The Caribbean's Top Ten Hidden Beaches
|SAND AND SOLITUDE: Harbour Island offers the perfect beach to get away from it all (courtesy, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism)|
It's the subject of countless postcards: A long stretch of powdery, white sand backed by a thick band of palm trees, and an azure seascape extending to the horizon. There's not a soul in sightno high rise hotels, no cruise ship piers, no vendors peddling statuettes and shell necklaces, no mobs of tourists sunburned and giddy on margaritas. Sure, deserted beaches aren't for everyone, as many prefer the energy of a crowded beach, the chance encounters, and impromptu soccer games. But for those of us who can't read Robinson Crusoe without a passing wistfulness, here are ten of the best hidden beaches in the Caribbean, where you can escape the crowds and enjoy that ever-elusive treasure, the perfect beach.
10. St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
More than two-thirds of St. John is protected under the Virgin Islands National Park, including the entire north coast where the island's best beaches are located. Most have creamy white sand, crystalline water, and stunning views of nearby islands. A rental car makes beach hopping easy and fun, especially if you're looking for a private hideaway. (Be sure to grab a beach and snorkeling map at the national park service office.) Francis Bay sees relatively little traffic, especially on weekdays, and is long enough that even on busy days you'll have plenty of room to stretch out. If you want to try a really out-of-the-way spot, check out Jumbie Beach, a beautiful little nook whose name, Creole for malevolent spirit, belies its peaceful seclusion.
St. John Vacation Guide
9. La Sagesse Bay, Grenada
Grenada's best beach is Grand Anse Bay, with its long, curving beach backed by tall coconut trees and a view of the mountains beyond. However, it's also home to the island's biggest resorts, and doesn't really qualify as a secluded beach destination. For solitude, head to scenic La Sagesse Bay, about ten miles east of Grand Anse, where palm trees shade a curl of firm, white sand, exuding a quiet, secluded charm. Rocky headlands nearly pinch the bay shut, making the surf consistently mellow. La Sagesse's only development is an attractive hotel and nature center with a restaurant and bar, and several hiking trails leading to even more secluded bays and beaches.
Grenada Vacation Guide
8. Half Moon Bay, Antigua
Half Moon Bay, a beautiful semicircle of white sand and emerald water, may be the finest of Antigua's 365 beaches, yet it's also one of the least crowded. The lone resort located there closed after a hurricane in 1995 and has yet to reopen, and it's not uncommon to find just a handful of people on the entire half-mile stretch of sand. Half Moon Bay faces the Atlantic, so expect gustier winds and bigger surf than elsewhere (in fact, it's a favorite spot for windsurfers and kiteboarders). That said, the shore curls around so that the north end is shielded from the open ocean, an area with excellent snorkeling opportunities. A small beach bar serves drinks and rents beach gear (and has a bathroom), but it's a good idea to bring some provisions of your own, in case it's not open.
Antigua Vacation Guide
7. Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Bahamas
Why settle for white sand when you can have pink? Pink beaches are found in several places in the Caribbean, but nowhere more famously or elegantly than on Harbour Island, where the sand shimmers like strawberry icingthe color comes from the shells of microscopic marine organisms. The aptly named Pink Sand Beach stretches most of the island's three-mile eastern shore, where sunrises are spectacular and an offshore coral reef tempers the surf. Harbour Island is far from deserted, and even further from budget-friendly, but the beachfront development is mostly exclusive boutique hotels and private estates, so it rarely feels crowded.
Eleuthera Vacation Guide
6. Las Galeras, Dominican Republic
The land of Carnival, baseball fanatics, and all-inclusive resorts may seem like an unlikely place to look for secluded beaches, but that's exactly what you'll find outside the small town of Las Galeras in the northeastern Samaná Peninsula. A short boat ride (or jarring jeep trip) gets you to Playa Rincón, an undulating two-mile beach, with light golden sand and multi-colored water. A handful of simple restaurants serve drinks and fresh seafood, but packing your own lunch frees you to stroll the beach in search of your own little patch of paradise. Las Galeras is the jumping-off point for other secluded beaches, including Playa Frontón, another classic Caribbean beauty, and Playa Madama, which occupies a narrow slot in the area's dramatic shoreline. Both beaches have excellent snorkeling and can be reached by foot or boat.
Dominican Republic Vacation Guide
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication