If you are debating where to spend your spring break or summer vacation, here is a list to 17 fun, gorgeous, and BEACH oriented options, all located in the Caribbean. All of these spring break destinations have vibrant flowers, delicious food, tropical flair, outdoor adventures, and best of all, sandy beaches to sink your toes into. Pull out the warm weather clothing, pack up the family, and explore what these more-or-less Caribbean destinations have to offer you. Enjoy!
17 Caribbean Spring Break and Beach Destinations
Cayman Islands– The Cayman Islands have the most pristine beaches and lots of fun things to do. Grand Cayman, the most popular island, is a major hotspot for sunbathers and tourists, receiving a handful of cruise ships daily. Island activities include stingray encounters, snorkeling, and catamaran trips. The one most well-known takes guests from the stingray sandbar to a nearby coral reef for snorkeling and seeing Grand Cayman’s amazing tropical fish. The Cayman Islands are also home to upscale and designer shopping with duty-free pricing. Be sure to visit the beautiful Seven Mile Beach.
Jamaica– Jamaica is a mountainous island riddled with all things Bob Marley (his picture is even on their paper money), rum, and jerked meats. Ocho Rios, which translates to eight rivers, is a hotspot for water tubing down the swift river rapids as well as exploring the tropical landscape. Jamaica is known for grand hotels, many all-inclusive, and delicious restaurants. Visit Bob Marley’s mausoleum honoring Jamaica’s Father of Reggae. A newly explored part of Jamaica is Falmouth, home to the newest Jamaican cruise port. It is nearby the Good Hope Plantation, an interesting spot for a tour and afternoon tea.
Honduras– Though not the safest of the Caribbean countries, Honduras’s Isla Roatán is stunning! The beaches around the island will surprise you. Amazing white-water rafting opportunities lie on the opposite side of the island from where most tourists are. The popular Mahogany Bay is where 95% of Caribbean corals are found. Butterfly and iguana reserves are an adventurous draw for tourists while colorful botanical gardens offer them a visual delight. Honduras has the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean, so water adventures are plentiful. Make sure to check out the Jesus lizards which can literally walk on water.
United States Virgin Islands– The Virgin Island’s chain is made up of 50 islands and cays. The Virgin Islands are divided between the United States and Britain into two separate groups. The islands that make up the US Virgin Islands include St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Charlotte Amalie, the capital and focal point of the islands is located on St. Thomas and has forest green hills, white beaches, and turquoise waters. This 13 mile-long island is known for horseback riding, honeymooning, snorkeling, and mega shopping. The historic part of town is three blocks deep from the waterfront and is a bargain hunter’s goldmine.
In St.Thomas, upscale shopping offers deep pocket discounts featuring electronics, jewelry, and clothing. Popular attractions in the USVI are Blackbeard’s Tower, Bluebeard’s Castle, Market Square, plentiful chic hotels, and Frederick Lutheran Church. The most well-known beaches are Magen’s Bay and Honeymoon Beach. St. John, the smallest island, is my favorite and more remote than St. Thomas. In its heyday, St. John had 25 sugar producing factories due to the fact that sugarcane in the 18th century was a popular and profitable export. St. John is only three streets wide and not commercialized like so many other Caribbean destinations. The community is primarily artsy. The third island, St. Croix, is the largest and features noteworthy restaurants, a historic town, “Rain Forest” botanical gardens, and golf courses.
Saint Lucia– This mountainous island is home to great beaches, reef-diving, rain forests, and waterfalls. In addition, St. Lucia offers exceptional luxury resorts. Its capital, Castries, is accessible by many methods, making it an ideal base for island hopping to some of the more ritzy Caribbean destinations. St. Lucia’s cobalt waters are perfect for catamaran sailing and swimming.
Grenada– Known as the “spice island” (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves), you will definitely want to take some home with you. Tourists can explore the spice farms and see how they are grown as well as sample the local Caribbean rums, up to 210 proof, that will knock you to your knees! Visit the Westerhall Estates for the rum tasting, my personal favorite. Other activities include fishing, sailing, and hiking. Scuba diving in Grenada is a real treat as they have shipwrecks and adorable turtles. The foods of Grenada combine the flavors of the West Indies, Caribbean, and Creole so it will surely delight your senses. History buffs will love Grenada’s 300 year old Fort George.
Barbados– Breathtaking beauty is abundant in Barbados; their fine-sand beaches are stunning, which may be why it is a top tourist destination. The island people are referred to as “Bajans” and are extremely friendly. The capital, Bridgetown, is the island’s biggest city plus it is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Fun things to do in Barbados include the award-winning Atlantis submarine which takes you down to -130 feet in an informative and interesting ride to the ocean floor. Later have a flavorful meal in one of Barbados’s sophisticated beachfront restaurants; caution, sunbathers are often in the buff. Barbados is sometimes referred to as “little England” due to their connection with United Kingdom. It does not have a touristy feel but instead consists of seaside villages, plantations, and historic churches. Check out the island’s incredible architecture, pirates’ castles, then enjoy their thriving nightlife!
Saint Martin (France)- One of two countries sharing the same island, Saint Martin is the French side and Saint Maarten, the Dutch. Located in St. Maarten, Marigot is the metropolitan capital city offering boutique shopping, cafes, gourmet shops, and pastel colored colonial buildings. Five miles from Marigot is the jewel in the crown of Saint Martin, the lovely and chic Grand Case, a beach front town. This is a hipsters heaven! Orient Beach is visually stunning with pay lounge chairs and souvenir pushers offering local resort wear, hair braids, and reflexology while you bask in the sun. The east end of the beach is popular among nudists. One of the most popular souvenirs in Saint. Martin is their hand-stitched lace tablecloths.
Belize– Belize is a relatively new independent country and one of the world’s most sought after ecotourism destinations, offering a snorkeler’s and scuba diver’s paradise in an unspoiled Caribbean setting. The clear waters are visually appealing and it is bursting with mangrove coasts and unique rain forests. In fact, Belize claims the Western hemisphere’s largest and most magnificent barrier reef. Belize also has scenic Mayan civilization ruins (I visited Altun Há) which date back to Classic period, 250 AD to 900 AD. Try a scenic river cruise on the River Belize or go caving if you are up for adventure. Do not miss the Blue Hole and the toucans! Luxury travelers will want to check out Ambergris Caye. Fact: Belize is the only English speaking country in Central America.
Antigua and Barbuda– This provocative Caribbean destination has coral reefs that attract scuba divers, water sports enthusiasts, snorkelers, and beach-goers. The capitol of Antigua (pronounced “An-TEE-ga”), St. John’s, is a pretty town with afternoon tea and cricket. It the past, the island was heavy in tobacco then sugar in latter years, which declined after abolishing slavery. Antigua served as a military base during WWII. I love the English Harbour, which focuses on old wharf buildings and “Nelson’s Dockyard”. The town’s people are welcoming and friendly and it is a very laid-back island.
Dominica– Capital city Roseau is the gateway to the untainted nature of Dominca, population around 73,000. This small island is ablaze with hiking trails, waterfalls, and interesting culture. Ithas only been an independent nation since 1978, after breaking ties from British rule. Dominica’s most famous waterfall, Trafalgar, is actually twin falls which cascade into deep pools below your viewing platform. Trafalgar also has an aerial tram 300 ft above the Breakfast River Gorge to guide you through the rainforest. If hiking is not your thing, perhaps a visit to the Botanical Gardens will suffice.
Aruba– One of the Three ABC islands (the others are Curacao and Bonaire), Aruba’s palm-fringed blond beaches are ultra photogenic and the luxury hotels are in a class of their own. Oranjestad, the capital, is thriving in the shopping, tourism, food, and tour industries. Aside from the typical beach and water activities, explore Aruba’s Ostrich or Butterfly farm, the Old Mill, Natural Bridge, or Alto Vista Chapel. My favorite casino on this island of Aruba, is the Marriott Stellaris Casino & Resort near the gorgeous California Lighthouse. I feel this is the most Americanized island of any in the Caribbean.
British Virgin Islands– This is a serious yachtsman’s paradise. Tortola’s Drake’s Passage is the world’s prime sailing location and known for snorkeling, hiking, and botanical gardens. A do-not-miss is their most famous yachting watering hole, “The Bitter End”. My favorite part of the chain, Virgin Gorda, is known for their baths, swimming and snorkeling. Virgin Gorda’s grotto was created by huge toppled rocks, which created an interesting formation. Norman Island is referred to as “Treasure Island” thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson. Anegada was a pirate’s lair and hiding place with flat, horseshoe shaped reefs.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands– Though this island has only 7,000 in population, it is often referred to as the Caribbeans “Last Frontier”. This British colony is made up of 8 islands and dozens of cays. Grand Turk makes up the government seat and is the main tourism area. Its capital, Cockburn Town, is pronounced “Coburn” and has lovely British colonial architecture. Turks and Caicos is famous for windmills and salt ponds, a protected UNESCO site, and is a scuba diver’s paradise. Dozens of humpback whales travel through here each year. Although in 2008, a category 5 Hurricane destroyed 80% of the beaches, Grand Turk still saw 500,000 visitors last year.
The Bahamas– The country of the Bahamas is an archipelago made up of over 700 islands, starting only 50 miles from Florida. Their intense beauty will impress you with layered shades, which have been attracting boaters, fishermen, and scuba divers for ages. Though independent since 1973, the Bahamas still honors its British customs and driving rules. Outstanding hotels and casinos are plentiful. Of the 5 million visitors to the Bahamas each year, 71% of those arrive via cruise ship. Nassau has a lovely town to stroll through and peruse handmade arts and crafts at the Straw Market. My favorite part of the Bahamas is the mammoth Atlantis Resort (on Paradise Island) with hundreds of activities, high-end shopping, delicious food, a first class casino, impressive water slides, and anything imaginable.
Puerto Rico– Puerto Rico has been under America’s flag since 1898, but its 500 year Spaniard reign is still evident in every way. Puerto Rico is only 110 miles long and 35 miles wide. This gorgeous colonial city is full of white sand beaches, flanked with rugged mountain villages. Puerto Rico is home to El Yunque, the only tropical rain forest in the United States, and is famous for windsurfing, golfing (23 courses), sailing, nightclubs, and casinos. The historic Old City, Old San Juan, will delight those seeking educational activities as well as shoppers, foodies, and art lovers. I once read that Puerto Rico has the beat of the Caribbean, the frills of a large American city, and the historic grace of its Spanish Heritage. It is a very popular cruise destination and is NOT duty-free (meaning you must pay taxes when you return home on merchandise).
Bonaire- Bonaire remains a pristine island with small-town charms and a dazzling marine life. Its crystal clear waters attract scuba divers and snorkelers in droves to witness the colorful array of sea creatures. Bonaire is one of three islands in the Netherlands Antilles island-chain, and the second largest, shaped like a boomerang. Other than water adventures, Bonaire offers great bird-watching, good seafood restaurants, biking, and hiking. It is also in hopes of becoming the first Caribbean island to be 100% powered by sustainable energy.
Traveling to the Caribbean can be either very cheap or expensive, as hotel rates and flight fares change all the time; but the most economical way to see these destinations is via cruise ship. The average price of a week long cruise that may see 3-4 cruise ports can be as inexpensive as $499 for an inside room, which also includes all of your meals. I recommend traveling by cruise ship and seeing as much as you can. When you find the places you truly love, you can always go back on a land trip.
Did you find something you like? I hope that wherever you may roam for spring break, you will have a wonderful time and safe travels.