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Soul-soothing waters, soft sugary sands, and rhythmic reggae tunes in the air, the Caribbean islands are the spot for serenity seekers and escapism. But there’s more to this breathtaking archipelago than zen vibes and mesmerizing views. Countless idyllic stretches of sand, colorful coral reefs, and an endless supply of things to do make the islands of the Caribbean, just a few short hours from the US mainland, a bucket list must-do destination for lovers of all things sand and surf.
Jaw-dropping scenic views, year-round idyllic weather, and crystal blue waters await visitors no matter which island you visit. But which islands have the very best beaches? We’ve done our research and rounded up 15 of the best Caribbean Island beaches to add to your vacation wish list.
Negril Beach in Jamaica, also known as Seven Mile Beach, stretches from Bloody Bay in the north to Long Bay and the Negril Cliffs in the south. Stretching seven miles along the Negril coastline, (hence the name), Seven Mile Beach is home to some of the most lavish and hedonistic resorts in the Caribbean.
Clear turquoise water washes up on creamy white sands, while swaying palms and sea grapes fringe the beach, providing refuge from the warm tropical sun.
Popular pastimes include swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, beachcombing, haggling with beach vendors, and listening to reggae music at the many venues that line the beach.
Only a short moped ride from the cliffs at Rick’s Cafe, there are dozens of small hotels and local shops that welcome visitors with an Irie greeting. Sandals, Couples, Beaches, Grand Lido, and Hedonism are some of Negril’s popular classics, while more stunning resorts are popping up every year. Just south of Seven Mile Beach, several nudist beaches, including Booby Cay, offer private secluded settings among swaying palms and calm sandy shores with snorkeling opportunities for those wanting to “bare all.”
More Negril's tourist attractions are a short drive away and include healing mineral springs and bird-rich gardens.
The 12 miles of pale sandy coastline on Grace Bay Beach are the pride of Providenciales. Known as the “World’s Leading Beach” for 4 years running by the World Travel Awards, the beach is an ideal place to escape from the everyday. Fringed by a colorful coral reef teeming with marine life, Grace Bay Beach is a can’t-miss destination for snorkeling enthusiasts. .
Almost too beautiful to be real, visitors can swim in the crystalline shallows or kick out to the reef to see stingrays, turtles, and tropical fish darting among the coral in the Princess Alexandra Marine Park. With beauty above and below water, no wonder this sublime stretch ranks as one of the best beaches in the world.
One of the most beautiful pink sand beaches in the world, the silky sands along this pretty stretch of coast on Harbour Island in the Bahamas blush a soft, pale pink thanks to the rosy hues of some of the finely crushed shells from which it's formed.
Spend your time swimming in the striking aqua sea; kayaking out to the reef; or sunbathing on the warm sands, soaking up all the beauty.
The setting of Jonny Depp’s infamous movie, "The Pirates of the Caribbean,” Grand Anse, rimmed by coconut palms, almond trees, and sea grape trees, is the most beautiful beach in Grenada. This slice of soft white sand heaven is washed by clear and typically calm waters in hues of aqua, turquoise, and deep cobalt blue.
You can swim in the crystal-clear waters, search for sea stars, crabs, and tiny fish in the shallows, rent kayaks, or take a blissful ride on a catamaran.
Pale-pink coral sand, bright blue water, and steep cliffs characterize this famous beach in Barbados. Cargo from ships was once unloaded here and lifted by a cliff-top crane, earning this picturesque slice of coast its name. Powerful surf makes it an ideal spot for body surfing and boogie boarding. Swimmers should take care due to the strong undercurrents.
The best way to access Crane beach is on the glass-fronted elevator at The Crane Resort, or you can descend the steep public stairs to the sand.
So, it’s really about 5 1/2 miles long, but who’s counting?
Turquoise waters and bone-white sand fringed with casuarinas and coconut palms are the top features of this famous beach in the Cayman Islands.
Head north to escape the cruise ship crowds and plonk down under the palm fronds and listen to the soothing slosh of gentle waves brushing the shore. Seven Mile Beach is also one of the best swimmable beaches in the Caribbean, with clear waters and soft, squeaky sand.
Diving is one of the top things to do in the Cayman Islands, and some of the sites can be accessed right from the shore of Seven Mile Beach.
Looking for romance? St. Barts is known as one of the best Caribbean islands for couples.
Fringing the island's southern shore, this peaceful crescent-shaped cove is off the beaten track, adding to its romantic appeal. From the parking area, you hike over a hill and through sand dunes towards the blonde-sand beach, which is washed by a translucent turquoise sea.
Typically calm waters and sandy bottom make it a lovely spot for swimming and snorkeling. Though nude sunbathing is officially forbidden in St. Barts, many beachgoers flout the rules; another reason for it’s honeymoon appeal.
Cuba's most famous beach, Varadero, is 20 kilometers of pure eye candy. Palapas dot the powder-soft sands, the water shimmers in electric shades of blue, and palm trees arch gracefully along its edge.
Plenty of swanky accommodation options line this stretch of the Peninsula de Hicacos in Cuba, including some of Cuba's best all-inclusive resorts.
Snorkeling, SCUBA diving, swimming, sailing, and kayaking are available for water enthusiasts looking to get wet in the turquoise waters.
One of Puerto Rico’s gems, this picture-perfect crescent of sugar-white sand and turquoise and teal water lives up to all the popular tropical beach fantasies. One of the Caribbean's go-to spots for beach camping, the beach is easily accessible by car or jeep.
Palms line the soft sands, while schools of tropical fish flit in the shallows. Calm clear waters make this a great spot for swimming and snorkeling.
Silky soft sands that cushion your feet fringed with palms, and clear aquamarine waters, Bávaro Beach is one of the best walking beaches in the Caribbean. A string of luxury resorts dot the shorelines attracting sun seekers from around the world. Popular activities include swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, kayaking, catamaran trips, and parasailing.
Nearby, you’ll find world-class golf courses, dune buggies, zipline tours, and the beautiful Hoyo Azul Lagoon. If you're looking for a more relaxed pace, head north to the charming fishing village of El Macao.
Cradled by green hills, this pretty U-shaped bay steals the show on the island of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Its pure white sand and aqua waters are a striking contrast with the lush greenery spilling down from the hills.
Snorkeling and kayaking are popular activities in the clear shallows. After basking on the beach or playing in the water, , take a walk along the Tropical Discovery Hike, which leads through a 75-acre preserve owned by the Nature Conservancy.
#12 The Baths, British Virgin Islands
For sheer natural beauty, it's hard to beat The Baths. Declared a national park in 1990, this pristine pocket of powdery sand and clear aquamarine sea is one of the most photographed attractions in the British Virgin Islands.
Smooth gray boulders dot the shoreline and glisten in the crystalline shallows, creating a sculptural maze for snorkelers. You can glide between the rocks in the water or don your water shoes and climb through the grottoes and crevices. Don't miss the Cathedral Room, a narrow cave with a shallow pool.
Just want to bask on the shore and soak up all the beauty? You can do this at picturesque Devil's Bay. If you're looking for something more active, head out on the hiking trails to explore the cactus-peppered coastline.
Protected by the U.S. National Park Service on St. John, this beach is one of the Caribbean’s most beloved. Known for its underwater snorkeling trail, markers guide you along the reef just off the white sands guiding you through a rainbow of spectacular tropical fish.
Trunk Bay Underwater Snorkeling Trail offers excellent snorkeling in the clear, warm waters, with up to 30 different species of fish. Underwater signposts label interesting features of the coral reef.