The tropical shores of the Caribbean islands – more than 700 in all, divided into 13 sovereign island nations – are a favorite destination for travelers seeking sunshine and fun.
You probably don’t need a reason to visit the Caribbean islands with images of swaying palm trees, sparkling blue waters, and calypso music filling your head.
But if you’re looking for an extra push to get away to the best islands in the Caribbean, we’ve got some convincing reasons for you to visit!
Idyllic Weather and Scenery
It doesn’t get much better than the weather and scenic beauty of the Caribbean islands! Situated just off the equator, the Caribbean islands enjoy near-perfect weather and temperatures year-round.
That guarantees lush rainforests, flowers bursting in bloom, and beautifully green landscapes whenever you visit. Scenic isn’t the word to describe the islands of the Caribbean – it’s magical.
Whether you’re seeking vast, sandy beaches dotted with palm trees and low-growing tropical plants, dense rainforests, mountain peaks covered in greenery, gushing waterfalls, or thick stands of mangroves, you’ll find it all in the Caribbean islands.
Lively Caribbean Culture
The Caribbean islands are a cultural haven that will expose you to new experiences, languages, foods, music, dances, and practices. For many, that’s one of the main reasons to travel.
Depending on the islands you visit, you could try delicious local takes on seafood and island dishes, watch performances of indigenous dances, hear calypso and reggae music, and learn phrases in Spanish or Haitian.
Shop local-made trinkets and souvenirs to get a taste of the culture where you visit and visit local churches, museums, and galleries to really dive in.
Snorkeling, Diving, and Water Activities
Get up-close and personal with the greater Caribbean’s marine inhabitants and life when you snorkel, dive, or splash around in the aqua waters enjoying fun water activities.
The Caribbean islands are home to some incredible coral reefs teeming with colorful life like fish, sea turtles, octopuses, and even sharks. Snorkeling and diving on the reefs makes for an amazing experience!
Travelers love to try their hand at windsurfing, fishing, parasailing, surfing, and take rides on banana boats, jet skis, sailboats, and cruise boats to enjoy the waters of the Caribbean.
Extensive Lodging Options
When you visit the best islands in the Caribbean, you can be sure you’ll have plenty of options for great places to stay at every price point.
When you choose an all-inclusive resort, your room, food, drinks, activities, and more are taken care of with amenities like spas and fine restaurants onsite!
The 16 resorts we chose as the best of the Caribbean range from about $560 to over $15,000 for a 4-night stay for 2, so you can find an option for any budget.
The 9 Best Islands in the Caribbean
Heading just about anywhere in the Caribbean will guarantee a gorgeous, memorable trip, but the 9 best islands in the Caribbean are absolutely stunning.
We’ve compiled a list of the best Caribbean islands to visit – islands that are packed with activities and natural beauty, considered safe for travelers, and offer a completely immersive Caribbean experience.
The 9 best Caribbean islands to visit are:
- The Bahamas
- St. Lucia
- Dominican Republic
- St. Thomas
- Antigua and Barbuda
Learn more about each island and see which one will be the best destination for your trip next. Discover the tropical beauty and wonder of the 9 best islands in the Caribbean below!
1. The Bahamas
The islands of the Bahamas are a favorite Caribbean destination for travelers and offer a perfect tropical setting for family trips, romantic getaways, and adventurous experiences alike.
Named among the safest islands in the Caribbean, the Bahamas experiences excellent weather year-round with temperatures in the upper 60s to the low 90s.
Ample diving opportunities on colorful reefs around the islands will delight adventurous travelers, national parks make for great hiking and exploration opportunities, and the beaches and nightlife are perfect for soaking up sun and letting loose on your trip.
Find out the best islands to stay in the Bahamas (Nassau is great for budget trips, while Paradise Island is unbeatable for families) and be sure to go during the high season from December to April for a top-tier experience.
2. St. Lucia
St. Lucia (or Saint Lucia) is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean and our favorite spot for a Caribbean trip that rejuvenates and revitalizes you.
With scenic views of the rugged Piton Mountains, swathes of lush rainforest, multicolored volcanic sand beaches, and lots of coral reefs to snorkel and dive around, there’s no shortage of things to do in St. Lucia.
You’ll enjoy the highs around 84F-88F through most of the year here with the best time to visit being December through March, when rainfall is low and beach days are perfect.
For the ultimate experience, it’s worth it to stay at one of the best all-inclusive resorts in St. Lucia within your budget (we found options as low as $1,425 for a 5-night stay for 2).
3. Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic boasts amazing weather, beaches, scenery, culture, and activities for travelers who want a picturesque tropical vacation with lots of opportunities for adventure.
With average temperatures around 79F, you can’t ask for better weather than you’ll find here. Come during the high season from December to April for lots of sunshine and festivals happening!
There are lots of places to visit here with activities like snorkeling and diving, a vibrant music and arts scene, and delicious food with African, Spanish, and Taino Indian influences.
These are just some of the highlights of a trip to the Dominican Republic! The private resorts here are excellent and range in price to fit every budget.
Named one of the safest island nations in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is generally safe for tourists, especially if you choose to stay in one of the all-inclusive resorts in Punta Cana or similar popular areas.
4. St. Thomas
Famous for mountains, sparkling white sand beaches that perfectly contrast the aqua waters, and a casual vibe with gorgeous scenery, St. Thomas is easily one of the best islands in the Caribbean.
All the best island activities are on the list in St. Thomas, including beaches, snorkeling, diving, shopping, hiking, and exploring the towns and hiking trails.
Part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Thomas really comes alive in winter and springtime (two of the best times to visit). It doesn’t get much warmer than 90F and winter sees highs in the low 80s.
There are lots of places to stay and private resorts in St. Thomas, from the happening capital Charlotte Amalie to the scenic region of Magens Bay. It’s considered a safe island to visit with crime rarely affecting tourists.
One of the Caribbean’s lesser-traveled gems is beautiful Barbados. This island sees about a million visitors each year and has so much to offer!
One of the first things you’ll notice about Barbados is the colorful colonial architecture that gives the island a friendly, lively feel.
Dive on shipwrecks and coral reefs around the island, hike easy to moderately difficult trails, try your hand at windsurfing or snorkeling, and relax on the pristine beaches here.
Barbados is one of the safest islands in the Caribbean so you can feel secure while you enjoy all the island has to offer.
Try to plan your visit during January to April – the best time to visit Barbados for great weather and attractions.
6. Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is an island country made up of 2 separate tropical islands, each with amazing scenery and delightfully different landscapes.
Antigua is the largest and liveliest island here. Its sprawling beaches, central rainforest, secluded coves, and volcanic rocks are an incredible backdrop for your vacation.
Barbuda, a coral island, is flatter with a large lagoon and amazing birdwatching opportunities. This is where you’ll want to stay for fewer crowds, lower prices, and a more authentic vibe.
Both are very safe islands that are easy to navigate. Ferries make it simple to make your way between the two islands.
Try to plan your visit during December to April, the best time to visit Antigua and Barbuda for great weather.
Come to Grenada for the mountainous natural beauty with a lush rainforest landscape making this island something truly special. It’s one of the safest islands in the Caribbean so you can relax and unwind without worry!
Don’t miss Grand Etang National Park where you can explore the dense rainforest and lakes within. You’ll fall in love with the absolutely unreal Underwater Sculpture Park off the western coast!
The dry season from January to May is the best time to visit Grenada, but any time of year will be a good time to take in the wonders of this naturally beautiful place.
When you’re craving something different, take a break from all the adventure and natural wonder to enjoy the sophisticated vibe in the popular shops, restaurants, and bars in town.
Jamaica, famous for reggae and dancehall music, rum, and a lovably laid-back vibe, and one of the best islands in the Caribbean to visit.
Over 4 million people come to Jamaica every year for the amazing range of things to do, including gorgeous beaches, diving and snorkeling, hiking, zip lining, and caving. However, where you decide to visit is key.
Some areas of Jamaica experience high levels of violent crime, so the best way to experience Jamaica is in a private all-inclusive resort where you won’t need to venture far to take part in fun activities, great food, and free-flowing drinks.
As long as you know where to stay in Jamaica, you’re in for a Caribbean treat. Try to plan your visit during the balmy November-December period when prices are lower and crowds are thin with the promise of great weather!
Aruba is small at just 70 square miles, but it packs a ton of beauty and adventure into the space and is one of the best islands in the Caribbean you can visit.
The nickname “One Happy Island” suits it well, with several gorgeous white sand beaches, natural pools and rock formations, and picturesque parks dotting the island.
Aruba is a very safe place to visit and is home to some truly amazing all-inclusive resorts that pamper you and cater to every need during your stay.
Try to visit Aruba during January to mid-April, when you’ll find the ideal weather and open attractions. There are lots of things to do in Aruba and many excellent restaurants to choose from during your stay!