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Beach Island Outdoors

The 10 Best Beaches in the Caribbean for a Relaxing Escape

[st_content_ad]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.

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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.

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Maracas Bay, Trinidad and Tobago

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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.

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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.

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Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

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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.

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Pink Sands Beach, Bahamas

 

pink sands beach harbour island 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.

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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.

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Playa Porto Mari, Curacao

playa porto mari beach curacao aerial view.

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.

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Bathsheba Beach, Barbados

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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.

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Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands

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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.

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Sarah Schlichter traveled to Turks and Caicos as a guest of Ocean Club Resorts. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at sschlichter@smartertravel.com.

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