There’s no shortage of things do in the Caribbean, from snorkeling and hiking to sailing along the coast with a rum punch in hand. But let’s face it, most people visit the islands for one main reason: to hit the beach. After all, there’s something about slipping your toes into soft white sand and looking out over shimmering turquoise waters that’s basically guaranteed to lower your blood pressure. But which stretches of sand are the best Caribbean beaches for your next trip?
Some of the following beaches made the list because they’re simply picture-perfect—like stepping into an Instagram shot. Others made the cut for the best Caribbean beaches because they have special features that make them unforgettable. (Pink sand, anyone?) For the perfect Caribbean vacation, pack your flip-flops and hit the sand at one of these beaches.
Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos
Picture the classic Caribbean beach, and it probably looks a lot like Grace Bay: a wide stretch of pristine, powdery-white sand fringed by curving palm trees on one side and clear azure waters on the other. Because it’s protected by an offshore barrier reef, this beach rarely sees large waves, making it family-friendly and ideal for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, and other watersports.
Where to stay: Most of the spacious, individually decorated condos at Ocean Club Resort feature full kitchens and laundry facilities. The resort is located right on Grace Bay Beach.
Check Prices for Ocean Club Resort in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
The Baths, British Virgin Islands
Massive volcanic rocks shelter a series of ocean pools and caves at the edge of this unique beach on the island of Virgin Gorda. It makes for an otherworldly place to swim or snorkel. When you reach the end of the caves, guided by ropes and ladders, you’ll emerge onto yet another lovely beach called Devil’s Bay.
Where to stay: The cozy Gordian Terrace offers 10 one- and two-bedroom condos with private balconies, refrigerators, and microwaves. It’s about a 20-minute drive from The Baths National Park.
Check Prices for Gordian Terrace in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Maracas Bay, Trinidad and Tobago
Maracas Bay is Trinidad’s most popular beach for many reasons: the scenic rainforest drive that brings you there, the lush hills that frame its soft sand, and the beachside vendors offering up the delicious local specialty: bake and shark. It consists of fried shark meat served on flatbread with your choice of toppings and sauces, from standard lettuce and tomatoes to citrusy tamarind or spicy pepper sauce.
Where to stay: Culture Crossroads Inn offers homey rooms and cheerful service in Port of Spain, less than 10 miles from Maracas Bay.
Check Prices for Culture Crossroads Inn in Port of Spain, Trinidad
Eagle Beach, Aruba
Sunny Aruba has no shortage of fantastic beaches, but Eagle Beach is the best of the bunch—spectacularly beautiful, not overly crowded, and home to a few of the island’s photogenic divi divi trees. Keep an eye out for the sea turtles that nest here.
Where to stay: MVC Eagle Beach is just across the street from the sand and sea. Freebies include Wi-Fi, beach chairs, and towels, and the on-site Tulip restaurant offers reasonably priced dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Check Prices for MVC Eagle Beach in Palm - Eagle Beach, Aruba
Sugar Beach, St. Lucia
Set between St. Lucia’s Twin Pitons, Sugar Beach—also known as Jalousie Beach—offers some of the most Insta-worthy views on this list, as well as some of the island’s best snorkeling. Many beachgoers stay at the eponymous luxury resort that overlooks the sand (see below), but day visitors are also welcome.
Where to stay: The splurge-worthy Sugar Beach, part of the luxury Viceroy chain, is the only hotel right on this stretch of sand. Each room comes with butler service and its own private plunge pool.
Check Prices for Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort in Soufriere, St. Lucia
Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas
The ultra-soft sand on Pink Sands Beach, located on quiet Harbour Island, gets its distinctive rosy hue from the breakdown of red- and pink-shelled organisms that live on the coral reefs offshore. You can easily swim out to the reefs for snorkeling, or stay on land and go for a horseback ride along the surf.
Where to stay: Located right on the beach of the same name, the Pink Sands Resort offers 29 cottages and villas, each decorated with breezy charm.
Check Prices for Pink Sands Resort in Harbour Island, Bahamas
Shoal Bay, Anguilla
A regular on “best Caribbean beaches” lists, Shoal Bay is a stunning stretch of powder-soft sand on the northern coast of Anguilla. You can go swimming or snorkeling right off the beach in its clear, calm waters, and there are plenty of dining options nearby when you’re ready for a break.
Where to stay: Many of the airy apartments at Shoal Bay Villas look out over the turquoise waters of Shoal Bay. The hotel’s beach chairs and umbrellas are complimentary for guest use, and the free Wi-Fi extends onto the beach.
Check Prices for Shoal Bay Villas in Shoal Bay Village, Anguilla
Playa Porto Mari, Curacao
Popular with tourists and locals alike, this laid-back Caribbean beach is the perfect spot to spend your vacation. There are beach chairs for rent, a dive shop, a bar, and a restaurant serving meals and drinks all day long. You might even spot a couple of wild pigs ambling through the sand. If you want to take a walk, there are nature trails accessible via the beach’s parking lot.
Where to stay: The studios and apartments at Jan Kok Lodges are centrally located within easy driving distance of Playa Porto Mari and numerous other attractions around the island. Each unit has its own private terrace.
Check Prices for Jan Kok Lodges in Curaçao, Caribbean
Bathsheba Beach, Barbados
If you like your beaches wild and rugged, head to the Atlantic coast of Barbados, where waves roll and crash into the large boulders at Bathsheba Beach. Strong currents and big waves make this a less-than-ideal spot for swimming, but it is popular with surfers and makes for dramatic photos.
Where to stay: Housed in a 19th-century building overlooking the ocean, the Round House Inn features five individually decorated rooms as well as a restaurant serving locally sourced Caribbean cuisine.
Check Prices for Round House Inn in Bathsheba, Barbados
Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands
This dreamy stretch of pure white sand is the center of the action on Grand Cayman. At Seven Mile Beach you’ll find dive shops, beach bars, seafood restaurants, and some of the island’s ritziest resorts. You can snorkel right off the beach or try your hand at stand-up paddleboarding in the calm waters offshore.
Where to stay: You can save hundreds of dollars a night by staying across the street from Seven Mile Beach at Sunshine Suites Resort, which offers beach access through its nearby sister property, the Westin. All rooms include full kitchens and free Wi-Fi.
Check Prices for Sunshine Suites Resort in Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
More from SmarterTravel:
- The Top 25 Ways to Save on a Caribbean Vacation
- What to Pack for the Caribbean: 35 Essentials
- Which Caribbean Island Is Right for You?
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.