When it comes to luxury vacation destinations, the Caribbean has little competition. Sure, you could fly to the Far East and check into a luxury resort in Phuket or Chiang Mai, or perhaps you prefer the idea of visiting Crete or the Algarve. Either way, there are lots of great destinations to choose from, but if you want the perfect combination of stunning beaches, some of the best scuba diving in the world, and fabulous food, the Caribbean is hard to beat.
The Caribbean welcomes more than 10 million visitors each year. The region saw a 7% increase in arrivals in 2017, despite several of the islands remaining off-limits to tourists following the devastating hurricane season. It’s clear the Caribbean is still open for business, so here is everything you need to know to plan your perfect Caribbean vacation.
Choose The Right Caribbean Island
Many areas were badly hit by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, Maria, and Irma. Some, like Dominica and Saint Martin, were decimated. The repair bill for the US Virgin Islands was estimated to be $200 million alone. Despite the damage, most of the Caribbean is welcoming tourists with open arms once again, and many islands were not even touched by the hurricanes. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to select your island carefully, particularly if you have specific activities on your bucket list.
Selecting The Right Accommodation
St. Lucia, St. Barts, Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, Aruba, and Jamaica all have plenty to offer and have recovered from the hurricanes. You can choose from several all-inclusive resorts, but if you would prefer a greater degree of independence and privacy away from the hustle and bustle of a busy resort, there are a number of excellent private villas to choose from. St. Barts Villas are known to be the most luxurious and modern comparatively because St. Barts is known as “the playground of the rich and famous.”
You can go backpacking if you really want to travel cheaply. The majority of the islands don’t cater to backpackers, but there are hostels on the Dutch Antilles (Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire), and also in Puerto Rico. You don’t necessarily need to go looking for a hostel bed either. There is plenty of budget accommodation available for those traveling light. Jamaica, for example, has lots of affordable rooms. If you plan on spending your days swimming, scuba diving, soaking up the sun, and your nights partying, as long as you have a comfortable bed, who cares about the rest?
Planning An Itinerary
Have a plan before you travel. There is so much to see and do in the Caribbean, you don’t want to waste a minute. The beaches are the main draw for many people. The Caribbean has some of the best-rated beaches in the world:
- Pink Sands in the Bahamas is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world
- Grand Anse in Grenada is a spectacular stretch of pristine white sand and is great for families
- Seven Mile Beach is a stunning crescent of white sand on the western shore of Grand Cayman
- Grace Bay in the Turks & Caicos is a stunning beach perfect for jaw-dropping Instagram shots
Watersports are just as much of a draw as the beaches. Scuba diving is popular, of course. Go wreck diving on the USS Kittiwake in Grand Cayman, try shore diving off the beaches of Bonaire, or test your nerves diving with hammerhead sharks in the Bahamas. If scuba diving doesn’t float your boat, consider adding power snorkeling, kite surfing, buggy tours in Curacao, or sailing to your itinerary. Other fun activities include star-gazing in Antigua, visiting the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, or caving in Barbados. St. Barts is best-known for its plethora of shops and gourmet restaurants, perfect for more luxury-driven vacations.
June through October is the “low” season in the Caribbean, so prices for flights and accommodation will be cheaper. The weather will be hotter and more humid, but you can soon chill off with a dip in the sea, followed by a nice glass of rum. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
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