The ultimate tropical getaway, the Caribbean conjures images of palm-fringed beaches, rum-fueled dancing and lush jungle excursions. Pick any of the 700-odd islands that form an arc between Florida and Venezuela and you’ll get all these things and more.
Rich in African culture brought to the region by the trade of enslaved people, the islands are also steeped variously in British, Spanish, French and Dutch heritage, making the Caribbean one of the most culturally diverse places on the planet and lending each island its own idiosyncrasies.
It’s to be expected, then, that you find yourself in the same position as Christopher Columbus, who wrote in his journal in 1492: “I saw so many islands that I hardly knew…to which I should go first.” Whether you’re looking for a party city or a family-friendly destination, we’ll help you decide where to go. Here are the eight best places to visit in the Caribbean.
Best for beaches
Boasting a beach for each day of the year, low-lying Antigua in the Leeward Islands delivers a multitude of postcard-perfect beaches, with coral reefs just a flipper-kick from shore. Depending on where you are, the hue shifts from brilliant white through rose gold to cotton-candy pink.
Choose between a beach lined with lively bars blaring out soca tunes, or a near-deserted strip of sand where it’ll be just you and the odd pelican diving for fish. If you want to join picnicking locals, head to Jolly beach on the west coast; for solitude, try Half Moon Bay in the southeast, and for tree-shaded golden sands, head to Pigeon Beach on the edge of Falmouth Harbor.
2. The Pitons – St Lucia
Best for hiking
These iconic twin peaks are St Lucia’s most photographed attraction, which isn’t surprising, as they tower more than half a mile above sea level and can be viewed from as far north as the capital Castries.
Gros Piton, the largest of the peaks, is the one to scale (Petit Piton has near-vertical slabs and climbing is restricted). Start at sunrise and you’ll be at the top before the heat of the midday sun. January, February and March are great months to visit because the soil will be dry.
Wake to an up-close view of these verdant volcanic plugs by staying at Ladera Resort, which offers rooms that are…