If you live on the east coast of the United States and have taken a trip or two out of the country, chances are at least one of them has been to a Caribbean island. I’ve been to quite a few myself, but since I can’t write about every single one in one post, I’ve decided to pick my top 5. Whether you want to daydream about a tropical get away or are planning a summer vacation to paradise, take this list into consideration.
I have chosen Cozumel as my number 5 top island because it is a beautiful island with a lot to offer, but I didn’t get to see enough to bump it up on the list. I spent a total of 8 hours on Cozumel while on a cruise during my sophomore year in high school. While we were there we elected to be shipped off on a bus to a newly renovated junkyard for a day of zip-lining, which was awesome. No, we weren’t zipping around through the lush jungles next to parrots and over waterfalls, but that doesn’t mean the experience wasn’t exhilarating. The weather on the island was gorgeous- sunny and very warm but not overly humid, just how I like it.
4. Grand Cayman.
This island was another cruise destination, and if speaking purely in terms of appearance, it is the most beautiful one I’ve come across in my travels. Featuring near-white sand and the clearest blue water I’ve yet to see, this place is any island lover’s paradise. Our day on Grand Cayman was spent snorkeling at a resort beach, so I’m not able to speak too much on what activities the island has to offer, but it is perfect for those looking for a place to relax near the water. An all inclusive spa resort trip would be heaven here.
Just to preface, my experience in the Bahamas included staying at Atlantis on Paradise Island, so naturally it was bound to be a good one. I did, however, also visit New Providence Island, the location of the capital, for a quick day trip. The water here is so clear you can see your feet, and sometimes even fish and other sea creatures, at the bottom of the ocean while swimming and the locals are so friendly and welcoming. The island offers a wide variety of activities as well, from swimming with dolphins to high end shopping and dining. The downside? The Bahamas are some of the more popular Caribbean islands so the tourist population is high. If you’re looking for something a little less mainstream I would suggest looking elsewhere.
2. Key West.
If you’re looking to go somewhere tropical for a short period of time (perhaps a long weekend), this is the place for you. Key West finds itself high on my list because of it’s wide variety of options for such a small island and the fact that everything and more can be done in a few short days. During your stay you can see the whole island while motoring around on a moped, visit and tour renowned author Ernest Hemingway’s island home, snap a picture of yourself at the southernmost point in the United States, explore Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, relax on the white sandy beaches, and end the day grabbing a bite at the famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar or Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Cafe- and those aren’t even half of the options! This island is a definite must-do at some point in your lifetime.
1. Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has earned the number one spot on my list for a lot of good reasons. In addition to being one of the more beautiful islands I’ve seen, it also offers a lot to do with the benefit of the national language being English and the national currency being the dollar. This makes it incredibly easy for American tourists to get by. If you want to relax at a resort, the island offers plenty of all-inclusive resorts where you can spend the days lounging on the beach and in the water. For the touristy type, head to Old San Juan where you will find two gigantic fortresses separated by a field where tourists and locals alike flock to fly kites- it’s quite the picturesque site at sunset. For the more adventurous, you can find a wide array of adrenaline pumping activity. Book yourself a spot on a kayak tour through one of the world’s only bioluminescent bays and watch the water sparkle in the moonlight. Take a hike through El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System, and find yourself fully immersed in nature- you may even come across a cool, blue waterfall to swim under (I did). Whatever it is you want to do, Puerto Rico’s got it.
Feel free to let me know if you’ve ever been to one of these islands and how your experience was!