The Caribbean Beaches listed below are arranged in island alphabetical order from A-J. Best Beaches M-Z
Also see crime, best season, gay-friendly islands, islands information, history and culture, getting there.
West Indies, Little Bay, Shoal Bay
Anguilla encompasses arguably the best beaches generally in the Caribbean, with over 30 strands of dream sands to cater to not many sun-seekers, a very laid-back charm and a growing fine restaurant scene to cater to after-sun diners.
Little Bay is a tiny half moon shaped bay with powder
sand beach and clear water is protected by high cliffs so the ambience
is tranquil and excellent for sunbathing and snorkelling. Access
is by boat only from Crocus Bay.
Nearby the two mile stretch of Shoal
Bay - which some consider to be Anguilla's
best beach, Rendezvous
Bay, or Road
Bay offer a few more
facilities and action.
Antigua, Johnson's Point (Crab Hill)
Antigua's chain of secluded coves with white soft-sand
beaches (especially in the south-west) and sensational views also offers low-stress flights from the UK, easy transfers, a good choice of hotels and masses of family-friendly activities for toddlers to teenagers. Some options include Wadadli Animal Park, a pirate experience (Black Swan), kayaking, zip-wires and plenty more.
If snorkeling is your aim, then head for Pigeon Point near Falmouth
Harbour. Topless or naked bathing are both strictly forbidden on this island. See Crime.
Harbour Island, Pink Sand Beach
This famous pink sand beach on a islet of Eleuthera Island, is one of the world's most photographed beaches
and often voted as the world's best beach by various travel
a three mile stretch of powder sand named for its salmon colour
due to flecks of red plankton mixed with fine, sugar-white coral sand.
Most of the accommodation is located on the cliff behind the beach
and reached by 'Bahamas Fast Ferries' from Eleuthera.
Barbados seems to be moving intelligently and inexorably away from exclusive luxury holidays to all budget vacations, with plenty of family-friendly resorts offering shallow pools, kid's clubs, flying foxes, jungle camps, pirate ships and endless water-based activities.
The island is lined with soft white sand beaches and azure seas, though calm or rough depends on their location. Barbados food is varied and delicious, the people are charming and speak English. Barbados is easily accessed by direct flights from the USA, Canada and UK.
Crane Beach (photo) is said to be
one of Barbados' - if not the Caribbean's - most beautiful beaches.
The soft white sands and bumpy azure waves are embraced by imposing cliffs but swimmers need to be ready for a bit of a battle as here the waters mix Caribbean benevolence with Atlantic fury. More Barbados information and photos
This is a totally
laid-back seaside town with a 16 miles of pristine sandy beach on
a long, narrow peninsula in SE Belize.
It is is well worth the trip to get there (4-5 hours from Belize
City, but now daily domestic flights are available).
Facilities are simple but comfortable, with friendly locals and
fantastic seafood. Apart from just lying on the sand, you can participate
in various water sports, fishing, bird watching, manatee watching
(!) and jungle excursions in the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary.
If you want more action (especially scuba diving), try the Cayes: resort-oriented
Ambergris Caye, or relatively low-key Caye
Both are good bases for world-class diving and snorkelling off the
world's second greatest barrier reef.
British Virgin Islands, BVI.
British Virgin Islands (BVI), Virgin Gorda, The
Palm-lined silky beaches with deep pinky-gray
sands and peppermint green water (what about the purple prose?).
Although Virgin Gorda has no shortage of lovely beaches such as
Devil's Bay, Mahoe Bay, Pond
Bay, Savannah Bay, and Spring Bay, the Baths gets the top spot in
BVI, so it can get crowded. It's good for year-round swimming and
snorkelling, especially going left from the beach but a bit pricey.
Virgin Gorda is one of the friendliest islands in the Caribbean.
British Virgin Islands, Jost Van Dykes Island, White Bay
Photogenic, unspoilt and white-on-white,
the beach on tiny Jost Van Dykes island
5 miles west of Tortola, was a secret until recently but now some
major publications are raving about it, and it has been selected
as one of world's top ten best beaches.
There is also fabulous snorkelling from the islet off the southeast
of Jost Van Dykes
Sandy Cay and the more remote Sandy
Spit Beach as well.
Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman, Seven Mile Beach (well, to be honest, it's actually 5.5 miles long). Seven Mile Beach (also known as West Bay Beach) is the big one that everyone wants to shuffle their toes in en route to the clear, tranquil water above the gently shelving sandy bottom. It's a magnificent stretch of groomed, powder white sand that, if you can afford it, you should hug close and never let go. Oh, that's too bad, can't stay for ever? Never mind. Back to work after a quick snorkel. More Grand Cayman information and photos.
Varadero is not technically the Caribbean, actually the Straits of Florida, but but it's near enough. 20km of clean, creamy, uncrowded
sand adjacent to clean, warm
water runs alongside a string of relatively cheap all-inclusive hotels and a
few local facilities. There is no coral in the immediate vicinity
so forget snorkelling but other marine activities are plentiful.
Varadero town is
not especially interesting but a rental car or bus will get you
too Havana in a couple of hours. Havana is very lively and fascinating in a crumbly pre-60's
way and definitely the best exotic culture in the Caribbean. Four days in Varadero and three days in Havana would be an
excellent week's holiday. More Cuba information and photos
Not to be confused with much bigger Dominican Republic (it's near Guadeloupe and Martinique in the east, whereas DR is a package destination in the central Caribbean near Cuba), Dominica specialises in activities and not just kid's stuff. Possibilities range from whale-watching, kayaking and scuba to mountain-biking trails, jungle rainforest canopy tours and superb hiking routes that supply delightful rest-stops en route, such as spas, mud-baths and cave swimming.
The most extreme trekking on offer is the 115 mile (184 kms) Waitukubuli National Trail.
Punta Cana beach, Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic, many Blue Flag beaches
DR is the best budget Caribbean island, with Jamaica cool running up. Dom Rep is low cost due to many all-inclusive resorts catering mainly to families, low labour costs and plenty of fertile land to grow produce, rather than import just about everything like most Caribbean islands.
Apart from its excellent beaches, massive size and cheap prices, the Dominican Republic also hosts an unequalled variety of things to do inland when the sun and sand gets just too much... More Dominican Republic information, map and photos.
Grenada, Carriacou, Grand Anse, Magazine Beach, La Sagesse
Grenada not only hosts spectacular powder-sand beaches serviced by friendly little restaurant/cafés but is also fond of activities so perfect for those make-work holiday folk who can't just lounge on the sand or flop in the water for a week.
Anse la Roche is a must-see beach, the classic image of fantasy sand with a great view of Union Island across the water. It's a 45 minute walk from
Bogles village but it's quite easy to get lost and it might be better
to take a water taxi. There are no facilities and very few people,
so take food and drink.
Grand Anse is the place for action, Magazine Beach is the one for boulder-scattered classic Caribbean style and La Sagesse for Caribe au naturel.
Grande-Terre, (West Indies), Sainte
Guadeloupe is an up and coming destinations
for Europeans. It's still only moderately touristy and has very
good reputation for spicy French-Creole cuisine. The coastline
is rugged and the fine sandy beaches are relatively quiet.
Anne town is the prettiest village in Guadeloupe and the beach
is the finest while Plage de la Caravelle is also excellent
but access is only through Club Med.
7 mile beach in Negril, Jamaica
Jamaica, Negril Beach
Jamaica has a name for three things, partying, nude sunbathing and crime. Locals love to dance, the music is irresistible (well, unless you dislike Reggae or Ska) and beach parties happen in brilliant locations all over the island, as well as more formal world music festivals such as Reggae Sumfest in Montego bay. There's nothing quite like a few rum 'n' cokes or Red Stripes on a perfect beach at sunset, shack-fried fish and a wobbly shuffle on powder sand to live Ska.
Looking for a nudist paradise? Negril
Beach is the one for you if you can cope with the crowds and some
local harassment. Otherwise the beach is Jamaica's prettiest with
a laid-back atmosphere. It's much less busy than the famous Seven
Long Bay Beach Park at northern end
of Negril Beach is a bit more tranquil as is Bloody
Bay Beach further along. There are reports of occasional
thefts and mugging.
As for crime, it's easy enough to avoid if you take local advice (i.e. from hotel staff), leave valuables in your safe and stay away from shanty towns. See Crime. More Jamaica information, map and photos.
The best season for a Caribbean beach holiday
December to May are usually the
best months in the Caribbean while May is the favourite low-cost
month as accommodation charges multiply mid-December to
April but the weather remains fine through May - hopefully.
The hurricane season runs from August
thru October but the rainy period lasts May to December, except for the Dutch ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) which are below the hurricane belt and consequently have better summertime/autumn weather conditions and practically 12 months availability (though November-January can be a little cloudy and damp). Tobago's season is a little different too, with best months being January to June.
Around Christmas/New Year (last 2 weeks of December
and first 10 days of January), a week either side of Easter
and during North American College breaks is the very busiest and most costly time to travel to and stay in the Caribbean.
Stormy weather: August to early October is the normal peak hurricane season (78% of tropical storms; 87% of the "minor" hurricanes; 96% of the "major" hurricanes) but though hurricanes are rare, rain is not, the humidity can be oppressive and stormy,
water may be rough and unclear for scuba or snorkelling and beaches garbed in seaweed.
However, you could also consider the southern sector of the Caribbean which is effectively below the hurricane belt. e.g. Trinidad & Tobago, and the three Dutch islands off the north coast of South America.
Many Caribbean resorts, restaurants and other services are limited
or shut down completely from September to end of November.
(!) Sand drifting across from Africa can create hazy conditions
mid-May to mid-June.
Bermuda's not actually in the Caribbean, but the best time to visit the island - 700 miles off the Florida coast, is in the summertime. From June to October, the pink-sand beaches sprawl in temperatures of around 30C, with long daylight hours, low rainfall and warm seas around 25C.
In the last few years, Britain and USA have both ceded island control to
local authorities as well as repatriating hardened criminals to their Caribbean islands from US and UK cities. As a result violent crime and corruption have increased in
many of their colonies and ex-colonies. French colonies seemed more controlled until recently but as we go into 2013 we are hearing unpleasant reports from flak-jacketed gendarmes of black-on-white violence on French islands such as St Martin and Guadeloupe.
Inside the grounds of all-inclusive resorts there is no problem
and holidaymakers will imagine they are close to heaven, but out in
the real world hellish trouble lurks.
Sailing folk and Caribbean tourists should avoid isolated areas, including beaches after dark and not flash cash or jewellery. Be aware that outsiders may be treated with disdain and crimes
against them may go unpunished.
And in Cuba don't pick up strangers in your rental car!
No Worries so far:
Dutch islands that still have strict law enforcement experience petty theft (busted car window anyone?) but nothing too grave.
e.g. Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao.
English Harbour, Antigua
There's plenty of availability of all sizes of sailing or motor yacht rentals in the area, as weather conditions are superb outside the hurricane season and the variety of attractive islands and dazzling, easy-anchor bays is staggering.
One popular and relaxing option is to join a charter group of small yachts with a professional captain and fixer who then leads the flotilla on island-to-island jaunts, finds the best mooring spots, advises on best sailing techniques, rigging, snorkelling, beach activities and best places to eat and drink onshore if required.
Although flights to the Caribbean are not cheap from Europe and boat rentals hardly cheap, the savings on accommodation and eating out are enormous and the island-hopping fun and fascinating.
Yacht Charter around the Caribbean - Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Cuba, Leeward Islands, Jamaica, Barbados, The Grenadies, Martinique or St Barts.
Best Budget Caribbean Islands
Dominican Republic | Jamaica | Barbados | Cuba | Tobago
Aruba | Bonaire | Curaçao | Puerto Rico | Grand Cayman
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