The Caribbean is a popular destination for beach lovers, honeymooners, and families. While the most popular vacation spots include Jamaica, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, many travelers don’t think about other remarkable Caribbean islands that are comparable in cost, convenience, and safety. By considering some of these other equally great destinations, you may be able to find excellent accommodations while avoiding crowds and tourists.
St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
If you don’t have a passport but still want to visit the Caribbean, St. John is a great option, since it is a United States territory. Considered the most pristine and untouched of the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. John is easily reached by a 20-minute ferry ride from the main island of St. Thomas. Whether you want to plan a couples vacation or family trip, St. John has a plethora of accommodation options, from hotels, to villas, to eco-resorts. Activities both on land and at sea in St. John include hiking, snorkeling, horseback riding, and boating. The island is also duty-free, so you can purchase unique Caribbean gifts for all of your friends and family.
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Virgin Gorda, named the “Fat Woman” by Christopher Columbus because of its unique shape, is a great Caribbean destination for families and couples. Virgin Gorda is most famous for The Baths, a boulder-filled beach that has created beautiful caves and grottoes that you can walk through to get to Devil’s Bay, where you will find a pristine beach and snorkel spot. After experiencing The Baths, you can climb to the top of the hill for lunch at a quaint restaurant and a little shopping. Feeling adventurous? Hike up to Gorda Peak, the highest point on the island, for a stunning panoramic view of the nearby islands, or rent a scooter and ride into the Spanish Town Yacht Harbor to purchase local crafts and jewelry.
St. Bart’s, formally known as St. Barthelemy, is a beautiful Caribbean Island known for its French charm. Gustavia, the main town on the island, is complete with five-star restaurants, nightlife, and some of the best shopping in the Caribbean. Accommodations on the island include moderately priced hotels, luxury resorts, and quaint villas. While on the island make sure you spend time on the many beaches. It is recommended to take the 90-minute hike to the secluded Columbier beach to spot sea turtles, or visit Nikki Beach for a great lunch and lively music experience. St. Bart’s is a popular celebrity destination, so keep on the lookout for A-list celebs hanging out on the yachts moored outside of the major port towns or lounging on some of the beaches around the island.
St. Martin/St. Maarten is a half Dutch, half French Caribbean island that is easy to access due to a large international airport with flights from most major U.S. cities. Stunning beaches and hotels can be found on either side of the island. On the Dutch side, you can watch boat regattas, visit historic forts, or check out shipwrecks in the Man of War Shoal Marine Park. This side also is known for its 14 Vegas-style casinos. The French side is known for its fabulous restaurants. Grand Case is where you’ll find authentic French Cuisine and fun discos. For an unforgettable day trip, charter a catamaran or speedboat to the Island of Tintamarre, where you will find a breathtaking snorkel spot and might even get to swim with sea turtles.
Guadeloupe, located in the southern Leeward Islands, consists of two main islands separated by a saltwater river. The western island of Base-Terre is mountainous and volcanic, filled with a lush rainforest and dark sand beaches. Base-Terre’s main attractions include the largest waterfall in the Caribbean–the Chutes de Carbet–and the La Soufriere Volcano Observatory. To the east is the flat island Grande-Terre, which is where you will find most of Guadeloupe’s beaches and hotels. Grande-Terre boasts some of the Caribbean’s most beautiful white sand beaches. Brush up on your French before you go….Guadeloupe is a French Island, so you may not find many English speakers while visiting.
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