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The Ultimate Guide to Every Caribbean Island

We wish summer could last forever, but if there’s one good thing about the changing seasons, it’s that it gives you the perfect excuse to plan a beach getaway. Here, a complete guide to the Caribbean islands to help you find your perfect trip.

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Anguilla

This luxurious yet laid-back island is a serious contender for best food in the region, thanks to both hole-in-the-wall seafood shacks and upscale restaurants serving a blend of African, Caribbean and European flavors.

Size: Tiny
Price: $$$$
Accessibility: Moderate; ferry from St. Martin
Best for: Foodies, out-of-this-world beaches, luxury

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Antigua and Barbuda

This 11-by-14-mile island contains 365 beaches, so you can explore a new one every day of the year. A sailing mecca with a unique British-West Indian culture, Antigua has a landscape that’s dotted with colorful cottages, lush gardens and hidden coves.

Size: Medium

Price: $$$
Accessibility: Easy; flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Boating, island-hopping, nightlife

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Aruba

On the northwest coast you have glitzy hotels and casinos. On the east coast, where you’ll find Arikok National Park, you have a wild landscape of cacti and divi-divi trees, sandy beaches and limestone cliffs. Win-win.

Size: Small

Price: $
Accessibility: Easy; frequent flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Casinos, nightlife, water sports

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Bahamas

Sure, you have the popular, resort-packed islands of Grand Bahama and Paradise Island to contend with, but the Bahamas is also home to dozens of tiny, lesser-known oases. We love the pink-sand Harbour Island as well as Exuma, where pigs swim in the turquoise sea.

Size: Big
Price: $$
Accessibility: Very easy; many affordable, direct flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Families, a quick trip, diving

Barbados

One of the most developed islands, Barbados offers visitors a mix of comfort and exoticism. Away from the built-up west coast, the rugged east coast is where you’ll find big waves, world-class surfing and far more locals than tourists.

Size: Medium
Price: $
Accessibility: Easy; frequent flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Foodies, exploring, nightlife, surfing

British Virgin Islands

Of the 50-plus tiny isles that make up the BVIs, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda are three of the largest and best known. They’re sleepy and undeveloped, yet luxurious and exclusive.

Size: Small

Price: $$$$
Accessibility: Moderate; flights to Tortola from most U.S. cities or ferry from St. Thomas
Best for: Seclusion, boating, diving

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Cayman Islands

A visit to upscale Grand Cayman could feel a lot like a vacation to south Florida—if not for the tiny, low-key islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which are secluded, pristine and more or less untouched by tourism.

Size: Grand Cayman is medium; Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are small.
Price: $$
Accessibility: Easy; frequent flights to Grand Cayman from most major U.S. cities
Best for: Foodies, affordable travel, diving

Curaçao

This Dutch-owned island lies just off the coast of Venezuela and is worth exploring for the rugged landscape and gorgeous bays teeming with coral reefs.

Size: Medium
Price: $
Accessibility: Moderate; layover flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Exploring, diving, music and nightlife

Dominican Republic

Don’t let the spring break reputation fool you: You’ll find plenty of quiet, idyllic beaches here, as long as you stay away from the popular party beach towns of Santo Domingo and Punta Cana.

Size: Big
Price: $
Accessibility: Very easy; frequent flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Budget travelers, nightlife, history buffs

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Guadeloupe

This French territory is the hidden gem of the Caribbean. The quiet island has quaint seaside villages, unspoiled beaches and French-Creole cuisine.

Size: Medium
Price: $$
Accessibility: Moderate; few direct flights from the U.S.
Best for: Foodies, gorgeous beaches, escaping the tourists

Jamaica

Come for the rum shacks, spicy jerk chicken and reggae music. Stay for the banana groves, idyllic beaches and hidden waterfalls.

Size: Big
Price: $
Accessibility: Easy; direct flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Exploring the outdoors, music, food

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Martinique

Like its neighbor Guadeloupe, Martinique has a distinct French-Creole culture that attracts many Francophile and European tourists. The main town, Fort-de-France, is a colorful mix of old and modern, with historic 17th century buildings and an active port. And the cuisine, a mix of French and West Indian flavors, makes Martinique one of the top food destinations in the Caribbean.  

Size: Big
Price: $$
Accessibility: Moderate; more airlines are beginning to offer flights
Best for: Foodies, Francophiles, beach and culture

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St. Lucia

It’s no surprise that this stunning island, home to the Piton Mountains, is one of the most popular honeymoon destinations around. In addition to palm-tree-lined shores, you’ll find volcanic beaches, rain forests, waterfalls and fishing villages.

Size: Medium
Price: $$
Accessibility: Easy; flights from all U.S. cities
Best for: Honeymooners, spas, hiking, luxury

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St. Barts

Want to travel like the rich and famous? Welcome to St. Barts, the most expensive and glamorous Caribbean island of them all. (Just beware the hefty price tag for everything from hotel rooms to dining.)

Size: Tiny
Price: $$$$
Accessibility: Difficult. Get a connecting flight from San Juan or Antigua, or take a ferry from St. Martin.
Best for: Luxury, spotting celebs, nightlife, foodies

RELATED: The Guide to St. Barts

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St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Made up of the mainland, St. Vincent, and 31 smaller islands like Bequia and Canouan, this gem in the Lesser Antilles is one of the least touristed Caribbean islands. It's known for exceptional scuba diving and as a world-class sailing destination, dotted with cays and harbors.

Size: Small 
Price: $$
Accessibility: Moderate; flights to St. Vincent, must travel to smaller islands by boat
Best for: Divers, boaters, solitude

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U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands are made up of three main islands, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, surrounded by small, minor islands. They're popular for their accessibility, quaint old towns and lovely beaches. The least developed is St. John, which doesn’t have many roads, but it boasts stunning campgrounds and protected national parks dotted with white-sand beaches. 

Size: Small
Price: $$
Accessibility: Easy; St. Croix and St. John are accessible by quick  ferry from St. Thomas
Best for: Budget travel, active travelers, food

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St. Kitts and Nevis

These sister islands share a landscape of dormant volcanoes, old sugar plantations and hilly, green rain forests. Fun fact: Alexander Hamilton was born on Nevis.

Size: Small
Price: $$
Accessibility: Moderate; connecting flights from San Juan to St. Kitts. A ferry operates between St. Kitts and Nevis.
Best for: Stepping back in time, nature lovers, diving

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St. Martin

The Dutch and the French have peacefully coexisted in St. Martin for centuries, but the two sides of the island are vastly different. (The casino-studded Dutch side is busier and more boisterous, while the French side is quaint and charming, kind of like a Mediterranean village.)

Size: Small
Price: $$$
Accessibility: Easy; flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Culture, casinos, beaches

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Trinidad and Tobago

Home to one of the biggest carnivals in the world, Trinidad is the island that doesn’t sleep. But Tobago, its far-smaller sister island, is serene, with lush jungles, rain forests, peach sand beaches and palm trees. Both islands have been virtually unaffected by the tourism industry.

Size: Trinidad is big; Tobago is tiny.
Price: $$
Accessibility: Moderate; flights from most U.S. cities to Trinidad
Best for: Nightlife, music, food

Turks and Caicos

If you want to relax and soak up the sun with a piña colada in hand, Turks and Caicos is your place. There you’ll find more than 230 miles of shoreline, coral reefs and crystal-clear, bathtub-warm water.  

Size: Medium
Price: $$$
Accessibility: Easy; flights from most U.S. cities
Best for: Beaches, luxury resorts, snorkeling

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