MUST visit Aruba - Southern Caribbean itineraries are your best bet. Or, maybe all you want to do is sample the finest scuba diving sites - start your search with Western Caribbean itineraries including Grand Cayman. But no matter where you go, you're bound to discover a world of unforgettable fun.
The Eastern Caribbean offers a wider variety of cruise options than any other part of the globe. Here, ships visit some of the Caribbean's most developed ports of call, making them the preferred choice for many first-time cruisers. You'll find a diversity of well-organized activities, ranging from snorkeling and fishing excursions to shopping trips and history-filled sightseeing tours. Eastern Caribbean itineraries also tend to have a more relaxed pace, allowing guests more days at sea to unwind and enjoy all of the superliner's onboard amenities.
Learn about some of the most popular Eastern Caribbean Ports:
The Western Caribbean has also earned much worldwide praise, especially from adventurous cruisers. Plunge into unparalleled snorkeling and diving opportunities, along with an abundance of fascinating historic sites.
Learn about some of the most popular Western Caribbean destinations:
Off the beaten track, the Southern Caribbean is a relatively undiscovered oasis. But with truly spectacular vacation experiences around every hidden cove, this tropical region is home to some of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets. Discover thriving rainforests, majestic volcanoes, incredible snorkeling and scuba diving, pristine beaches, charming boutique shops, and world-class dining.
Learn about some of the most popular Southern Caribbean destinations:
Cool and refreshing trade winds caress this beautiful, unspoiled paradise. The infamous pirate Blackbeard once ruled the waters off Antigua, but today the island's shores are a haven where everyone can enjoy wind surfing, jet-skiing, and deep-sea fishing. Scuba divers can choose between exploring the many shallow coral reefs and delving deeper to swim through the labyrinth of 200 old shipwrecks. Once considered a treacherous natural barrier for marauding enemy ships, the coral reefs now attract snorkelers and scuba divers from all over the world. And the fascinating neighboring isle of Barbuda - once a scavenger's paradise because so many ships wrecked on its reefs - is now home to one of the region's most significant bird sanctuaries.
A land of welcoming smiles, beautiful beaches, and perfect weather. On this island paradise, you'll enjoy some of the Caribbean's best dining - a fantastic choice of restaurants and cafés can be found in town and all across the island. Aruba also boasts fabulous watersports, including sailing, diving, windsurfing, and deep-sea fishing. For terrific shopping, visit Oranjestad, the Royal Plaza, and the trendy international shops at Seaport Village. For exciting entertainment, catch up with Lady Luck at any number of fun-filled casinos. Must-see attractions and activities include the Guadirikiri cave and a four-wheel-drive safari.
One of the most popular resort areas in the Caribbean, the multi-island paradise of the Bahamas is packed with activities for every age and taste. These range from a variety of watersports and sunbathing on first-class beaches to duty-free shopping and championship golf. Grand Bahama Island, often called the Sporting Capital of the Caribbean, pulses with every sport imaginable on land and sea, plus the most popular casino games in the capital of Freeport; simply put, the largest island in the Bahamas offers an abundance of thrills for active vacationers.
A narrow causeway connects New Providence Island's popular beach city of Nassau to a little slice of Eden, appropriately named Paradise Island. Here, pristine white sands inspire total relaxation and daydreaming, while the sparkling blue waters invite scuba diving and snorkeling. And you're sure to fall under the spell of Junkanoo, the distinctive feel-good dance music of the Bahamas. Long after you leave the vibrant world of the Bahamas, sun-splashed memories of its natural beauty, colorful traditions, and tropical charm will warm your heart.
Miles of shimmering beaches graced by towering palms help make the coral island of Barbados a nature lover's paradise. The mild south coast and brilliant west coast, often called the "Platinum Coast", are perfect spots for swimming and diving. Renowned for its rugged natural beauty, the east coast is ideal for tropical safaris and surfing. Discover the myriad of British influences across the small tropical island. Watch a world-class cricket match virtually any time of year at Kensington Oval. And golfers will love the island's excellent championship courses. Hunt for bargains on high-quality, tax-free goods in the shops of Bridgetown. Visit rustic beach bars and romantic restaurants serving everything from delicious island specialties to gourmet international cuisine. After sampling the lifeblood of Barbados in countless rum shops, swing to calypso and reggae music in the nightclubs of St. Lawrence Gap.
Over the last two decades, Bonaire has consistently ranked as the finest snorkeling and scuba diving destination in the Caribbean. A major reason for this prominence is the island's diligent stewardship of its marine resources - all of the waters off Bonaire's coast have been legally protected since 1979, and it shows. But there is plenty more to do here. The unusually steady trade winds that wash over the island create ideal conditions for world-class windsurfing, and the sere beauty of its semi-desert landscape is home to an outlandish assortment of wildlife. Iguanas meditatively toast themselves atop the desert rock formations of Washington Slagbaai, while vast orange-pink clouds of flamingoes drift across bone-white salt flats. Divi-divi trees bend into surreal sculptures of the wind itself, and towering cacti stand as reminders of the Caribbean's diverse ecology.
Known for their sheltered, clear-blue sailing waters and the stunning beauty of their mountainous terrain, the British Virgin Islands lie some 60 miles east of Puerto Rico. Although there are 50 islands and cays dotting the sparkling blue sea, many of them are uninhabited. Chiefly volcanic in origin with the exception of the coral and limestone Anegada, most of the islands are grouped around the Sir Francis Drake Channel, named after the daring British adventurer who launched an attack here against the Spanish in 1595.
The British Virgin Islands are a special place. The climate is almost perfect. Because of their position within the trade wind belt, the islands have a balmy, subtropical climate. Temperatures average about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At night the temperatures may drop about ten degrees, for refreshingly cool evenings.
Nature lovers will marvel at the exotic variety of flora. From lush palm groves with tropical fruit trees to rolling hills of cacti, loblolly, frangipani, and wild tamarind, it's a garden paradise. In the valleys, be sure to stop to smell the many brilliant blooms, including hibiscus, bougainvillea, and flamboyant. Along the seashores, admire the wind-sculpted sea grape trees and pick the perfect bunch of mouthwatering treats for the scenic walk ahead.
Between pirate lore and British flair, you'll find surprises at every corner ... but it's no secret this hotspot is famous for its world-class diving, rum cakes, and Seven Mile Beach. The island trio consists of Grand Cayman, largest and most populous, and the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. All three islands are surrounded by healthy coral reefs that lie atop dramatic walls and underwater cliffs close to shore, creating ideal conditions for diving and sportfishing.
Located just 35 miles from South America and renowned for its diving, this Caribbean hotspot is relatively undiscovered compared to its smaller sister island, Aruba. Curaçao combines the beauty of the tropics with Dutch flair and Latin energy to create the perfect vacation oasis. Willemstad, the island's charming capital, is home to the best Caribbean-style architecture in the West Indies. You'll savor a range of cuisine as eclectic as the population - everything from Swiss to Indonesian fare.
And there's plenty to do. It's a beach paradise for diving, jet-skiing, and fishing. Dance to live salsa, admire Caribbean-style architecture, and visit the many exotic wildlife parks.
Snorkel or scuba dive at approximately 100 different sites, and admire exotic reef life in a turquoise sea boasting 60 to 150 feet of visibility. Sunbathe on white-sand beaches or take the kids to Ostrich Farm. In town, enjoy quaint duty-free boutiques, thrilling casinos, and live salsa or jazz. For a little adventure, climb Mt. Christoffel and explore the incredible Hato Caves.
Curaçao is also a great spot for bargain-hunters. The duty-free shopping makes for some of the best deals in the Caribbean on imported electronic equipment, china, crystal, jewelry, linens, and perfume.
The Dominican Republic occupies two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. With an area of 48,670 square kilometers, it is the second largest country in the Antilles. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north; the Caribbean Sea to the south; the Mona Passage, which separates it from the island of Puerto Rico, to the east; and the Republic of Haiti, with which it shares the island, to the west.
Despite a wide variety of watersports, nightlife, and shopping possibilities, Punta Cana remains one of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets. Savor delectable fresh seafood, great golf courses, festive theme nights, and magnificent beaches. La Romana, located on the eastern end of the Dominican Republic, is a prime destination for lovers of beachside relaxation, championship golf, and charming shopping spots. Go windsurfing, canoeing, or snorkeling in the spectacular blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. For sightseeing off the beaten path, wander through the artists' village of Altos de Chavon; this re-creation of a 16th-century Italian hillside town features quaint architecture, cobblestone streets, delightful shops, and fine dining. Along the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, you'll find the best beaches are in the lovely resort of Puerto Plata.
Grenada is a rolling, mountainous island, covered with fragrant spice trees and rare tropical flowers. Bordered by stunning beaches and dotted with picturesque towns, this verdant island has long been a major source of nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa. The seductive aroma of almonds and nutmeg drifts through the colorful Saturday markets and Grenada's dense forests. In the interior of this volcanic island are cascading rivers and waterfalls, lush rainforests, and one of the most breathtakingly beautiful mountain lakes imaginable. The capital, St. George's, is widely held to be the loveliest city in the Caribbean. Its horseshoe-shaped harbor is surrounded by a pastel rainbow of dockside warehouses and the red-tiled roofs of traditional shops and homes.
Grenada's physical beauty is complemented by its rich history and vibrant cultural heritage. Local festivals, fairs, and markets remain an integral part of life on Grenada. Its centuries-old spice plantations and rum distilleries still use traditional methods, emphasizing quality rather than quantity. Although the tourist industry has become more substantial in recent years, the island's easy rhythms and the friendly openness of its residents evoke an untouched environment that has long since vanished in some of the more traveled parts of the Caribbean.
For many visitors, of course, the measure of any island is taken by its beaches and coral reefs, and Grenada offers plenty of both. The island is ringed with miles of picture-perfect strands, including both entrancing black-sand and white-powder beaches. Saunter the world-famous Grand Anse Beach, a smooth expanse stretching for two miles around the curve of a gentle bay. For offshore pursuits, the island has plenty of easily accessible and pristine reefs off the coast.
A sassy blend of French culture and Creole esprit spice up this gorgeous tropical island, known for its stunning natural wonders and local charm. Discover sugar-white beaches, the volcano of La Soufriere, the triple waterfalls of the Carbet, endless plantations, old mills, quaint hamlets, and picturesque fishing villages. Guadeloupe is actually made up of two main islands - Grande-Terre to the east and Basse-Terre to the west - each with completely different, striking landscapes. Basse-Terre is a land of forest-covered mountains and volcanic peaks, with lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and mountain trails. In contrast, Grand-Terre is full of sugarcane fields and low, chalky hills lined with stunning white-sand beaches ideal for sunbathing.
Adventure and intrigue await those who venture off the beaten path of the Caribbean and explore the unspoiled beaches, colorful streets and untouched natural beauty of the nation of Haiti. A mountainous land with a dramatic coastline, Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
The pristine coastline of Haiti is an ideal haven for sun-worshippers. From the black-sand beaches near Jacmel to the numerous and lovely palm-lined beaches near the capital, Haiti has a beach for everyone. For a true visit to paradise, spend some time in Labadie, a strip of land on the secluded Pointe Ste. Honore near Cape Haitien - this is the ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, and nature walks.
Anyone in search of truly unique and creative craftsmanship will be delighted by what can be found here. The artwork is internationally renowned for its originality and quality. The styles from which to choose range from rudimentary designs to sophisticated gallery-caliber works of art. Handicrafts can be found all over the island and make great gifts, as does a bottle of the famous Haitian rum.
Jamaica is mellow and magical, moving to a rhythm all its own. From spectacular sunsets to spicy flavors, Jamaica is full of color and life. Sink your toes in the sands of Negril's famous beaches. Marvel at Dunn's River Falls in Ocho Rios. One of Jamaica's best-kept secrets is Treasure Bay, which offers a striking beach and uncrowded landscape. Mayfield Falls, about an hour from Montego Bay or Negril, features pools, caves, and several natural whirlpools. And the weather couldn't be better with 86°F days and 68°F nights.
In Jamaica, music is everywhere. From beach parties to the local discos, the island moves to the soulful sounds of calypso, soca (a soul-calypso fusion), and reggae. And the island's blend of ethnic traditions is apparent in its cuisine, with a melting pot of Arawak Indian, Spanish, African, Indian, Middle Eastern, Chinese, and British influences. Try a breakfast of skyjuice (shaved ice mixed with syrup) and ackee (a tree-grown fruit). At dinner, sample a local specialty such as jerk chicken, then top off your meal with a steaming cup of Blue Mountain Java.
The laidback lifestyle, Caribbean flair, and relatively mild climate of Martinique make it the preferred off-the-beaten-path destination for many. Its average temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the weather "just right" all year. Gentle breezes blowing easterly and northeasterly, known as the Alizes, constantly balance the abundance of hot sunshine with refreshing trade winds. Unwind in the piano bars and café-theaters in Fort de France or its suburbs. Here, you can relax while having a cocktail and listening to music played by a small orchestra. The style of music is quite eclectic: jazz, French pop, Caribbean, or Brazilian. In some friendly venues, you can even take the microphone and sing one of your favorite tunes yourself.
From cobblestone streets and lush rainforests to hip nightclubs and casinos with Vegas-style shows, Puerto Rico is a crowd-pleaser. The scintillating rhythms of salsa music contrast the quaint streets of Old San Juan. Beyond the vibrant city, the island is blessed with myriad resorts, white-sand beaches, historical sights, and a majestic rainforest. You'll find countless opportunities for fun, including deep-sea fishing, shopping, golfing, tennis, hiking, dramatic cave trails, horseback riding, horse racing, and world-class surfing.
Nature enthusiasts adore St. Kitts because of the great floral diversity and beautiful landscapes. The lush vegetation that covers the island ranges from intriguing rainforests and mystical cloud forests to grassy lowlands. Surrounding this verdant panorama are tranquil, uncrowded beaches. Flowering vines such as bougainvillea and hibiscus lace the sides of Mt. Liamuiga, the island's highest point. From its peak, you'll find breathtaking views of the sister island, Nevis, and the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Plunge into watersports galore or enjoy tennis, golf, and horseback riding. In the evenings, Basseterre offers exciting casinos and discos as well as quiet, intimate spots to hear some unforgettable island music.
Natural wonders abound on this exotic island paradise, where the lush green wilderness, fragrant flowers, and array of tropical birds are perfectly complemented by miles upon miles of soft white-sand beaches. For nature lovers, a trip to the St. Lucia Rain Forest Reserve is a must, as it covers ten percent of the island and is filled with giant ferns, towering bamboo, and a multitude of birds and animals. Some of St. Lucia's other natural wonders include sulfur springs, a pair of towering volcanic peaks - the Pitons - which were immortalized in the Hollywood blockbuster Jurassic Park
, and the mysterious rock formations surrounding Mount Soufriere, a volcano perfect for driving and hiking tours.
Beyond St. Lucia's great outdoors, there is plenty of island-style excitement closer to town. Revel in the weekly Jump Up party, a colorful celebration of reggae, steel drum bands, and non-stop dancing. After enjoying watersports and duty-free shopping, you can find tropical bliss just daydreaming in a beachfront hammock.
Visiting this island is like taking a vacation in two different countries at the same time. Peacefully shared by the French and the Dutch, this beautiful oasis offers both Caribbean sophistication and easy-going Caribbean charm. The French side, St. Martin, is a culinary nirvana, complete with bistros, cafés, and fabulous Parisian-style restaurants. In the absence of casinos and loud nightclubs, it is also a place for peaceful walks and quiet, romantic evenings. The pleasantly relaxed atmosphere extends to the miles of powdery beaches and the streets of Marigot, the capital. The Dutch side, St. Maarten, is just a short drive away. Philipsburg, the capital, is a bustling cosmopolitan town where glitzy casinos, excellent duty-free shopping, and lively bars offer plenty of excitement for everyone. Not to be missed is a trip to the fishing village of Grande Case, heralded as the gourmet capital of the Caribbean. But fine food and entertainment are not the only pleasures found here. The island has 37 unique beaches, most of which offer secluded hideaways. Almost every watersport imaginable is available, including favorites like snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing, and windsurfing. For land activities, a few popular possibilities are horseback riding, golf, and tennis. With a distinctly fine blend of culture, beauty, and entertainment, the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten is sure to enchant all who visit.
The tranquil Turks & Caicos Islands constitute a small archipelago of eight major islands and numerous uninhabited cays. Surrounded by spectacular turquoise waters and pristine coral reefs, the islands boast 230 miles of fine white-sand beaches. This unspoiled oasis, located 575 miles south of Miami and 39 miles southeast of the Bahamas, is the preferred winter hideaway for many celebrities due to its stunning beauty and secluded ambience. The Caicos Islands are to the west and consist of West Caicos, Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, East Caicos, and South Caicos. To the east are the Turks Islands: Grand Turk (the capital island) and Salt Cay.
The U.S. Virgin Islands are visited by approximately two million tourists each year and are comprised of three major islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. Offering some of the best shopping in the region, St. Thomas is the #1 cruise port in the Caribbean. Much of lovely St. John is an unspoiled tropical wilderness, boasting some of the world's finest ecotourism. With average temperatures ranging from 77 degrees Fahrenheit in winter to 82 degrees Fahrenheit in summer, the U.S. Virgin Islands is an ideal destination any time of the year.