A Caribbean vacation is a popular desire for loads of travellers. That’s pretty vague thought, the Caribbean is made up of a lot of different islands and countless appealing destinations. It can be difficult to narrow down the options, particularly given that most every place you Google in the entire area looks similarly idyllic. The secret is that all of these destinations are spectacular, so to some extent it’s not really necessary to make up your mind. Here are five places you have to go, along with a few reasons why!
1. British Virgin Islands
If you’re looking for a luxe getaway rather than a casual island hangout, the BVIs are the place to go. They’re often singled out as some of the best options in the area, thanks to some truly jaw-dropping resorts and an interesting vibe blending island culture with British influence. The islands also probably got a tourism boost earlier this year when they became the getaway of choice for former U.S. president Barack Obama. When you look at how much fun Obama had vacationing with his family and Sir Richard Branson it’s hard not to want to follow suit.
2. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has become particularly popular in the last few years—or at least it seems to consistently appear on trendy destinations lists. Rather than going there just for the beautiful beaches, consider a stop in Santo Domingo. The city feels like a piece of history with buildings that were first erected in the 16th century, including the oldest cathedral in the “New World.” It’s all fascinating, and you’re still right on the water so you can also enjoy some time at the beach.
3. San Juan, Puerto Rico
San Juan has many of the same charms as Santo Domingo, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same. Like Santo Domingo, you can enjoy a great combination of historic architecture, modern culture, and seaside beauty. There’s also an element of legend that makes San Juan all the more intriguing, given that it’s the resting place of explorer Juan Ponce de Léon, who famously sought the Fountain of Youth. These legendary quests have also been popular subjects over the years for games and movies. The Fountain of Youth recently served as the basis for a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and El Dorado has been similarly used by Disney and the first Uncharted game, in addition to an online title that allows players to join a fictional Spanish conquistador on a quest. While this stuff is fun for movies and slot machine backgrounds, it was very real to some of the explorers who came through San Juan hundreds of years ago. The legends make the destination that much more interesting, and they may inspired to go on a quest of your own.
4. Nassau, The Bahamas
This destination is a little bit more resort-y, so to speak, but if that’s what you’re looking for in a Caribbean getaway then this is your place. This is the location of the massive, sprawling Atlantis resort, which is equal parts theme park, casino, and luxury hotel. That said, you can also spend some money by renting a condo just down the beach (there are plenty of options) and stopping in at Atlantis now and then. It’s a nice way to enjoy the big entertainment experience and still have a quieter, more affordable spot on the beach.
5. Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
This is the only specific resort we’re highlighting (as opposed to town, beach, or island), though it seems worth mentioning given that it’s been called one of the hottest Caribbean getaways. Even more, a lot of people probably haven’t heard of it. Despite the fact that it’s a resort, it’s a nice counter to the Nassau area for those who are more interested in the natural side of the Caribbean. St. Lucia is often singled out as one of the most beautiful islands in the region, and the Jade Mountain resort is all about helping visitors enjoy that beauty in the most natural way possible. You’ll have a luxury room to enjoy, but the surrounding area is lush and green, and the main attractions include scuba diving, hiking, and biking. You should also know that the rooms don’t have televisions for phones, and guests are encouraged to fully embrace their getaways without modern distractions.