With fall here and winter approaching, it might be time to think about a getaway where you can soak up some sun for a few days. And where better to get your tan on than the Caribbean? But which island should you visit? That’s where StudyFinds comes in. We put together a list of the best Caribbean islands to relax and recharge.
Sometimes, there’s nothing better in the world than having a drink with your toes in the sand. No wonder we are happier on vacation! A recent survey reveals that a third of Americans say they’re at their absolute happiest while vacationing. In the right social situation, like at a party or on vacation, 64 percent of people say they’re more outgoing than they otherwise would be. More than half (52%) don’t even recognize themselves when they’re in these happier settings.
Soaking up the sun is a big reason to visit the Caribbean, but doing so has massive health benefits. More sunshine could help ward off dementia, according to a recent study which reveals a direct link between vitamin D deficiency and cognitive decline. A team from the University of South Australia looked at nearly 300,000 people from the UK Biobank, examining the impact of low levels of vitamin D and the risk of dementia and stroke. They found that low levels of vitamin D displayed a link to lower brain volumes and an increased risk of both conditions. Heading to a sunny spot can surely help boost your vitamin D levels!
Are you ready to book a stay in paradise? StudyFinds has compiled a list of the top five best Caribbean islands to visit. Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Caribbean Islands, According to Experts
1. St. Lucia
Topping the list of best Caribbean islands is St. Lucia. “Lush, unspoiled St. Lucia is a hit with travelers of all kinds,” writes U.S. News Travel. “Some of its vacationers are music lovers, letting loose at the springtime St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies test their limits by climbing The Pitons or zip lining through the Chassin region’s rainforest. Others are honeymooners, unwinding on one of the island’s chalky beaches or holing up in one of its isolated resorts.”
“The Caribbean is synonymous with honeymoons but it’s St. Lucia that tops them all when it comes to serving up romance. You can thank the island’s mountainous landscape for that – it’s all about a room with a view of the 2,000-foot high Piton mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the island’s calling card,” notes Conde Nast Traveller. “There’s adventure to be found too, like exhilarating ziplines high above the island’s rainforest canopy or mud baths in Sulphur Springs, a geothermically active basin of hot springs and fumaroles within the the dormant Qualibou volcano in Soufrière.”
Hotels.com calls St. Lucia a “jaw-dropper of an island.” “A speck in the rugged chain of the Lesser Antilles that curve around the Eastern Caribbean region, it’s topped by 950-metre-high Mount Gimie. That’s actually an ancient volcano and the peak responsible for forging the massifs that carve up this gorgeous isle.”
Second on the list of top Caribbean spots is Barbados. “Sugar cane blows in the breeze in central Barbados, a reminder of the island’s rich rum culture,” says CNN.com. “Mount Gay Rum dates back to 1703 – and history suggests rum’s story in Barbados goes back even further. Visitors can take tours at a range of distilleries or stop into one of the island’s many rum shops to enjoy the spirit alongside locals. Soak it up with Bajan cuisine – a blend of African, Indian, Irish, Creole and British flavors.”
“Twenty-one miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados packs in plenty of treats to feast on, from botanic gardens to rum distilleries,” writes The Times of London. “And Bajan buses following the coastline — yellow with blue stripes and vibrating with reggae beats — are regular and cheap, providing an easy way of getting around the island. Sip a rum punch and kick off your flip-flops as you peruse a menu in the Caribbean’s culinary capital.”
Celebrity Cruises says Barbados “offers a perfect combination of delights for first-time visitors to the Caribbean…From the quaint English-influenced capital of Bridgetown to its beautiful beaches, and tasty Bajan cuisine, it’s a comfortable mix of familiar and unusual. Start at Carlisle Beach on the southwest coast, where you’ll find a boardwalk lined with restaurants, bars, and shops. The white sand and turquoise waters are a paradise for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, making this one of the best beaches in Barbados.”
Antigua is the Caribbean island best known for its five-star family fun, according to Indagare. “Easily accessed via direct flights from the U.S. and Europe, Antigua promises both leisure and adventure for travelers of all ages. Families flock to Oetker Collection’s upscale, all-inclusive private island Jumby Bay, which recently added 12 new suites with ocean views, spacious indoor/outdoor living spaces and private pools, all minutes away from the beach.”
“Antigua is home to a wealth of diverse beaches – 365, to be exact,” writes U.S. News Travel. “So whether you’re interested in grabbing a bite to eat at Valley Church Beach or seeking a more secluded, romantic vacation at Half Moon Bay, you likely won’t be disappointed. Plus, Antigua is where you’ll find some of the best resorts in the Caribbean. The island also offers historical attractions to recognize Antigua’s Colonial past, such as Nelson’s Dockyard, constructed by the British Navy using enslaved people for labor, and Betty’s Hope, an early sugar plantation.”
Hotels.com refers to Antigua as “the perfect combination of history and hanging loose.” “Antigua is a rum-based cocktail of colonial history and proper Caribbean rest and relaxation. The island isn’t a big one, but it sure packs a punch from its position in the east of the region. Sat somewhere between Guadeloupe and the British Virgin Islands, it’s known for its hammock-strewn palms, happy residents, and all-around easy feel.”
Online experts ranked Grenada as the fourth best Caribbean island to visit. “This diverse drop of land is exactly how you’ve always imagined the Caribbean to be: pristine, mostly empty world-class beaches; its own distinct cuisine (think nutmeg ice cream, coconut-sweetened stews, and bean-to-bar chocolates); and friendly, laid-back locals you’ll actually chat to,” writes The Times of London. “Yet, on an island of 105,000 people, there are only around 1,400 hotel beds. (St Vincent and the Grenadines — with a slightly larger population — has 2,500 hotel beds.) Consequently, Grenada feels almost devoid of tourists — the pace is slow, the sands peaceful, the people welcoming — and there is plenty of day-trip fodder to strap on your boots and backpack for. This is the island for those who thought they knew the Caribbean already.”
“Lovely beaches, blue seas, lush vegetation, friendly people… Whatever dreams you may have about the Caribbean, Grenada fulfills them all,” says Celebrity Cruises. “The white sand and clear waters of Grand Anse Beach have graced countless travel magazines. With one and a half miles of beach, you can find a quiet spot to take it all in.”
Capture the Atlas calls Grenada “one of the best Caribbean islands to explore.” “Grenada is one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean, specifically in the West Indies. The southwestern region of the island is particularly popular since it’s where you’ll find the capital city of St. George’s, a beautiful town with picturesque squares, charming homes, and a lively port. South of St. George’s, you can visit the idyllic beach of Grand Anse, which is considered one of the prettiest beaches on the planet. It has gorgeous sunsets, as the pinks and purples contrast perfectly with the warm golden sand and the aquamarine water. Another spot you should check out is Flamingo Bay and the nearby underwater sculptures, which you can see on this snorkeling tour.”
5. Puerto Rico
Rounding out the top five is Puerto Rico. “Just a four-hour direct flight from New York and a two-and-a-half-hour direct flight from Miami, Puerto Rico has a vibrant blend of cultures, as well as white-sand beaches and tropical rainforests ripe with adventure,” writes Indagare. “One of the best resorts on the island is the Ritz Carlton Reserve at Dorado Beach, set on a three-mile stretch of sandy paradise with lush gardens overflowing with coconut palms and pineapple trees (and a mesmerizing soundtrack of chirping coqui frogs). In addition to the guest rooms and suites spread across 11 two-story buildings, the property has two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom private residences, available for weekly rentals and ideal for families traveling with kids or those looking for a higher level of privacy and space.”
Conde Nast Traveller says Puerto Rico is the best Caribbean island for history and culture. “There’s a distinct energy to Puerto Rico, one that draws upon a fascinating blend of Hispanic, African, USA and Caribbean culture and history. To see it start in colonial San Juan, the second oldest European-founded city in the Americas. Head to the old town where cobblestone streets are lined with colorful Spanish buildings housing trendy bars, boutique shopping and all-night entertainment.”
“Puerto Rico is where the USA meets the Caribbean. A huge, bean-shaped island that’s situated between the BVI and the Dominican Republic, it’s long been a favored getaway for North American snowbirds due to the abundance of direct flights into San Juan. Join them and you’ll get to explore a place of roaring surf breaks and enthralling colonial history,” notes Hotels.com. “Start in San Juan itself, a city with a UNESCO-listed core of old coral stone forts and Spanish-styled cantinas. From there, you can head west to the surf mecca of Rincon to score barrels, or head to the mountains to wander through cloud forests in the company of parakeets at El Yunque and beyond.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Hotels In The Caribbean
- Best All-Inclusive Caribbean Resorts
- Best All-Inclusive Resorts Outside the Caribbean
- Best Cancun Hotels
- U.S. News Travel
- Travel + Leisure
- Conde Nast Traveller
- Conde Nast Traveller
- The Times of London
- Celebrity Cruises
- Capture the Atlas
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.