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25 Most Beautiful Places in the Caribbean - From Emerald-colored Sinkholes to Private Islands

Lush paradise, turquoise waters, idyllic getaway - these are all phrases often used to describe the Caribbean. And though this collection of countries in the middle of the ocean contains a shared allure of natural wonders, each one also has its own history and cultural traditions.

18 December 2023
18 December 2023

Lush paradise, turquoise waters, idyllic getaway - these are all phrases often used to describe the Caribbean. And though this collection of countries in the middle of the ocean contains a shared allure of natural wonders, each one also has its own history and cultural traditions. 

I've been fortunate to visit a number of Caribbean nations, bordered by white, black, and pink sands below swaying palms, and it never grows old. The vendors with freshly plucked coconuts and plastic cups filled with dark rum to enjoy as the sun sinks into sherbet-colored clouds. A plate of jerk chicken pulled from a charcoal-fired pit on the side of the road and splashed with mango chutney to cool the scotch bonnet. A parade of smiles and feathers and palatable joy as revelers make their way down the road for Carnival Tuesday. These are all moments that make the Caribbean beautiful.

Below, you'll find a list of places that expand on that idea, from sustainable, jungle-shrouded hotels without any crowds to flavorful, farm-to-table experiences tucked on quiet hillsides. We tapped two Caribbean experts - writer, editor and on-air travel expert Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon and author and chef Adrian Forte - to help us compile a list of 25 of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean.

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Tahiti Beach, Bahamas

Tihiti Beach, Elbow Cay, Abaco Islands, Bahamas, West Indies, Central America

Located on the southern end of Elbow Cay in the Bahamas, and only accessible by foot, boat, or bike, Tahiti Beach stays with you long after you’ve left it. "As many times as I've been to the Caribbean and to the Bahamas, you'd think I'd be immune to the beauty of this sandbar, which disappears at high tide. But its silky white sand, surrounded by a swath of iconic Bahamian blue, stuns me every single time," says Greaves-Gabbadon. Alaska Airlines also recently launched a number of nonstop flights from my hometown of Los Angeles to Nassau, so I'll be heading back to the country for Carnival next year. 

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Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Bungalows at Canouan Island - Grenadines.

Untouched by cruise ships and crowds, Canouan is a 3.2-square-mile island in the Grenadines, just a 40-minute plane ride from Barbados. It’s home to the jungly Soho Beach House and the coral-hued beachfront Mandarin Oriental. Snorkeling here is also supreme, with water so vibrantly blue, it glows.

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Petit St. Vincent, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Aerial view of the the tip of Petit St. Vincent

With 135 acres of private coastline floating in the Grenadines, Petit St. Vincent is a luxury resort with just 22 cottages steps away from cerulean waters. "Posh but unpretentious, this all-inclusive private island resort is a bit of a haul to reach (from Miami, it takes two planes, a golf cart, and a boat), but the journey is worth it," says Greaves-Gabbadon. "When I'm not reading on the porch of my cottage (all serviced by butlers in a fleet of Mini Mokes), I like to hike up Marni Hill, laze on any (or all) of the four beaches, or sip a rum punch at the beach bar, Goatie’s."

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Jakes Hotel Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Lounge chairs facing the sea on the grounds of Jakes resort, in Jamaica

I can close my eyes and see the roads from Kingston - bumpy and winding - but worth the three-hour drive to reach this slice of solitude on Jamaica's south coast. You won’t find high-rise hotels or crowds here. Upon arrival, it's a straightaway to my home away from home at Jakes, a boutique hotel with seaside bungalows and villas spread about Treasure Beach's rugged coastline. Spend a day at Jakes’ poolside bar, order a rum punch, and repeat. In the morning, have a filling breakfast of ackee and salt fish with fried plantain at the property's restaurant. And, if you love to read like I do, come for the biannual Calabash International Literary Festival, a weekend that includes communing with some of the world's greatest literary minds as they read from their work with lapping waves in the background. 

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Sheer Rocks, Antigua

Aerial of Sheer Rocks

Located on a cliffside on Antigua's west coast, this is dining with a view taken up a notch. "It doesn't get much sexier than this waterfront restaurant at Cocobay Resort, where you can dine in cabanas built into the cliff's edge and swim in ocean-view plunge pools between courses," says Greaves-Gabbadon. 

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Stush in the Bush, Jamaica

This plant-based, farm-to-table experience is offered in the hills of St. Ann, near Ocho Rios. Here, the flavors of Jamaica are presented as a love letter to the surrounding terrain that produces the food. Owners Chris and Lisa Binns seek to connect visitors to the earth at every turn, with a farm tour and rustic dinner of rotating dishes that have included a Jamaican mezze board of crispy plantain chips, coconut-crusted yams, and pineapple croquettes.

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Wild Cow Run, Turks and Caicos

Caribbean, ocean, tropical, resort, palm, beach, blue, white, hotel, sky, azure, island

Grace Bay in Providenciales sees its fair share of visitors - and for good reason: The white-sand beach rivals those seen in the Maldives.

But go beyond Provo and you'll reach Middle Caicos, the largest of the islands in Turks and Caicos, with a wild beauty of its own. "Few visitors ever venture far enough to see this wild and wonderful beach, secreted at the southern tip of Middle Caicos, so I feel fortunate to have been introduced to it by a resident," says Greaves-Gabbadon. "Walk through the stand of casuarina trees shielding the beach from the road and you'll be rewarded with quite a sight: two miles of completely deserted, blinding-white sand that meets gin-clear water, knee-deep for almost a mile out. If beach was a religion, this would be its cathedral."

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Jardin de Balata, Martinique

Visitors stand by a pool of water in the Jardin de Balata botanical garden

Known for its world-class rums, Martinique has a slew of impressive beaches, too, from Le Diamant to Les Anses-d’Arlet. For a trip away from the island's sandy shores, head to Jardin de Balata and learn why Martinique is called the "Island of Flowers." At this thriving, three-hectare botanical garden just outside the capital of Fort-de-France, more than 3,000 varieties of flora and fauna bloom brightly. Take a canopy ride for panoramic views. And for cultural events, there’s Martinique's three-day Carnival in February, where I've recently learned the crowd is entirely part of the parade in what’s called a vidé

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Grand Fond Natural Pools, St. Barts

Splashing wave beyond a green tidal pools along rocky St. Bart's coastline

On an island known for its exclusivity and luxury, visitors can opt for an adventure that only requires a good pair of walking shoes and a bathing suit. After a 30-minute walk along a winding path, you'll reach two natural pools enclosed by craggy rocks jutting from the sea. If the waves are strong, it’s best to watch from a distance, but on a clear day, floating in the emerald-colored water is simply magical. 

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Blue Hole, Jamaica

One of the beautiful waterfall of the Blue Hole located in the hills of Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

One of the most sought-after locations in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Hole are surrounded by vegetation and a hilly interior. "This is a series of natural limestone sinkholes and lush untouched forestry. I visited with my fiancé and a few of our closest friends. The view from the top of the tropical falls is stunning, and if you're the adventurous type like me, jumping off a 30-foot cliff makes you feel like you can conquer anything afterward," says Forte. 

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dominica boiling lake hike

Nicknamed the "Nature Island," Dominica is home to rain forests, bubbling rivers, ocean kayaking trails, and rushing waterfalls. A few of the island's most beautiful natural wonders include Morne Trois Pitons National Park, Champagne Reef, and the Botanic Gardens. For an eco-friendly retreat, check into Coulibri Ridge, a 14-suite, off-the-grid luxury hotel that uses solar energy as its main power source and features an open-air yoga pavilion. For a black-sand beach escape, my favorite pick is Secret Bay, set on a secluded cliff with residential-style villas that have their own plunge pools. In February, the streets become filled with revelers for Dominica's Mas Domnik Carnival celebration, which includes music competitions, a variety of parties, and masqueraders dressed in bright regalia. 

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Nayara Bocas del Toro, Panama

With 16 overwater villas, this adults-only eco-resort on a private island along the Caribbean coast does not disappoint. Flanked by three miles of coral reefs teeming with sea life, snorkelers will have lots to explore at Nayara Bocas del Toro. Kayak, paddleboard, and swim directly from your room, but not before enjoying Caribbean breakfast classics like johnnycakes. Some villas here include glass floor panels for viewing underwater life, while two one-bedroom bamboo tree houses tower some 40 feet above the ground. The property also boasts the world's first overwater beach, suspended on stilts and stretching 90 feet long by 20 feet wide.

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Port of Spain, Trinidad

Carnival in trinidad

You've likely seen images of Trinidad's Carnival - one of the greatest and most beautiful traditions in the Caribbean - but you may not know its origin, which is rooted in rebellion and celebration against all odds by enslaved West Africans. Today, Trinidad's capital, Port of Spain, draws travelers from around the Caribbean, Europe, and even Japan to party into the early morning - rum in hand. My favorite moment of it all is J'ouvert - a call to meet the rising sun, bodies splashed in powder and paint - and Caesar's Army's A.M. Bush - a wild party that takes place in an open field. A word to the wise: Get tickets early, as Caesar's Army events are always the most popular during Carnival. In 2024, the energy is sure to be as magnetic as ever.

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Pigeon Point, Tobago

Pigeon Point, Tobago

Easily one of the most picturesque beaches in the Caribbean, Pigeon Point contains all the elements of a postcard-perfect day: sugary white sand, strikingly turquoise water, and palm trees swaying slowly above it all. Located on the southwestern tip of Tobago, it's a popular place for sunbathing and water sports, without much foot traffic or noise. 

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Oil Nut Bay, Virgin Gorda

Aerial view of villa at Oil Nut Bay

Tucked in the North Sound area of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, Oil Nut Bay is 400 acres of luxurious relaxation. Visitors here will find a beach club with three pools and a swim-up bar; Nova, an overwater restaurant; and hiking trails with views overlooking the Caribbean. One of the villas, Compass Rose, spans 3,653 square feet and features two swimming pools. Another way to see the British Virgin Islands? The Moorings offers chartered catamarans and yachts to various destinations around the region, including Virgin Gorda, the less-frequented coral island of Anegada, and Saba Rock.

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St. George's seen from Fort George. Built by the French in 1650, St. George's is the capital city of Grenada. Flavio Vallenari

Nicknamed the Caribbean's "Spice Isle" because of its abundance of cinnamon, nutmeg, and more, Grenada lures visitors with fewer crowds than neighboring islands, beautiful Grand Anse Beach, the history of Jab Jab during Carnival season (when bodies are splashed in black oil and paint as a symbol of Black pride), and an addictive plate of crabback at BB's. To take in the island’s beauty, drive up to Fort Frederick for a panoramic view. Want to learn more about the island? My favorite guide, Roger Augustine, provides the best tours on the island. When it's time to find a hotel, my first choice is always the Black-owned Spice Island Beach ResortSix Senses La Sagesse will also open in early 2024, stretching across 38 acres in the bucolic parish of St. David. 

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Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

Set between two beaches on St. Lucia's southwestern coast, Jade Mountain offers views that seamlessly blend into its cliffside location above the Piton Mountains, plus rooms with 15-foot ceilings, infinity pools, and 24-hour butler service. Even from a distance while approaching by boat, it's easily one of the most striking hotels in the Caribbean. Looking for a honeymoon location? This is it. It will be hard to leave your room, but if you do, the village of Soufrière, filled with great restaurants like Orlando's and the island's famous Sulphur Springs, is not far. 

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Yemaya Reefs, Little Corn Island

Aerial view of Yemaya Reefs

Past rows of mangroves and jungle, Yemaya Reefs on Little Corn Island reveals itself some 50 miles off Nicaragua's eastern coast. Step onto the sand and head to one of 16 individual casitas, some with plunge pools. Everything here is intimate, from the service to the communal yoga pavilion and thatched-roof restaurant. The food at Yemaya Reefs is particularly impressive, with dishes that celebrate Afro-Nicaraguan influences like gallo pinto (rice and beans) and rondón, a filling coconut-based stew with root vegetables and seafood like fish and crab. To get to Yemaya, you'll need to take a 90-minute flight from the capital city of Managua, then a 30-minute boat ride from Big Corn Island - all of which can be coordinated with the hotel. 

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Pinel Island, St. Martin

Peaceful scene overlooking a tropical yet somewhat arid hillside

A tropical nature reserve located just off the coast of St. Martin, Pinel Island checks off all the boxes for a memorable beach day: soft white sand, beachfront restaurants, and a number of water activities. The best way to spend the day here? Grab a table or beach lounger at Karibuni and choose from dishes like octopus ceviche or a platter of conch boudin and cod fish fritters. The ocean views are worth admission alone. 

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Flamenco Beach, Puerto Rico

Flamenco Beach on Puerto Rico, Culebra Island

When I first visited Flamenco Beach on the island of Culebra, I stood still for a few moments, knowing the short plane ride I feared was well worth this remote slice of beach in front of me. The horse-shaped bay with shallow turquoise waters can be reached via a 15-minute flight or a 1.5-hour ferry. Upon arriving, there are a number of food stalls to enjoy as well. 

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Ambergris Cay, Turks and Caicos

Aerial of villas along the beach

This 1,100-acre private island is a place to get away from it all, with 17 bungalows, eight villas, and a collection of privately owned homes and luxury accommodations. You’ll share the place with sunbathing iguanas and, if you're lucky, a few whales in the distance. My favorite rooms are the beachfront suites with private plunge pools and an unobstructed view between the front door and the ocean.

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La Cabane, Barbados

If you're looking for the perfect Caribbean afternoon, this is your place. It includes all the necessary elements: good rum and wine; a pristine, uncrowded beach; and, of course, easy vibes. La Cabane on Barbados' west coast provides a St. Tropez-style beach club experience without any unnecessary frills. Walk barefoot and order a lobster. While you wait, take a dip in Batts Rock Beach just steps away, and don't leave without a rum punch. Another favorite? Cutters. "I've frequented Barbados for the last five years consecutively to attend the Food and Rum Festival. I can say, without a doubt, the best experience I've had on the island is at Cutters. They make the best rum punch in the world, using the best ingredients, including freshly pressed sugar cane for their simple syrup" says Forte.

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Guana Island, British Virgin Islands

Affordable Private Islands: Guana Island

Total seclusion is king at this private island in the British Virgin Islands. "There are private-island resorts and then there's Guana Island, a private-island resort that's so exclusive, non-guests can't even swing by for a drink or dinner. The result? A luxe, low-key getaway that's reliably tranquil, and whose seven beaches you'll share with a maximum of 31 other (lucky) guests," says Greaves-Gabbadon.

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Emara Estate, Turks and Caicos

View of ocean from pool area

For a gorgeous group getaway located on eight acres, check into Emara Estate in Providenciales. This 17-bedroom villa is tucked away on its own private peninsula, nestled between tropical trees. "It's one of the most beautiful private villas I've been to - and it was also formerly owned by legendary musician Prince Rogers Nelson," says Forte.  

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Piton Mountains, St. Lucia

A view of the mountains from Petit Piton on St. Lucia in the Caribbean under blue skies

Sprouting from the Caribbean Sea like a scene from Jurassic Park, these two volcanic plugs on St. Lucia's southwestern coast leave me in awe every time I see them. While winding the hillsides of the country, the mountains peak out at various turns, but my favorite spot to view them is by boat or from the sand at Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort. Afterward, head to the town of Soufrière and have lunch at Fedo's. (Tip: Don't skip the fresh juice of the day.)