Choosing the right island can definitely make a difference to your vacation experience. Many travelers assume that the Caribbean islands are all the same, with beautiful beaches, lots of sunshine, and warm turquoise waters. . . and most islands offer much of the above. I say most because the islands of Dominica and Saba are not on any beach lovers list.
In addition to spending time on the beach, most vacationers enjoy a particular lifestyle or activities such as: Shopping, Gambling, Nightlife, Tranquility and seclusion, Hiking, Golf, Photography and nature, History buffs, and archeology, snorkeling, diving, sailing, all inclusive, islands for the whole family, and the list goes on.
Just remember that when you spend your hard-earned money, choosing the right Caribbean island will ensure you have the “perfect” Caribbean vacation.
SHOPPING IN THE CARIBBEAN: You can shop on any island, but if you’re looking for a “shop ’til you drop” experience, head to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands or Curacao (pronounced cura-uh-sow) . Both islands boast extensive shops, stores, and designer boutiques that rival any American or European city. Other islands that offer a variety of shopping are Barbados, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, and St Martin/St Maarten.
CARIBBEAN GAMING CASINOS: The largest gaming casinos in the Caribbean are located in Aruba, The Bahamas (Cable Beach and Paradise Island), Curacao, San Juan, St Croix and St Maarten.
Barbados and Jamaica only have slot machines. Antigua, Belize, Bonaire, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Kitts, Saint Vincent, and the Turks and Caicos Islands have much smaller gaming operations.
CARIBBEAN NIGHTLIFE – Lots of fun when the Caribbean sun goes down can be found in Barbados, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Martin/St. Martin and St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
QUIET AND SECLUDED: Travelers looking for a quieter, more secluded vacation will find it on Parrot Cay, which is located in Turks & Caicos, St Kitts, St Vincent & The Grenadines, and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
HIKING IN THE CARIBBEAN – Dominica – Valley of Desolation and Boiling Lake; Dominican Republic – Ascent to Pico Duarte (the highest peak in the Caribbean); Grenada – Mount Qua Qua; Guadeloupe – La Soufriere Volcano; Jamaica-Blue Mountains; Puerto Rico-El Yunque National Forest; St. Kitts-Bloody Rivers Creek; Tobago-Little Tobago Cay; Trinidad – Asa Wright Nature Center; and the US Virgin Islands – 2/3 of the island of St John is a nature reserve.
GOLF – The best golf courses in the Caribbean are found on the islands of Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Nevis, Puerto Rico, St Croix and St Thomas.
CARIBBEAN PHOTOGRAPHY AND NATURE – Dominica, Jamaica, St John, St Lucia are wonderful islands for photography and nature lovers. In fact Dominica is called the natural island of the Caribbean.
HISTORY AND ARCHEOLOGY Buffs will find the Caribbean islands of Barbados, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico quite interesting.
SNORKELING: Antigua, Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Curacao Marine Park, Saint Martin, The Grenadines, Tobago, Saint Thomas, Turks and Caicos Islands, St Croix and St John offer the best snorkeling in all the Caribbean islands.
DIVING: Caribbean diving enthusiasts prefer Bonaire, Grand Cayman, Saba, The Bahamas, St Croix, Turks & Caicos and Virgin Gorda.
SAILING – The best sailing in the Caribbean can be found in Antigua, Barbados, St. Martin, The Grenadines, the US Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands.
CARIBBEAN ALL INCLUSIVE – Both Jamaica and the Dominican Republic do not have an infrastructure for tourism. That’s why both islands offer a plethora of all-inclusive hotels and resorts. Jamaica is the largest island in the Caribbean and has many points of interest, however the roads are extremely poor. It should be noted that Jamaica is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, and travelers should be careful when choosing which part of Jamaica to visit. English is spoken in the tourist areas, however once you enter the Dominican countryside, Spanish is required.
FAMILY FRIENDLY CARIBBEAN ISLANDS: Anguilla, Antigua, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Tobago, and Turks & Caicos. Additionally, the Four Seasons on the island of Nevis offers an excellent children’s program, and all Hyatt Regency resorts throughout the Caribbean offer family vacations.
Hopefully, this will provide travelers with a guide to choosing a Caribbean island that suits any lifestyle.