The 12 Best Caribbean Beaches for Soaking Up Fun and Sun During a Long Weekend

... Credit :
Jane Taylor in Celebrity

Last updated: 17 January 2020, 05:47 GMT

Ready for a beach getaway? Silly question. Who isn't? Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it is so hard to find the time to relax, unwind, and rejuvenate your spirit. But that doesn't have to be the case anymore. In mere moments, you could be researching the best vacation you never knew you needed. With these best Caribbean beaches, their resorts, their activities, and their beauty, you could be on your way to relaxation in no time.


Caribbean Beaches FAQ

1. Where Are the Best Caribbean Beaches?

The best Caribbean beaches are located in the Caribbean Sea, just southeast of the Gulf of Mexico. There are over 7,000 different Caribbean islands; however, only 2% of those islands are actually inhabited.

You might also hear the Caribbean islands referred to as the Antilles (the Greater Antilles and the Lesser Antilles) or as the West Indies (combined with the Lucayan Archipelago).


2. What Makes a Caribbean Beach the Best?

The best Caribbean beach has it all: warm weather, clear water, countless opportunities to make that perfect Instagram post that will make everyone sitting at home in the cold all kinds of jealous.

But the very best Caribbean beaches have more than just water and sand. The ideal vacation beach really depends on the most important element: you! The best Caribbean beach isn't necessarily the one that everyone else loves, it's the one that is able to provide everything you've ever wanted from a beach week.

If you want sun, sand, and fruity drinks, there is a beach for you. If you're more into an adventure — rock climbing, parasailing, snorkeling — guess what? There is a perfect Caribbean beach out there for you, too. And if you're not sure exactly what you're looking for, don't worry. Once you start checking out these places, it won't take you longer to figure it out.


3. Why Should You Visit the Caribbean?

First off, the Caribbean islands will give you the natural beauty and relaxation as you've never known. Traveling to the Caribbean — no matter which island or beach you choose — will also give you the opportunity to explore and experience a brand new culture, even if you plan on experiencing most of it from a beach chair.

Visiting the Caribbean also makes visiting multiple places easier than ever. You can island hop between locations with ease and never feel like you have left vacation.


4. What Can You Do in the Caribbean Other than Sit on the Beach?

The Caribbean islands are most popular for their beaches, and for good reason. But if you're looking for more in a vacation than just sand and water, you're in luck.

Many Caribbean islands feature all types of water sports, from snorkeling and scuba diving to surfing and taking short cruises with local tour guides. But these islands are about more than just the best Caribbean beaches, they're also filled with people and culture.

Take some time to try a new dish or drink, visit some historical ruins, or tour a museum while giving your sunburned skin a break.


How We Reviewed

We thoroughly researched each location on this list: we compared sources, we looked at maps, and we scoured countless sets of pictures to give you the very best of the best. We're traveling vicariously through you now, folks.


What We Reviewed

  • Grace Bay, Turks, and Caicos

  • Varadero, Cuba

  • Shoal Bay, Anguilla

  • The Baths, British Virgin Islands

  • Maho Beach

  • White Bay

  • Eagle Beach, Aruba

  • Trunk Bay, St. John

  • Playa Negra Puerto Rico

  • Crane Beach, Barbados

  • Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

  • Buck Island, Saint Croix


Grace Bay, Turks, and Caicos

Turks and Caicos are super well known for their turquoise water and pristine beaches, so you're already off to a good start. But Grace Bay, Turks, and Caicos is the star.

If you're looking for a resort-based vacation getaway, Grace Bay might be the perfect fit for you. Grace Bay is home to most of the resorts in Providenciales, but that's not all. Grace Bay is a diver's paradise, featuring all kinds of marine life and some of the best dive sites on Turks and Caicos overall.

Not a diver? No worries. There are prime snorkeling areas just off the coast that will allow you to see fish and coral and color right under the water. There's even a snorkeling park specifically for the just-under-water crowd.

And if you're looking for more beach-based activities, you're in luck. Grace Bay hosts all varieties of land tours: food, drinks, and mangrove tours are all popular.

Of course, there are the beaches. Grace Bay Beach and Taylor Bay Beach are two of the best Caribbean beaches around; it would be difficult to find anything wrong with this vacation destination.



Varadero, Cuba

White sand beaches. Crystal clear water. The whole beach to yourself. Ah, paradise.

So you might not have the beach entirely to yourself, but Varadero is a hidden little gem in the world of best Caribbean beaches. If you're looking for some independent rest and relaxation away from the crazy Caribbean crowds, Cuba is calling your name.

Despite its slightly lower popularity, Varadero still has all the hotel amenities you'll need for your best Caribbean beach vacay (but at a slightly lower price)

And if you're looking for an adventure to go along with your beachy paradise, Varadero is the perfect place for you. Just a short boat ride away from the coast lies a series of uninhabited little keys, full with caves and untouched nature waiting for you to explore it.


Shoal Bay, Anguilla

It's not as off the beaten path as it used to be, but Shoal Bay, Anguilla is still a pretty excellent vacation spot for those hunting for the best Caribbean beaches.

Does the 16-mile island feature 33 separate beautiful beaches; and the best part? They're all free and open to the public. Anguilla pulls its fair share of starlets and famous faces, but that doesn't mean it's off-limits to people with smaller budgets.

Shoal Bay is probably the most popular of all Anguilla's fantastic beaches and for good reason. Two miles of white sand beach, gorgeous Atlantic views, and on-site equipment rental for beach fun all add up to the best vacation spot you've ever experienced.


The Baths, British Virgin Islands

If your best Caribbean beach experience would be more of an investigation adventure that just "happens to have sun, sand, and surf," The Baths on the British Virgin Islands is where you should go.

The island was created by volcanically-formed boulders, which is cool in and of itself, but even better for its visitors are the grottoes and pools that have been created, too. It won't take you long to find the perfect little secluded cave or section of watery paradise.

But if you happen to want a mix of adventure and classic white sand beach, The Baths have still got you covered. Just a short hike away from the world of grottoes (through The Baths National Park) are Devil's Bay and Spring Bay, both bursting with waves and white sand.


Maho Beach

Maho Beach on Sint Maarten will give you a unique glimpse into another world of best Caribbean beaches. If you're looking for a beach-based adventure that involves being in the water right underneath planes during takeoff and landing, Maho Beach may be the only place you can really achieve that dream.

You can also take tours (water-based as well as land-based), enjoy the local food and drink, and soak up the rays all over the place.


White Bay

White Bay is on Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands and is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the world. Why not indulge in a classic best Caribbean beach vacation and go to the top-rated best beach ever?

White Bay will give you the classic beach experience: high-quality resorts, easy beach access to bars, restaurants, and activities, and, of course, all of that white sand. If you're looking for the ideal mix of beaching, boozing, and beauty, White Bay is your place.

Of course, you never have to sit still on a beach if you don't want to. White Bay is also world-renowned for its reefs, dive spots, and underwater adventure. You can hire yachts, scuba equipment, private tour guides... the world is your oyster.


Eagle Beach, Aruba

Aruba is a unique, beautiful, desert-like landscape that hosts a committed contingent of beach lovers every year. Eagle Beach is perhaps the most popular of all Aruba, and for good reason.

Eagle Beach is not only beach-y beautiful with the sand, perfectly blue water, and white rolling hills off in the background, but it features some of the very best sunsets in the entire Caribbean. If your best Caribbean beach vacation involves sitting in the quietly lapping surf admiring the vivid colors of the slowly setting sun, you can't get better than Eagle Beach.

For all of Aruba's popularity, Eagle Bay is generally quiet and perfect for the tourist who wants to get away from it all. There are plenty of hotel and resort options just across the street from the beach that features affordable meals, chairs and towels, and even free WiFi.

If you're a nature buff, Eagle Bay has something special for you. It is home to the unusual foot trees, iconic and well-known for their twisting trunks and fluffy green-leafed branches. If you're lucky, you might even spot a family of sea turtles. Sit among the trees' arching roots and gaze out at the pristine water as you let your cares wash away with the sand.


Trunk Bay, St. John

Trunk Bay is on St. John on the United States Virgin Islands, nestled in the midst of the Virgin Islands National Park. Trunk Bay is the perfect white sand beach: even the other best Caribbean beaches can't compare with Trunk Bay when everything is peaceful and calm.

Snorkeling and diving opportunities abound from Trunk Bay. Its natural beauty is second to none: there is even an underwater snorkeling trail that leads you all over the reefs and teaches you about the local fish and coral species.

Trunk Bay is all outfitted for the tourist visitor. You can easily rent chairs, towels, and snorkel equipment, all right there on the beach.

Trunk Bay—and St. John in general—can get pretty crowded due to its pristine beaches and overall popularity. St. John is a common island for cruise ship docking, so if you're not prepared to deal with hundreds of cruise ship tourists for a day or two, double-check the cruise docking schedule before you buy your tickets. If you're able to avoid dock days, you should be fine (and you might even have some glorious beach to yourself).


Playa Negra, Puerto Rico

Playa Negra in Puerto Rico is so beautiful and unique that the views and experiences rival those of the best Caribbean beaches themselves. Playa Negra is probably one of the most unusual beaches you'll visit — and that's including the flyover planes on Maho Beach.

Playa Negra is accurately named. Most people flock to the white sand beaches of iconic postcards, but Playa Negra features a completely different type of sand experience. The beach of Playa Negra is completely black but no less beautiful for the darker shade.

The black sand that gives Playa Negra its name and its popularity is volcanic sediment that washes up onto the shore when it rains; not only is it black, but it is super magnetic. So maybe don't wear your metal bikini.

And while Playa Negra is popular, it is not for the faint of heart. To fully experience its beauty (that is, to get there instead of just look at pictures), you'll have to hike through the Puerto Rican wilderness and ford a stream or two. By the time you get there, you'll for sure be ready for some beachin'.


Crane Beach, Barbados

When you visit Crane Beach in Barbados, you'll be getting more than just the sun and the sand. Visiting Crane Bay gives you the opportunity to explore and experience the culture, food, and fun of Barbados and Bajans themselves.

The whole time you're on Barbados, whether you know it or not, you'll be experiencing and loving the coral reefs. Of course, there are phenomenal diving opportunities and snorkeling galore, but the island itself is made up of pulverized coral, giving its “sand” a fine soft feeling like no other.

You won't just be looking under the water for fun in Barbados, though. The waves give surfers and body surfers plenty of opportunities to jump right in, and the resorts surrounding the beach will make sure you are well taken care of, no matter what you want your vacation to look like.


Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

All you have to do is look up when you're on Sugar Beach in St. Lucia and you'll know exactly why it is the perfect place for you. Sugar Beach, also known as Jalousie Beach, sits right between the Twin Pitons, giving every direction beautiful views of the island's natural features.

If you're looking for the ultimate Caribbean beach indulgence, Sugar Beach is the place for you. With your hefty chunk of change, you'll also get a private plunge pool and a butler when you stay right on the beach in the Sugar Beach resort (the only one on this particular beach area).


Buck Island, Saint Croix

Buck Island on Saint Croix is the perfect place for a solo island getaway. Just 30 boating minutes from mainland Saint Croix lies Buck Island, a quiet national preserve world-renowned for its snorkeling. If you have the time and the weather is right, you can snorkel all around the reefs that surround Buck Island itself.

And, thanks to hurricane season, there is now even more Buck Island shoreline to explore. Get to snorkeling and wandering around, and you may find a completely unexplored beach and shore — not only will you have it to yourself, you'll feel like (and be) a modern-day adventurer exploring to find new lands.


The Verdict

When you have all of the best Caribbean beaches to choose from, how can you ever make a decision? Where do you even start?

In your heart, my friend.

The best Caribbean beach vacation is completely, entirely, 100% dependent on what you want. Every single beach on our list has the basics and more: there are beaches and snorkeling and sunshine on everyone. But do you want more adventure? Do you want easier bar access? Do you want one specific resort?

Once you've answered those questions, you're one step closer to the perfect getaway.

So what are you waiting for? Only you can book those tickets.

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