A tiny Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, Aruba is known for its dry, windy, and sunny weather. It has a different landscape from many of the other Caribbean islands which surprises a lot of tourists who are expecting a lush tropical island paradise. Aruba is more like a Mexican desert filled with cacti and still very beautiful in its own right.
The main town of Oranjestad is filled with Netherlands inspired architecture with pastel facades and Dutch gables, while the island's outskirts are where you'll find hidden blonde beaches with gentle surf. Aruba offers a diverse number of activities for people of all ages. Many resorts cater to families with kids but you can also find many adult-centered activities, such as nightlife and a wide assortment of bars and casinos.
Language: English, Dutch and Spanish spoken alongside the local tongue, Papiamento.
Best place to stay: Renaissance Hotel, Oranjestad. Renaissance Hotel offers its guests access to a private island that’s an 8 minute water taxi away, the island is stunning, there are options of family-friendly beaches, or beaches just for adults… you can even feed Flamingos on the beach!
Best place to eat: Barefoot, Oranjestad. As the name suggests, Barefoot is with sounds of the ocean caressing the beach in the background. The tropical breeze blows through your hair and your feet in the white sand, all while enjoying great food and marvelous wines.
Best Beach: Arashi, Noord. This is one of Arubu's locals best kept secrets. A quiet and secluded oasis, Arashi is not in the hotel zone and only a short $2.50 bus ride away. Travel tips: take your snorkel for fantastic ocean scenery and go prepared as there are no facilities; although on weekends there are palapas so arrive early to secure one!
Over 2,000 cays and 700 islands make up the Bahamas, where travelers will find some of the best beaches in the world. The Bahamas is also home to unique sights like swimming pigs in the uninhabited island of Big Major Cay. It also happens to be the number-one Caribbean destination wealthy travelers love the most.
In addition to its pristine white sand beaches, the Bahamas also hosts some of the world’s most stunning pink sand beaches made from bits of coral. Beneath its glistening waters, the Bahamas provides swimmers with incredible diving opportunities, whether it's exploring one of the world’s largest reefs in Adros Island or swimming with sharks through tour companies like Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas.
The Bahamas are also home to incredible food. A specialty here is conch salad, which is made with conch, fresh vegetables, citrus, and hot peppers. A popular spot to sample the dish is at Queen Conch in Harbour Island.
Language: English, Bahamian English.
Best place to stay: One&Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island.
Best place to eat: Caribbean’s first five-star restaurant, Graycliff. Nassau.
Best Beach: Pink Sands Beach, Harbour Island, Bahamas. Its famous pink hues – a mix of white sand and red shells of forminifera – are unbelievably vibrant in person, but they’re also unbelievably difficult to capture in photos.
Antigua is a small island that is often grouped with its nearby neighbor Barbuda. A popular gambling destination, Antigua has a good selection of casinos. It also has plenty of other exciting nightlife, including great restaurants, cafes and discos.
In Antigua, you'll come across narrow roads and colorful villages filled with historic sites. A tour of the Antigua Distillery is a spirited way to experience a true taste of the island.
A must do experience is to snorkel and swim with the sting rays; you can hold them and even feed them squid. There is a common misconception of stingrays because of a few, but extremely rare incidents the stingray would only naturally react with its barb when it feels threatened, cornered or accidentally stepped on so it’s a reasonably safe and unforgettable experience.
Photo: Tuula by Jessica Stein
Language: English, Antiguan Creole.
Best place to stay: Rosewood Resort, Jumby Bay, Antigua.
Best place to eat: Tapas from Sheer Rocks, St Mary’s, Antigua.
Best Beach: Antigua has hundreds of beaches, from the bustling Pigeon Point to the kite-surfing paradise of Jabberwock Beach. It's fun to mix it up - a day spent in a secluded cove, and another spent people-watching at a tourist magnet.
Beaches, beautiful resorts, and lush forested hills are some of the lures on this island. Widely considered one of the most beautiful of the Caribbean islands, St. Lucia has long been a popular spot for honeymooners. It features many all-inclusive resorts with lots of amenities, a lush landscape with mountains as well as pristine beaches. The island is also famous for its annual jazz festival, held each spring.
In St. Lucia, you can experience modern sites and luxury resorts or delve into old plantations and hidden beaches. Its sulfur springs are ideal for DIY spa treatments, while intimate beaches like Anse Mamin give you the chance to experience your own private paradise.
There's more than one way to enjoy the spa experience in St. Lucia. One is to book a treatment at any of the luxury spas or resorts on the island. The other is to visit Sulphur Springs, inside the bowl of an extinct volcano, where you're welcome to try a volcanic mud bath or the 31°C/88°F Roman bath.
Language: English, Creole French.
Best place to stay: Boucan Hotel by Chocolat, Soufriere, St Lucia.
Best place to eat: Rain Forest Hideaway, Marigot Bay, St Lucia.
Best Beach: Carlisle Bay, St Lucia. This peaceful, south-coast beach offers views of royal blue waters: The Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea here. The mountains are verdant green, the sand is like brown sugar, and the palms are royal. Here you’ll find the best snorkeling you can do in Antigua without hopping on a boat (bring your own gear).