As we all know, the damage to a few of our beloved Caribbean islands was catastrophic. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and St. Maarten and are in the throes of rebuilding – and will be for a while. You might be wondering: how can I help? The best way to show your love and support is to book a trip to these destinations when they’re up and running.
However, here’s an article in the New York Daily News that has lots of good info about where you can go right now in the Caribbean and includes our awesome Rum Tour that benefits Tourism Cares, a non-profit that helps the travel industry, when you book. If you want to hear from one of our own, Dan Marmontello is interviewed in Thrillist about some amazing deals you can get in Punta Cana.
Nevertheless, we know how much you love the beach and are probably wondering where you can travel. Here are a few islands that are open for business and waiting for you.
1. Aruba. This lovely haven is south of the “hurricane belt” in the Lesser Antilles off the coast of Venezuela and is very easy to travel to. Dutch is the official language, but everyone speaks English and you can use U.S. currency. Turquoise water and white sands aplenty, this island also boasts lively tropical hues in downtown Oranjestad – the buildings are so colorful and happy. You can also dig into the succulent flavors of Euro-Caribbean fusion cuisine, along with world-class golfing and gambling. Barhopping aboard a psychedelic, wacky hand-painted ’57 Chevy bus called the Kukoo Kunuku is also a kick. Finally, you can’t go to Aruba without going to Eagle Beach to see the famous Divi tree. Its roughhewn beauty makes it a work of art and probably one of the most famous places to get your photo snapped.
2. Barbados. Also located in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados promises near perfect weather and pink, sandy beaches – a dream-come-true getaway. But it’s the Brit-centric culture of the island that makes it so chic and civilized – you gotta love their afternoon tea and cricket on the lawn. Most of the resorts, restaurants and island activity are in southern Barbados so you’ll want to hang here, but if you’re up for nature-oriented stuff, the eastern side of the island has breathtaking natural landscapes and wicked surf, including one of the best spots in the world for riding the waves – the Soup Bowl. Finally, Barbados flaunts its bragging rights as the birthplace of this delicious spirit, so you can’t leave the island until you sample a rum punch or two.
3. Curacao. Though the liquor Blue Curacao has contributed to the fame of this beautiful isle located 60 miles off the coast of Venezuela, there is much more going on here. The beaches are, you guessed it, heavenly. Scuba divers in particular will dig this sweet isle – there are over 60 dive spots. Nature lovers will be taken with the rugged landscape and the endless activities that include hiking, biking, and ATV tours. For a little European flavor, historic downtown Willemstad has lots of brightly colored buildings, bars and restaurants, plus a cool swinging bridge.
4. Antigua. You might not believe it, but this little nation in the West Indies has 365 beaches: one for every day of the year. However, our top three are: Half Moon Bay, where you can dig your toes into white sands, snorkel along coral reefs and dive into some terrific surfing and snorkeling; Pigeon Point (near Falmouth Harbor), where you’ll find more pearly white sand and finally, Antigua’s sister island, Barbuda, where you can marvel at their famous Pink Beach. Nelson’s Dockyard is a fun spot to hit for a little history about pirates and sailors, along with a bit to eat – there are lots of places to dine here. Zip lining, kayaking, even Segway tours are also on the island, so if you ever want a change from the beach (as if!), you’ve got it.
5. Grand Cayman. Located south of Cuba and northeast of Costa Rica, this island is a stunningly gorgeous wonderland – it’s poppin’ with things to do and the views are incredible. And talk about amazing beaches, Seven-Mile Beach is one of the most famous stretches of sand in the Caribbean, specifically, for its jaw-dropping beauty. Plus, it’s home to lots of cool bars and great places to eat. In addition to having wonderful snorkeling and scuba spots, you can shop duty-free in George Town. If you want to get even more up close and personal with marine life, Stingray City is a blast.
6. Turks and Caicos. Insanely beautiful and inherently romantic, these irresistible islands belong on your bucket list with their sugar sand, sparkling azure water and warm Caribbean sun. Located roughly between the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, they’re made up of 40 different islands and cays. However, only eight are inhabited, which makes them the ultimate escape from reality. Providenciales, referred to as “Provo,” is the main island and is where you’ll find most of the resorts, restaurants and attractions. Grand Turk is the capital island of Turks & Caicos, but compared to Provo, there’s more of a small-town vibe on this island. The sleepy little village of Salt Cay is well worth spending a day exploring.
7. St. Lucia. Situated 24 miles south of Martinique and long known as one of the places that Hollywood hides away, St. Lucia is dripping in awesome: mountains, lush flora and movie-worthy beaches. While you’re looking for celebs beneath their shades you can drive right up to the base of a volcano, splash around in a mineral spring and explore a rain forest. The waterfalls at Soufriere are a must-see, followed by a trek around Diamond Botanical Gardens. The most famous mountains are the Pitons, two green peaks that tower over the blue. You can climb them, if you’re a seasoned hiker; if not, kick back with a cocktail and snap some Selfies with this breath-stealing vista as your backdrop.
8. Jamaica. If you’ve never been to Jamaica and seen the color of the water, you must do this. It’s so blue you might not think it’s real. Add on top of this the lush mountainous terrain, the delicious cuisine (Jerk Chicken) and the warmth of the people and you’ve got an intoxicating kind of dream vacay. This blessed island in the West Indies (and 90 miles south of Cuba) also has multitudes of things to dive into: horseback riding, ATVs, waterfalls, snorkeling, dolphin encounters, bioluminescent lagoon tours and of course, a trip to see the final resting place of Bob Marley.
9. St. Kitts. This sunny locale is in the Leeward Islands, about 46 minutes by plane from the Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The white sand here is gorgeous, but there are also some incredible black sand beaches like Pump Bay or Belle Tete. If you’re into history, Brimstone Hill Fortress, known as “The Gibraltar of the West Indies” and Clay Villa Plantation are fun places to visit. For land and sea activities, there’s hiking and zip lining, as well as kayaking and oceans of water sports. But you can also just grab a cocktail and meditate on the sunsets, which is sometimes the very best kind of escape and exactly what you need.
10. Bonaire. Attention divers and snorkelers: this is your island. The entire coastline of this magical place has been protected for more than 30 years, which means the reefs are dramatically colorful. 1,000 Steps in particular is popular because of the abundance of staghorn coral and marine life. If you really want to get a deserted island feel, hop on a water taxi and head to No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire, a small, uninhabited island just a half mile offshore. Bring your dive/snorkeling gear because the visibility is excellent and the vibe is quiet and chill. But be sure to pack your bag with sunscreen, an umbrella for shade and eats because there are no refreshment stands. If you want more activities, head to Kralendijk (the capital), where you can check out the well-preserved architecture, seaside eateries and a bustling market.
11. Bahamas. Paradise Island, Grand Bahama, Nassau and The Abacos are four fabulous places to beach. Located 120 miles southeast of Florida, each island has its own personality. Paradise Island is known as the entertainment mecca of the Bahamas: you’ve got everything from snow-white beaches to nightclubs to museums. Of course, there’s every kind of water sport you can imagine here, too. Grand Bahama is known for its off-the-charts natural beauty and year-round tropical weather, along with the world’s largest underwater cave system. Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is a popular cruise-ship stop and has gorgeous offshore coral reefs, which are perfect for divers and snorkelers. The pastel-colored British colonial buildings give it that time-traveling kind of vibe, but trust us, it has every modern convenience you can think of. Finally, the Abacos, also known as the Out Islands, are known for spell-binding white sand, clearer-than-clear turquoise water and lots of sunny, small islands and cays. Even better, they’re mostly uncrowded. This means you’ll have your own Private Idaho, a veritable Beach Eden.
12. Dominican Republic. Officially known as the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is a two-hour plane ride from Miami. It’s home to pristine white sand and phenomenal turquoise water. In fact, Bavaro Beach near Punta Cana has been dubbed time again and included in the Travelers Choice Awards as one of the Top 25 Caribbean Beaches. In a word: paradise. Top destinations on the island are Punta Cana, Cap Cana, Puerto Plata and La Romana. Each of these cities have world-class resorts, restaurants and bars along with loads of super fun things to do like kitesurfing, scuba, sailing, deep-sea fishing, etc. Here, you can even get a pedicure from a school of fish, hang out with sea lions, and swim with nurse sharks at the Marinarium. Finally, a day trip to Soana Island from Punta Cana is one of the most enchanting things you’ll ever experience.
13. Mexico. The south side of this gorgeous country touches the Caribbean and is overflowing with beauty and excitement. Its world-famous, spectacular sunny locales include Cancun, Cozumel, and Playa del Carmen. Cancun is famous for the Hotel Zone, where you can do any and everything you want. It’s the epicenter of white sands, crystal clear water and tons of restaurants and bars, along with beachy fun any way you want it. Playa del Carmen is about an hour south of Cancun and promises beauteous beaches and ocean breezes. Tulum is in this area and is a must-visit: the Mayan ruins and the eco-boho feel of the town is unrivaled. Cozumel is a ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen and is known as THE snorkeling and scuba spot. Truth is, there are dreamtastic sandy spots in between all these cities that line the idyllic Yucatan Peninsula.
Though this is a long list, any of these beaches you choose are amazing. If you need help setting up your all-inclusive vacation package, just call 1-800-915-3162 and one of our Beachologists will do everything for you – soup to coconuts. Life is short. It’s time to beach.