill the air.

Beyond Havana, Cuba’s diverse landscapes offer a wealth of exploration opportunities. The verdant tobacco fields of Viñales Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage site, offer a glimpse into the country’s rural life and traditional cigar-making industry. For beach lovers, Varadero offers stunning white sand beaches and clear, warm waters. The coral reefs near the Bay of Pigs are an underwater paradise for divers and snorkelers.

Adventure-seekers will enjoy the trails of El Nicho in the Escambray Mountains, while history buffs will find the French-influenced city of Cienfuegos and the historical city of Trinidad, both UNESCO sites, of immense interest. Santiago de Cuba, known as the birthplace of Cuban music, is another must-visit destination.

Cuban cuisine is a delightful mix of Spanish, African, and Caribbean flavors, with dishes like ropa vieja and lechon asado to tempt your taste buds. And of course, the island is renowned for its rum – a tour of the Havana Club Rum Museum is a must-do for enthusiasts.

Cubans are famously hospitable, and it’s the people, with their zest for life and resilience, that often leaves the most significant impression on visitors. Whether you’re dancing the night away in a Havana salsa club, exploring the history-soaked streets of Trinidad, or lounging on the beaches of Varadero, Cuba promises an unforgettable travel experience steeped in culture, history, and natural beauty.

Come to Cuba, where the past and the present converge in a compelling dance, and leave with the rhythm of the Caribbean in your heart.

Stay at the beautiful historic hotel with ocean views, El Hotel Nacional de Cuba, or the 5-star property in the heart of Havana, Hotel Saratoga. Be aware that it’s complicated for US citizens to travel to Cuba so do read our Cuba Travel Guide carefully.

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  • Sandra Foyt

    Sandra Foyt is a storyteller, road trip junkie, and award-winning travel photographer. A veteran of many cross-country road trips, she drove Route 66, the Lincoln Highway, the Fossil Freeway, the Extraterrestrial Highway, and even “The Loneliest Road in America.” Sandra is based in Upstate New York, with family homes in California and the Caribbean. Her work is influenced by tropical colors and warm relationships. And she believes that the best travel photography connects us across time, place, and culture.

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