These 17 Beautiful Caribbean Islands Will Transport You to Paradise

drone photo of pier in grace bay, providenciales, turks and caicos
17 of the Most Beautiful Caribbean IslandsJoaoBarcelos - Getty Images

Whether you pronounce it kar-eh-bee-uhn as Mirriam-Webster says or kr-i-bee-uhn as Google suggests, the Caribbean region is famed for its beauty worldwide. Think pristine aqua waters, sugar sand beaches, and sun-dappled mountain peaks. But with over 7,000 islands, it can be hard to navigate what's worth a visit. Luckily, we've rounded up the most beautiful islands in the area, from well-known destinations to hidden gems and everything in between.

The islands are calling with their brilliant white beaches and lush rainforests, so why not plan a trip to one? Here we rounded up 17 of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean for couples and families alike to help you discover your next destination. Whether you are a first timer or a frequent visitor, these gorgeous places in the Caribbean are sure to wow you with their resplendent aqua waters and sun-dappled mountain peaks. Some of these picks are well known, while others are hidden gems—but all are worth visiting at least once.

You can explore white sand beaches and some of the most beautiful countries around the world, but we're willing to bet you'll want to head back to the Caribbean time and time again. There's just something special about putting on your bathing suit, ordering a tropical cocktail (or mocktail), sitting under a palm tree and completely unplugging from the rest of the world. Now you just need to pick out your next relaxing vacation destination from this list of beautiful Caribbean islands—just don't forget to add on that upgrade (we promise, it'll be worth the splurge!).

Saint Barts

For the disposition of the French countryside (French is its official language) in the laid-back, sunny Caribbean, make your way to Saint Barts’s rolling hills and turquoise waters. Its high-end restaurants, upscale hotels, and designer stores invite many visitors by yacht or private plane, or you can fly to a nearby island and take transportation to it.

aerial view of st barths, french west indies
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Grand Cayman

Come to Grand Cayman for the white beaches (don’t miss Seven Mile Beach), but stay for the food at the culinary capital of the Caribbean. Snorkeling and diving is fantastic all over the island, but a highlight is exploring the Kittiwake Shipwreck for a unique dive site. Grand Cayman is the largest of the Cayman Islands, but you can also visit Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

aerial view of stingrays at stingray city on grand cayman
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Saint Croix

No passport is needed to get to the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands! There you’ll have your choice of lively beaches (like Rainbow Beach) and secluded beaches, and you might even see a sea turtle on the beach at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge. Be sure to explore Buck Island right off the island’s northeast coast too.

palm trees on st croix beach
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Virgin Gorda

For a slow paced island, make your way to Virgin Gorda. It has scenic, quiet beaches like Spring Bay and Savannah Bay, but there’s also a reason more people make their way to explore large rock boulders and sea grottos at The Baths in the southwestern end of the island. Explore the northeastern side of the island for the most dramatic scenery.

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This small hidden gem of a French Caribbean island is known as the rum capital of the world, so be sure to visit at least one of its historic distilleries. Located between Dominica and St. Lucia, it of course has its fare share of beautiful beaches too, with Anse Dufour being arguably one of the most beautiful and Grande Anse du Diamant being one of the largest.

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With 45 beaches and countless remote coves, this independent island boasts mountainous rain forests in its interior, like one giant, lush garden. Many of its hotels, resorts, and restaurants are family-owned, and locals are known for their hospitality and friendliness. As its nickname “Spice of the Caribbean” connotes, its production of nutmeg and other spices make the island breeze aromatic and sweet.

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Saint Martin

Nicknamed “The Friendly Island,” this beachy destination is Dutch Sint Maarten on its south end and French Saint Martin on the north end, offering the distinct cultures of both. Its 37 beaches are ripe for swimming and snorkeling alike, and some are only accessible by hiking trail or boat. For a beach break, you can wander the cobblestone streets of Dutch Philipsburg and take in the views from the ruins of Louis Fort.

aerial view of islands of st maarten
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Saint Kitts and Nevis

This two-island nation is underdeveloped and perfect for travelers who love nature and a relaxed getaway to sandy beaches and lush rainforests. While there, you can tour one of the oldest rum distilleries in the Caribbean at Old Rum Road Company and explore a rainforest farm at Liamuiga Natural Farm on Mount Laimuiga on Saint Kitt’s. If you stay on Saint Kitts, take a day trip over to the less developed Nevis (or vice-versa) and explore their hiking trails and Botanical Gardens.

a view of nevis island
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Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia's white beaches shimmer, and its awe-inspiring Piton Mountains peak up above behind it, with lush leafy palms and fruit trees blossoming in between. Further inland you can hike through the rainforest that takes up 70 percent of the island, or you can traverse to get a picture-perfect view of Marigot Bay or Rodney Bay Village or visit the Caribbean’s only "drive-in volcano" in Soufrière.

st lucia's twin pitons at sunrise
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No, not the Dominican Republic. Dominica remains the best-kept secret in the region and is without a doubt one of the area's most beautiful islands. Dominica is called "the nature island" of the Caribbean—and for good reason. Amid its lush and protected interior, it has the best hiking in the area, including the longest continuous trail, the 115-mile Waitukubuli Trail. This volcanic isle also boasts a river for every day of the year, with 365 freshwater streams in its verdant, jungle footprint.

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Andros, Bahamas

Of the Bahamas' nearly 700 islands, Andros is the largest and feels like an unspoiled escape. Known as the Blue Hole Capital of the World, Andros offers the Caribbean's signature turquoise waters and the recognizable beauty of more than 150 blue holes; some are even preserved in the 40,000-acre Blue Holes National Park. The island is also home to the world's third-largest barrier reef.

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Bonaire is famed as a diver's paradise for its 85+ dive sites, but there's more to this little island's beauty than the deep blue sea (it is noteworthy, though, that 100% of the ocean surrounding the island is a protected marine park). Beyond that, colorful architecture in the capital Kralendijk, the dreamy salt pans full of flamingos, and the Netherlands' oldest national park are just a few of the compelling reasons to visit this small Dutch overseas territory.

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Antigua, Antigua & Barbuda

Much of Antigua's beauty stems from its famous white sand beaches, but the sweeping harbor views offered at Shirley Heights in the island's southern reaches are some of the prettiest vistas in the entire Caribbean. There, sparkling white yachts stand out against the aquamarine water. Antigua's intricate coastline, rife with bays and natural harbors, makes it an especially attractive destination.

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This Dutch tropical escape stuns in the Southern Caribbean with more than 35 beaches and the colorful, UNESCO-recognized capital city of Willemstad. Multiple national parks help preserve local flora and fauna and keep part of the island wild.

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Saint John

In terms of natural beauty, no other island can compete with Saint John in the United States Virgin Islands. Virgin Islands National Park, one of the nation's least visited, covers ⅔ of the island, preserving it for generations to come. Rolling hills, lush with vegetation, tumble into the sea and provide excellent outlooks for sweeping vistas from this island paradise.

aerial view of sailboats in sanders bay, charlotte amalie, saint john, united states virgin islands
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Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos is a well-known destination in the Caribbean, though its star is the island of Providenciales. Its massive Grace Bay Beach, often called the world's most beautiful, features calm, turquoise waters emblematic of the region.

drone photo of pier in grace bay, providenciales, turks and caicos
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An especially luxe isle, Anguilla is an Eastern Caribbean gem. The island is a British overseas territory famous for palm-fringed beaches, upscale hotels, and the second-largest barrier reef in the world. Don't miss the limestone cave formations which decorate many of the gorgeous 33 public beaches.

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