Choosing the Best Caribbean Islands to Visit this summer might come down to an even larger question: Why vacation in the Caribbean during the Summer? Well, at Caribbean Journal, we view the Caribbean as a full-fledged year-round destination, with something to offer at every time of year. And while there are plenty of reasons to visit the Caribbean during the summer, one overshadows all else: it’s all about the beach. If you love the beach, the water and the ocean you simply must visit the Caribbean in the Summer. The water is warmer, clearer and calmer and everything you do in and around the water is better in the summer, whether you’re kayaking, paddle boarding, boating or just bobbing with a rum punch in hand. And unlike most southern cities in the US during the summer, you can dine al fresco at night thanks to cool ocean breezes. That’s in addition to smaller crowds, lower rates, more availability and more last minute options. Yes, for many people, the Caribbean is an even better destination in the summer. Here are 10 islands we think you’ll love right now.
Virgin Gorda It’s remarkable that this island in the British Virgin Islands still manages to have remained under the radar after all the years. In many ways an English-speaking St Barth, this archipelagic outpost is beautiful, luxurious but decidedly relaxed. And there are so many ways to enjoy it, whether in a hillside bungalow at the Bitter End Yacht Club, a cliffside suite at Oil Nut Bay, or renting a jeep and a villa and simply exploring the wonders of the island, from The Baths to Savannah Bay.
Cayman Brac There’s something special about this place, which is just a short flight from “mainland” Grand Cayman. It’s quiet, it’s tremendously friendly and its landscape is something to behold. This is an island for a summer escape, for fleeing hustle and bustle. And if you come to The Brac, as it’s known by locals, there are several good accommodation options: the Brac Reef Resort, a dive resort with a lovely little beach, and the recently-expanded Le Soleil d’Or boutique hotel with an emphasis on farm-to-table cuisine.
Staniel Cay The Exuma chain of the Bahamas has perhaps the most beautiful water on earth. While locals describe it as “Windex” colored, it changes so often during the day that it often defies description. This is a destination to be enjoyed on the water, and that’s what makes it such a perfect summer destination. But for a classic Exuma experience, head to Staniel Cay and the wonderful Staniel Cay Yacht Club hotel, located just a short flight from Nassau and a slightly longer one from Fort Lauderdale. It’s a collection of bungalow hotels, some of which even come with their own boats.
St Barth St Barth is a true French Caribbean paradise. And while going in the height of tourist season can mean extravagant prices, if you head to the island in the summer you get all of the luxury and beauty, but often at a steeply reduced price. There’s really nowhere in the Caribbean like it, whether you’re looking to do some luxury shopping, beach hop or people watch. Try the warm, charming Le Village hotel in St Jean or the ultra-luxe Le Guanahani. And don’t forget to rent a Mini Cooper convertible.
Aruba It’s outside of the hurricane belt, a quality that has long made Aruba one of the best Caribbean summer destinations, but Aruba has far more to offer than calm waters. The Dutch Caribbean island’s summer circuit is full of terrific festivals, from music to windsurfing, and then there’s Aruba’s burgeoning culinary scene, with stalwarts like Screaming Eagle and Wilhelmina. The island’s best hotel is the adults-only Bucuti & Tara Beach Resorts, with the Aruba Marriott a splendid option for both couples and families.
Antigua When an island has 365 beaches, it seems to get more beautiful every time you visit. And that’s particularly true in Antigua, where the beaches are calm, soft and almost always offer the feeling of privacy. But the island also has one of the Caribbean’s best collection of all-inclusive resorts — just not the ones you’re used to. These are authentic, luxurious hotels that put no barrier between you and ultimate Caribbean enjoyment, from the luxe Galley Bay to the clubby Curtain Bluff resort to the boutique Hermitage Bay.
Martinique What’s the best way to cool down on a summer afternoon in the Caribbean? Rum. And there’s simply nowhere better in the Caribbean than Martinique, the world’s rum capital and the envy of the West Indies for its artisanal, spectacular rhum agricole, made from fresh sugarcane juice. But there’s a lot more cool on the island than that, from the fascinating capital of Fort-de-France, which just saw the debut of the new Simon waterfront boutique hotel to beachfront resorts like Cap-Est. It’s all part of what makes Martinique not just one of the Best Caribbean Islands to Visit during the summer, but any time of year.
Bocas del Toro Why travel to just one island? Panama’s Caribbean epicenter is this, the islands called Bocas del Toro, a tiny archipelago that contains nine main islands and a host of cays. It’s a throwback to the Caribbean of yesteryear, with aquatic island hopping and small lodges and bungalow hotels — and yes, that includes overwater bungalow hotels like the Azul Paradise resort.
Nevis Yes, this Caribbean still exists. Yes, there is a place where there are no traffic lights and no stop signs and goats on the road and deserted beaches and miraculously warm people. This is Nevis, the tiny spot in the Eastern Caribbean filled with old sugar mills and lovely little plantation inns. And while it’s small, there’s every kind of getaway here, from a romantic escape to the Montpelier Plantation and Beach to a family adventure at the Four Seasons Nevis Resort to a villa vacation at Paradise Beach. Just make sure you spend some time with the Nevis Turtle Group helping protect the island’s turtle population while you’re on the island.
Providenciales Sure, you’ve heard of Grace Bay Beach, the impossibly wide and long stretch of beach on Providenciales. But this island in the Turks and Caicos Islands is so much more than that, from luxury hotels like Grace Bay Club, Point Grace and Amanyara to best-kept-secrets like Ocean Club Resorts to legendary Caribbean beach bars. (Yes, you know Da Conch Shack, but it’s time to try others like Bugaloo’s Conch Crawl.