April, 28 2020


Which Caribbean island is best for you?


The dozens of islands scattered across the Caribbean are a remarkably diverse lot.

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So which do you choose? Our Caribbean Islands primer can take the pain out of choosing what's right for you.


Easy access (multiple direct flights from US and Canada)


Arid and nearly featureless, Aruba's main attraction is beaches lined with world-class resorts and backed up by malls of familiar restaurants and bars. Best for: Holidays that requiring no thinking


Offering lots of choice close to the US, the 700 islands of the Bahamas have hideaways and mega-resorts. Best for: Island-hopping explorers, divers, partiers, Americans needing a quick escape

Cayman Islands:

Reminiscent of South Florida, only with less traffic. It has resorts, tax shelters and famous diving, snorkeling and swimming with schools of stingrays. Best for: Hassle-free holidays, watersports

Dominican Republic:

A big country with a dominant Hispanic culture, it has resorts on fine beaches, lots of colonial-era history and untrammeled inland areas with forbidding peaks. Best for: Resort-seekers, adventurers


Jamaica has resorts from posh to lurid and a distinct urban culture. Best for: Spicy food and music, resorts, urban and natural adventures, quick trips from the US

Puerto Rico:

Old San Juan is a colonial throw-back with a lively vibe. Beach resorts, casinos, history and rich Hispanic culture are highlights. Best for: Explorations beyond sun, sand and sea, not leaving the US

St-Martin/Sint Maarten:

The French offer reserved holidays while the Dutch party on this small and lively island. Best for: Midrange-hotels, daytrips into France, the Netherlands and Creole culture, the wildest airport bar

US Virgin Islands:

St Thomas is commercial but St John and St Croix offer more natural and cultural allures. Best for: Americans who don't have passports, mega-resort-lovers, nature-lovers


Farther afield (a transfer or less frequent direct flights)


The beaches on this tiny island set the standard for beachy clichés. Small, with an amiable local culture and luxurious villas scattered about. Best for: Luxurious but low-key holidays, isolation


British accents are common here. Its beaches are ideal for surfers, budget sunbathers and traditional types who dress for dinner. Best for: Any budget, activities, people who pack linen suits

British Virgin Islands:

Yachties and divers find their bliss amongst the 40 islands here; the main island, Tortola, offers glam diversions. Best for: Divers and snorkelers, sunset cocktail parties, yachters


Cuba has music, political challenges and disintegrating urban beauty. Havana is worth days of no-frilles exploration. Best for: Reasonably priced holidays, adventurers and explorers, bragging rights


A medium-sized island with a focus beyond tourism. The main city of Willemstad has a justifiably famous, beautiful and historic harbor. Best for: Off-the-beaten track wanderings, urban rambles


It's the region's unspoiled gem, with peaks and valleys covered in rainforest and waterfalls. Best for: Climbers and trekkers, nature-lovers, people who want an escape from Caribbean clichés


It has one of the region's most interesting capitals, inviting beaches and rainforest-clad hills. Best for: Low-key holidays in beautiful natural surroundings, mixing with genial locals


Guadeloupe offers relaxed islands for people who want to travel little, laze on the sand and enjoy especially good food. Best for: A topless day in the sun followed by a splendid seafood dinner


Challenges abound on this impoverished island that has suffered through natural disasters, but it has a rich culture that's the region's most African. Best for: People who travel to learn and explore


The most French corner of the Caribbean has a large main town and an untouristy focus. Far-flung beaches reward daytrippers. Best for: French-speakers, beautiful and isolated beaches, nature hikes

St Kitts:

Paired with Nevis, St Kitts has big hotels and condo developments. Take a daytrip to the pirate-era Brimstone Hill Fortress. Best for: Comfortable holidays, daytrips to Nevis, talking like a pirate

St Vincent & the Grenadines:

Catching rides on fishing boats between beach-ringed islands is the classic Grenadine experience (or charter your own boat). Best for: Boaters, divers, explorers, people without schedules


Trinidad is a big, pulsing Caribbean island that revels in Creole culture and boasts a party scene that peaks during Carnival celebrations. Best for: An annual party to rival Rio's


The tiny companion to Trinidad boasts everything the larger island lacks: pristine nature, resorts, and fun in and out of the water. Best for: Beach holidays without any buzz, diving, bird-watching

Turks & Caicos:

These little islands boasts perfect beaches and turquoise waters. Nowhere here is very busy, even the world-class dive sites. Best for: Divers, boaters, beachcombers, lovers of mellow retreats