Choosing the Caribbean Island That’s Right for You

The dozens of islands scattered across the Caribbean are a remarkably diverse lot. Pulsing Jamaica has little in common with group-filled Aruba, and even islands in plain sight of each other like St Kitts and Nevis are vastly different not just in appearance but in what they offer visitors.

So for the Caribbean-bound visitor, which island among the many to choose? Big or little, near or far, urban or lost are among the many considerations that can turn choosing a carefree holiday into a perplexing chore. Happily, our Caribbean Islands primer can take the pain out of choosing what’s right for you. We’ve got the low-down on all the most-visited islands, complete with what’s best about each one.


Arid and nearly featureless, Aruba’s main attraction is a ribbon of beaches lined with big world-class resorts and backed up with malls of familiar restaurants and bars. Best for: Holidays requiring no thinking at all

The Bahamas

Offering the myriad choices of the Caribbean in a microcosm close to the US, the 700 islands of the Bahamas have far-flung hideaways and glossy mega-resorts. Best for: Island-hopping explorers, divers, partiers, Americans needing a quick escape

Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman is reminiscent of South Florida, only more orderly and with less traffic. It offers resorts of all stripes, tax shelters and famous diving, snorkeling and swimming with schools of stingrays. Best for: Hassle-free holidays in what might seem like the 51st state, watersports


Seemingly the center of Caribbean clichés such as Bob Marley songs played to the rhythm of opening beer bottles, vast Jamaica offers up resorts from posh to lurid and a distinct urban culture. Best for: Spicy food, spicy music, resort holidays, urban and natural adventures, quick trips from the US

Puerto Rico

Old San Juan is one of the great highlights of the region, a sprawling colonial throw-back that buzzes with a lively vibe. Big beach resorts, casinos, tangible history and rich Hispanic culture are the highlights. Best for: Explorations beyond sun, sand and sea, not leaving the US

Read more: Lonely Planet
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