caribbean islands

30 Caribbean Islands To Add to Your Bucket List

When you think of the Caribbean, do cookie-cutter beach hotels and vacations confined to a resort come to mind? While many Caribbean islands share similarly dreamy destinations like stunning white sand beaches and clear, warm waters, you might be surprised to see how different and unique the islands of the Caribbean can be – and how much they have to offer travelers.

Get ready for lush tropical jungles, hidden waterfalls, delicious local food, and an array of cultural diversity it’s impossible not to fall in love with. These are the thirty most fascinating Caribbean islands to add to your bucket list – get ready to start planning the trip of a lifetime to paradise!


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30 Best Caribbean Islands

1. Cuba

The largest and most fascinating Caribbean island isn’t even on many travelers’ radars. That’s a big mistake. Cuba boasts historic cities like Havana, Trinidad, and Baracoa, little-visited but pristine national parks, great food, and friendly people.

Even better? It’s practically easier than ever for travelers from the United States to visit Cuba. If you haven’t yet traveled to Cuba, add it to the top of your Caribbean islands bucket list.

Plus, this unique Caribbean island has a hidden secret: Cuba’s 4,000+ barrier islands boast some of the most pristine beaches in the world and some of the Caribbean’s last truly untouched and undeveloped shores. Cuba is truly something special, but these tiny hidden gems sprinkled around the coastline are among the best beaches in the Caribbean.

These cays make an unforgettable island vacation themselves or as a perfect day trip from a vacation spent enjoying the rest of Cuba. Cuba’s paradise cays like Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Coco, and Cayo Cruz slice through the northern Jardines del Rey region with their sugar-fine sandy beaches and a growing number of luxe resorts tucked along the shores.

If you’re craving an even more off-the-beaten-path hidden gem, visit Cuba’s southern cay of Cayo Largo del Sur for a completely unique experience.

Stretching out into the center of the Caribbean Sea towards the Cayman Islands, the longest of Cuba’s cays also has some of its very best beaches, with Playa Paraiso and Playa Sirena topping the list of Cuba’s most beautiful beaches.

san juan puerto rico

2. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is called la Isla del Encanto for a reason; this island truly will enchant you. From the charming, cobblestone streets of Old San Juan to the world-class beaches of Fajardo and Rincon and the delicious Caribbean food, Puerto Rico is a perfect mix for travelers looking for engaging cultural experiences and stunning natural beauty.

Plan to stay in San Juan if you’re looking for an affordable beach vacation, with a hotel or apartment rental in the areas of Condado and Ocean Park. You’ll be able to walk directly to the city’s best beaches while staying just a quick Uber ride from enchanting Old San Juan.

Alternatively, check out smaller towns in western Puerto Rico, like Aguadilla, or Fajardo in the east with its stunning beaches.

The spray of pristine Caribbean islands that surround Puerto Rico, and are technically a part of Puerto Rico, is also well worth a visit. From Culebra with its world-famous white sand beach to Vieques with its abundance of new, cool accommodation options, these Caribbean islands are more than just a great day trip option; they’re worth their own extended visit.

Read More: 20 Best Things To Do in Puerto Rico

san blas islands
chrispictures / Depositphotos

3. San Blas Islands

Located just off of Panama’s northern Caribbean coast, the San Blas Islands have traditionally been more popular with backpackers traveling through Central America and Panama than with travelers seeking a Caribbean islands getaway.

Don’t make the same mistake – these pristine islands are affordable, beautiful, and can be easier to access than you might expect. It’s a fantastic choice for a Caribbean islands getaway unlike any other.

The most common ways to visit the San Blas Islands are from Panama City or by sailing from Colombia, either by booking a guided excursion or by booking accommodations on the island. There isn’t a great range of accommodation options here – most are quite rustic, but with the pristine white beaches just steps away from your room, it’s hard to mind.

For most travelers, planning a multi-day tour is the easiest way to access the spot, arranging for transport, hotels, and more.

These are popular options to consider:

While the San Blas Islands are technically a part of the country of Panama, these islands are also known as Guna Yala, the name given to them by the local Guna people and signifying “Guna’s Land.” These islands are semi-autonomous, and while you’ll certainly see and interact with Guna people on your trip, the islands this people group populates are mostly not the ones that tourists visit.

Your tourism dollars in the San Blas Islands support these communities, making a trip to these pristine Caribbean islands a particularly impactful one.

Courtesy of The Island of Curaçao

4. Curaçao

Long a favorite cruise port in the southern Caribbean, the island of Curaçao is a trending and versatile Caribbean destination that requires more than just a day at port to explore properly.

Curaçao’s iconic and colorful Dutch Caribbean architecture sits alongside the island’s white sand beaches, while the island’s burgeoning food scene and updated boutique hotels and resorts welcome guests to an unforgettable experience for all the senses.

Snorkeling and diving in Curaçao are legendary, as the island boasts one-of-a-kind walls and reefs with colorful corals and fish, plus a handful of easily-accessible shipwrecks that will have you feeling like a true explorer under the waves. Dive shops around the island offer PADI courses and certifications to help you make the most of one of the Caribbean’s best destinations for diving.

With frequent direct flights from New York and Miami and easy connections from the west coast, Curaçao is more accessible than ever, whether you’re planning a long weekend in paradise or a week-long getaway. It’s hard not to fall in love with this island, so Curaçao even offers a unique digital nomad visa for travelers eager to extend their stay.

Read More: 20 Best Things To Do in Curacao

intercontinental dominica

5. Dominica

It looks like 2023 is Dominica‘s moment. With new direct flights from Miami, a trending new world-class eco resort, and a coveted spot on Lonely Planet’s prestigious list of Best in Travel 2023, Dominica is finally starting to get its time in the sun. Needless to say, it won’t be considered so “hidden” of a gem for much longer.

Known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, Dominica is a true tropical paradise. Mountainous terrain reveals rainforests covering almost two-thirds of the island, home to hundreds of species of colorful birds and misty, plunging waterfalls. Take it all in as you explore the over 300 miles of hiking trails on the island, offering unbeatable ocean views and first-hand encounters with nature.

If you can’t imagine a Caribbean getaway without hitting the beach, don’t worry, Dominica has a number of beautiful beaches to choose from, even of the unique black sand variety. Snorkeling and diving opportunities abound, with excellent options for beginners and experienced divers alike.

Dominica is also known as the whale-watching capital of the Caribbean and the only country in the world where sperm whales reside year-round.

A stay at the island’s brand new, ultra-sustainable Coulibri Ridge is a must; it’s one of the most impressive boutique resorts in the Caribbean, and its eco-friendly features mean your stay in the Nature Island of the Caribbean will be an Earth-positive one. Or stay at Jungle Bay – it was one of our favorite parts of our stay in Dominica!

rjlerich / Depositphotos

6. Saba

Only five square miles in size, the tiny island of Saba is the definition of a hidden gem among the Caribbean islands. With just two thousand permanent residents and four villages, Saba embraces its visitors with a friendly welcome and an unexpectedly rich and diverse travel experience.

Travelers who escape to Saba quickly learn why it’s considered among the Caribbean’s finest and best-kept secrets.

The island of Saba is the peak of a dormant volcano emerging from the Caribbean Sea, meaning that the island’s topography is truly unique. Explore the island along winding trails and paths before retiring to any of Saba’s boutique hotels or spacious villas, which offer the island’s best viewpoints.

Brilliant blue oceans and abundant reefs await below. The island’s volcanic nature created an array of unique diving destinations below the waves, including the famous “Man O’ War Shoals” with two towering pinnacles and a swim-through.

Looking for a genuinely sustainable getaway? Saba is a perfect choice. This forward-thinking island is entirely powered by solar energy during the day, only converting to a generator at night. No greenwashing here; Saba has been doing this for years!

corn islands
Courtesy of Yemaya Reefs

7. The Corn Islands

A hidden gem and long-time favorite secret of backpackers in Central America, Nicaragua’s Islas de Maiz – the Corn Islands – are the perfect dreamy Caribbean escape for travelers looking for a secluded toes-in-the-sand getaway.

With picture-perfect spots for swimming, snorkeling, and surfing, these paradise islands are laid-back havens that have avoided the overdevelopment of many neighboring Caribbean islands.

Even as word starts to get out about these hidden gems, you’ll feel like you’ve found a hidden slice of paradise. Choose to stay on the larger Big Corn Island, with more amenities, restaurants, and shops, or head to Little Corn Island, just a short cruise away by boat, for an even more secluded getaway.

The star of the Corn Islands is Yemaya Reefs, located on a beautiful stretch of beach on the northern shore of Little Corn Island. Enjoy oceanfront casitas with plunge pools, fresh, locally-inspired food, and an array of land and water activities that bring the beauty of the islands close. It’s the ultimate in laid-back luxury.

Despite being relatively remote, the Corn Islands are easier to access than you might expect. Direct flights from Nicaragua’s capital serve Big Corn Island multiple times a day, with Little Corn Island just 30 minutes away by boat.

Wymara Resort & Villas
Grace Bay Beach – Courtesy of Wymara Resort & Villas

8. Turks & Caicos

Wedged between The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, the Turks & Caicos are a series of forty pristine, sandy islands, barely popping above the waves of the ocean from the reefs below.

Though only nine of these islands are populated, the Turks & Caicos are a great mix between untouched beauty and the accommodations and other amenities you’re looking for in an easy beach getaway. It’s a balance few Caribbean islands do as well as the Turks & Caicos.

While the Turks & Caicos boast excellent diving, snorkeling, and even unique features like the Conch Bar Caves, they’re best known for their beaches. It seems like each island has not just one stand-out beach but several. If you’re dreaming of a Caribbean getaway spent on the sand, the Turks & Caicos is the place for you.

You’ll find what you’re looking for at Wymara Resorts & Villas, located on the famous Grace Bay Beach, TripAdvisor’s pick for the best beach in the world for several years running.

There’s so much to love about Wymara than just its divine location. Choose one of the newly renovated and spacious rooms or suites in the main part of the resort or the villas located in their own exclusive area of the resort for the seclusion you’re longing for.

The resort’s sports club is next level, offering a fully-equipped gym, state-of-the-art spa, tennis court, basketball hoops, and lap pool.

Courtesy of Nevis Tourism Authority

9. St. Kitts & Nevis

Don’t overlook these pristine islands of St. Kitts and Nevis, just east of the U.S. Virgin Islands, when deciding on your next Caribbean vacation.

From historical landmarks to snorkeling and diving, hiking, and a growing number of excellent resorts and hotels, these islands have plenty to offer travelers. Add St. Kitts & Nevis to your bucket list before word gets out they’re the next Caribbean islands hotspot.

While plenty of travelers stay on St. Kitts, home to the international airport, don’t count out the island of Nevis; there is nothing small about this up-and-coming Caribbean island destination. With historical monuments, delicious local food, excellent trails cutting through the island’s lush interior, and a world of snorkeling and diving opportunities just offshore, Nevis punches far above its weight.

You’ll find Nevis Peak, a volcanic cone, at the island’s center for expansive views across the ocean. While it rises over three thousand feet above the island’s shores, the hike is more relaxing than taxing. Hills & Valleys Hike and Tours takes travelers to the peak while showing off the island’s bounty of tropical fruits and stunning flora and fauna. You might even see a vervet monkey on the way up!

The Berry Islands
The Berry Islands – Courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investment & Aviation

10. The Bahamas

Can you think of a better Caribbean destination than the islands of The Bahamas? Of the 3,000+ islands and cays that make up The Bahamas, many are little more than patches of perfect white sand rising from crystal clear waves. It’s the stuff your Caribbean vacation dreams are made of.

Millions of travelers access The Bahamas every year at one of the country’s many ports of call or the private islands exclusively for cruise ships, but these islands offer so much more for travelers looking to spend a bit more time here.

From the world-famous Atlantis Resort to the famous swimming pigs in the Exumas, you’ll find both incredible accommodations for a resort-centered stay and fascinating attractions for those who bristle at the idea of staying in a resort, no matter how nice it may be.

Looking for a destination in The Bahamas that is a bit more off the beaten path? With their brand-new international airport, The Berry Islands are a hidden gem in The Bahamas that are now more accessible than ever.

Located along the famed “Tongue of the Ocean” deepwater trench, The Berry Islands have long been a haven for sports fishing. However, with their white sand beaches, world-class diving, and an excellent array of boutique hotels and resorts, they’re coming into their own as a dreamy destination to accommodate whatever kind of Caribbean getaway you’ve been dreaming of.

Read More: 15 Best Things To Do in The Bahamas

El Blok Hotel, Vieques – Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

11. Spanish Virgin Islands

You’ve heard of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands – but what about the Spanish Virgin Islands? Located just off the coast of Puerto Rico, the paradise islands of Vieques, Culebra, Icacos, and a number of pristine islets form the Spanish Virgin Islands, now considered a part of Puerto Rico.

It’s a wonder that this corner of the Caribbean has escaped the overdevelopment of its neighbors. For travelers familiar with Vieques, it is perhaps best known for its bioluminescent Mosquito Bay, which holds the world record for having the brightest bioluminescent waters in the world. It was even named one of the Seven Wonders of the World of 2020 by Condé Nast Traveller.

Culebra boasts the world-famous Flamenco Beach, which regularly claims a coveted top spot on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Beaches list. With its graffiti-covered beached U.S. Navy tanks revealing the beach’s past use for military training exercises, Flamenco Beach makes for a memorable spot for a beach day.

Vieques particularly is a perfect spot for more than just a day trip from the Puerto Rican mainland. Impossibly cool boutique hotels like Finca Victoria and El Blok await, making Vieques perfect for an extended stay in paradise, or pair a visit with a trip to Culebra and Icacos for a deep dive into Puerto Rico’s enchanting little sister islands.

Read More: 20 Best Things To Do in Puerto Rico

p0temkin / Depositphotos

12. Roatan

Located just off the coast of Central America, Honduras’ Caribbean islands like Roatan might be a bit off the beaten path among other Caribbean islands. Don’t let that fool you: the lush island of Roatan is fringed with reefs and is a true hidden gem, the ultimate laid-back island for travelers looking to escape.

While you’ll love stunning beach destinations on Roatan, like West Bay Beach with its range of cafes, restaurants, and shops just across the sand, the reefs surrounding the island are the true highlight for many travelers.

Not into diving or snorkeling? There’s still so much to enjoy on Roatan. From jungle to explore, the picturesque accommodations on Sandy Bay, or the untouched and undeveloped beaches of the island’s East End, you’ll find plenty to do.

You won’t find monstrous resort properties taking up the best beaches in Roatan like you will in many more touristed Caribbean destinations. Here you’ll find a great range of rustic beachfront hotels that evoke the Caribbean of years ago, with a handful of more upscale properties for travelers looking for a touch of luxury while enjoying the laid-back feel of the island.

Opening in the summer of 2023, the Kimpton Grand Roatan Resort & Spa will be a new highlight for this hidden Caribbean gem. The property will feature 126 guest rooms, including a modern main building, beachfront condos, and even tree-top junior suites.

The resort’s Kao Kamasa Spa will have its own stand-alone building with private treatment bungalows, a highlight of a trip to Roatan worth a visit whether you stay at the hotel or elsewhere on the island.

Courtesy of The Island of Bonaire

13. Bonaire

A year-round hidden gem in the southern Caribbean, Bonaire is the colorful “B” of the ABC islands – Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao – sitting just off the coast of South America. With less than 25,000 permanent residents, Bonaire is a tiny jewel offering huge travel experiences.

Start your trip in Bonaire at the island’s picture-perfect salt pyramids. Pastel pink salt ponds where flamingo wade meet pure white pyramids against the blue sky and sea for an other-worldly landscape you need to see to believe. It’s a viewpoint from the rest of the coastline, dotted by white sandy shores.

100% of Bonaire’s pristine coast is a protected marine park, meaning you’re in for a real treat as you explore the untouched worlds beneath the waves. This tiny island boasts 86 incredible dive spots where tropical fish swarm among corals.

Bonaire takes its marine conservation seriously as one of the first Caribbean islands to join the Reef Renewal Foundation, working with the PADI Reef Renewal Diver Distinctive Specialty to offer travelers a way to learn about and participate in coral gardening firsthand.

For an extended trip to this beautiful corner of the Caribbean islands, split your trip between Bonaire and neighboring Curaçao. You’ll love exploring these sister islands and get an even more complete picture of the up-and-coming Dutch Caribbean getaway destinations everyone is talking about.

Mirmoor / Depositphotos

14. Guadeloupe

Originally known by the native Arawak population as “The Island of Beautiful Waters,” Guadeloupe is about as dreamy of a Caribbean island destination as you can imagine, both from the water and on land. Officially a French overseas department, Guadeloupe is a group of five main islands with several other islets, offering tons of diversity and beauty in a small package.

Most visitors stick to the main islands of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre; though they’re connected by a causeway, these two islands couldn’t be more different. Grand-Terre to the east is full of beach towns, restaurants, and great places to stay, while Basse-Terre to the west is home to Parc National de la Guadeloupe, a paradise for adventure travel, hiking, and spotting wildlife.

Guadeloupe’s smaller islands, including Marie-Galante, La Désirade, and the Îles des Saintes, are the definition of untouched Caribbean islands beauty. Whether you visit them on a catamaran ride from the larger islands or spend a night at one of the boutique hotels or rentals along the shores, they’re well worth a visit.

us virgin islands
sepavone / Depositphotos

15. U.S. Virgin Islands

Leave your passport at home! The United States Virgin Islands are some of the dreamiest island vacation destinations in the United States, located just east of Puerto Rico and easily accessible by frequent flights to the mainland.

While the U.S. Virgin Islands are composed of over 50 islands and cays, most visitors head for the larger islands of St. John or St. Thomas or the less-visited St. Croix for a more off-the-beaten-path getaway.

On the three main islands, you’ll find the greatest array of accommodations, restaurants, and guided experiences to make your trip memorable – even world-class ecolodges and eco-resorts for sustainably-minded travelers.

A highlight of any visit to the U.S. Virgin Islands is visiting Virgin Islands National Park on St. John, one of the most popular national parks in the United States. A network of incredible trails crisscross the park’s lush jungle, and white sand beaches like the famous Trunk Bay await.

The park is also known for its protected reef areas, which make for some incredible scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities.

shalamov / Depositphotos

16. Anguilla

Just east of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla is known for its near-perfect beaches, uncrowded shores, and relaxed luxury resorts with a genuine barefoot luxury atmosphere.

While a burgeoning foodie scene and captivating cultural experiences add dimension to your trip to Anguilla, the island’s beaches are its pristine treasure, with Shoal Bay East and Rendezvous Bay among the best beaches in the Caribbean. Despite their acclaim, they remain uncrowded and laidback, just one of the reasons Anguilla is so well-loved by return travelers.

Perched on a stunning hillside above Little Bay on the island’s north shore, ÀNI Anguilla is a private resort that brings close the best of Anguilla. Enjoy the ultimate in relaxation with complimentary massages daily or an unending array of bespoke excursions and activities for active travelers.

Whether you’re looking to play the Greg Norman-designed Aurora Anguilla golf course or take private surf or yoga lessons with experienced teachers, ÀNI Anguilla is the place to make it happen.

Just north of Saint Martin, you can combine a visit to Anguilla with a stay on Saint Martin, a popular choice for travelers taking advantage of more frequent direct flights to this busier Caribbean hub. However, direct flights from Miami to Anguilla make air travel to this Caribbean Island gem easier than ever.

saint lucia
shalamov / Depositphotos

17. St. Lucia

The soaring Mount Gimie and the tapered Pitons mountains along the oceanside make for a dramatic arrival to St. Lucia, a favorite Caribbean destination for cruise ships, though with so much more to offer than a day at port could allow. Consider St. Lucia for your next Caribbean island getaway, and you’ll discover why it’s such a popular destination among travelers returning time and time again.

Known as the ultimate honeymoon destination in the Caribbean, St. Lucia promises the perfect romantic getaway, whether you’re looking for activity and adventure or a long getaway spent in a secluded resort on a white sand beach.

While the island is certainly known for its luxe resorts and impressive beaches, it boasts a wealth of activities and sites in its interior for travelers looking for more.

Climb Gros Piton or zipline through the jungle before retreating to the beach in the afternoon, and make sure to visit Sulpher Springs with its famous heated volcanic mud baths at the world’s only “drive-in” volcano. Its popularity as a honeymoon destination aside, St. Lucia is a destination both families and couples will love.

Frequent direct flights from across the United States make St. Lucia one of the easier Caribbean destinations to get to, perfect if you’re traveling for just a quick getaway.

st. vincent and the grenadines
Courtesy of Bequia Beach Hotel

18. St. Vincent & The Grenadines

It takes a little more effort to reach St. Vincent & the Grenadines than you might normally consider – there are no direct flights from the United States, with connections through Barbados or Antigua and Barbuda.

However, travelers to this Caribbean island haven are rewarded with the perfect balance that few other Caribbean destinations get right: St. Vincent & the Grenadines feels both remote and untouched while offering the excellent amenities and activities travelers crave.

While St. Vincent is the most popular with travelers, don’t overlook the rest of the islands here; some are quickly becoming standout favorites in their own right. Among them is Mustique, a private island long a favorite with British royalty and renowned for its luxe villas with hilltop views, and Bequia, the second-largest island of St. Vincent & the Grenadines yet still very much a hidden gem.

Bequia Beach Hotel on the island of Bequia is a stand-out favorite worth traveling for. This family-owned property is a perfect boutique resort, friendly and cozy but with big-time ocean views and a pristine beachfront. The hotel recently celebrated the opening of its luxury villas and a new saltwater infinity pool for even more to love.

barbados welcome stamp

19. Barbados

Known for delicious rum, stunning beaches, and one of the most lively Carnival celebrations in the Caribbean, it’s no wonder that Barbados is a highlight for Caribbean travelers. Barbados tends to be one of the more built-up and even touristy Caribbean islands, so keep this in mind if you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path option.

However, if you’re looking for a great mix of activities and excursions, beautiful beaches, and a great choice of hotels and resorts, it’s an absolute gem.

If you’re looking to get up close and personal with Barbadian culture, make sure to plan your visit during the yearly Crop Over Festival, towards the beginning of the month of August every year. The several-day-long festival has roots in the celebration of the end of harvest season on the country’s sugar cane plantations and ends each year with the Grand Kadooment.

Though Crop Over Festival falls during low travel season, make sure to book ahead! This festival is popular, drawing visitors from around the world.

british virgin islands

20. British Virgin Islands

Just a stone’s throw away from the U.S. Virgin Islands and connected by frequent ferry service, the British Virgin Islands is a stunning spread of islands, little visited but cherished by those who find a unique Caribbean paradise among their shores. Don’t expect a bevy of resorts to choose from, though those you’ll find will exceed your expectation with their luxury and seclusion.

The British Virgin Islands are composed of about 50 islands and cays, though only 16 are inhabited, with the islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke, and Anegada among the largest and most vibrant.

Offering beautiful reefs along Anegada, Smuggler’s Cove Beach on Tortola, and countless opportunities for world-class sailing, you’re in for a treat if you plan your next Caribbean getaway to the British Virgin Islands.

fokkebok / Depositphotos

21. Aruba

Off the beaten path and out of the hurricane belt, Aruba is the “A” of the southern Caribbean ABC Islands stretching just miles off the coastline of South America. The best known of the three Dutch Caribbean sister islands including Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba is a dreamy Caribbean island destination perfect for snorkeling, diving, and white sandy beachy getaways year-round.

Aruba may not have the tropical rainforest interior that its northern Caribbean counterparts have, so while the interior of the island is dry and arid, you’ll benefit from a very low likelihood of getting rained out on your beach day.

All the better for relaxing on one of the island’s white sand beaches – like the world-famous Flamingo Beach! – or exploring the off-shore wonders of the incredible reefs, among the best in the Caribbean. Or, visit Malmok Bay for multiple wrecks you can explore with just a snorkel and fins!

Tripulante / Shutterstock

22. Utila

Just west of Roatan, the tiny island of Utila may seem like just a speck in the ocean compared to other Caribbean islands on your radar, but don’t count it out when planning your next Caribbean getaway.

Truly a laid-back, off-the-beaten-path destination, this island is home to just 4,000 permanent residents, with a colorful main street lined with shops, restaurants, and hotels that will take you back to the untouched Caribbean islands of years past.

Utila sits above the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, making these waters some of the best in the Caribbean for snorkeling and scuba diving. Choose from several impressive wreck dives, coral walls at Raggedy Cay, and more for an unforgettable experience.

Not only does Utila have world-class diving sites galore, it also is known as being the cheapest place on Earth to receive your PADI dive certification training. Beginners can opt for the Openwater Diver (OWD) or Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD) trainings at many of the island’s endless dive shops, opening the doorway to plenty of fun diving vacations for years to come.

rosario islands

23. The Rosario Islands

Some of the best hidden gem Caribbean islands are closer to the shores of South America than they are to the rest of the islands in the Caribbean Sea. This is true for the Rosario Islands, a chain of 27 tiny islands just off the coast of Cartagena, Colombia.

Covered with mangrove forests and hidden white sand coves, Las Islas Rosario has long been a favorite with South American travelers, though they’re just starting to get the attention they deserve as Cartagena becomes ever more popular.

The Rosario Islands are also shockingly affordable, perhaps one of the most affordable Caribbean destinations you’ll find. With an array of beachfront hostels and guesthouses just steps away from the waves and an affordable, quick speedboat ride from Cartagena, the Rosario Islands make it easy to savor a Caribbean vacation for a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere.

Make sure to stop at Isla Barú with its white sand Playa Blanca before hopping on the speedboat to the Rosario Islands. This “island” isn’t technically part of the Rosario Islands: it used to be a peninsula extending off the mainland until a colonial-era canal transformed it into an island.

If Playa Blanca with its beach bars and pumping music isn’t quite your speed, visit the other side of Isla Barú for affordable boutique hotels hidden among the palm trees.

villa papillon view

24. Antigua & Barbuda

Nestled in the Leeward Islands among the likes of St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, and Guadeloupe, the islands of Antigua & Barbuda form an independent Caribbean country known as one of the most beautiful and impressive destinations in this part of the Caribbean islands.

While the smaller island of Barbuda is relatively infrequently visited in comparison to more developed Antigua, both islands are known for incredible beaches to make any of their neighboring Caribbean islands jealous.

In fact, Antigua is home to 365 beaches, one for every day of the year. Whether you’re looking for a quiet cove or an endless strip of white sand, you’re bound to find it in Antigua & Barbuda.

Most of the bigger attractions and things to do in Antigua & Barbuda are located on the larger island of Antigua. However, Barbuda’s laid-back vibe and miles-long beaches are more than enough to draw travelers looking for untouched natural beauty to its relatively deserted shores and secluded boutique hotels and resorts.

st. martin / Depositphotos

25. St. Martin / St. Maarten

With a French northern half and a Dutch southern half, the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten is a unique study of the cultural influences of the Caribbean islands distinctly felt despite existing simultaneously on this tiny island, just 37 square miles in size.

Whether you’re drawn here by the history and culture of St. Martin/St. Maarten or its great array of beaches, adventure activities, and resorts, you’ll love all it has to offer.

While legally separate, these two halves of the island are quite similar, and their border is easily crossable – non-existent, really. However, each side of the island uses a different currency and electrical socket and voltage. Make sure to have a little of both currencies on hand, or stick to U.S. dollars or credit cards, and pack an electrical converter while you’re at it!

NAPA74 / Depositphotos

26. Grenada

Known as the “Spice Island” of the Caribbean, Grenada is truly something special. Just north of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada is located on the far eastern edge of the Caribbean Islands, but its undeniable flavor, stunning beauty, and hidden gem feel make it a destination worth traveling for.

For an even more off-the-beaten-path experience in Grenada, visit the country’s two northern islands of Petite Martinique or Carriacou. Both are infrequently visited but much loved by those who’ve made the trip. Carriacou particularly is popular with divers; known as the “Isle of the Reefs” it boasts some of the most untouched reefs in the Caribbean.

Located on the picture-perfect Grand Anse Beach on the island’s protected west coast, Silversands Grenada is a stand-out favorite resort in Grenada. This luxe, modern property boasts all the amenities while still feeling intimate. A stunning highlight is the 330-foot infinity pool, the longest in the Caribbean, ending just steps from the white sand beach.

Ocean-view and hilltop villas include full-sized kitchens and stunning balconies, with plenty of space whether you’re looking for seclusion or a getaway with all your friends and family.

creatista / Depositphotos

27. Jamaica

Jamaica is so much more than you may have heard or may assume. This lush island in the heart of the Caribbean is a stunner, offering seemingly the perfect mix of beautiful beaches, luxe resorts, tropical forests, and unique cultural exchange opportunities to cater to every traveler.

Head to one of the stunning resorts on Montego Bay to be close to all the action, or Treasure Beach for a more laid-back old-world Caribbean islands experience.

For an adventurous day trip, visit Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This lush national park was once the holdout for the indigenous Taino population and runaway enslaved peoples. Home to Jamaica’s highest peak, tons of trails for hiking and mountain biking, and incredible adventure activities, you’ll have plenty of ways to enjoy a visit.

dominican republic
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28. Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination for travelers in the Caribbean, and it’s for a good reason. Everything from hidden white sand beaches to lush jungles awaits in the Dominican Republic.

Your travel experience in the Dominican Republic is really only limited to your imagination, as visitors can enjoy everything from mountain climbing and paddleboarding to spa treatments in some of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean, all in just one day if you’d like.

Looking for luxury? It doesn’t get better than ÀNI Dominican Republic, occupying its own private peninsula on the country’s north coast for 270-degree ocean views. From rum tastings and watersports to twelve complimentary treatments in the ocean-view spa, it promises the ultimate beachy Caribbean getaway you’ve always dreamed of.

While the most popular beach towns in the Dominican Republic can feel built-up and crowded during the high travel season, there are plenty of spots to enjoy in the Dominican Republic that most travelers never get to see.

Trade Punta Cana for Puerto Plata, or even more laid-back beaches like Las Terrenas on the Samaná Peninsula. You’ll find more affordable prices, great local food, and hidden spots long lost in more popular destinations.

Frequent flights into the capital of Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, and Santiago de los Caballeros make traveling across the country easy no matter where you’re headed. Despite its popularity, the Dominican Republic is still a bargain compared to other Caribbean islands destinations; it’s a great, easily-accessible spot if you’re looking for an island vacation on a budget.

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29. Providencia

Just six square miles in size, it’s no wonder that the Colombian Caribbean island of Providencia is so off the beaten path, a hidden Caribbean gem that few travelers have yet to even hear of. With its incredible array of activities for travelers of all budgets, it’s unlikely to remain such a well-kept secret for much longer.

Highlights of a trip to Providencia include spreading out on nearly empty white-sand beaches, snorkeling or kayaking through crystal clear waters at Crab Cay, or even diving among colorful reefs with sharks. Or, take in horse races on the beach, a local favorite event where you’re sure to find tasty street food favorites and cold beers aplenty.

Getting to Providencia takes a bit of added effort, though in-the-know travelers know it’s well worth it. Accessible only by tiny puddle jumper planes from the Colombian island of San Andrés, it’s certainly a journey, though one that ensures a truly one-of-a-kind getaway in a remote and pristine island that will feel like all your own.

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30. The Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands may be last on our list of Caribbean Islands, but it’s certainly not the least! Another of the pristine British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean, The Cayman Islands comprise three sandy islands south of Cuba, long regarded as some of the most stunning islands in the Caribbean.

Beautiful, peaceful beaches and plenty of hotels with kids’ clubs make this a favorite spot for travelers with kids.

Grand Cayman is the spot for large, amenity-filled resorts, while the less-visited Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are must less frequently visited but hold their own gems and experiences for travelers looking to get off the beaten path. Both smaller islands are well-known for their excellent scuba diving, though they have less of the picturesque white sand beaches Grand Cayman is known for.

carley rojas avila

Carley Rojas Avila is a bilingual New York-based travel writer, editor, content marketer, and the founder of the digital travel publications Explorers Away and Home to Havana. Carley is an expert on all things Latin America, the Caribbean, and Cuba, having lived and worked in four different countries in the region. Her writing has appeared on the Associated Press wires and in Travel + Leisure, Yahoo, MSN, Euronews, The Weather Channel, and more. When she's not writing about her travels, find her front row at a Bad Bunny concert, befriending street cats, and taste-testing every pizza in Havana.