The Caribbean Islands offer abundant choice for vacationers looking for a superlative tropical beach vacation that’s affordable yet full of action. With so many popular destinations, the hard part is to decide where you want to take your loved ones for a much-awaited beach getaway.
One of the most important deciding factors when choosing your Caribbean destination is of course the airfare—the farther your destination, more the cost of travel. For instance, Negril (Jamaica) is only two hours’ flight from Miami but much farther from Los Angeles. Cost of accommodation, which varies with time of the year, is the second biggest deciding factor. To start with, set a tentative budget and then go about researching your ideal tropical getaway.
Here we have listed 6 of the best Caribbean destinations that have something for every traveler and every budget.
A little more expensive than other popular Caribbean destinations, Aruba offers luxurious vacations complete with casinos, top-of-the-line shopping, world-renowned restaurants and some of the world’s best golf courses. However, the island is not just about high-end vacations for the rich—there is plenty for the budget traveler as well.
Aruba is a good choice for families looking for a fun and activity-centered vacation.
Jamaica’s white-sand beaches are nature’s beauty at its best. Ocho Rios and Negril are two of Jamaica’s most popular vacation destinations frequented by scores of American families each year. The year-round pleasant climate and the friendly people add to the family-friendly atmosphere on this tropical island.
If you love exploring local culture and are a foodie who is not afraid to experiment, you will love the vibe of this beautiful country that thrives on reggae music and sumptuous freshly prepared seafood. Jamaica offers a great inland vacation experience too for those who prefer soaking in its rich history and culture by staying in homestays or old houses turned into boutique hotels.
The country has something for every traveler—from luxurious family-friendly Vacation resorts and family-run inns to couple’s retreats and custom-designed destination weddings.
Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI)
This picturesque island cluster is made up of 40 small islands of which only eight are inhabited. Turks and Caicos are famous for breathtaking turquoise waters and powdery picture-perfect beaches. Being a popular travel destination, the islands are well equipped with all modern amenities while still rooted in the local traditions and culture. The people are friendly and hospitable.
Depending on your budget and preferences, you can choose to stay at a luxury oceanfront resort or a quaint bed and breakfast run by a local family. TCI is the place to visit if you want to experience a tropical vacation that combines abundant natural attractions with experiences and events especially crafted for discerning travelers.
Barbados has the widest choices when it comes to activities and types of accommodations available to tourists. The landscape is beautiful and the vibe very relaxed and celebratory. The historical city of Bridgetown is a major tourist attraction, as is Harrison’s Cave, a unique natural marvel of stalactites and stalagmites (icicle-shaped mineral formations) and magnificent emerald-colored pools. A tram tour takes you through a network of caves and at a certain point you can get out and touch and feel the caves while walking along a beautiful natural waterfall.
Aside from the fact that US citizens don’t need a passport to visit Puerto Rico, the island interests US tourists for the sheer number of activities it offers for all kinds of travelers. Its landscape is diverse; from beautiful beaches and lush rain forests to towering mountains—Puerto Rico has it all. The cuisine is incomparable and the nightlife a party lovers’ paradise. There are casinos and surfing events for adventure lovers.
Despite being a US territory, the island still has a strong Spanish influence and you’ll find plenty of eateries playing the good old salsa and dishing out the best of Spanish and Latin cuisines. Visit the splendid forts in San Juan to get a glimpse of Puerto Rico’s rich history and ancient architecture.
A small Caribbean island, Anguilla is well known for its pristine white-sand beaches and the quiet, non-tourist vacation experience it offers to selective travelers who prefer to stay away from the hubbub of the more popular islands. That, however, in no way means that Anguilla is boring.
The spellbinding sunsets and the evening parties at the local pubs and restaurants will keep you happy and reassure you that you made a good decision in choosing a less crowded Caribbean destination.
Photo by David Troeger
Debra Black Haynes
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