Best Caribbean Beaches
Explore the silky sands and turquoise surf of the Caribbean's finest beaches.
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Shoal Bay, Anguilla
Once a secret hideaway, Anguilla has come into its own as a Caribbean hot spot for Hollywood starlets and honeymooners alike. Filled with beautiful beaches, posh resorts and overall laid-back charm, Anguilla's popularity is certainly well-deserved. There are 33 beaches on this 16-mile stretch of island, and the best part is that they are all open to the public. Shoal Bay is among the most popular with 2 miles of pearly-white sand on the Atlantic side that has a convenient equipment rental on-site for visitors.
Eagle Beach, Aruba
With miles of clean shores, tranquil waters and picture-perfect weather year-round, Aruba sees its fair share of tourism. Eagle Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island with its wide swath of powdery sand and gentle surf perfect for swimming. The beach is a bit quieter than some of its neighbors, but still free to the public like all of Aruba’s beaches. Sleep across the street from these serene shores at the Dutch-influenced Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort.
Trunk Bay, St. John
Nearly 50 years after Laurance S. Rockefeller donated Trunk Bay to the National Park Service, the beach and offshore coral reefs remain among St. John's most breathtaking and well-preserved attractions. Trunk Bay's clear, warm waters and silky coral sands draw tourists in droves, and its well-maintained facilities include chair and snorkel equipment rentals and showers. Visitors can bask in the tropical sun, snorkel the 225-yard-long Underwater Trail of reefs, or try their hand at underwater photography -- the clean water and variety of colorful sea life promise spectacular photo opportunities.
Crane Beach, Barbados
Barbados is a distinctive island, both in its natural beauty and fun-loving culture. This West Indies gem is actually a coral island. The sandy beaches are made up of pulverized coral, which makes for fine, soft sand. Just off the coast, there are coral reefs that tempt snorkelers and scuba divers with their exotic underwater life. Crane Beach is known for its great waves, and the waters are filled with surfers and even some body surfers, though the rough waters are appropriate only for strong swimmers.
Palominos Island, Puerto Rico
Palominos Island is a 100-acre private beach getaway off the coast at the northeastern tip of Puerto Rico. Adding to the island’s allure is its air of exclusivity as it’s only available to guests staying at the El Conquistador Resort and Golden Door Spa. Those lucky VIPs board a fast-moving catamaran for an 8-minute ride to this retreat for a day of snorkeling, wind surfing or riding wave runners or embrace the island paradise by simply lounging in a hammock with a frozen cocktail.
Philipsburg, St Maarten
St. Maarten is a cosmopolitan beach destination with European flair on the Dutch and French sides of the island. Phillipsburg is the capital of the Dutch side and the island’s hub of activity with cruise ships coming and going and visitors strolling along the brick-lined Great Bay Beach Promenade. This busy beachfront runs for nearly 2 miles with colorful umbrellas dotting the wide sandy shores. For a completely different experience, head to Cupecoy Beach, a clothing-optional spot beneath golden sandstone cliffs.
While Nassau’s beaches are certainly lovely, the allure for many is the spectacular diving just off the sandy shores where visibility can reach up to 100 feet. Explore the Blue Hole, a natural hole 100 feet across and 200 feet deep full of large schools of fish. Trinity and Piece of Cake caves both have openings large enough to swim through and are home to some large lobsters. There are also countless shipwrecks that have occurred along the reefs surrounding the islands of the Bahamas that make for some very exciting underwater adventures.
Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands are made up of a collection of smaller islands, each with its own unique topography and island vibe. Virgin Gorda, 1 of the largest islands, is a popular tourist spot with posh resorts, pristine beaches and great sailing. Virgin Gorda is probably most famous for the Baths, a unique national park on the island's southwest coast with white sandy beaches framed by gigantic granite boulders, some of these with diameters reaching 40 feet. Bring along your water shoes, a snorkel and a waterproof camera and explore the series of caves and grottos created by these irregular boulders.
Harrismith Beach, Barbados
Spend the day like a castaway on the remote Harrismith Beach in the Parish of St. Philip in Barbados. Though it’s just a short walk from Bottom Bay, this sandy paradise is far removed from the resort scene at the more developed beaches. The beach is accessible by a flight of stone steps carved into a cliff overlooking the sea. The cliff-top ruins of an old plantation house add to the romantic air. After descending the steps to the shore, enjoy a picnic, search for shells or relax with a book—but swim at your own risk as there’s no lifeguard on duty at this hidden gem of a beach.
Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda
Bermuda's famous pink-sand beaches are considered some of the loveliest seaside retreats in the world, and the shores of Horseshoe Bay are no exception. Wide stretches of the pastel pink sand -- the result of crushed shells, coral and calcium carbonate -- offset by clear blue waves lapping at the shore, create an enticing lure for the scores of visiting beachgoers who descend each year upon the 21-mile-long island. Horseshoe Bay Beach's facilities, lifeguards and equipment rental shops have helped secure its ranking as Bermuda's most popular shore.
Englishman's Bay, Tobago
Half of the dual-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, the latter island is the least developed and tiniest, and home to one of the most dream-inducing beaches in the Caribbean. The beach at Englishman's Bay, on the leeward side of Tobago, is buffered by verdant headlands that cradle a U-shaped beach stretching about a mile. On the southern end of the strand, a freshwater stream flows from the island's lush rainforest interior to the sea. And just offshore, brilliant coral reefs ripple with tropical fish. There are no official facilities here, apart from a small snack cart run by a local. But when it comes to finding a secluded spot to lay out your towel, few beaches can compare to Englishman's Bay.
Pink Beach, Barbuda
Situated in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean is a pretty pair -- Antigua and Barbuda. The latter island is so undeveloped you could almost call it ‘paradise lost’. But for beach lovers looking to lounge seaside in an otherworldly locale, Barbuda is most definitely paradise found. Apart from all-inclusive resorts and sublime beaches, there's little else on the island. But when sandy perfection is your prime demand, Barbuda delivers. Visitors reach the island by plane or boat from nearby Antigua, which lies 27 miles to the south of Barbuda. The reward when you step onto the silky sand at Pink Beach -- Barbuda's centerpiece beach, located a few miles south of the island's main village, Codrington -- is instantaneous. Nearly 8 miles of deserted oceanfront stretches from Spanish Point to Palmetto Point, and the snorkeling is fabulous. The champagne color of the sand glows rose thanks to the crushed coral in the mix. And it's possible to stroll along the beach for miles without seeing another soul. As if the natural lure of the beach wasn't enough, Barbuda is also home to the Caribbean's largest nesting colony of frigate birds, which you can visit by boat.
The Beach at Anse Chastanet, St. Lucia
There are times when the price of beach perfection is higher than others, and this is one of them. Think of the mysterious peaks of Tahiti, transported to the Caribbean -- such is the exotic lure of the spiky Piton Mountains surrounding this unbelievable beach on St. Lucia's southwestern coast. The beach at Anse Chastanet stuns with intense tropical beauty. Technicolor green jungle-clad mountains in the distance form a sharp contrast to the dark sand beach and bright white villas dotting the cliffs.
Tintamarre Island, St. Martin
Beach connoisseurs are enamored by the beautiful mountain-coddled coves of St. Martin. But if you're willing to go the distance for a more isolated beach experience, arrange a day-trip aboard a catamaran to the island of Tintamarre, situated about 5 miles off St. Martin's north coast.
You'll feel like Robinson Crusoe on the island's deserted beaches lapped by clear blue water. And iron-rich clay, found in the coves here, inspires beachgoers to strip down for spontaneous mud baths (just rinse in the ocean afterward to complete the holistic experience). Part of the Natural Reserve of Saint Martin, development is prohibited on Tintamarre, so there are no lodging and dining facilities.
Roatan, the largest of Honduras’s Bay islands, is located near the second largest barrier reef in the world. With its prime location, Roatan is known as one of the world’s best scuba diving spots. Often called the Caribbean’s “best-kept secret,” Roatan’s tourism has increased in recent years, attracting more than just divers. The laid-back culture and uncrowded beaches make Roatan an appealing alternative to other Caribbean islands.