Luminescent waters, baby powder sand, and sun that shines eternal; you are in paradise, you are in the Caribbean! Whether it’s leisure or excitement that you seek, it’s the perfect place to go but with so many islands and literally thousands of accommodations, which one is right for you? Let’s check out the top destinations and why each one is Jamaica: This is the island of Reggae, mon! This island of music is really the one that started it all for Caribbean travel, and by now has become of the most commercialized of all Caribbean destinations. If you are looking to enjoy ska, reggae, calypso or a variety of musical attractions, this place is it. There are a number of museums, shopping, and other tourist attractions on Jamaica, but we will only examine this island’s beaches.
Miles of sand and lush mountainside jungles surround the perimeter of Montego Bay, yet it is the most urban of the Jamaican beach cities. Excellent for families, there is also a beach theme park in MoBay! AguaSol Theme Park and Walter Fletcher Beach offer white sand beaches, lifeguards, a snack bar, televisions, and if you can believe a go-cart track! This city has the highest concentration of accommodations on the island and even though there are also several other beaches here, most of them get rather crowded. Montego Bay offers an array of other activities as well; there is tennis, golf, water sports, and various historical monuments.
Imagine a 600-foot series of waterfalls that are climbable, this is Ocho Rios. Private resorts own the majority of the beaches here, so be sure to check on beach access when selecting your accommodations. There are public beaches to the west in Runaway Bay, where you will find some of the best snorkeling in Jamaica! While there are activities such as horseback riding and golf, the view is what is most impressive about this region. This setting will be quieter than Montego Bay, and not as self-indulgent as Negril.
Negril is tantamount to “beach”-Seven Mile Beach to be precise. Seven miles of pure white, sugary sand line sparkling emerald waters. Reefs offer protection and with no rocks, seaweed, or undertow, swimming is exceptionally safe. For those seeking adventure there is horseback riding, snorkeling, jet skiing, parasailing, water skiing, and camping. If camping doesn’t suit you, hotels, villas, and cottages are plentiful.
Be aware though that Negril is also tantamount to hedonism! Known as “party central”, many of the venues are clothing optional, including beaches, cruises and resorts. There is also a multitude of bars, bars, and more bars! Now, it’s not all depravity and self-indulgence, there are also family friendly resorts here. But if you are planning on taking your entire family to Negril, investigate your accommodations carefully ahead of time. You could circumvent some potentially embarrassing situations!
Aruba: This island provides powdery sand beaches, high-rise hotels, immaculate
villages, glitzy casinos, and shopping that never ends. Don’t let the tropical air surrounding you fool you though, the environment here is mostly desert like, with far more divi trees than palms. There are several remarkable beaches here and navigation around the island is fairly easy, either by taxi or rental car. If you get the opportunity to check out other beaches, I recommend Baby Beach-sugary sand, tranquil shallow waters exceptional for children, and beautiful coral heads ideal for snorkeling! For beach alternatives there is also a natural bridge, a bird sanctuary, caves, and an abandoned gold mine that are worth checking out.
The Bahamas: This string of islands presents numerous opportunities for eco-adventure, including kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling and diving along spectacular coral reefs.
The most popular Bahamian destination for is Grand Bahama. This beautiful island offers a multitude of activities-spectacular beaches, golfing, fishing, museums and historical landmarks, and an avid nightlife. A rental car or scooter makes it easy to get around the island, just keep in mind to stay to the left! Accommodations exist for most budgets, from quaint to extravagant, from family run inns to major resort chains.
Nassau and Paradise Island are also trendy. These two islands provide a combination of international panache and relaxed tranquility. The beaches here are stunning with sparkling turquoise waters that average 80 degrees year round. There is canoeing, jet skiing, and water-skiing. And if you enjoy snorkeling, there are some of the most spectacular reefs you will ever find. You will also discover casinos, nightclubs, and plenty of live music to entertain you all night!
There are also a number of other islands here, referred to as the Out Islands, which offer magnificent beaches, swimming with dolphins and exceptional deep-sea fishing. If what you want is something off the beaten path, then these merit checking out!
The Cayman Islands: The largest of the three islands, Grand Cayman prides itself in its
own Seven Mile Beach, while Little Cayman provides secluded beaches and more privacy (though you will have to share the beach with one of the island’s 2000 resident iguanas!). Despite spectacular beaches, the real attraction is UNDER the water! The Caymans are home to some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world, thanks to coral reefs that surround these three islands. The opportunities for adventure are endless-you can feed stingrays, go sailing, experience sea turtles ranging from 6 ounces or 600 pounds, or go windsurfing and parasailing. Though expect all of this to come at a cost, The Caymans are one of the most expensive travel destinations in the Caribbean.
US Virgin Islands: A mixture of cultures surrounded with awe-inspiring beaches and translucent waters, set in paradise, this is the US Virgin Islands!
St. Thomas is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world at Magens Bay, according to both National Geographic and Conde Nast Traveler. You should know though that on weekends this beach could get pretty loud, as it is a favorite with the locals for parties. There is also a very cosmopolitan element here with stylish restaurants, world famous shopping, and a vivid nightlife. St. Thomas also offers golfing, yachting, and sport-fishing, for the more sports minded individuals.
St. John is proud to offer first-rate beaches and a national park, making this destination the perfect choice for environmentalists. A prime location for eco-tourism, this island offers camping, hiking and awe-inspiring views. There are also a number of alternative accommodations, including “tent-like” quarters. I say “tent-like” because although they resemble tents, they include private toilets, solar energy, kitchen amenities, twin beds, futons, and some even have wheelchair access-and the price tags aren’t exactly your average campground rates! You will also find yoga, massage, and glassblowing demonstrations in addition to all of the traditional water sports.
For relaxation with a Danish influence, St. Croix is the place to go. There is horseback riding, golfing, or visits to historic sugar mills. One of only two underwater monuments in the United States, the Underwater National Park with an underwater snorkeling trail is one of the most popular attractions here. This island also boasts world-class scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding, and world-renowned golfing. You will find yourself wondering though if this is actually sand between your toes, or sugar from the mills!
The Caribbean is home to paradise; baby powder beaches, sun that shines eternal, and radiant aquamarine waters. Whether you are looking for a theme park, an eco-adventure, or nightlife under the sun, the opportunities are never-ending here. Each island provides different opportunities and the choice is yours as to which one is right for you. Just remember to pack your sunscreen and try and remember to come back home!