The Caribbean Defined
|Choose Your Pleasure: Dominicas jungles, Bonaires aquatic life, or Tortolas postcard-perfect beaches (courtesy, Dominica Tourism; Nathan Borchelt; Digital Vision/Getty)|
Say Caribbean and most travelers envision a sparkling beach, turquoise water, and tiki bars pouring potent rum drinks. And while those scenes are certainly on display in much of the region, so are other features, like massive mountains, vibrant cities, rich culture, desert landscapes, and world-class festivals. In short, the Caribbean offers more than lazy beach days. But make no mistake, not every island will please every vacationer. The first step in planning Caribbean travel is to decide what YOU want. And that's where we come in.
Seeking lush hillsides with waterfalls spilling into pristine pools? Head to Jamaica, Dominica, or the Dominican Republic. Or are you all about the beach, topography be damned? The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos are virtually surrounded by sublime expanses of sand. Want to get off the beaten track and explore? Consider Aruba, where the miles of four-wheel-drive roads along the north coast access a stark, craggy landscape. Craving top-tier restaurants that would compete with those in major U.S. cities? Look to Old San Juan's mix of influences, or Guadeloupe, where French-Caribbean chefs are elevating nouveau creole cuisine.
You get the pointevery island has strengths, and most have weaknesses. Here we break down the region, focusing on categories most people consider when planning a tropical trip. This is neither comprehensive nor scientific. It's an attempt to put you in the right frame of mind when deciding which island to hit next.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
Best Hotels in Caribbean
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman
Caneel Bay, A Rosewood Resort
Iberostar Grand Rose Hall Adults Only All Inclusive