If heaven truly was a place on earth, it would be in the Caribbean. I've visited dozens of Caribbean islands and am fascinated by the qualities that define the essence of each one. I'm instantly more relaxed when I step off the plane and feel that bright sunshine and tropical air. (In the words of Jimmy Buffett: "Changes in latitude, changes in attitude.”) The vivid beauty of the turquoise waters, lush green palms, and glistening white sands makes it easy to dismiss the Caribbean as a beach vacation. But it's not just the ocean air and laid-back lifestyle that keeps me returning again and again — my most memorable experiences have been meeting local people and learning about each island's unique customs and heritage.
The West Indies is often considered a homogeneous destination for cruise travelers or frequenters of all-inclusive resorts. This reductive view is dated and incorrect, disregarding the diversity of landscape (and lifestyle) found across the region's 30 territories and over 7,000 islands. Still, many travelers opt to return to the same place year after year — the migratory pattern of seasonal snowbirds markedly similar to the avian variety — why not consider branching out (pun intended) to a different tropical island?
Change can be daunting, of course, which is why we’ve rounded up a wide selection of Caribbean islands to consider — based on your individual interests. Whether it’s deep sea fishing, fish fry dancing, or night dives, your very own highly-curated island in the sun awaits. From the pink sands of The Bahamas to the reggae spirit of Jamaica, read on for your guide to the bold and beautiful islands of the Caribbean.
1. Beaches: Anguilla
Leeward Islands - Secluded serenity and gorgeous beaches await
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Of all the islands in the Caribbean, Anguilla is lauded for having the most spectacular beaches. This is no small feat considering Anguilla is relatively diminutive — the coral and limestone island in the British West Indies is only 16 miles long and three-and-a-half miles wide. The smaller island size contributes to the intimate community ambiance — local fish stands and barbeques such as Big Jim's and B&D's are frequented by tourists and Anguillans alike.
Shoal Bay has been ranked as one of the best beaches in the world, while Sandy Ground Beach hosts the Anguilla Summer Festival. The week-long celebration is held annually on the first Monday of August to commemorate Emancipation Day when slavery was abolished throughout the United Kingdom on August 1st, 1834. The official language spoken in Anguilla is English, and the native language is Anguillan Creole, a mixture of English and African. British settlers arrived in Anguilla in 1650, but the nation is home to centuries of history prior to European arrival. The native people, the Arawaks, called the island' Maliouhana,' and travelers can visit Big Spring Heritage Site and Fountain Cavern National Park to see petroglyphs dating back to 600 AD. You can learn more about the island's colonial heritage at Wallblake House, built in 1785, in The Valley, Anguilla's capital, located in the center of the island.
Despite its spectacular scenery, Anguilla remains more low-key than neighboring islands in the Eastern Caribbean, such as Puerto Rico or Saint Martin. And additionally, despite the variety of luxury accommodations on-island, it remains more low-key than the uber-yacht and champagne ambiance of St. Barts. This secluded serenity makes Anguilla a haven for privacy-seeking celebrities and visitors who yearn for a taste of laid-back island life. To experience even more tropical tranquility, visit some of Anguilla's uninhabited offshore cayes, including Dog Island, Scrub Island, and Sombrero Island — all of which are spectacular for birding. Head to Anguillita Island for diving, and visit Sandy Island and Prickly Pear Cay for beachside cocktails.
In the words of the Beach Boys, Anguilla is the perfect destination to get there fast and then take it slow. And now you can get there even faster, thanks to the new private jet offering from Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club in Rendezvous Bay (home to another one of the best beaches in the Caribbean). What better way to arrive in one of the most private Caribbean islands than flying private?
2. History: Puerto Rico
Eastern Caribbean - Step back in time to experience the historic charm of Puerto Rico
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I've seen plenty of memorable sunrises in my lifetime, but I'll never forget one particular morning in Old San Juan when the Castillo San Felipe del Morro was aglow, the light reflecting on the momentarily empty cobblestone streets and the ocean beyond. Of course, the historic city is equally enchanting in broad daylight, when the galleries, boutiques, and cafes are alive with activity. The Caribbean is too often dismissed as merely a beach destination — and while Puerto Rico is famous for its miles of sparkling white sand, there's far more to do on this island than mere sunbathing.
Old San Juan is the perfect place to explore Puerto Rico's history, as told through the Spanish Colonial architecture lining the city's colorful streets. Visit the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, the second oldest church in the Americas, and the Museo Casa Blanca, the oldest residence in San Juan, now a museum. Art lovers should go gallery-hopping along the Calle San Sebastian in Old San Juan and walk the Calle Cerra in the neighborhood of Santurce, the birthplace of street art in Puerto Rico. The nightlife in San Juan is equally alluring, and the VC Lounge hosts live music every weekend on the oceanfront terrace at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel.
Puerto Rico's charms aren't only of the cosmopolitan variety; there's plenty for travelers to discover in the tropical wilds. El Yunque National Forest is the only rainforest within the US National Forest System and is home to 26 species of animals unique to Puerto Rico. Set sail for Vieques Island to explore Mosquito Bay, the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world, and go horseback riding on the silky-smooth sand beaches. Hang ten in Rincon, the site of the 1960s World Surfing Championship, and take advantage of the spectacular scuba diving along the western coast. Rincon is famous for its magnificent sunsets — the twilight colors bathing the city in pastel hues — and is the perfect setting to end your stay in a Puerto Rican paradise.
3. Luxury: St. Bart’s
Eastern Caribbean - Seaside luxury and French glamor in the tropics
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En français, s'il vous plaît? While other Caribbean islands may boast a "no shoes, no shirt, no problem" mentality, St. Barts is unapologetically a destination to see and be seen. You don't go to St. Barts to 'get away from it all' — you go to St. Barts to signify you've arrived. This sparkling jewel in the French West Indies is one of the mega-yacht capitals of the world — and shares similarities to the South of France (where said mega-yachts sail to in the off-season).
The decadence and mystique of St. Barts is similar to St. Tropez — fancy attire required for a hedonistic, champagne-fueled evening. The better you're dressed, the worse you can behave — the elegant environs lend a sophisticated sheen to the debauchery, and the glamorous nightlife draws snowbirds to St. Barts during the peak season year after year. The social calendar in St. Barts follows certain traditions — Wednesday nights are for dinner at La Guérite (where the food is excellent), and La Petite Plage is the hotspot for Thursday evening. Shellona is the scene for Friday lunch, and weekend lunch should be beachside at the Sand Bar in Eden Rock (order the lobster salad) or Nikki Beach. These meals are often such productions that friends of mine called dining out twice in an afternoon "two-a-days" — and travelers should pack appropriately.
French is the official language spoken in St. Barts, and St. Barts patois is a dialect spoken throughout the French Caribbean. But you needn't be entirely reliant on your high school French, as most residents are fluent in English, too. Additionally, the official currency is the Euro, but US Dollars are often accepted. This particular blend of European and Caribbean influences creates an entirely unique ambiance. And when it comes to luxury, St. Barts is a gold standard in the tropics (and worldwide), so splurge for a room at Hotel Christopher in Pointe Milou. Chic, c'est la vie.
4. Shark Diving: Bimini
Bahamas - Thrill-seekers will love diving with sharks off the coast of this remote Bahamian island
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There's more to explore beyond the island of New Providence, and travelers can discover another side of paradise on a visit to one of the "family islands" — the Bahamian term for the archipelago's outer islands. 'Bahamas' derives from the Spanish' Baja mar,' which means clear water, and the 700 coral islands were once a haven for pirates. Today, nearly 30 of these islands are inhabited, and each family island has its own distinct ambiance — though each possesses a more laid-back lifestyle away from the bustle of the nation's capital. The Exumas have become increasingly popular for their swimming pigs, but why not consider diving with sharks? The Bahamas is one of the greatest diving capitals in the world, and I spent a fear-defying weekend in Bimini (one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite haunts) spearfishing the invasive lionfish species and swimming with Blacktip reef sharks.
Located only 50 miles east of Miami, Bimini is the westernmost island chain in the Bahamas — and a truly remote idyll, whether you’re seeking solitude or adventure. For those living (or vacationing) for the thrill of it, reef shark diving in open water is available off the island’s sandy coasts. And while you’re out there exploring (and taking risks), sign up for The Bash, a lionfish-hunting excursion provided by the Woody Foundation, which raises money for victims of paralysis while cleansing the sea of invasive species.
Whichever island you're on, be sure to attend the Friday night fish fry — a weekly staple in the Caribbean — and, if you're visiting over the holidays, check out the Junkanoo on Boxing Day and January 1st. The festival dates back to the 16th century when enslaved people would celebrate in the streets. The tradition continues today with ornate costumes, street performers, and live music. There's no more festive way to ring in the New Year.
5. Romance: St. Lucia
Windward Islands - If it’s romance you’re after, you can’t beat the three-walled hotel rooms in St. Lucia
(Image provided by the S. Lucia Tourism)
Saint Lucia is the perfect island for a romantic getaway, with luxurious accommodations and a charmingly laid-back atmosphere. St. Lucia is famous in the Eastern Caribbean for its magnificent Piton mountains, glorious views, and even more glorious accommodations. The three-walled hotel room was invented in St. Lucia, so guests have the opportunity to look directly out to the Caribbean Sea from the comfort of their (mosquito-netted) beds. To enjoy these famed accommodations, book a stay at Ladera Resort or Jade Mountain. Chocolate lovers should make their own cocoa and enjoy a room overlooking the mountains at Rabot Hotel, while sun-seekers should book a cottage at Sugar Beach, which is nestled in a breathtaking location on the water between the twin peaks of the Piton mountain range.
It's impossible not to fall in love with Saint Lucia. The gorgeous tropical landscapes are breathtaking — from the lush jungles and volcanic valleys to the staggering Piton mountains rising alongside the Caribbean Sea. The natural beauty in Saint Lucia is so spectacular it's unsurprising that the concept of the three-walled resort was invented on the island, with suites opening up to the stunning scenery. And while, as a rule, I advise leaving your hotel as often as possible while traveling, I found it hard to leave my open-air bungalow in the mountainside — and, no, insects weren't an issue thanks to dreamy (and safari-chic) mosquito netting.
Plus, Saint Lucia is the chocolate capital of the Caribbean — making the whole experience even sweeter. "We call cacao beans jungle M&Ms," says Merle Busette, manager at the 140-acre Rabot Estate. I participated in a chocolate-making class to learn its history in Saint Lucia. While Switzerland often gets all the credit for its chocolate, the cacao plant grows in the tropics. Saint Lucia used to export its homegrown products, but it's now also made on-island — an activity where your involvement in the finished product makes it all the more rewarding. "When you consume dark chocolate, it makes you happy," says Busette.
Other homegrown products to consume for peak happiness? Fresh mangoes — there are over 60 types of mango trees in Saint Lucia — and Piton Lager. Enjoy the local beer and the island's best burger at Buvon, and stop by Keebees in Gros Islet for an open-air lunch. Try not to dine and dash during a candlelit dinner at Dasheen, and visit the Cliff at Cap Maison Resort & Spa for a scenic seafood supper overlooking the sunset. The Mango Tree is perfect for lunch with a view before an afternoon of activities at Morne Coubaril Historic Adventure Park.
Speaking of adventure, hiking in the Piton mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-do activity, with a range of trails through Gros Piton and Petit Piton. Follow the Tet Paul Nature Trail or go mountain biking in Anse Mamin Plantation. Visit the world's only drive-in volcano in Soufriere, and soak in the thermal waters of the Sulfur Springs. Saint Lucia is the only nation in the world named after a woman, and the French called the town of 'Soufriere' after 'volcanic soil.' And this volcanic soil creates the black sand beaches in the region — aside from Sugar Beach, where the silky white sand is imported from Guyana.
Watch out for rainbows to complete this idyllic island fantasy — and pack for an afternoon shower. "Rain is a liquid blessing," says Mr. Ray, a master gardener in Soufriere. Without it, there wouldn't be so many tropical wildflowers or Christmas Palms (a St. Lucian nickname for the trees that bear red fruit in December). In Saint Lucia, it's easy to feel grateful for Mother Nature — and nearly impossible for any inconvenience, big or small, to rain on your parade.
6. Music: Jamaica
Western Caribbean - From street corners to resort patios, Bob Marley’s homeland always delivers
(Image provided by the Author)
"Don't worry, be happy" isn't just a Bob Marley lyric. In Jamaica, it's a way of life. I learned firsthand on my first visit to Jamaica when I discovered — at the airport — that my passport had recently expired. Rather than turning me away at the arrivals gate, the security agent (discreetly) welcomed me into the country, empathizing with my forgetfulness: "We're only human — life moves too fast sometimes; we all make mistakes." This 'everything is alright' vibe (also known as 'irie' in Jamaican Patois) is pervasive across the island — and if there's ever a place to escape the mundanity of your daily life, it's Jamaica. No passport, no cry, indeed.
Music lovers needn't look further than the legendary island of Jamaica, the creative homeland of dance hall beats, reggae, and — of course — the iconic Bob Marley. And you will hear local artists performing the streets of Kingston to the shores of Montego Bay as steel drums accompany the settings of most Jamaican locales. Head to Strawberry Hill Hotel to stay in the Blue Mountains retreat frequented by Grace Jones, Willie Nelson, the Rolling Stones, and (of course) Bob Marley. For a taste of tropical elegance, head to Montego Bay and book a villa at Round Hill, the favored Caribbean Retreat of JFK and Jackie Kennedy — the crashing of the waves combines with the rhythm of the steel drums on the patio at dinnertime, creating a tropical vibe that's music to one's ears.
While the western Caribbean island is renowned for its beauty, it's Jamaica's culture and heritage that makes the country so unique. Jamaica embodies the spirit and rhythm of the Caribbean. Trenchtown is the birthplace of reggae and rocksteady music, while Jamaican Dancehall continues to inspire contemporary artists like Rihanna and Drake today. The Rastafarian movement gained traction in Jamaica in the 1930s, and visitors can learn more by visiting the Bob Marley Heritage Museum or taking a trip to Trenchtown. (Be sure to order Jamaican patties if you visit Kingston, but if you forget, there's a Juici Patties outpost in the Montego Bay Airport). Also on the menu during your stay? Jerk chicken, of course, as well as ackee fruit and codfish.
Jamaica is one of the largest Caribbean islands, which accounts for its diversity of landscapes — from the Blue Mountains of Kingston to the Dunns River Falls in Ocho Rios. Visit the Blue Lagoon within the lush green jungles of Port Antonio, or sunbathe along Negril's glistening white sand beaches. Honeymooners should head northwest to Montego Bay, a famously romantic and luxurious locale for the international jet set — Jackie and John F. Kennedy spent the month prior to his presidency in a cottage at Half Moon. It's also a very social destination — you needn't be a newlywed to partake in all the festivities. I recently returned from a week-long sojourn in Montego Bay, during which I'd found myself unexpectedly invited to a villa party near my resort — the hostess had extended an invitation to all incoming visitors that evening. Sipping a rum punch, watching the setting sun sink beneath the Caribbean Sea, it was easy to believe that every little thing was going to be alright.
7. Culture: Nassau
The Bahamas - Culture vultures should explore the historic sites of the Bahamian capital
(Image provided by the Author)
The flourishing Bahamian capital of Nassau is home to centuries of history that can be retraced in one of the most delectable ways — a food tour, of course. Tru Bahamian Food Tours traces the origin of Caribbean cuisine back to the roots of generations-old family recipes in West Africa. Afterward, find inspiration beachside in one of the colorful huts of Compass Point Beach Resort, where The Rolling Stones recorded in the 1970s.
"A drop of rum makes everything hum in Nassau," says Romeo Farrington, the Bahamian guide on my most recent trip to the islands. I've visited The Bahamas many times over the years, and each journey uncovers a new, hitherto-unknown element of surprise. From shark diving in Bimini to bone-fishing in Andros, there's endless opportunity for adventure across the archipelago — though rum is a constant. Taste the flavor of the Caribbean with Bahamian classics such as the Goombay Smash, the Bahama Mama, or — for the more daring traveler — the Bahama Papa.
The Bahamas is a melting pot of cultures, and the culinary scene is equally enticing — an amalgamation of African, European, American, and indigenous influences. Family recipes are used to trace West African lineage — from Mali to Ghana — and are preserved today in tribute to Afro-Bahamian heritage, as I learned on a tasting trip through Nassau with Tru Bahamian Food Tours. And, if you want a home-cooked meal, sign up for a People-to-People Experience, through which I spent an evening at home with a Bahamian family. Too often, visitors retreat to their all-inclusive resorts and miss out on cultural experiences in the island's capital. Visit the Bahamas Heritage Museum and go wine tasting at Graycliff, and attend a Sunday tea party at Government House.
8. Nightlife: Antigua
Leeward Islands - Enjoy the vibrant social life of this picturesque island in the Eastern Caribbean
(Image provided by Carlisle Bay)
Usually, to mingle with locals or make new friends, you must know someone at the destination before arriving. But this isn’t the case on the island of Antigua, where there is a party at Shirley Heights Lookout every Sunday from 4 pm until long after the sun goes down — the formal festivities conclude at 10 pm, but you can always expect some stragglers. Afterward, retreat to your private oasis on the sandy shores of Carlisle Bay, and recharge enough to head into English Harbour for some espresso martinis the next night. Retox to detox is a perfect mantra for a getaway on this uber-social Caribbean island.
9. Diving: Bonaire
Dutch Caribbean - This island is one of the best destinations for scuba diving on the planet
(Image provided by Bonaire Tourism)
Bonaire is the least-touristed destination in the ABC Islands of the Dutch Caribbean and is perfect for the diving fanatic. Visitors can enjoy off-shore diving nearly everywhere on the island, protected by a natural marine park to ensure the kind of pristine underwater environment rarely seen outside the Galapagos — the coral reefs are teeming with schools of fish, turtles, and more. Harbour Village Bonaire sits on four acres of tropical paradise from the comfort of its exclusive beach and is renowned for its unique diving and snorkeling experiences. A personal diving concierge is provided for each guest to ensure safety and maximum enjoyment, and the PADI five-star dive center allows visitors of all ages to get lessons onsite. Additionally, birders will be in heaven at the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. Bonaire's airport is named Flamingo for a reason — the pink bird is even the symbol on your passport stamp upon arrival.
10. Cuisine: Providenciales
The Turks & Caicos Islands - For lovers of Caribbean cuisine, Providenciales never disappoints
(Image provided by the Author)
Calling all foodies — if it’s a tropical ambiance, fresh seafood, and generous pours of rum that you’re after, head to the island of Providenciales on Turks & Caicos. Book a stay at the Grace Bay Club, overlooking Grace Bay Beach (consistently ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world), and set out to sea on a sunset catamaran cruise. As for culinary delights, you truly can’t go wrong. But our personal favorites are Da Conch Shack, where you can dine with your feet in the sand as the waves crash on the shore, or Coco Bistro, a romantic hideaway set amongst the largest palm grove on the island.
11. Surfing: Barbados
Leeward Islands, Eastern Caribbean - Hang ten in the Surfing Capital of the Caribbean
(Image provided by Visit Barbados)
Due to its location on the farthest eastern point of the Caribbean island chain, Barbados is a surfer's paradise, with waves originating in South America and Africa crashing onto its shores. Sign up for a lesson at Burkie's Surf School taught by the first professional Bajan surfer, Alan Burke. And Barbados isn't just known for surfing but windsurfing and kite-surfing, as well — we suggest heading out to Silver Sands Beach. Negotiating your sail can be quite strenuous (particularly if you've been overserved the night before), but the famous adage proves true: The cure for everything is sweat, tears, or the sea. Hopefully, only two such elements will be required on your aquatic adventures. Not to worry — a sunset cocktail at The House Barbados is the perfect place to revive yourself after a strenuous day at sea.
12. Hiking: Dominica
Windward Islands, Eastern Caribbean - Head into the wild on the Nature Island of the Caribbean
(Image provided by Dominica Tourism)
Who says the Caribbean is all about sunbathing on the beach? With its Boiling Lakes, tropical rainforests, champagne reefs, and black-sand beaches, Dominica is known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean. Book a stay at the Fort Young Hotel in the island's capital of Roseau before embarking on some of the most challenging, exhilarating hikes in the tropics. The lush wildness of Dominica is enhanced by a thriving local indigenous culture, and a visit to the Kalinago Cultural Center in Bataka is a must-visit while on the island.
13. Sightseeing: Curacao
Dutch Caribbean - Architecture aficionados must explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Willemstad
(Image provided by Curacao Tourism)
History lovers should explore the UNESCO World Heritage site, the capital city of Curacao, Willemstad. With its colorful buildings, Dutch colonial architecture, and floating markets of Venezuelan vendors, there's endless splendor to behold. Plus — unsurprisingly, given its location in the crystal-clear waters of the ABC islands — the island boasts endlessly fascinating dive sites (there's no shortage of ill-fated shipwrecks to explore) and an abundance of tropical fish and seahorses. Scuba experts and beginners should book a stay at LionsDive Beach Resort, where you can embark on your Dive SSI training in the most magnificent of surroundings and attain an open-water diving certificate in under a week. In the words of a popular local parlance — the native language of Papiamento — everything is dushi.
14. Rum: Grenada
Windward Islands- When it comes to local flavor, you can’t beat the rum of the Caribbean’s Spice Island
(Image provided by Mount Cinnamon Resort)
Grenada is a severely underrated Eastern Caribbean getaway located just outside the hurricane belt, making the island popular with under-the-radar billionaires parking their yachts in the off-season. But it won't be long before the rest of the world catches onto the charms of Grenada, as well. Stay at the luxurious Mount Cinnamon Resort overlooking the picture-perfect Grand Anse Beach, and hike to Fort Frederick to enjoy panoramic views of the island. Book a trip on a Carriacou sloop with Savvy Sailing — the owner, Danny Donelan, was instrumental in reviving the heritage of traditional Caribbean sailboats. (During your sail, snorkel to one of the underwater sculpture parks restoring the local reefs). Last but not least, the Spice Island of the Caribbean is famous for its rum. A trip to the historic River Antoine Estate Rum Distillery is mandatory for lovers of the tropical libation, where the alcohol is so potent it's illegal to take home on your flight.
15. Solitude: South Caicos
The Turks & Caicos Islands - Luxury lovers should seek a secluded paradise in South Caicos
(Image provided by Sailrock Resort)
If you’re in the mood for luxury, look no further than Turks & Caicos, and while Providenciales is definitely the best spot to party, travelers should book a connecting flight to South Caicos to experience the ultimate secluded paradise. Sailrock Resort offers private villas perfect for romantic getaways or friend and family vacations where the only unexpected disturbance is the occasional wild donkey strolling by your seaside pool.
16. Street Art: Aruba
Dutch Caribbean - Aesthetes worldwide should pay a visit to the Street Art Capital of the Caribbean
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While the island of Aruba may be better known for its nightlife and white-sand beaches — there’s a reason the destination has one of the highest return rates in the Caribbean — the flourishing art scene of San Nicolas is lesser known to travelers. Visit the ArtisA Gallery and take a mural tour before retreating to your private casita in the palm tree-enclosed paradise of the Boardwalk Boutique Hotel.
17. Sailing: Bermuda
North Atlantic - The home of the Newport Bermuda Race is a favorite for sailors worldwide
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Though the British territory of Bermuda is not technically considered part of the Caribbean in terms of geography, when it comes to culture, ambiance, and pink-sand beaches, it’s undoubtedly the West Indies. Head to the island for the Newport Bermuda Race, an annual sailing event that turns out throngs of revelers and observers worldwide — though many are in town for the parties. Speaking of parties, the Cup Match weekend is another fabulous time to visit to witness another of the island’s favorite sporting pastimes: Cricket. And, if you want to be in the center of the action, book a stay at the legendary Hamilton Princess, a resort that’s as pink as the sands it sits upon.
18. Fishing: St. Thomas
The U.S. Virgin Islands - Party lovers and avid fishermen alike will enjoy the island of St. Thomas
(Image provided by the Author)
St. Thomas is the most popular tourist destination in the U.S. Virgin Islands and offers an array of diverting nightlife activities, as well as glorious villas available for rent boasting sweeping views of the surrounding islands. But if you’re after the biggest (if not deadliest) catch, then head out onto the surrounding waters to fish Blackfin and Yellowfin Tuna, Blue Marlin, Wahoo, and Mahi-Mahi. Anglers from around the globe head to this island in the Virgin Islands archipelago for glory — St. Thomas is one of the best destinations for sportfishing in the world.
19. Sunbathing: Dominican Republic
Island of Hispaniola - Sunbathing in Punta Cana is among the best in the world
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The Dominican Republic is part of the Island of Hispaniola, which shares a border with Haiti. While the capital of Santo Domingo is legendary for its culture and vibrant city life, Punta Cana — on the island’s eastern shore, where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean Sea — is famous for its beaches. If your idea of a tropical getaway is one that is all-inclusive, then book your flight to the Dominican Republic now. There’s no shortage of loungers (or rum punches) to keep you occupied as you while away your day in your own personal version of Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Cheers!
20. Nature: St. John
The U.S. Virgin Islands - Half of this gorgeous island is protected by the Virgin Islands National Park
(Image provided by Caneel Bay)
If it’s nature you’re after, St. John is heaven on earth (or heaven in the tropics). More than half of the island’s land is protected by the Virgin Islands National Park, and, as of this year, travelers now have the option to stay within the park at the recently-reopened Cinnamon Bay Beach & Campground, which is available for guests once more after hurricanes ravaged the coastline five years ago. Luckily, ‘America’s Paradise’ in the U.S. Virgin Islands remains glisteningly preserved — and now better than ever — thanks to conservation efforts on the island, and a stay at Cinnamon Bay should top every nature lover’s bucket list.