If you’re looking for a tropical getaway, the Caribbean Sea’s warm waters and hopping islands are a must. Whether you’re into thrills like snorkeling and zip lining or more laid-back activities like beach reading and sipping a cocktail, there’s something for everyone in the Caribbean.
But which paradise should you explore first? Read on to learn more about our top Caribbean island destinations. Royal Caribbean sails to all 10, so start planning your dream vacation now!
To put it simply, you have to see Perfect Day at CocoCay to believe it. Royal Caribbean’s new private island paradise (opening in May 2019) in The Bahamas will let guests of all ages plunge down the tallest water slide in North America or relax on the beach, seamlessly blending “thrill” and “chill.”
Want more excitement? Hop on a helium balloon to soar up to 450 feet above the ground or kick back at the swim-up bar at Oasis Lagoon. Two of our best ships for short getaways, Mariner and Navigator of the Seas, will join eight others in sailing to this island paradise. Mariner was recently amplified offering a whole new set of adventures, eats, staterooms and entertainment on board, and Navigator will be newly reimagined as well at the end of February 2019.
Are you looking forward to vegging out on a beautiful beach or are you an adrenaline junkie? Either way, this private Royal Caribbean destination on the north coast of Haiti is the spot for you. A gorgeous cove backed by jungle-covered mountains, Labadee lets you sink into white sand and savor stunning 180-degree ocean views or fly down the island’s 500-foot-high zip line—the world’s longest over water and certainly one of the most amazing on the planet.
There’s something for everyone in Mexico, and in Cozumel, we recommend visiting the numerous Mayan ruins first. After exploring the island’s incredible ancient sites, including San Gervasio—hidden deep in a lush jungle—try scuba diving (a top activity here) or visit the mainland historic site of Tulum, which stands on a bluff overlooking the sea. The Mayans loved beachfront property as much as the rest of us!
On Jamaica’s northern coast, Falmouth was a center for dramatic social change during the British colonial period—among the 19th-century Georgian architecture that remains, there is plenty to see and do. Today’s Falmouth is all about adventures in nature, like the spectacular Dunn’s River Falls and exploring Negril’s beautiful beaches. When it’s time to grab a bite, there are plenty of must-try Jamaican eats, from famous jerk chicken to ackee fruit and salt fish.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
If shopping is your favorite pastime, don’t miss the most cosmopolitan of the U.S. Virgin Islands: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas is a duty-free shopping paradise. Be sure to pick up local spice mixes, hot sauces and tropical jams for friends, and some jewelry or fine linens for yourself.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
This Caribbean gem in the northeast is actually split in two parts: St. Maarten, the Dutch side, and St. Martin, the French side. Philipsburg, the Dutch side’s capital, displays its heritage with charming cobblestone streets and candy-colored buildings. There’s also the famous Maho Beach, where planes zoom overhead. Speed seekers can compete in a friendly yacht race or take a food tour to taste Dutch, French and Creole cooking (try the lobster!)
Did you know this southern Caribbean destination boasts more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year? A coral island, Barbados is home to white sand, blueish-green water and colorful reefs perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving among tropical fish, turtles and even shipwrecks!
Barbados is also the birthplace of rum. It’s definitely worth experiencing the history—and learning about rum’s age-old connection to pirates—at the Mount Gay Distillery, the oldest in the world, with a tour and tasting
Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis
Craving lush rainforests, rich history and once-in-a-lifetime adventures (lunch on a volcano anyone?). This off-the-beaten-path West Indies isle has it all, with more than a quarter of its land protected as a national park.
You can also explore manmade marvels in St. Kitts, like the 18th-century plantation homes in the capital of Basseterre, or take a day trip to sister island Nevis to see more colonial-era buildings and the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton (it’s still easier than seeing him on Broadway!)
Roatan is a western Caribbean jewel located off the coast of Honduras. Here you’ll find the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef—the Caribbean’s largest—which makes for epic snorkeling and kayaking adventures. See colorful corals and an array of marine life, including groupers, sea snails, rare seahorses and Gorgonian soft corals.
Looking for extreme adventure? Head into the jungle to zip line among the treetops and traverse suspension bridges for up-close viewing of tropical flowers, iguanas and birds.
The largest of the six islands that comprise the Netherlands Antilles, you might know Curacao for its distinctive blue liqueur—but Curacao has so much more.
Take a night stroll past the colorful Dutch-, Portuguese- and Spanish-influenced homes lining the port city of Willemstad or learn about maritime history on a fascinating journey to ancient forts. You can also explore the mangroves and lagoons on a speedboat tour of the island, making stops to snorkel in the crystal waters.