The best Caribbean vacation spots will be found on scores of the 7,000 islands in this sea south of Florida and bounded by Central and South America. In fact, sometimes the best place to go in the Caribbean doesn’t have to be an island at all. The Yucatan Peninsula resorts of Cancun and Merida located on the coast of Mexico both are extremely popular and boast numerous world-class resorts. The eastern coast of Costa Rica is blessed with beautiful beaches and numerous national parks set aside to protect the country’s rich natural resources, and it has become more and more popular over the last couple decades.
However, it is the best Caribbean island vacation that most tourists are seeking. The choices are wide and really depend only on your budget and interests. If you want luxury and can afford just about anything, the best Caribbean vacation spots might be on the island of Anguilla, where you can rub shoulders with jet setters and movie stars, many of whom have purchased opulent mansions on the island. The luxurious Cap Juluca Resort is so exclusive, it can handle your flights from the United States in its private Gulfstream jet. But you will find luxury resorts everywhere, from Paradise Island hotels with huge casinos in the Bahamas to the developing resort of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Even with all this decadence, you can also find that the best place to go in the Caribbean for a family or budget vacation can be side-by-side with luxury properties. You can save money before you ever travel by going to Puerto Rico. Because the island is part of the United States, Americans don’t need a passport if traveling directly from a US state or territory. Other areas known for excellent budget properties are the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and St. Martin. Because of their affordability, all these places are also popular with young people and honeymooners. There are numerous all inclusive hotels and resorts that cater specifically to these three demographics.
The Best Caribbean island vacation for scuba diving and snorkeling can be just about anywhere. There are wonderful coral reefs, shipwrecks, and crystal clear waters throughout the region. However, the islands known worldwide for excellent diving are the Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (sometimes called the ABC Islands), Grand Cayman, the British and US Virgin Islands, and Turks and Caicos.
Sometimes, the best Caribbean island vacation might be as many islands as you can fit in. Numerous major cruise lines—from the intimate ships of the Windjammer line to huge Carnival Cruises liners—have cruise itineraries through the region, stopping at several ports of call and even transiting the Panama Canal.
If you’re not up for sharing your ship with others, the best place to go in the Caribbean might be to your own private boat. Boat charters (either bareboat or crewed) are available in numerous places. The Grenadines and the US and British Virgin Islands are known for their sailing. Vacation rentals include everything from luxurious yachts sleeping several couples to more basic boats with a capacity of only two to six people. Most of the major resort areas have marinas where you can charter a boat or even bring your own. Hand-in-hand with boat charters goes deep sea fishing, also available throughout the area. Costa Rica, Grenada, and St. Thomas are excellent spots, but you can toss a line in just about anywhere and be successful. One little island (Bermuda) that is not even part of the Caribbean is often the destination for those looking for an island with everything most people look for in an island getaway, except casinos.
Virtually all of the best Caribbean vacation spots are accessible only by boat or air, so booking your travel arrangements during the off season can help save money. If you are traveling during the high season (summer and holiday period), you should make your arrangements as far in advance as possible, as flight fill up quickly.