Which Caribbean Island is Best for You?
POSTED BY Adam | July 21, 2014
Label: Beach Holidays
Just the mention of the word ‘Caribbean’ conjures up images of lazy days spent surrounded by gleaming white beaches and lines of palm trees. Whilst that’s all true, there is much more to the Caribbean islands than just sunbathing and each nation has its own individual charm. With nearly thirty nations and over a thousand islands to choose from, picking the perfect Caribbean island can be tricky. At Globehunters we’ve narrowed it down to the following five.
Best for: Mixing a city break with a beach holiday
Spanish-speaking Cuba manages to combine the palm-fringed beaches of the West Indies with dramatic mountain landscapes, not to mention the fascinating culture and history of Havana. The capital’s streets lined with crumbling buildings and 1950s classic cars are one photo opportunity after another and an enthralling way to spend a few days. The historic centre of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is notable for its distinctive architecture and monuments.
As you’d expect from the region’s largest island, Cuba is not short of natural charms. The Varadero peninsula is a particularly popular area for sun worshippers eager to relax on the powder-white beaches. Off shore there is first-class snorkelling and diving with great sites dotted all around Cuba’s coastline.
In Cuba’s mountainous interior, Viñales is said to be former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s favourite place on the island and with beautiful mountains and caves to explore, it’s easy to see why. That said, Castro’s fondness for the region could also be because of its’ many tobacco farms that contribute to the production of Cuba’s famous cigars.
Best for: Partying on the beach
Big, bold Jamaica is perfect for a lively Caribbean holiday with golden beaches and scenic mountains thrown in for good measure.
The peaks of the renowned Blue Mountains afford panoramic views across the island; hikes to the peaks are particularly enjoyable in the dry season between December and April. In amongst the verdant hillsides you’ll find numerous waterfalls such as Dunn’s River Falls and YS Falls.
At the other end of the scale are the upmarket shopping plazas and vibrant nightlife of Ocho Rios. ‘Ochi’ has long been catering for hedonistic tourists and a lively experience is guaranteed. Of course, no visit to Jamaica would be complete without a visit to the home of Bob Marley. The reggae legend’s colourful former home is a popular tourist attraction. Whilst you’re in gritty capital city Kingston, don’t forget to try some of Jamaica’s famously spicy cuisine.
Best for: Scuba diving with a difference
Known as The Spice Isle, Grenada is less developed than many of the other West Indian islands, with no high-rise developments to detract from the old world charm.
Pint-sized capital St George’s is built on an old volcano crater and slopes down to a quaint horseshoe-shaped harbour. Even in the capital, the atmosphere is low-key and upbeat - a vibe that extends to the rural villages that dot the coast of the island.
Like many Caribbean islands, Grenada offers impressive diving, but with a real difference. As well as the colourful marine life, there’s a surreal Underwater Sculpture Park to explore in Molinere Bay consisting of an array of lifelike cement figures. Back on land, Grenada’s rainforest-covered interior is perfect for exploring when you can drag yourself away from the beach.
Best for: Relaxing in All Inclusive Resorts
Dominican Republic is technically half an island – the eastern half of Hispaniola which it shares with Haiti – but it still makes the list thanks to its winning blend of golden beaches and Latino culture.
Capital city Santo Domingo is the largest in the Caribbean and home to UNESCO World Heritage Site the Colonial City. A stroll around the 16th century cobbled streets is the perfect complement to an otherwise sedate beach holiday.
On the west coast and seemingly a million miles away from the bustling city are the palm-fringed beaches of Punta Cana. They have long been an attractive proposition for sun-starved European tourists and cater very well for its visitors with a succession of luxury resorts and eleven golf courses along the beach. Punta Cana’s airport is the best connected European airport, making visiting the Dominican Republic as easy as lying on a Punta Cana beach.
Best for: Surfing and windsurfing
Barbados is renowned for its laidback vibe but there are plenty of activities to enjoy on this small westerly island with just over a quarter of a million inhabitants.
Barbados’ four coasts each have their own individual feel. The affluent west coast is home to many of Barbados’ most popular beaches; Batts Rock Beach and Paradise Beach adjoin and offer plenty of shady spots under the palm trees plus a lively community of green monkeys. To the north, there are impressive views across the northern Caribbean Sea from the steep sandstone cliffs.
It’s hard to beat Barbados for water sports and the island’s windswept east coast is a particularly popular place for thrill seeking surfers. The area is home to a world-famous reef break known as the ‘Soup Bowl’. With a ledge of spiny sea urchins underneath, surfing the Soup Bowl is a challenging experience - even for skilled surfers! The southern tip of Barbados is more popular for windsurfers; the area near Silver Sands is known as one of the best places on earth for windsurfing!
What's your favourite Carbbean island? Let us know below!